When you think about Roulette, you might think of James Bond placing bets according to decisions of a beautiful woman who’s ‘lucky’. But can it really be that random? And is it as easy to play online as it is in casino in Monte Carlo?
The word Roulette means ‘small wheel’ in French. The outcome of each round of Roulette is indeed decided by the ball landing in one of 38 holes (American version), which are positioned around the edge of this wheel. These holes are numbered 1 to 36, with a 0 at one end and a 00 at the other. The basic betting consists of placing any number of chips against one of these numbers. If it lands on your number, you win 35 chips for every chip you have bet (called 35:1 payout).
It is important to note that there is the same 1-in-38 chance at each spin of the wheel – the chances of the ball landing in a given hole are not increased by it not having landed there all evening. That is known as the ‘gambler’s fallacy’ and is a common though understandable error that people make when playing games of chance, such as dice games. ‘I haven’t had a six for twenty rolls so there must be one coming up…’ Wrong: the dice doesn’t ‘know’ what happened over the last twenty rolls – so it can’t affect what happens this roll. Same with the Roulette wheel.
Placing Bets in Roulette
It follows that placing your bets is not an exercise in anticipating what may come up. The spread of your bets across the table is like a net, sitting there waiting to capture one of the numbers when it comes up. It would therefore be a perfectly respectable strategy to leave your bets on the same numbers for every spin of the wheel, and wait to see how often those numbers come up. For this reason, many experienced players have their own sets of ‘lucky’ or preferred numbers, which they largely stick to with some variation.
If the betting simply consisted of individual numbers, it would be that simple. But there are also various other outcomes you can bet on, which are more probable than a single number coming up – but carry correspondingly lower winnings.
The simplest options carry a better chance and therefore 1:1 payout – meaning you get one chip back for each one bet. These are to bet on one of the two colors the numbers are divided into, which are red or black; to bet on an odd or even number coming up; or to bet on a number in either the upper or lower half (1-18 or 19-36). Below the grid of numbers on the Roulette table, there are areas of the table that represent these options.
Above these sections, there are areas where you can bet on the lower, middle or upper third of the number range coming up. Because there are 36 numbers in total, these are called the first twelve (1-12), second twelve (13-24) and third twelve (25-36). These areas of the board carry 2:1 payouts, meaning you get two chips back for every one you bet. It is also possible to achieve 2:1 payouts by betting one of the three columns in which the numbers are organized on the table. You do this by placing your bet in a space at the end of the row you have chosen.
That, unfortunately, is the end of the simple part. From now on, it gets more complicated.
The remaining ways of betting are by selecting combinations of numbers. You divide the single-number payout by the number of numbers in your combination. If you recall the payouts for one number are 35:1, then the payouts for a two-number combination will be 17:1, for three numbers 11:1, for four numbers 8:1, or 6:1 for five numbers.
Due to the configuration of the roulette table, you cannot bet on any combination of numbers. They have to be adjacent for a two number bet, in which case your chips are placed straddling the two numbers; in a row across the table for a three number bet, in which case your chips are placed at the end of the row; in a square for a four number bet, in which case your chips are placed in the centre of the square. A five number bet has to involve either the 0 or the 00. It is a bet than 00, 0, 1, 2 or 3 will come up and is wagered by placing your chips at the end of the line dividing 0 and 00 from the squares marked 1, 2 and 3.