Welcome to our Real Money Guide to Roulette. On this page, you will find all the essential information you need to feel confident stepping up to a roulette wheel in a casino or clicking on the table in your online casino lobby. We are going to cover a lot on this page, but it really is only the tip of the iceberg, so we are also going to point you in the direction of some advanced strategy and information. These pages will be a little heavier on statistics, so if that is a turn off for you, have no fear – this page you are on won’t leave you bug-eyed.
One thing we love about roulette is that it is pretty much the easiest game to play in a casino. Once you get your chips, there are a series of very simple wagering options, and then you sit back and watch the wheel go round and round in anticipation of the ball dropping. That sound is an iconic one in a casino and is usually followed by screams of elation or groans of agony. Let’s walk you through everything you need to know.
Well, the first answer to this question is simple: you play roulette for real money to win real cash! It is sometimes confusing to see people playing roulette for play money (this of course only happens online – no casino will let you do that in Vegas). The rush that comes from putting down your money and waiting to see if you come up a winner is often times worth the risk of losing the bet for many players, and you can really feel that emotion at a roulette wheel. You can usually hear the excitement at a wheel from across the casino floor, and that brings, even more, people to the table for action.
**Please note: We are not saying that it is easy to win money playing roulette. Gambling for real money is still a big risk, but we are going to give you all the information you need to make smart decisions at the table.
We mentioned this right off the top, but it is worth repeating: roulette is one of the easiest games for a player to learn. We will walk you through a step-by-step guide to how the game is played later in this section. As a result, the game is usually the one most beginner players find themselves playing for real money when they first walk into a casino.
If you have ever sat at a roulette table in Vegas, you will notice the staff is very friendly, and in fact, they spend the majority of their time explaining bets to people so they can feel comfortable when making wagers. This type of service serves two purposes: it makes the player feel more comfortable, and it ends up making the casino more money as a comfortable player is likely to be a little more loose with their chips.
One thing we love the most about roulette is that you can bet a tiny minimum amount right up to a significant maximum number, giving you the entire spectrum of possible wins! Being able to bet as little as a few dollars spread out around the table gives players a feeling of having much better odds, even if they are only winning a small amount back. We have also been there when players are betting hundreds of dollars at a time on each spin (ok, maybe that was, in fact, us doing it) and that is when you hear the loudest screams coming from a table!
With so many different bet options available at a roulette table, it is important to understand them all, and how to work with the bets to make sure you maximize your wagering options. We will take you through all the different things you can bet on with each spin of the wheel a little further down this page.
Many games in a casino do not let a player sit down in the middle of a “session.” Take blackjack for example; you may have gone to a casino and tried to sit down at a blackjack table only to hear that you must wait “until the end of the shoe.” The reason for this is a casino is trying to stop players from taking advantage of information that may have been gained during the first part of the session. Also, some players at a table may want to keep the same number of hands in play (more superstition than anything).
This is not the case with roulette. The game is composed of spins of the wheel that are completely individual in nature. There can be no information gained from one turn that will affect the outcome of the next spin (at least in theory). What this means is that you as a player are able to play one spin and walk away or play for hours without affecting the play of the other players at the table.
There are several variations of the game of roulette that are available to play for real money. When you approach a wheel, it is important to notice both the style of game and the minimum and maximum bets, so you know how to use the best strategy for each instance. We’ll cover the main differences below.
For the most part, roulette wheels and tables are laid out the same. There are a series of numbers that are split into red or black, and these numbers run from 1 to 36. Where the house gets to make their money is in the addition of extra numbers to the table (we’ll get into basic odds in our Types Of Bets section).
American roulette tables have two other numbers – a 0 and a 00 – which give the player a total of 38 different options for single number bets. Having the extra numbers gives the house a larger advantage as the payouts are based on a 36 number system. Most casinos in the US feature the American rules style of the game.
Roulette wheels in Europe are the same as the ones in the US, except the total amount of numbers on the table. European tables come with only one 0, making the total number of options 37 instead of 38. This lowers the house edge and therefore is very popular with players. You will often see European roulette wheels in American casinos these days, as operators aren’t too fussy about which game you play. IN either case, the house edge is still pretty significant compared to some other table games.
If you find yourself in Latin America and are looking to play some roulette, you may find it a bit shocking when you enter a casino. In many places across Latin America, and especially in Costa Rica, you will see a game that resembles roulette with all the same colors and numbers, but without a wheel.
Canasta plays with the exact same rules as roulette, however instead of a wheel and ball they use a bingo-style cage where all the individual balls correspond to the numbers of the table. Playing at one of these tables is essentially the same, but with the cage the game tends to be a little slower, so plan to be patient…
OK, now that we have you in a lather about the game, and have explained all the different roulette games you might see in your local gaming establishment, it’s time to explain to you how the game is played. For the purposes of this page, we are assuming that you have never played the game before so we will break it down for you in great detail.
The first thing you want to do is select your game. The casino you are playing at may have both European and American tables available for real money betting, and if that is the case then you have the luxury of making a decision before you even sit down! We would recommend playing European Roulette whenever given a chance.
When playing roulette for real money, you step up to the table and place your cash down on the table to receive your chips. The first thing you should know is that roulette chips have no denomination on them. This allows the casino to give you the option of choosing what denomination you want to play. Many high rollers will make each chip worth $5 or $10 so that they don’t have to be stacking hundreds of chips with each bet. Novice players will be more likely to make the chip value whatever the table minimum is, so they don’t get in over their head. Roulette chips have no value at other tables or at the cashier, so all chips must be cashed in for standard casino chips at the end of your session.
The roulette chips are also distinguished from one another by being different colors. This make is much easier for the croupier (the dealer) to determine payouts and get chips back to players as quickly as possible. This also allows there to be more colors of chips than there are seats at a table, which means that more people can play one table at a time. Many times when you step towards a roulette table, you will see all the seats taken. As long as you don’t mind standing during your session, you are probably going to be able to get some chips and start playing.
So you have walked up to a table, set down your cash, selected your denomination and have your chips, now it is time to play. As mentioned before, the table will have a minimum amount of dollars that have to be bet on each spin, and that can usually be split up between different types of bets.
When you place a bet at a roulette wheel, you make the decision about where you want to put your chips, and how many chips you want to wager on each outcome, and then it is your job to take the chips from your stack and place them on the felt. This can get a little crazy as all the other players are making their bets at the same time, so expect to be in a sea of arms for a couple of minutes while you place your bets. Also, don’t worry if your chips look lost out there on the table; the croupier knows exactly where they are. Once he or she announces “No More Bets” all players are then restricted from making bets, and any bets placed after that announcement are handed back to the players.
How you place the chips is crucial as if they are not places exactly where you want the bet to take place, you may be paid out differently depending on the outcome. You don’t have just to pick an individual number (although those bets have the best payout odds). You have the opportunity to split between two numbers on the board or choose your favorite color, along with so many other options. With all the action at the table, it is easy to get caught up and not realize what you are betting, so it ‘s nice to have at least some idea of where you want to place your chips in advance of the chaos.
Each different bet at a real money roulette table comes with various payout odds, so it is important that you understand what the payouts are for each one. Before we get into betting examples, let’s review the different kind of bets now:
Straight Number Bets
Every roulette wheel has either 37 or 38 individual numbers on the board available for bets. The numbers range from 1-36 with an additional 0 and 00 depending on the style of game you find yourself playing. When you are making your bet selections, you have the option of putting chips on one or more of these individual numbers. Usually, the casino forces you to make a minimum wager on the numbers, which can be put all on one number or split all over the board. Maybe you have a favorite number, or you like to use your kid’s birthday; no matter how you choose the numbers, you can play as many or as little as you like on an individual basis.
Each individual winning bet pays a player 35 to 1 odds. That is an excellent payout just for choosing the right number; put one chip down, get 36 back! Wait…did you do the math there? Maybe you noticed that the 35 to 1 odds are decent, but there are in fact 37 or 38 numbers on a roulette wheel. Welcome to understand house edge! While the payout is excellent, this type of wager is, of course, the most difficult to win, so make sure to know that when you start playing roulette for real money.
Split Number Bets
If you like a couple of numbers that happen to be next to each other on a board, you may elect to place a split wager on those two numbers. A split bet is engaged when a player puts their chips on the border line that separates the two number on the playing felt.
You can make split bets on any two numbers that are next to each other on the table, including any that split with the 0 or 00. If the number the ball lands on is one of the two numbers you have placed your bet in between, then you are a winner! This bet pays out 17 to 1 on every chip that is placed on the bet. Many times players will place split bets around all sides of a number they like in a superstitious manner.
Quarter Number Bets
Like a bunch of numbers all together on the felt? Then you can place a quarter bet on the corner of the borders of the 4 particular numbers. Just like any other bet, you can place a few as one chip on this type of bet (following the rules of the individual real money roulette table).
This bet increases the exposure for your chips, but of course, with that exposure comes a lower payout rate. The payout on any quarter bet chips that come back winners is 8 to 1. We like to use quarter bets to maximize exposure on parts of the board we don’t particularly like; it’s more of an insurance bet for us, but you can use it as your primary strategy if you like!
The “cooler bets” of the real money roulette wheel are the bets placed on the green 0 and 00. As most of the money is bet on the numbers 1-36 on a wheel (who’s favorite number is 00 anyway??), when either of these numbers come up, it usually means an awful lot of pain for those who are sitting at the table.
There are of course those who prey on that type of wager and will load up on the 0 or 00 when sitting at a table. While each individual spin produces an independent outcome, giving those numbers the same chance as 1-36, the player who makes bets on the Green numbers usually finds themselves with few friends at a roulette wheel. Winning bets on the 0 or 00 pay the same as the numbers 1-36, paying players 35 to 1 on their chips.
The roulette wheel is set out in a rectangle shape, with 12 rows of three numbers each in numerical order. If you like a particular set of three numbers, you can place one wager on all three by placing your chips on the line at the edge of that particular row.
This wager can actually be a little easier than having to reach across the table to place chips on each of the three individual numbers, and as long as you would be betting the same number of chips on all three numbers, the payout is essentially the same. A winning row bet pays 11 to 1 on each bet.
Thirds and Column Bets
As we get further out from the middle of the board, the bets become more generic. As we mentioned and you can see in the graphics on this page, the roulette table felt has numbers listed from 1-36 in a 12 row, three column pattern. Because casinos want to give you every chance to place a wager, you have the option of choosing either thirds of the board by row or betting an entire column of numbers. IN the example below, the chips have been placed on the middle column.
In this instance, you would be a winner if any of these numbers came up: 2, 5, 8, 11, 14, 17, 20, 23, 26, 29, 32 or 35. That’s a lot of numbers! If you are lucky enough to have the ball land in the third or the row that you have selected, you will be paid 3-1 on your bet.
Half Number bets
The choices get even simpler as we reach the outer band of the betting felt in real money roulette. In fact, these are usually the bets that many players will make as they are easy to place (no reaching across so many hands trying to put chips all over the place). One example of an outer bet is only to pick if the ball will land on 1-18 or 19-36.
If you pick correctly, you will be paid 2-1 on this wager. Casinos also usually have a minimum amount that can be bet on outer bets, so make sure you double-check before you place your chips down, so you aren’t caught in an embarrassing moment when you are told your bet is invalid.
Ok, how about if you don’t really care what number is chosen as long as it is the color you want? Well, then this is the bet for you, friend! Rather than cover all the numbers that correspond with your color, you can make an easy bet on if the number will be black or red. Really easy, and basically similar to flipping a coin except the 0/00 which would be like the coin landing on its side.
If your color comes in, you will be paid 2-1 on your bet. Don’t be surprised to see large wagers on color bets; many people are degenerate gamblers, and this is pretty much the easiest bet you can make in a casino for real money.
So there you have an overview of all the different bets you can make at a real money roulette wheel. Now let’s look at a couple of betting examples:
Scenario 1: You just want to pick some outer bets, and you decide to place $25 on the 2nd third of the wheel and $25 more on the 2nd column. Here’s what you would be paid if certain numbers would be where the ball landed:
Scenario 2: You have chips scattered all over the board, placing $25 in $1 chips all on individual numbers except three number where you have placed 4 chips each. In this scenario, you have a total of 13 numbers covered (4 with 4 chips each, and 9 with 1 chip = 25 chips). Here’s the payout you can expect:
If one of the numbers you have 4 chips on comes up: $144 (35 to 1 on each chip, plus your original bet)
If one of the numbers you have 1 chip on comes up: $36 (35 to 1 on the chip plus your original bet)
In this scenario, you have a bigger payout as you are selecting individual numbers that pay out the most on winners, and you have one-third of the numbers covered on the board as an insurance policy. This kind of betting is very common at a table.
For more detailed scenarios, check out our Advanced Roulette Betting page.
You can play roulette from the comfort of your own house if you like by logging on and playing at one of the hundreds of online casinos in operation. There are of course a few differences between the live game and the online version.
The first difference is that you can play roulette for play money at an online casino. While this is ideal for novice players who just want to try the game out for the first time, it won’t be too long before you realize that playing for play money is not nearly as exciting as playing for real money, especially when you hit a number for a big jackpot.
Then next thing you will notice is that in most online casinos, you are the only player at the table. This means that you are in control of when the wheel spins (there is usually a “Spin” button somewhere on the screen). You can take your time making your bets, and they are very clear as the table is not cluttered with chips of other players. However, playing alone also takes away the buzz that comes from a bunch of players all staring down the wheel to see if their bet is going to be a winner.
One other significant difference is the speed of the game. While you control the actual spin of the wheel at a real money roulette table in an online casino, the amount of time the ball spins is usually determined by the casino, and in most cases, it is a much shorter period of time than when you are playing for real money live. This is meant to speed up your wagering so that the casino can get the most out of you during your session. Look for casinos that give you the option of having a fast or slow wheel so you can play at a speed that suits you best.
There are loads more differences between the live and online versions of real money roulette, and you can find more details by clicking on our Online Guide to Roulette below.
While real money roulette is a very simple game to play, the types of bets and the amount you bet can sometimes make it difficult to know if you are actually going to have a chance to win on each single spin. Here are a couple of quick tips for you when you are getting started.
Here’s one way casinos get you to make foolish decisions; they have a board next to the wheel which tracks the last 15-20 numbers that have landed. We have been sitting at a roulette wheel alone once when the numbers that came out were red 12 times in a row. By the time the 13th spin came, there were literally 20 people crowded around the table, with tons of cash being thrown down on the next number being black. What was the outcome of the 13th spin? Red. And the 14th? Red. And so on until the 21st spin, when it was finally a black number, and the table was at a fever pitch.
We mentioned this before: each spin of a roulette wheel is an independent action that culminates in an independent result. The fact that several numbers come out one color or another is nothing more than a random occurrence, but don’t tell that to some players at the table. The casino putting these numbers on a board for the public to see creates an emotional response that ends up working to the casino’s advantage, not the player’s. When you are playing, disregard the board…play the style you would usually play if you didn’t know any of the previous outcomes.
A lot of times, chips will be flying around the table as many players try to get their bets in, and that can cause confusion at the table. You see your number come up but realize when all the payouts are said and done, you don’t seem to have any more chips than when you started. This can happen if you start betting against yourself. One example of this is betting on the middle column of numbers but then selecting a bunch of individual numbers in the first and third columns. While this hedging of bets can limit your losses (part of a strategy sometimes employed), it means that you won’t win big and in many cases, your remaining chips will actually decrease as a result.
We have a whole set of tips and tricks for you to read about in our Real Money Roulette Tips and Tricks section. Make sure you have a good read so you are playing the best roulette you can when you sit down to play for real money.
You probably still have some questions about real money roulette even after reading this page, so we have summarized the most frequently asked questions for you! Here are a couple of questions that we often get asked:
We can’t tell you how much money you should gamble on each spin of a roulette wheel. What we can say is that you should never bet above your comfort level, and to always use your head when playing roulette (or any casino game) for real money.
One thing you can learn from this guide is how to maximize the bets you are making at the table, so whether you are a low-limit player or a high roller, you can use the strategies outlined on this site to give you the best chance to leave the table a winner!
When you sit down at a table, you determine the value of your chips with the croupier. At that point, they place one of your colored chips either on the edge of the wheel or in a tray which lets everyone (and more importantly the casino cameras) know what value is being played. For example, if you choose to make each of your colored chips worth $5, the croupier will put a $5 casino chip on top of your color wherever they store that value.
It definitely is not cheating if the casino opts to have a 0 and 00 on the board. The game is clearly defined when a player sits down. Where there may be confusion for the novice player is how dramatically the odds change in the house’s favor if there is a second 0 on the wheel. The house edge for a one 0 game is 2.70% and jumps to 5.40% for American roulette versions. We suggest that you try to find a European Roulette table if you are going to play for real money and have the choice wherever you are playing.