The Ultimate Roulette Q&A

Jake Sanford Jake Sanford

Roulette is a staple of casinos worldwide, and usually draws quite the crowd of devoted players to the table – both online and offline of course. There are plenty of interesting facts and tidbits of knowledge out there about this classic casino game, but there are plenty of lies, legends, and myths floating around as well. 

Helping to see the world of live roulette a little more clearly, we’ve come up with 20 important things that you need to know before you make your bet on the red or black. Get ready the ultimate roulette question and answer session that’s sure to help you better understand this world-famous casino game.


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1️⃣ Is roulette the oldest casino game in history?

The answer to this question depends on the definition you use for the game of roulette and also who you ask. Casinos have been around for a very long time, although they weren’t always called by that name. If you’re looking for the general idea of a casino, meaning a place that people have historically visited to gamble, the definition widens to saloons, restaurants, the privacy of the players’ own homes, as well as many more. The idea of a place where people can meet to gamble has been around forever, so in many ways so have casinos.

Bets have been placed on races for centuries, both run by horse and man. Fights between men or animals, or even fights putting men up against animals, have also drawn large crowds historically. There is evidence in history that roulette and dice have existed for centuries, in games played with bones as dice or shields spinning to try and win currency from other players.

The question of which came first – bones or shields – is a question that may never be answered. It’s safe to say that roulette is a definite contender for the oldest game, but there’s no certainty which of the two was invented first. Again, whether or not it’s the older will depend on the casino historian you speak too.

2️⃣ Where did roulette come from? Who invented it?

We may not know exactly which came first – dice or roulette – but we do know who thought it up. The major school of thought in studies about the history of gambling is that Blaise Pascal was the mastermind behind the wheel. Pascal was a scientist, philosopher, and mathematician, and there is good reason to believe that his invention of roulette as we know it today was entirely accidental. Yes, you read that right the first time, roulette as a game was created as a result of a failed scientific experiment, who would have thought it.

Pascal was more than likely trying to create a perpetual motion machine, which led him to creating the version of the roulette wheel that we know and recognize. Unfortunately, it is not a perpetual motion machine, but we have discovered over the years that it makes a great gambling game.

3️⃣ How does the game of roulette work?

The major pieces of the roulette wheel are the numbers from 1 to 36, and 1 or 2 zeroes. To play the game, you’re betting on where the ball will land in the wheel – a number of a pocket, or a color. After you’ve placed your bet, the dealer will drop the ball from the top of the wheel, which will then make its way to the inside and drop into one of the many pockets. If your bet is where the ball lands, you win 35x the wager. Playing roulette really is just as simple as it seems.

When betting in roulette, it’s important to remember that you can bet on as many or as few of the numbers as your bankroll allows. In addition, you can place proposition bets, which include “columns,” “even-money,” and “dozens,” among others. This is where strategy enters the game of roulette, as your betting approach can be the determining factor in how you perform at the wheel. Casual players might just be happy to play red or black, but if you have ambitions of sweeping the wheel for big money, a betting strategy – that can be tough to master – is crucial.

4️⃣ What types of roulette games are there?

This is a pretty quick answer – there is the American style of roulette, and then there is the European style. American roulette has two zeroes in green on the wheel, while European has only one. The numbers are also arranged in a different way, but ultimately the game is the same in both styles. 

While these are the two main games of roulette available, these are by no means the only two versions of roulette out there. Online roulette has shot the game into the stratosphere through various other forms of the game. French roulette, roulette royal, no-zero roulette, mini-roulette, and even the high stakes, high action multi-wheel roulette all provide plenty of ways to play. American and European roulette might be the most common roulette games, but you won’t be short on choice elsewhere should you be looking for a little extra flavor.

5️⃣ Is the house edge the same in all versions of roulette?

Here is where the real differences come in between the two major versions. European roulette has a significantly better house edge of 2.70%. In comparison, American roulette’s house edge is 5.26%. What the house edge means is that, statistically, every $100 wagered on European roulette is supposed to result in a loss of $2.70. Compared to American roulette and its expected loss of $5.26, European is superior in this regard.

Casino players are often looking at the bottom line when it comes to online roulette and the numbers don’t lie. While both versions deliver plenty of thrills and spills, you are likely to get more bang for your back playing European roulette, this is especially the case if you’re playing over the long term.

6️⃣ Do all roulette bets have the same (or similar) house edge?

No, it again depends on the style of roulette you’re playing. An extra zero – or lack thereof – really has the power to alter the outcome of any bet you make, sometimes it can even swing the odds wildly against you. For example, the American game offers the “five number bet,” which consists of 0, 00, 1, 2, and 3. This bet has a house edge of 7.89%. It is also known as “the monster” due to this high house edge, and is a bet that you generally want to avoid as a result.

Roulette games by no means have a flat betting structure, so while a wager on European roulette might appear favorable, the same won’t necessarily apply on American roulette and other game variations. Do your research, understand the odds, and be knowledgeable on the bets you’re making before you throw down a roulette wager.

7️⃣ How to calculate the house edge for roulette?

Let’s look at the American wheel, as its popularity makes it a great place to start. This one has 38 numbers, which include 1-36, 0, and 00. The payout that you get when you win is 35 to 1. If you were to play a game with no house edge, the payout would be 37 to 1. With a house edge, your average loss to win ratio is still 37 to 1. Casinos are a business, and in order to keep cash flowing, they short wins by two units, so instead of giving a payout of 37x, they give a payout of 35x. After that, to get the house edge, all you do is divide the 38 numbers into the two units that remain with the casino, which gives you the house edge of 5.26%. This might sound a little complicated, but in reality, it isn’t, it’s a straightforward equation that simply allows you to determine the probability of walking away from the American roulette wheel as a winner.

So, what about European roulette? European version has 37 numbers, all the same numbers as American, but with only one 0 instead of two. The payout is still 35 to 1, and if you were to play a game with no house edge whatsoever, the payout would be 36 to 1. Just like with American roulette, the casinos short winners by one unit, making the payout the 35 to 1 we mentioned. To get the house edge, divide the 37 into the single unit the casino keeps, which gives you the percentage of 2.70%. Again, this data is useful for anyone that wants to understand the odds they face whenever they play online roulette.

8️⃣ How do you figure out the house edge for specific roulette bets?

The method for figuring out house edges are the same across the board. Here’s another example that you might find useful. For an even-money bet that you place, the payout is 1 to 1. If you win on one side of the bet (like if you bet red in the red and black proposition) and you lose, say, 18 when the black shows up, if the 0 or 00 also shows, you will lose the bet. Ultimately, the possible wins in this scenario number at 18, while the losses come in at 20. This is how the house gets its edge in this kind of bet. 

Just like before, the casino will keep two of the 38 units. So, just like before, you’ll be dividing 38 into the two units, which again makes the house edge 5.26%. For the European game, where the ratio is 18 possible wins to 19 possible losses, the house edge still comes out to 2.70%. This is done in the same way, by dividing the 37 into the one unit the casino keeps. 

You may hear some people call roulette the game of numbers, and as you can see from the answers to many of the questions, it can certainly be the case if you’re willing to look beyond just spinning the wheel for a bit of fun.

9️⃣ What are the best roulette bets to make?

Casinos sometimes offer special “surrenders” of the house edge (or “en prison”). With even-money bets, this cuts the house edge in half. This means that American players are looking at a house edge of 2.63%, while European roulette gives one of the best bets in the casino world with a house edge of 1.35%.

Being honest, there are countless “good” bets in the game of roulette, but each player is different. It’s well worth exploring what’s out there to find an online roulette betting approach that suits your approach and appetite for risk.

🔟 Why isn’t an even money wager actually a 50:50 bet?

An even-money proposition doesn’t actually make a 50:50 bet. They get their name because the payout is even money. Remember those zeroes on the board? That’s what works to make an even-money bet a less than 50:50 shot at winning on the wheel.

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1️⃣1️⃣ How is it possible to beat the wheel and win?

This is something that used to be true, back when wheels were imperfect. In the modern world of casinos, roulette wheels are as random as we can possibly get them. “Beating the game” is dependent on looking for imperfections on the wheels themselves, but doesn’t work very well any more since modern wheels are tested for imperfections. In addition, the pockets in which the ball lands in are smaller, meaning that the  ball can bounce. This further muddies the ability to predict where the ball will eventually stop.

Plus, the majority of roulette play takes place online these days. Online roulette and live casino roulette have revolutionized the way we all play the famous game. It’s made truly random through the use of RNG technology, so the days of trying to exploit an imperfect wooden wheel are long gone I’m afraid.

1️⃣2️⃣ Does the dealer decide where the ball lands?

This was more than likely possible in the past, and was known as a “dealer signature.” There is even a strong argument that this taking place on a large scale was simply a myth, an excuse constructed by losers to excuse poor roulette play. Young croupiers don’t even know the term anymore, so it’s safe to say that this is a thing of the past and not relevant to modern roulette games. And, as we just mentioned, there is no croupier during an online roulette game (live casino excluded, of course), so with an RNG in place it’s impossible to predetermine where the ball is going to land – this is doubly the case in a version of provably fair roulette.

1️⃣3️⃣ Is the number 17 the most played number in history?

This is a myth, even if it is a pretty harmless one. No one is recording or analyzing roulette decisions across the world, so we don’t know for certain what number is most popular. All casinos – especially online roulette casinos – will have data on what numbers are played and when, but this data isn’t shared publicly or within the industry. Number 17 is often said to have been called by James Bond in a movie and even by real-life actor Sean Connery, so people play it believing it’s lucky.

1️⃣4️⃣ Playing numbers straight up on the inside, or set up proposition bets around the edge of the wheel, which is better?

Unless that particular table is offering “surrender” or “en prison,” there’s ultimately no difference. The house edges remain the same across all bets in roulette. You may notice a difference in longer losing streaks on the inside bets if you’re only placing a small number of wagers at once. In the end, though, the casino will still have the same edge over the players no matter where you play.

1️⃣5️⃣ Is roulette America’s most popular casino game?

While roulette is very popular amongst American punters, the clear winner of a casino popularity contest is blackjack. Roulette is more than likely tied for second place with craps.

1️⃣6️⃣ If you place multiple bets at the same time in roulette are your odds of winning increased?

Technically, yes. By increasing your bets, you will win more of them. However, doing this causes you to lose more money over a period of time. This is because the house edge is based on the entire amount of the money that you’re wagering, no matter how you spread those bets out. 

1️⃣7️⃣ What if I can’t reach the part of the board where I want to place a bet? What do I do?

The croupier can place the bet for you if you ask. Thankfully, spreading your wager across the table has been made much easier due to the innovation of online roulette and live roulette.

1️⃣8️⃣ What’s the most annoying thing about playing roulette?

The obvious answer here is losing money, but we believe that we can make a special exception for those really aggressive, rude players. They’re the ones who rush to get their wagers on the board, knocking over your chips or running into you. That kind of aggression isn’t necessary – there is plenty of time to place bets. There is a certain degree of etiquette that must be understood when you approach a roulette table, to see other players ignore it – deliberately or otherwise – can certainly be frustrating.

1️⃣9️⃣ Will I be bugged and questioned by other players when I play?

Most roulette players prefer to keep to themselves. The only instance in which a roulette player might take an interest in another’s bet is if the bets being made are huge and risky. Generally, the game of roulette is conducted between the player and the wheel, especially online, so outside interference and other players trying to “throw you off your game” is something that you don’t have to worry about.

2️⃣0️⃣ Isn’t roulette a bit silly, just watching a wooden wheel spin, it’s not the most exciting casino game, is it?

Every single game in a casino can probably be labeled “silly” by boiling it down to the basics. Card games, dice games, machines – you can turn anything into something unexciting by looking at it one way. However, different players like different games. Roulette has a long history of exciting moments, recording breaking hot streak, and life-changing wins, it all comes down to how you view it. If you’re willing to throw yourself into the game of roulette, odds are you’ll find that it delivers thrills on every spin.

Oh boy! It’s safe to say that we’ve covered a lot of ground above, but deep down we haven’t even scratched the surface of a casino game that is packed with action and ways to play. We hope this Q&A can explain a little about roulette that you may not have known at least, and maybe given you some ideas on how you can take your roulette game to the next level.

Well, what are you waiting for? Grab your notes (you were taking notes, right?) and hit the reels, as you could very well be online roulette’s next big winner – good luck!

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Jake Sanford
Author Jake Sanford

Jake Sanford (Editor in Chief), a seasoned writer and passionate live casino player with a background in psychology, combines his passion for storytelling with a deep understanding of the digital gambling landscape. His work reflects a unique perspective on the intersection of narrative and the dynamic world of online live casinos.