What could be simpler than a game of roulette? You place your bet, the wheel spins, and the gods of fate decide where the ball will land. Of course, as we all well know, nothing in gambling is ever that simple! Every game has rules, nuances and peccadilloes that make it unique, and woe betide the player who goes in uninformed.
At best, you could suffer a slight slip up; at worst you could be accused of cheating, even if it was unintentional. That’s why it’s really important to familiarise yourself with the intricacies and rules of a game – even those as seemingly straightforward as roulette.
If you’ve started on this article/course, we suggest that you pause, and start with our Roulette Guide. It explains how to play the game, place bets and so on. In this guide, we are examining the more detailed and nuanced rules of roulette, according to variations on the game.
Okay, a quick once-over of the basics. In roulette, players congregate around a long table. This table is covered in baize, which has a clearly laid out grid with numbers and outside bets. At one end of the table, a croupier spins a grooved and numbered wheel. The numbers around the wheel correspond to the numbers on the table and are alternately coloured red and black.
When the wheel is spinning, the croupier releases a small ball, which runs around the wheel and comes to rest in one of the grooves, or pockets. Whichever number the ball rests on is the winning number. Any bets placed on this number will win.
There is really only one incredibly important ‘rule’ in roulette: once the croupier calls no more bets, you cannot place any more bets. Don’t even try. No, really. Not only will that bet be rejected, you may find yourself ejected from the casino.
While roulette may not have the wide variation of a game like poker, there are three distinct versions of the game: European, French and American. There are some layout differences between these tables (which we talk about in this guide ), as well as the double zero that appears on the American table.
Just to note, the American version of the game is gaining popularity in Europe, so don’t assume all roulette games in Europe are necessarily European roulette. It is also a favourite among South African casinos, although you can find all versions both at bricks and mortar and online casinos in South Africa.
This is the simplest form of roulette you will find. As long as you understand how to place bets properly, you’ll have a handle on this version of the game. Of note here is that, if the ball lands on zero, all bets lose, unless a player has bet on zero.
French roulette has a few additional complexities over European roulette. Firstly, a casino may offer La Partage or En Prison rules. These exist to allow players to recover some of their losses if the ball lands on zero. How these rules apply depends on the casino, but often players are asked to select which they prefer to play. This is usually the case in online casinos.
This rule applies to even-money bets only. If you have such a bet, and the ball lands on zero, you can claim back half your lost bet.
This is similar to La Partage, just a little more complex. Here, again, it applies to even-money bets only. If the ball lands on zero, your bet is placed ‘in prison’; in other words, the dealer places a marker on the chips to hold them in place. If, on the next spin, you win, you get your full bet back.
French roulette also allows for various call bets, including:
The only real stand-out feature of American roulette is the double zero. Unless you place a bet on 0 or 00, all other bets lose when the ball lands on one of these.
Similar to La Partage in French roulette, surrender is becoming more popular in American roulette. In this rule, if the ball lands on 0 or 00, you only lose half your bet.
Individual casinos may have additional rules governing their roulette and other table games. Here are a few examples.
Maximum and minimum bets
Most casinos require a minimum bet for any type of game, including roulette. Each table will specify its minimum bet amount. This minimum includes all bets placed by a player – it’s not a minimum per bet.
Maximum bets usually only apply to straight up, or single number bets. A casino may, however, have a progression of maximum bets based on type of bet.
Not all casino chips are equal. Traditionally, roulette chips are different to the other chips offered in a casino and are issued at the table. They are assigned a value on the spot, and are colour-coded per player. This is to avoid confusion related to bets placed and eliminate cheating or theft of winnings.
This is no longer a hard and fast rule, however, as casino technology becomes more sophisticated. Whenever you play roulette in a bricks and mortar casino, make sure to check its protocols.
Timing your bet
At the end of each round of play, the croupier places a puck on the winning number. The next round of betting may only begin once this puck is removed. Now, players may place their bets while the croupier prepares to spin the ball and wheel. Once these are in motion, they call “no more bets” and all betting must stop.
No more bets
Did we mention the rule about no more bets? This is not a polite suggestion. When the dealer says these words, absolutely no more bets may be made. If a player tries to make a bet after this moment, the croupier will act according to casino rules. These can vary from rejecting the bet to removing the player from the table. In some cases, particularly if the player continues to push their luck, they may be removed from the casino.
It’s not just flouting the rule, either. It’s disrespectful to your fellow player. It’s highly frowned upon and is considered rude, at best. Don’t be that player.
Live dealer roulette online casino games are immensely popular, and generally have the same rules as in-house tables. However, individual casinos may have unique rules. Some online casinos also offer simplified roulette, or mini-roulette, which has only 13 numbers.
One last spin
Roulette really is a fantastic casino table game, whether you’re visiting your favourite venue or playing live dealer roulette online. It remains one of the most popular games, with its interactive nature, betting variety and utter thrill reeling you in. Enjoy your time playing roulette, and always remember the most important rules of all: play responsibly, stick to a budget, and seek help if you’re worried about your gambling.
Are you clued up on roulette rules? Have they ever caught you out? Do you have any tips to share with the online gambling community? Send us your thoughts and help your fellow gamblers have more fun at the wheel!