The Basics of Roulette

Roulette, French diminutive for “little wheel,” has offered glamour, mystery and excitement to casino-goers since the 17th century. Its rules are simple and it offers a surprising depth of strategy for those who are serious about their betting.

The game begins when a small ball is released in the opposite direction of a revolving wheel that has red and black numbered compartments lined up around its edge. Players make bets as to which numbered compartment the ball will fall into when it stops spinning and comes to rest. The bets are made against the house, and winnings are paid out with varying odds depending on whether a player has placed a bet on a single number, various groupings of numbers, or on the color red or black.

Bets are made by placing chips on a betting mat, the precise placement of each indicating the bet being placed. The bets on six or less numbers are termed “Inside bets.” Bets on 12 or more are referred to as “Outside bets.” The wheel, its spindle and the layout of the betting table are subject to strict controls to prevent cheating by placing devices hidden from view or to concealing markings on the wheel or the betting mat.

Each table carries a placard describing the minimum and maximum bets allowed. When the game starts, a dealer will clear the losing bets from the table and place markers on winning bets to identify them as such. After the ball has come to rest, the winning bets are paid. The casino then resets the betting table for the next round.

The roulette cylinder, or wheel, consists of a solid wooden disk slightly convex in shape that is spun by a metal sleeve attached to the base of a bowl. Around its rim are metal partitions, called separators or frets, with thirty-six compartments painted alternately in red and black. On European wheels, a 37th compartment, painted green, carries the symbol 0; on American wheels there are two green compartments marked 00.

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