Basic Roulette Rules and Odds Strategy

Roulette remains a popular casino game that has been played worldwide for decades. While it might seem smooth and straightforward on the surface, real players know they need well-curated strategies to increase their winning odds. Mastering fundamentals - from rules and betting options to calculated odd strategy - is a must to keep the roulette payouts coming. This comprehensive guide will break down everything from the basics to an elite deep dive into roulette rules and odds strategies to level up your gameplay.

Overview of roulette rules

In any roulette game, there are inside bets (specific numbers) or ‘outside bets’ like odd/even, red/black, 1-12, etc. You place a bet, and the game round starts. The wheel spins to a stop, and if the ball lands on one of your predicted numbers/events, you win that bet.

The zero pocket differentiates European and American roulette versions. The Euro wheel has a single zero, but American roulette features two pockets marked 0 and 00. While the core gameplay is similar across the two versions, each packs unique twists on the rules. The number one rule for the players looking to win in the roulette game is to only bet at tables where the rules and odds are in favour of the player. 

European Roulette rules

European Roulette sets itself apart with the ‘call bets.’ You announce it to the dealer instead of physically placing chips. This verbal bet style is usually reserved for more advanced wager combos. When playing online European Roulette, you use the racetrack button to access these bets.

American Roulette rules

If you’re playing American Roulette and the ball lands in either of the two zero pockets, you lose all number bets and outside bets. You can also throw down a risky five-number bet covering 1, 2, 3, 0, and 00 (called a ‘top line’). With two potential zeroes to wager on, this bet has a beefy 5.26% house edge.

French Roulette rules

French Roulette is essentially European Roulette’s stylish cousin, rocking the same wheel and bet varieties. But it adds a couple of rules to slide the odds in your favour. The first is ‘En Prison’ – if you catch that zero on an even-money bet, you get a free re-spin instead of a loss. Then there’s ‘La Partage,’ which means if you lose the outside bets and land on the zero, you get paid half of those chips instead of the entire stack. Players who take advantage of this rule can slash the 2.7% European Roulette house edge down to 1.35%.

Understanding roulette odds

Odds in roulette indicate your chances of winning a bet. For example, American Roulette odds of hitting a single number with a straight-up bet are 37 to 1 since there are 38 numbers. However, the house only pays 35 to 1 on winning bets, with the same odds for payouts on combo bets. The house keeps a percentage of all bets for itself.

On the other hand, European Roulette odds are spicier. Since the wheel only rocks 37 pockets, including the single zero, your chances of slamming a straight-up bet on a single number are 36 to 1. But like the American version, the house only pays 35 to 1 when you win. Either way, the 36 to 1 true odds are better than the 37 to 1 on the American double-zero wheel.

Roulette bets fall into two main categories: inside and outside bets. We need to understand the odds of each to see how we can improve them. 

Outside bets odds

Outside bets cover most possible outcomes of a roulette game. As the chances of winning are higher, your payout will not be incredibly generous: it’s only 1:1 for bets like odd or even, covering almost half the wheel. Other outside bets that have slightly better payouts are column and dozen, which cover 12 of the numbers on the roulette wheel. These give you roughly a 1 in 3 chance of winning and a payout of 2:1. If the ball lands on 0 or 00, all outside bets lose.

Here is an overview of the roulette payouts for European and American versions:

  • Red or Black – 1:1
  • Odd or Even – 1:1
  • High or Low – 1:1
  • Column – 2:1
  • Dozen – 2:1

For odds, it’s as follows:

  • Red or Black, Odd or Even, High or Low: European Roulette – 48.65%, American Roulette – 47.37%
  • Column: European Roulette – 32.4%, American Roulette – 31.6%
  • Dozen: European Roulette – 32.4%, American Roulette – 31.6%

As you can see, bets like Red/Black, Odd/Even, and High/Low cover 18 of the 37 or 38 pockets, giving you close to a 50% chance of winning, though your payout is just even money (1:1). The Column and Dozen bets cover 12 numbers each, lowering the odds to around 32% but offering a 2:1 payout.

Inside bets odds

Inside bets refer to specific numbers and sets of numbers inside the roulette table. They have a lower chance of winning than outside bets, but a more sizable payout potential balances this out. The house edge on inside bets is the same as outside bets.

Inside bet payouts for the European and American roulette variants are:

  • Straight Bet: 35:1
  • Split Bet: 17:1
  • Street Bet: 11:1
  • Corner Bet: 8:1
  • Basket Bet (American only): 6:1
  • Double Street Bet: 5:1

Inside bet odds for the European and American roulette variants are:

  • Straight Bet: European Roulette – 2.7%, American Roulette – 2.6%
  • Split Bet: European Roulette – 5.4%, American Roulette – 5.3%
  • Street Bet: 8.1%, 7.9%
  • Corner Bet: 10.8%, 10.5%
  • Basket Bet (American only): 13.2%
  • Double Street Bet: 16.2%, 15.8%

Whether you’re wagering on live, virtual, or land-based roulette, each variant’s odds and payouts remain the same.

Can you improve the roulette odds?

You can’t really improve the roulette odds themselves. However, knowing how they work and what they mean can give you an advantage when spinning the wheel. Below are a few things that can give you an edge with odds when playing roulette.

Place minimum stakes

Stick to the table minimum stake and zero in on outside bets only. That means you should also join tables with low bet limits. Bet on red or black every new spin, and you’re covering 18/38 (18/37) with a 1:1 payout. With small bets, you can play for long without exhausting your bankroll.

Spread your bets to lower risk

Spread your bets across multiple outside wagers. Lay down one bet on a 2:1 paying column or dozen, paired with an even-money bet like odd/even or red/black. You’ll cover way more numbers with two bets for a bigger win probability.

Play European Roulette for improved profitability

To achieve favourable odds, play only the single zero or European roulette table. The house advantage goes from 5.26% on the American roulette wheel to 2.7% when playing the European roulette game. The extra zero pocket on the wheel is basically another way to decrease the player’s chances. In other words, the European wheel has 37 pockets, and the American wheel has 38, so the European version has better odds.

Use the epic en-prison rule

The En Prison rule is a good example of a favourable rule. This rule allows players that have made wagers on the even money bets, odd or even bets, and red and black bets to reduce their losses after the spin results in zero.

When this happens, the players can either forfeit half of their original wager or bet the same on the next spin. This rule reduces the player’s loss severely because it allows players to either lose half of their wager or remove the losing spin and wager the initial bet again as if it never even happened.

Practice with demo mode

Before unleashing any bankroll on the real money games, most online casinos let you test-drive roulette endlessly using bonus funds and demo modes. Get familiar with table layouts, bet placements, payouts, odds, and more without risking a cent until your skills are straight.


Whether you’re a total roulette rookie or a seasoned pro, mastering the fundamentals is crucial. From wheel basics and table layouts to calculating odds and peeping smart betting tactics, absorbing this extensive guide will boost your roulette knowledge. At the end of the day, roulette is a game of chance, and there are no odds to alter. All you can do is make those odds work in your favour for a bigger payout. Stay focused on gameplay strategies like minimum bets, spread bets, the European Roulette edge, and chasing player-friendly rules like En Prison. Mix in free online practice, and you’ll be ready to put real money on the line. Above all, play online roulette responsibly.