How to play series - Roulette

Apr 29, 2020

Roulette is an attention-getter in the casino. Like Craps, where you hear the cheers of a crowd who are all on the same side of a bet, at a roulette wheel you’ll still hear those screams, but often the screams become shrills. The reason for that is simple: the payouts are bigger. Craps typically is paying you close to even money when you hit a number on the Pass Line, or slightly more when you take ‘the odds’: the opportunity to back your bet up and get 6/5, 3/2, or 2/1, depending on the number of combinations you can roll to make that number. But in Roulette, if you hit a number as a straight up bet, you’re getting 35:1 odds. That’s shriek-worthy!

There’s a couple of different types of roulette that are fairly standard at casinos, and those are American Roulette and European Roulette. What’s the difference? Well, not much really. Both are the same in that there’s a wheel that is spun and a ball that ultimately drops into one of the numbers. But there’s a difference in the sequence of numbers on each wheel, and the American wheel has an additional green space on it, the double zero. So, what you know already is that the American odds wheel is a slightly less favourable odds of a game to play than the European wheel, but familiarity with the order of the numbers on each wheel is usually the defining reason to choose one or the other. It’s all about comfort and familiarity. In some casinos you’re starting to see a third green space on the wheel and it’s either a triple zero or the insignia of the casino or hotel brand logo. My advice? Don’t play these greedy wheels. They’ve got their edge with one or two green spaces. They don’t deserve your acceptance of a third.

Getting chips

Casino chips, the ones that can be brought from table-to-table and used anywhere on the gaming floor, sportsbook, or poker room,  are broken down by colour, each colour defining a value. The typical chip breakdown you’ll encounter in Canadian or American casinos is as follows:

$1 white

$5 red

$25 green

$100 black

$1000 (rare outside of Vegas, but typically yellow)

Casinos usually use the colour scheme above, but have differentiation to identify if it’s from the casino you’re in or not, usually the difference is easily noted with what’s in the centre of each chip. It’s often their brand, a hologram, a commemorative event, featured circus show or performer playing exclusively at the casino, or the hotel’s logo. As an example, the Paris casino in Las Vegas has Eiffel Tower pictures in the middle of the chips, and the Hard Rock Casino has their signature guitar adorning the centre of each chip.

Roulette-specific chips

Can you use your casino chips at Roulette? You can if you’re the only one at the table. Or, if you’re making ‘outside bets’ that the dealer has allowed because they are watching and aware which bets are yours. Identifying which bets are yours, or whose chips are whose, is why the Roulette table has its own specific chips. They are only to be used for Roulette and the specific table you’re on, and they can be value dependent on the player. If you wanted to play for $100 per chip, you could. But you’d want to make sure your chips were identifiable easily from someone else’s, and that’s why the chips for Roulette are widely disparate in colour and hue. Unlike the white, red, green, and black variety of value chips, it’s quite common in Roulette to see turquoise, hot pink, fluorescent orange, or neon green chips at the table. This colour rush allows the dealer and the players to easily identify their chips and how much they have on any number.

Players buy these beacon-like chips from the dealer, or as they call that person in Europe, the Croupier. Chips are bought from the dealer and specified by the player as to which denominations to set as the base value. Chips stacks are given to players in stacks of 20 chips. So if you gave the dealer $20, the dealer would likely assume without words that you wanted one stack of chips valued at $1 each. If you handed the dealer $100, each chip would be assumed to be $5 each and you’d get one stack of 20 chips. Some people like to get 5 stacks of chips for $100, with each chip worth $1. It’s all preference in the size of the stack you want to be managing at the table, and maybe there’s something psychological to it that spinning for 10 chips of $1 value on a single number vs spinning with 2 chips that are 5x the value somehow ‘feels’ like it’s more. There’s probably a lot to that. In any event, the dealer will be happy to give you your chips in any reasonable denomination breakdown, and any available colour that is not in use by another player already. It’s about easy identification.

Roulette chips are specific not only to Roulette, but to the specific table you bought into. The reason for this is your chips will have your assigned denomination of value, and that is not transferable or known by another table. Once you buy in for colour chips at roulette, your only option is to cash them out with the dealer at that table back into the casino value chips. Or, in some cases, you’ll have only those casino chips left if you wager and lose the roulette-specific colour chips at the table but have been pocketing value chips when you won. Typically the value chips are used to pay out players who have exhausted the chip supply of their chosen colour and now payments in casino value chips are necessary. This is the best feeling in Roulette; you are the commander of all the chips of your chosen colour and payouts are now coming in value! If you can get on a winning streak, this is how you really make money in roulette, pocketing value chips without reducing the colour chips you’ve got on the table….because you keep winning them back. It can add up fast and is a satisfying task to count what’s in your pocket and in what denomination after leaving the winning session!

The Spin

You’ve got your chips. Now it’s time to play the game. You’ll hear the dealer say, “Place your bets”. You take a handful of your stack and set it down on the number(s) you think are likely to come up this spin. If you get this done fast, great. If you are taking your sweet time and trying to gauge the speed of the wheel and watching it as it slows as you think this gives you some advantage of where the ball is going to end up, you’ll hear the dealer sternly declare: “No more bets!” and make a hand waving motion over the table for the cameras to see so in the case they need to review something they’ll be able to see which bets, if any, were placed after the declaration of ’No more bets’ and those would be invalid and not paid out.

The action between the dealer’s call for placing bets and when betting has closed, this is the most exciting part of the game. This is where anticipation is high, possibilities endless, and hope flourishes. The dealer places the ball inside the wheel’s groove and gives the wheel a spin, and the ball a wrist-flick in the opposite direction. WZZZZZZZZZZ, you hear the ball travel the inside of the groove. As the ball loses speed, and the wheel slows to give up its centrifugal force keeping the ball to the outside of the wheel, the ball begins to drop down towards the centre of the wheel, the area of the numbers, each separated by a metal rib that serves not only to separate each numbered compartment, but also to create random deflection of the ball as it strikes a rib, rendering the ball’s final destination unpredictable. After a few erratic bounces, the ball jumps over the ribs separating each number and nestles itself into one of the numbers. Is it yours?!

Each spin can be an exhilarating knot in the stomach of building tension that awaits a resolution of pleasure or disappointment. And isn’t it always that you were THAT close to hitting one of your numbers? That’s the thrill. There’s so many ways to just miss, but only one way to get it just right; the perfect number to find the ball to choose as its resting point.

Roulette bets

Straight Bet:

A bet on any specific number on the wheel, including the zero and/or double zero.

Split:

This is a bet that’s divided amongst however many numbers you declare of the standard split bets. A split bet is a short-hand way of making two separate bets with one bet and placing it half on one number and half on another. Obviously, the numbers need to be next to each other in some fashion on the felt. For example you could make a bet “splitting” the 2 and the 3, or the 34 and 35, or the 10 and the 13, if splitting vertically instead of horizontally.

Inside Bets:

An inside bet is any bet that is made within the 0-36 number system itself as a stand alone bet, or a split of two or more numbers on the felt. These bets don’t require declaration from the player, unless you are doing it as instruction for the dealer to place the chips on your behalf as the distance to reach is too far, or perhaps impolite.

Outside Bets:

These are the bets you can make beyond the 0-36 numbers that are found on the players’ side of the felt, that is, you don’t have to have the dealer place them for you, you just put them down with chips yourself. These bets include betting thirds of the number list like 1-12 or 13-24 or 25-36. These bets exclude the 0 and 00, thereby giving the house their edge, and otherwise playing you 2:1 if the ball comes to rest in a number in your chosen third of the list.

You can also bet:

Even/Odd: even money bet with the zero(s) being a loss to the player.

Red/Black: even money bet with the zero(s) being a loss to the player.

1-18 or 19-36: is a bet of half the numbers at even money, with the green 0 or 00 being a loss as well.

Track Bets: Apart from the main felt which displays the 0 and 00 at the top of the table and then sequentially lists all the numbers 1-36 in a 3 x 12 row and column set up, there’s also a smaller ‘track’ on the side of the felt that shows the numbers in the order in which they appear on the wheel. You’ll find once the dealer spins the wheel and gets the ball rolling it’s very hard to fix your eyes on the order of numbers on the wheel as they whizz by! Sore eyes and a crooked neck await you if you’re trying to do that, so it’s easier if you’re looking to see what number on the wheel is next to another number or a range, by looking at the track, found on the side of the felt nearest the dealer is standing. This is not an area where you can put your chips down on yourself; you tell the dealer you want to bet that area and he or she will place your chips on your behalf.

You may use certain lingo when making a track bet, as typically what you’re looking to do is bet a specific section of the wheel. For example, you may hand the dealer 15 chips and say a peculiar phrase like, “Give me zero and the neighbours by 3”. What the hell is that bet? That bet, would be working outwards from the central number you name, in this case the zero, and putting 3 chips on it, and 3 chips on the next two numbers in a row on either side of the zero….aka ’the neighbours’. So, in the case of that particular example, a bet of ‘zero and the neighbours by 3’ would be on a European wheel: 3 chips on the zero, and 3 chips on the two numbers left and right of the zero. So, 3 and 26, 32 and 15.

Strategy

There’s no real ‘correct’ way to play Roulette as it’s simply a spin against the odds. In the long run, the house is going to win. But in the short run, you can do better at Roulette than any other table game in the casino if you find yourself on a hot streak. My advice is to know the bets you’re making and don’t pile on so many squares and bets that even landing on a “winning” number is a net loss.

My favourite way to play roulette is either playing a track list of 5 numbers (x and neighbours) or betting 6 numbers on the felt that I like either an area of the wheel, or are simply my lucky numbers. You’re always only going to be a few numbers away from a hit, so keep it to 5 or 6 individual numbers bet or pick a portion of the wheel. That way, it’s easy to follow the action, you’re aware of what needs to happen,  and that knot of excitement in your stomach is at its optimal point. It’s about the anticipation and resolution so be aware what needs to be resolved for maximum enjoyment as you watch the ball roll!