The Basics of Roulette

Roulette is a gambling game wherein a small ball rolls around a revolving wheel and people bet on which red or black or odd or even numbered compartment it will enter as it comes to rest. The game emerged in the late 1700s in Europe. It is likely that it evolved from the earlier Italian game Biribi and the French games hoca and portique. The name is French for “little wheel.” Bets may be placed on a single number, various groupings of numbers, color red or black, and whether the numbers are high (19-36) or low (1-18).

A croupier spins the wheel in one direction while a small ball is rolled in the opposite direction around a tilted circular track running along the edge of the wheel. The dealer then announces ‘no more bets’ to prevent cheating or the addition of extra advantages. The wheel contains thirty-six numbered red and black compartments (called canoes by croupiers) plus two green ones that are called zeros. Each compartment is lined with metal bars and the segments that hold them are curved to conform to the wheel’s curvature, thus preventing the ball from falling off or spinning backward into a losing position.

Players place their chips on the betting layout until ‘no more bets’ is announced. Once the wheel and ball have stopped, winners are awarded according to their betting odds. Inside bets are made on particular groups of numbers and pay off if that number or grouping is hit; outside bets are placed on the first, second, or third dozen or on high-low, red-black or odds-even.

Although there are many strategies to play roulette, it is important to remember that the game is a pure game of chance. Unless you are extremely lucky, no amount of skill or preparation can overcome the built-in house percentage. So have fun, enjoy the thrill of the wheel and appreciate that you’re taking a gamble. Frank Scoblete grew up in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn and spent the ’60s getting an education and the ’70s in editing, writing and publishing; the ’80s in theater and the ’90s and 2000s in casino gambling. He is the author of 35 books and a well known casino specialist. He lives in Long Island, NY.