By Abigail Hartung, David S. Lewis, Travis HoewischerPublished October 1, 2012
The spinning roulette wheel is known to mesmerize onlookers, with fortune’s sphere skipping over the gilded red and black panels at the whim of fate. One of the few table games not involving cards, roulette is an approachable entry into the betting scene for new casino-goers.
The wheel is divided into 38 compartments, featuring numerals 1 through 36, along with “zero” and “double-zero.” Players entering the table will “buy in” with regular casino chips, exchanging them for various colored chips that are used to differentiate between each player’s bets on the table. The value of the table-specific chips is determined at buy-in. A new game takes place each time the ball is spun on the wheel. Bets are placed before the ball drops, and the dealer, or croupier, will announce the end of the round of betting with the call, “no more bets.”
The table is made up of a vast grid with sections for each of the numbers, along with sections signifying bets for different categories, such as ranges of numbers, red or black, and even or odd. The bets are distinguished by the terms “inside” and “outside” bets: inside bets are those placed on particular numbers or combinations of numbers inside the grid, and outside bets are those in the boxes for larger categories outside the main grid of the layout. Chips are placed on the section of the table signifying the player’s bets.
After the ball drops into a numbered compartment on the wheel, the croupier collects losing bets and pays winning bets according to the odds.
When leaving the table with winnings, it is customary to leave the croupier a tip in chips.
» Watch a few games to get a feel for the etiquette of the betting before stepping up to the table. The most common breach is the grabby gambler; the croupier will place a marker on the winning number after each spin, and will not remove it until losing bets are collected and all winning bets are paid. Your chips shouldn’t leave the table until the marker does. A few quick scoldings from the croupier will set you straight, but it’s better to show up already briefed.
» Make sure your chips are properly positioned in the desired location on the layout; the casino stipulates this as the player’s responsibility. Chips on the line between two numbers, for instance, count as a bet on either of those numbers, so keep things tidy.
Keep in mind that you are not betting against the other players.
Bets from different players may be placed on the same section. The best chances of winning are on bets on the largest categories, including red or black, odd or even, one to 18, or 18 to 36. In these bets, you are essentially betting on any of half the numbers on the table coming up (excluding the zero and double zero). However, these larger betting categories naturally come with the lowest payoff ratios. The highest payoff ratio is for a bet on a specific number, which is termed a straight up bet – that’s going to pay $35 for $1 wagered.
It’s also not going to happen very often.