Roulette: You’ve got to spin it to win it

It’s one of the most popular casino games out there but when it comes to playing, the general gambler seems to throw their bets down at random. Roulette has been played on tables across the world since it was first devised in 18th century France and, although there have been modifications to it over time, the game has pretty much remained the same ever since. And, although on the outside it looks like a game of pure chance, over 300 years of play don’t go by without tips and tactics being formulated by players.

Some of you will already know, but for the benefit of those who don’t, there are two different traditional forms of roulette: American and European. The only difference between the two is that the US version has an extra zero on the table. This doesn’t improve your odds at all, as it simply adds another slot into the mix, which is why the European version has become the more popular game of the two on a global scale. Most online casinos generally offer European roulette as it’s the form most players are comfortable with.

You’ll find lots of useful online guides covering all sorts of strategies and bets that are supposed to increase your chances of winning. Many of them are worth a read, but let’s stick here to the range of common inside and outside bets you can place and the mathematical odds of you landing a return from each.

Oh, and just for reference, ‘inside bets’ cover a large range of numbers, offering a higher probability of returns for the player, whereas ‘outside bets’ cover a smaller range of numbers, reducing your odds but increasing the payout if your number(s) come in.

By: Håkan Dahlström
By: Håkan Dahlström

Inside bets

Straight Up

Single bets placed on any number from 0-36. Of course, you can bet on more than one number if you wish, and all winning bets are paid at 35/1.


This type of bet is placed on the line between two numbers that neighbour each other on the table (five and eight, for example). You more than halve your odds – relative to a straight up bet – with this selection, but will win if either number comes in, with odds of 17/1.

Street Bet

Also known as a three-number bet, gamblers use this approach if they’ve got a gut feeling about three numbers sat in a row. The way to place your bet is to sit a chip on the outer line of that row. If the roulette balls land on any three of your numbers then you’ll win at odds of 11/1.

Corner Bet

Another popular tactic for those who can’t quite make up their mind, the corner bet is placed on the line where four adjacent numbers meet. With odds paying out at 8/1 if any of the four come in, you’ll still get an attractive return if your luck is in.

Outside bets

Odd / Even

This one is fairly straightforward. Bet on any odd or even number and, if it comes in, you’ll get a return of 1/1 (evens).

Red / Black

A similar principle to the odd / even approach. Players choose between a red or black number, with the payout being evens yet again.

Low or High

This tactic tends to be employed when people start to see a pattern emerging on the table. But be careful before getting pulled in. Make sure you’re certain about the bet you want to place. Select between either the numbers 1 to 18 or 19 to 36 and, if the ball lands on any one of your 16 digits, you’ll be paid out at 1/1.

Column Bet

Your odds start to increase with column bets, as the likelihood of the ball stopping on your number reduces slightly. With this type of bet, the table is split into three horizontal sections (columns), with the numbers in each column being taken from the bottom, middle and top rows. If any one of your 12 numbers come in, you’re looking at returns of 2/1.

First 12 / Second 12 / Third 12

It might all sound a little too simple, but with these bets you choose between numbers 1 to 12, 13 to 24 or 25 to 36. The difference between this selection and a column bet is that the numbers directly follow on from each other, rather than in intervals of three (1,4,7 etc.). The odds of winning are the same, though, as are your prospective returns at 2/1.

Whatever bet you choose to place, always bear in mind that there’ll also be the pesky zero (or two, with American roulette) in play.