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Understanding the Roulette Wheel and Roulette Table

Shane C

May 15, 2023

Understand the Roulette Table Layout

Arguably the roulette wheel is the most iconic item of betting equipment in a casino. There are exciting card games, dice games, and slots games, but the roulette wheel transcends all of them in terms of the sheer drama it can generate.

Synonymous with gambling around the world, the roulette wheel will be easily recognised even by non-gamblers due to its inclusion in numerous movies and TV shows. The betting layout for roulette will also be immediately familiar to anyone who has ever set foot in a casino before.

In this article, we will give you a guided tour around the roulette wheel and layout; if you read to the end, you'll be an expert who can impress your friends and family with your roulette wheel knowledge!

Roulette: An Overview

You'll find plenty of other articles on this site on how to play roulette, roulette strategies, and more. However, it's probably best to go over the basics of roulette before we start talking about the wheel and table layout.

There's nothing complicated about playing roulette; it's an easy game to pick up. Essentially, you are betting on where a ball will land after being spun around a wheel.

Players bet by putting chips on the relevant section of the betting layout; after all the bets have been placed, the croupier spins the roulette wheel in one direction and then releases a ball onto it in the opposite direction. The ball eventually comes to rest in one of the numbered sections of the wheel, and this determines which bets win and which lose.

The two main types of bets in roulette are inside and outside bets. Inside bets are wagers on specific numbers or combinations of numbers. For instance, you could bet on the ball landing on a specific number or a split bet on two adjacent numbers, such as 17 and 18. Outside bets, in contrast, are bets on categories of numbers, such as betting on red numbers or even numbers.

We'd recommend starting with the outside bets if you're a beginner, as these give you the best chance of winning. Though the winnings are smaller, the odds of winning are much higher than with the outside bets.

It should be noted that you are not limited to a single bet; you can place multiple bets on the roulette table.

A History of the Roulette Wheel

History of the Roulette WheelRoulette is thought to have originated in 18th-century France. The first recorded reference to the wheel was made by French physicist Blaise Pascal. Pascal was attempting to create a perpetual motion machine, and he eventually came up with the idea of a spinning wheel with slots for numbers.

While Pascal's machine was never completed, the root of the modern roulette wheel can be traced back to his original idea. Other theories of its origins abound, and Pascal, a keen gambler, might have taken the idea from existing wheel games of the time.

Roulette can obviously be credited to the French with its name meaning 'little or small wheel' in French. The earliest mention of the modern game as we know it was in 1796 in a French novel by Jacques Lablee called "La Roulette, ou le Jour". It described the roulette wheel and layout at Paris's Palais Royal Casino, which very much resembles the game that we enjoy today.

The American version of the game, which includes a second green pocket, wasn't introduced until the 19th century when it first appeared in New Orleans.

As you'd expect, it didn't take long to take off globally, and nowadays, any self-respecting casino without a roulette wheel is unthinkable.

Mechanisms of a Roulette Wheel

Mechanically, the roulette wheel is a relatively simple device though it has to be precise to operate correctly. The most important part of the roulette wheel is the bearing, which helps the wheel to spin smoothly. The bearing has to be precisely manufactured, as even a tiny imperfection can throw off the entire mechanism.

Parts of a Roulette Wheel

A roulette wheel comprises several key parts that work together to create the game we know and love.

The parts include:

The Bowl – This is the large outer bowl that the wheel sits in. It's usually made of wood or metal and has a lip around the edge to keep the ball from bouncing out.

Wheel – This is the roulette wheel itself, and it's usually made of wood or metal. The wheel has 37 or 38 numbered slots, which the ball will land when the wheel is spun.

Pockets – These are the indentations in the wheel where the ball can land. They're usually numbered from 0 to 36, although some American wheels also have a double zero (00) pocket.

Ball Track – This is the raised track that runs around the edge of the wheel. It's designed to keep the ball from bouncing out of the wheel.

The Frets - These are the metal dividers between the pockets. They're usually made of brass or copper, and they help to deflect the ball as it lands in a pocket.

Ball – This is the small white ball that is spun around the wheel. It's usually made of ivory or plastic.

Roulette Wheel Manufacturers

As you'd expect, with its long history, some famous brands are connected with the roulette wheel. John Huxley is a British company making roulette wheels and other professional gambling equipment since 1979. Cammegh is another British company; they boast that they make the finest roulette wheel in the world and who's to argue? They are one of the biggest players globally.

Other names of note include the Italian company Abbiati and B.C Wills & Co, often described as the founders of modern gaming in the USA.

Roulette Table Betting Layout

Roulette Table Betting LayoutWhile the roulette wheel might look sexy and alluring, the table layout can look a little scary to the uninitiated. But it's really not that complicated. And let's face it, this is the fun part of the game where all the action happens, and you get to choose your bets.

At a land-based casino, the layout is made of green baize cloth, with all the bets marked out in precise detail. Online, it's usually a digital representation of this.

The bets on the roulette table can be broadly grouped into two categories: inside and outside bets.

As the name suggests, inside bets are those placed on the numbered area of the layout, while outside bets are those placed in the boxed sections around the edge.

Popular outside bets include:

  • Red or black – Betting that the roulette ball will land in a black or red pocket.

  • Odd or Even – Betting that the ball will land on an odd or even pocket.

  • 1-18 or 19-36 – Betting that the ball will land in either the 1-18 or 19-36 numbered areas.

  • Dozens – Betting on one of the three dozen blocks of numbers (1-12, 13-24, or 25-36).

  • Columns – Betting on one of the three columns on the roulette table layout.

Popular inside bets include:

  • Straight-up – A bet on a single number.

  • Split – A bet on two adjacent numbers, e.g., 14-15 or 23-24.

  • Street – A bet on three numbers in a row, e.g., 7-8-9 or 22-23-24.

  • Trio – A bet on three numbers that include at least one zero, e.g., 0-1-2 or 0-2-3.

In total, over 20 different bets can be placed on the roulette table. But the game's beauty is that you don't have to learn them all to play. Each time you add a couple to your arsenal, you'll quickly get the hang of it.

The Race Track

In European and French versions of roulette, you might come across the race track. If you've seen it, it's obvious how it got its name. It's a large, oval-shaped betting area divided into sections for different bets. The numbers on the race track correspond to the numbers on the wheel.

The race track is a tool that lets you place bets on groups of numbers rather than having to place chips on all of them individually. Often, you'll hear these bets called 'call bets' - and there are several different types that you can make.

You'll also notice the French names next to these bets; these hark back to the French casinos where the racetrack originated.

The betting sections are as follows:

Voisins du Zero – Roughly translated as "neighbours of zero", this area covers 17 numbers that are adjacent to the zero pocket. These include 22, 18, 29, 7, 28, 12, 35, 3, 26, 0, 32, 15, 19, 4, 21, 2, and 25.

Tiers du Cylindre – If your French is a little rusty, this section is also known as 'the third of the wheel.' It covers 12 numbers that are on the opposite side of the wheel. These are 27, 13, 36, 11, 30, 8, 23, 10, 5, 24, 16, and 33.

Orphelins – The eight numbers that aren't included in either of the other two sections of the wheel are referred to as the orphans. These include 1, 20, 14, 31, 9, 17, 34, and 6.

The European Roulette Wheel

European Roulette Wheel and TableThere are two types of roulette wheels in use today - the European wheel and the American wheel. The European wheel is the older of the two and is most commonly used in European casinos. You'll also find it available at most online casinos.

The main difference between the two wheels is that the European wheel has only one green zero pocket, while the American wheel has both a zero and a double zero pocket.

At first glance, this might not seem much of a difference, and you might happily play at either indifferent to the outcome. But the extra double-zero pocket gives the house a much more significant advantage over the player - so if you're given a choice, we recommend that you choose the European wheel. The house edge on European roulette is 2.7%, while it's 5.26% on American roulette.

Including the zero, a European roulette wheel has 37 numbers, 18 black and 18 red, the 0 stands out on the wheel as it is the only green pocket.

The numbers run - 0, 32, 15, 19, 4, 21, 2, 25, 17, 34, 6, 27, 13, 36, 11, 30, 8, 23, 10, 5, 24, 16, 33, 1, 20, 14, 31, 9, 22, 18, 29, 7, 28, 12, 35, 3 and 26.

The total of all the numbers added together is 666, leading to the reason why roulette is sometimes known as the devil's game.

Those new to roulette are often surprised that the numbers don't run sequentially around the wheel - this is because if they did, some bets would be mathematically more likely to win than others. The current arrangement of numbers is designed to give the casino an edge - but don't worry, it's still possible to win at roulette!

American Roulette (The Double Zero Wheel)

American Roulette Wheel and TableThe American-style roulette table consists of a wheel with 38 pockets, 18 of which are black and 18 of which are red. The remaining two pockets are green; one labelled 0 and the other labelled 00.

While American Roulette is less common in Europe, it is the dominant form of the game in the United States. Online casinos usually offer both as well as other roulette variants.

The numbers on the American Roulette wheel run - 28, 9, 26, 30, 11, 7, 20, 32, 17, 5, 22, 34, 15, 3, 24, 36, 13, 1, 00, 27, 10, 25, 29, 12, 8, 19, 31, 18, 6, 21, 33, 16, 4, 23, 35, 14, 2, and 0.

Hot and Cold Roulette Numbers

You might have heard the term hot and cold numbers used by roulette players and want to know what it's all about and if it has any impact on your game.

Hot numbers are supposedly those that have come up frequently in recent spins, while cold numbers are those that haven't been coming up so much.

There's no scientific basis for believing that hot and cold numbers exist, and even if they did, they wouldn't necessarily impact your game. Roulette is a game of chance, and each spin of the wheel is entirely independent of all other spins.

That being said, some players like to keep track of which numbers have been coming up recently in the hope that it might give them some clue as to which numbers are due to come up next. We say good luck to them, but we would rather have fun and enjoy the game!

The Roulette Wheel at an Online Casino

Online Roulette Wheel and TableFortunately, in this digital age, you don't need to make a special visit to Las Vegas or even your local casino to experience the spin of the roulette wheel. Online casinos have done a fantastic job of bringing the casino experience to our homes and phones.

The online roulette wheel is based on the same design as the physical wheel found in casinos. The most significant difference is that online roulette wheels don't have any physical balls. Instead, an RNG (Random Number Generator) determines where the virtual ball will land.

An RNG ensures that your roulette game will be fair and random; most reputable casinos will have third-party auditors who test the RNG to check that it is working as it should.

As with the wheel, the virtual roulette table pretty much mirrors what you'll find at a regular casino. When it's time to bet, you'll use your virtual chips to make your wagers on the betting area.

But the RNG roulette games where you play against a computer aren't always the only option at an online casino. In recent years live dealer games have come to the fore.

In these games, only the chips are virtual; everything else, from the wheel to the ball and, of course, the dealer, is physical. You'll also be playing with other real players, adding to the excitement and authenticity.

Taking Other Roulette Games into Consideration

While the traditional American and European roulette games have remained unchanged over the centuries, online casinos have introduced several other variations to try and keep things interesting.

One example is Mini Roulette, which has a smaller wheel with only 13 pockets. The advantage of this game is that it's quicker to play - but the trade-off is that your chances of winning are reduced.

Another popular variant is Multiwheel Roulette, where you can bet on multiple wheels simultaneously. This gives you more chances to win, but your stakes will obviously be higher.

If you're feeling really lucky, there's also Multi-Ball Roulette, where you can play with up to 10 balls simultaneously!

Fortunately, most of these games are based on the rules of traditional roulette - so if you're familiar with those, you shouldn't have any trouble getting to grips with the new variants.

Final Thoughts

The Roulette wheel is a marvel of engineering and mathematical genius that has been around for centuries to provide players with an entertaining game of chance. In its physical and online form, we expect it will be around for many centuries to come; our love affair with this game shows no signs of abating.

FAQs About Roulette Wheels

Is roulette a game of luck or skill?

Roulette is all down to the luck of the spin, and there's no skill involved. Learning all the different bets is the only 'strategy' you need to know. If you're looking for a casino game where you can apply some skill and strategy, poker and blackjack are where you should turn your attention.

Can a roulette dealer control the ball?

Roulette croupiers don't have any control over where the ball ends up on the roulette wheel. You might hear about biassed roulette wheels and croupiers who can manipulate the spin. Still, unless you are playing at an extremely shady casino, the chances are the roulette wheel is fair.

What is a roulette ball made of?

The roulette ball is traditionally made of ivory, though nowadays, the balls found at casinos are made of a synthetic material known as Ivorine and sometimes Teflon. If you buy a cheap roulette set online, the ball is just as likely to be made of plastic.

It should be noted that the use of an ivory roulette ball is now banned in many casinos worldwide.

Do motors power roulette wheels?

Though it looks like a motor could power it, typically, the roulette wheel is a manual device that uses specially machined bearings and the physics of friction to keep it spinning for enough time to build up the excitement before the ball finally comes to a rest. However, modern roulette wheels have electronic components connected to them to record things such as non-random results and data that provide a history of wheel events over several years.

Do all casinos use the same roulette wheel?

There are many manufacturers of roulette wheels, and each casino will usually have its own preference for which one they use. Though there may be some slight differences in the size or shape of the pockets, for the most part, all roulette wheels are pretty similar.

How much does a roulette wheel weigh?

Most roulette wheels weigh more than 88 pounds but can be much heavier. We've seen professional-grade wheels that weigh up to 150 pounds. However, the roulette wheel you buy from Amazon or your favorite online store for home use will be much lighter.

How many players can play roulette at one time?

Most roulette tables at a casino have a maximum of 7-8 players, although some seat up to 10 people. If you are playing at home, how big is your dining room table? That should give you a good idea of how many people can comfortably play together. At an online casino, unless you are playing at a live dealer roulette table, there's no limit to how many people can play at the same time.

Is the roulette wheel really random?

The roulette wheel is designed to be as random as possible in a regular casino. If you're playing at an online casino, then the Random Number Generator ensures that every spin of the roulette wheel is truly random too.