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Whether you are a seasoned gamer with years of real money casino gaming experience, or a fresh-faced newbie looking to play online roulette casinos, this is a fun, uncomplicated, and sometimes downright thrilling way of enjoying a bet. With the rise in online casino games over the last decade or so, plenty of free roulette games are now available for gamers to enjoy.
After Blackjack, both traditional and online roulette, is the most popular casino game worldwide. Anyone can play roulette with a pretty basic explanation of how it works. People worldwide absolutely cherish this mainstay of casino betting, and with good reason, most gamers would say roulette is one of the most fun games to play, either through online casinos or in-house.
This article will explain the roulette game, review its history from the European roulette version through to its American counterpart, and cover its strategy, structure, and betting aspects. If you are a seasoned pro with thousands of spins behind you, you might want to skip this introduction and go straight to the gaming table for free roulette games and other exciting features. But for anyone just starting and needing a quick introduction, let’s get you up to speed and ready to play roulette.
You can play roulette games in online casinos, using the same rules as regular roulette online. This guide assumes you are playing in a casino, but really there isn't much difference. Online roulette casinos are pretty much identical to traditional in-house roulette, with a few obvious differences. There are also variations of European roulette in comparison to American roulette.
The primitive game started in Italy with a numbered game of pure luck in which players would simply select a number from a fixed range. A dealer would randomly choose a number, and if the two match, you win. It was not really the most stimulating of games; to be honest, it was more like a basic lotto game than anything else. European roulette was more similar to the roulette we know and love today, with Parisian gamers in the 18th century who really improved the game even more.
French roulette was far better than the original concept because they took the Italian version and improved it by adding a numbered wheel. The gamer would then select a slot or multiple slots and spin the wheel. A small marble would be tossed in, and if it landed in one of your slots, you won. On a very rudimentary level, it hasn’t changed much in the 200 or so years it has been around. The premise remains the same, with variations. When the game was introduced to American casinos, gaming houses, and saloons, an additional ‘zero’ and 'double zero' slot was incorporated with green slots, alongside a separate cloth table listing the numbers 0 and 00 to 36.
A further addition to french roulette included a ‘red or black’ feature, in which each slot was alternately colored red or black. Numbers were also randomized by American casinos. Instead of the wheel starting at number 1 and continuing in order through to 36, the numbers would be completely mixed in order. Most American roulette wheels start with the number 0 and then move clockwise, displaying 27,10, 25, and 29,12, with numbers continuing in that random order until going full circle, ending in 1. There is also a 00 halfway around the wheel.
A game of in-house roulette starts with the croupier announcing a gaming session as “open for bets.” While the session is open, the gamer will stake a bet by placing chips onto a number of their choosing by selecting at least one numbered grid on the table. In doing so, they are selecting that number as the winner. Multiple numbers can be chosen, with any amount staked on each number. Alternatively, you can choose red or black colors, giving yourself an even odds chance of winning.
With bets placed, the croupier will announce that the session is ‘closed,’ meaning no further bets can be placed. At that point, the croupier will spin the wheel and launch the ball. The ball rolls at speed around the edge of the wheel until eventually catching the spinning edge of the wheel, bouncing around a few times, and landing in a slot. It will take a moment to determine which slot the ball has landed in, but as soon as the wheel slows down, gamers can see which slot the number was drawn to and ultimately settled in. This usually adds to the thrill, especially playing live dealer roulette online, with the ball often bouncing around a gamer’s chosen slot a few times before finding a home.
The croupier then announces the winning number and settles with any winning gamers. In turn, the house will take all chips for all losers. There are some essential things to be aware of before we look at how to play free roulette online and traditional in-house roulette.
When the croupier announces “closed bets,” you will not be permitted to select a number on the grid, and the gamers can choose which number or color they are betting on winning. Never touch any other gamers’ chips on the grid (obviously does not apply to free online roulette), and never, under any circumstances, touch the wheel! (Again, this does not apply to online roulette!) There is no physical croupier with free online roulette games, but you probably figured that out!
We will focus on the American version of roulette just to avoid confusion and complication. There are variations of the game in other parts of the world – some tables, for example, do not have a zero slot – but with the American version being the most commonly played, we will focus on that. The American roulette wheel has interspersed red and black slots. Each one has a printed number from 1 through 36, with an additional two green slots numbered with single and double zero, respectively.
The wheel is built into a large table, usually covered with fitted green baize material. The baize is printed with a grid display, with each square section representing the numbers on the wheel. There are additional numbered sections for different, more risky bets that pay higher odds, which we will cover later in this article. The odds and strategy of the game are varied, with lots of different betting options and risk levels, but the actual order of play is the same every time, and it goes like this:
The croupier announces the session as open (or with free online roulette, you are told 'ready to play.) Then, gamers select red or black numbers or groups of numbers on the grid. Gamers then place chips on their selection to stake the bet, and the croupier announces the session as closed, with no more bets. The croupier then spins the roulette wheel and launches the ball into play, declaring the winning number and color before paying out to any winners. After chips are cleared, a new session is announced.
So, the basics are pretty simple. The croupier launches a ball into a spinning wheel with numbered slots. The gamer makes a bet by selecting one of them. That is the most common way to play roulette with online casinos and in-house casinos.
However, there are more attractive, involved betting methods on a roulette spin, and we will cover those now. It’s about to get way more interesting! So, various roulette bets are separated into red, black, and individual numbered betting. The wide range of bets will often have slightly different quirks and rules, depending on the casino or country.
With that in mind, we will not cover every individual one because, first and foremost, these additional strategies are way less common, infrequently played, and have different rules in different casinos, especially with online roulette and its often vast choice of selections.
There are, however, three types of bets in addition to number betting that are identical, whether playing in-house or online roulette. They are announced, inside and outside bets. Let’s take a look at how they work.
We explained the grid section, which lists the individual numbers on the roulette wheel. Now, outside that grid, you can make additional bets on different categories with different outcomes, each with its own unique odds.
Starting with the easiest to grasp, you have red or black. There really isn’t much to explain about this type of bet – you simply select a color, giving yourself an even odds chance of winning. Well, almost, even odds, but not quite. Each American wheel has two green slots displaying single or double zero. With these two slots, the casino will have a slight advantage over red or black betters – but only a slim, marginal advantage.
Red and black betting is statistically your safest and least risky bet - unless you are playing free online roulette, in which case risk is not a real factor as no real money is involved.
The next most common bet, also considered lower risk, would be odd or even number betting. Statistically, the odds are no different from red or black betting and are almost, but not quite, even odds – again, because of the two green slots displaying single and double zero.
The remaining even-odds bet (again, almost even odds) is the high or low strategy. You will notice a section on the betting grid for this bet, displaying two choices: 1 through 18 or 19 through 36. Betters will select either one for an almost even-odds selection.
You will notice three groups of numbers on the table (or screen for online roulette), known as a column bet. In terms of risk, this is one step up from red/black and odd/even betting. The odds of winning are just slightly over a one-in-three chance. An identical bet is available, known as 'dozens', which is essentially the same risk and pretty much the same strategy, really.
The grassroots, bare bones of betting on roulette spins are known as inside bets. This is just choosing one of the individual numbers on the grid. However, you need to be aware of a few variations of inside bets.
As simple as it comes - there is very little to explain this bet because there isn’t much to it. A straight bet is the selection of any one of the numbers available. Go ahead and slap your chips down on a number that takes your fancy. If the ball lands in that slot, you win. With 38 slots on the table, this gives you odds of 37/1.
With a split bet, you select two numbers on the wheel. You win if the ball lands on any of the two slots next to each other. Compared to a straight bet, the chances have been doubled – meaning your odds have been halved and now sit at around 18/1
Again, nothing complicated about a trio bet. You simply select three consecutive numbers, such as 25, 26, and 27. Your odds are three times greater than a straight bet, so your odds are now around 12/1.
Also available on any American roulette table are line, corner, snake, and fiver number bets. Line bets are easy enough to grasp – you simply bet on one whole row of numbers. Corner bets always include four numbers, and a five-bet includes five numbers that never change, regardless of the casino; single and double zero, one, two, and three. Looking across the grid, you will also see a row of 12 numbers available for selection. This is known as a snake bet.
We start to get a little more off-beat and quirky with the following few strategies. These are way less common but used enough that they deserve mentioning. A final bet is successfully calling the last digit of any winning number. So, for example, if you chose the number 7, a final bet will also pay out on numbers 17 and 27.
Betting on zero game means selecting all the numbers around the single and double zeros on the wheel. This is quite a complicated bet requiring a combination of straight and split betting, and probably not worth the effort involved. Announced bets should only be used to inject a little fun into a regular straight or color game. To that end, we would say that they are a nice way of bringing a different dimension to a roulette session, but they shouldn’t be taken too seriously or deployed as a sole strategy.
Online roulette games have become quite popular in recent years and serve as a good training ground for real money betting. We suggest you go and play roulette online a few times before venturing into a casino, just to get a decent grasp of the roulette games and strategies. You won't lose any real money when you play online roulette, and it's a fun way to learn the various strategies.
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