Learn to Play Roulette

On first approach of a busy roulette table, you may find yourself slightly intimidated. There’s a flurry of activity punctuated by periods of silence as players watch the wheel and hope their number comes up. If you are not sure what you’re doing, it can be hard to jump in for the first time.

Here are a few tips to get started, and soon you’ll be playing like a pro.

Make Sure you Have the Proper Chips

Roulette chips are different from poker and blackjack chips.

Roulette chips are different from poker and blackjack chips.

Generally, if you encounter a roulette table, you’re in some sort of casino setting. If this is the case, there’s a good chance you are already holding some chips. It’s important to remember that when you step up to the roulette table, you need to have chips that are specific to that table.

The croupier – the dealer at the roulette table – will provide you with chips that are both a uniform color and denomination. For example, if you give a $20 chip or a $20 bill, you may receive 20 blue chips each worth $1. Before you change out your money, however, make sure you’ve double checked your table minimums. If you’re looking for $10 minimum bets, you don’t want to end up at the $100 table.


Table showing a straight bet, street bet, and a corner bet.

There are two basic kinds of bets to be made: Inside bets and outside bets.

Inside Bets

An inside bet is anything on one of the numbers on the red and black grid, or a bet on 0 or 00. There are several different ways to bet inside.

  • Straight, or single, bet (35-1): While these bets pay out the best, they are also the least likely to win. To place a straight bet, just place a chip or chips on a single number. If that number hits, you win.
  • Split bet (17-1): This allows you to bet on any two adjacent numbers (for example, 1 and 2 or 1 and 4). To place a split bet, just place chips on the line that separates the two numbers you wish to put money on on. You win if either of those numbers hits.
  • Street bet (11-1): You can bet on any row of three numbers by placing your chip on the line separating the inside bets from the outside. If any of the numbers in the corresponding row hit, you win.
  • Corner, or square, bet (8-1): This is similar to a split bet, but you place your chip on the corner of the four numbers that you wish to bet on (for example, you can bet on 1, 2, 4 and 5) and will win if any of the four hit.
  • Five-number bet (6-1): The chip is placed on the line separating the inside and outside bets but straddling the 1 and 0. It’s worth noting that this bet has the worst odds on the table.
  • Double street bet (5-1): This allows you to bet on two rows of three numbers. You’ll place this bet just like the street bet, but it should be straddling two rows. A hit on any of the six numbers will pay out.

Table showing a dozens bet, odd bet, and black bet.

Outside Bets

These are a little more straightforward than inside bets. You’re much more likely to win, but the payouts are significantly less. The boxes that indicate the various bets are marked, making them a bit easier for beginners to understand.

  • Dozens (2-1): You bet on 1-12, 13-24 or 25-36. They are simply marked 1st dozen, 2nd dozen and 3rd dozen. If any of the numbers in your dozen hit, you win.
  • Columns (2-1): At the bottom of the red and black grid, there are three boxes that are marked “2 to 1.” A bet on one of these will win if any numbers in the corresponding columns hits.

The rest of the outside bets pay out even money, and they are 1-18, 19-36, Even, Odd, Black and Red.

Placing your Bets

Wait until the croupier has cleared away the last round of chips before you begin playing. Again, take note of the minimum bet at the table. If there is a $5 minimum bet, you must bet $5 inside, $5 outside or both. You cannot, for example, bet $2 inside and $3 outside.

Make sure that when you place your chips, it is clear what bet you want to make. A split bet should be clearly on the line between the two numbers. You don’t want to miss out on a win because your chip was not clearly where you meant it to be.

If someone has already placed a bet where you wanted to, remember that you can stack your chip on top of the other player’s – this is why the chips are colored.


Table showing a straight bet, 2 bets on red, and a corner bet.

Because the roulette table is long, you may not be able to reach certain numbers at the far end of the table. If this is the case, the croupier can help you. Just place the chip on the table within his reach, and ask him to place it where you would like it to go. Remember – you can never hand anything directly to the croupier.

“No More Bets”

Players are given ample time to place their bets, during which the croupier will start the spin. Once the wheel has begun to spin, you can continue to place bets up until the ball is about to drop into the wheel. You’ll know that it’s time to stop placing bets when the croupier waves his hands over the table and announces “No more bets.”

After the announcements, all bets are final. Keep your hands off of the table to prevent any confusion.

Once the ball lands, the croupier will put a marker on the winning number and clear out all of the losing chips.

He will then pay out all of the winning chips. For outside bets, he will almost always stack up the winnings next to the bet. Depending on the croupier, he may do the same with the inside bets, though he may stack them in front of you.

Once betting resumes for the next round, you can either leave your bet for the next round, or take it off the table.