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The Basics of Roulette

Roulette is one of the oldest and most popular casino games in the world. It is also among the most accessible, offering a relatively simple game of chance that can easily be played by beginners and experts alike. While roulette may have a smaller following than video poker, blackjack or craps, it is a staple of Monte Carlo and other European casinos. The game’s rules are straightforward, and it offers a surprising level of depth for serious betters.

When you first approach a roulette table, look for the placard that describes the minimum and maximum bets allowed. The minimum is generally $5, and the maximum varies depending on the table. Some tables offer a maximum bet of $1,000, while others have a much lower maximum bet. Choose a table that fits within your budget.

Once the bets are placed, the croupier (or dealer) throws the ball into the wheel. The players then watch as the ball spins around the wheel and settles into one of the compartments that marks a number. If your bet was on that number, you win.

In roulette, you can bet on individual numbers, various groups of numbers, red or black colors, odd or even numbers, or whether the numbers are high (1-18) or low (19-36). Outside bets are less expensive than inside bets, and they often pay out at higher odds.

A roulette wheel consists of a solid, slightly convex wooden disk that is painted alternately red and black. Thirty-six of these compartments, called frets by roulette croupiers, are numbered consecutively from 1 to 36, while two green compartments on American wheels carry the signs 0 and 00. A metal spindle and a trough for the ball complete the apparatus.

The house gets its edge in roulette because the payouts for winning bets don’t match the true odds of hitting a specific number. For example, the odds of hitting a straight-up bet are 37 to 1, but the house pays only 35 to 1. This discrepancy is how the game drains your wallet.

The game’s earliest roots are unknown, but it is widely believed that it was invented by French physicist Blaise Pascal as part of his attempts to design a wheel that would demonstrate perpetual motion. The wheel was first used in the casinos of Paris, where it was colored red for the single zero and black for the double. Starting in the 1800s, the symmetries of the wheel were changed to make it easier for the dealers to track bets and prevent cheating.