Roulette offers a bewildering number of betting options, but the bets are actually straightforward enough. In order to make sure you get the correct payout, you’ll want to make sure that you put your chips in exactly the right place on the table. Missing a payout because your chip isn’t in the right spot is a drag.
Roulette payouts work like this. The odds are stated in the form of x to 1, which means you’ll win x dollars for every dollar you’ve bet. For example, the single number bet offers a payout of 35 to 1. If you win, you’ll get your dollar back plus the $35 for the win.
On the edge of the table are a series of bets which are “outside” the 38 numbers on the table. Each of these bets refers to a specific set of numbers or colors. If the ball lands on 0 or 00, you’ll lose on any of the outside bets.
The outside bets include:
Red or Black – This bet pays out even odds (1 to 1) if the ball lands on the color you chose.
Odd or Even – This bet pays out even odds (1 to 1) if the ball lands on odd or even, depending on which you chose.
Low or High – This bet pays out even money (1 to 1) if the ball lands on 1-18 if you bet low, or if the ball lands on 19-36 if you bet high.
Columns – The numbers on the layout are organized into three columns of twelve numbers each. A “columns” bet wins if the ball lands on one of the numbers in the column you chose. This bet pays out 2 to 1 when you win.
Dozens – There are 36 numbers on the table, so you can bet on the first dozen (1-12), the second dozen (13-24), or the third dozen (25-36). This bet also pays out 2 to 1.
You can also bet on specific numbers and sets of numbers on the inside of the layout. These bets win less often, but they pay out more when you do win. The house edge on the inside bets is the same as the house edge on the outside bets.
The inside bets include:
Straight-up – This is a bet on a single number. It pays off at 35 to 1.
Split bet – This is a bet on any two adjacent numbers. You place the chip on the line between the two numbers in order to make this wager. This bet pays out at 17 to 1.
Street bet – This bet covers three numbers. You place your bet on the line outside of the three numbers in the row where you want to win. This bet pays out at 11 to 1.
Corner bet – Some people call this a square bet or a quarter bet. It’s a bet on a corner that makes a square, and it’s a bet on four numbers. A win on this type of bet pays out at 8 to 1.
Five-number bet – You can only make one five-number bet, and it’s the only inside bet that offers different odds from all the others. The problem is that it has a higher house edge, making it the worst bet on the table. This bet is on the numbers 0, 00, 1, 2, and 3, and you place the chip on the outside corner line between the 1 and the 0. This bet pays out 6 to 1, but only masochists place this bet.
Six-number bet – Some people call this a line bet. It covers two adjoining rows of numbers. It pays out at 5 to 1.
These payouts all have one thing in common—they pay out less than the true odds of hitting a win. That’s why the casino enjoys a house edge of 5.26% on roulette. Your odds of winning are always less than the payout amounts.
For example, the odds of winning a straight-up bet are 37 to 1. There are 37 numbers on the wheel that lose, and 1 bet on the wheel that will win. But the bet only pays out 35 to 1, not 37 to 1, so the house wins more often than it loses.
A split bet offers you odds of winning of 18 to 1, but it pays off at 17 to 1.
I could list all of them, but you get the idea by now. The casino has an unassailable mathematical advantage on every bet. No betting system or strategy can overcome this advantage.
Of course, in the short run, anything can (and often will) happen. This is called “standard deviation”, and it explains why some people walk away from the roulette table as winners. The mathematically true results only come around the closer you get to an infinite number of spins.
So the best way to approach roulette is as a lark. It’s a fun game. You can relax and socialize while you play. But don’t expect to win, because the odds are against you. And if you do win, walk away and smile, because you beat the odds.