Basics of Roulette for Beginners

Roulette basics for beginners are among the easiest of all casino games in terms of learning how to play. That’s one of the reasons why the game is so popular, both in the casino and in the online sphere. Once you learn the basics of this fun, exciting game, you’ll be able to play it with confidence and maximize your potential profits.

Roulette LogoThere’s no moment in a casino that’s more exciting than when the roulette wheel is spinning and a bunch of gamblers are gathered around to see where the ball lands. Online roulette provides that same kind of excitement without all the crowds.

In any case, you might want to take part in roulette, but you might not know the basics.

Luckily, online roulette is a great way to get involved with the game and is simple to learn. You don’t need to know any advanced strategies or anything like that. All you have to do is make your bets and hope the spins work in your favor.

In the following article, we’ll explain the basics of online roulette for beginners. We’ll talk about how the game works in the online sphere and we’ll detail your chances of winning. Finally, we’ll answer some of the most frequently asked questions about the game.

How Online Roulette Works

Online roulette essentially simulates the roulette action found in a casino, giving you the same experience and potential payback. Let’s take a look at how this process works in step-by-step fashion.

Making Your Bets

The bankroll that you establish at the start of play will be divided into chips. You get to determine how much each chip is worth. Then, you use those chips to bet on the outcome of the digital wheel spin.

There are 38 spaces on the wheel in American-style roulette, and 37 in European-style. Both variants have the numbers 1 through 36 on the wheel, 18 red and 18 black. There are either one or two green “zero” spaces as well, depending on which style you play.

You can bet on just a single space or you can bet on different clusters.

For example, you can bet on two, three, or four spaces by placing a chip in a specific space that connects those numbers. Or you can go further by betting on whole rows or columns, entire colors, or odd or even.

You can make multiple bets before each spin. Once you decide on your bets, you can initiate the digital spin of the wheel.

Digital Spin

In online roulette, you’ll see a visual approximation of a spinning roulette wheel on the screen, with the ball eventually falling into one of the slots. Obviously, in a casino, this is a physical act set into motion by the employee in charge. But when you’re playing online roulette, all of this taken care of by software inside the game.

Hand Holding a Smartphone Showing a Roulette Mobile App

Even though you’ll see a wheel spinning on the screen, the outcome of a particular spin will be determined by random number generator software within the game. This determines where the ball will land on the screen. If it lands on one of the spaces covered by your bets, you win.


The amount that you get paid back when playing online roulette is determined by what you bet and how many spaces you covered with your bets. Your payback will be higher the less amount of spaces that you covered.
Here is a look at what you can expect in payback from a typical American-style online roulette game, with both the amount of numbers covered and the roulette name for each bet.

  • Single number (straight-up): 35 to 1
  • Two numbers (split): 17 to 1
  • Three numbers (street): 11 to 1
  • Four numbers (corner): 8 to 1
  • Five numbers (basket): 6 to 1
  • Six numbers (six line): 5 to 1
  • 12 numbers (columns, dozens): 2 to 1
  • 18 numbers (odd, even, red, black, 1 to 18, 19 to 36): 1 to 1

Some of these bets are based on numerical value, others by colors, and others by how the numbers are positioned on the board. For a deeper discussion of this topic, take a look here for all the details on different online roulette bets.

Important Details of Specific Roulette Games

Even though all online roulette games pretty much work the same in terms of how you bet and how the wheel spins, there are subtle differences among them. These differences are important to understand in that they might have an impact on your potential payback.

Number of Spaces on Wheel

Even if you can’t remember which is American and which is European, you should be aware of how many slots are on the roulette wheel for the online game you’re playing. It’s a pretty simple rule: the more spaces there are, the more disadvantageous it is for you as a player.

The reason for this is that the green, or zero spaces, are technically “house” spaces. If you make one of the multiple-number bets above (with the exception of the basket), you’ll automatically lose if the ball lands in a green slot. As a result, having only one green zero on the board is better for you than if there are two.

Imprisoned or Surrendered Bets

These rules come into place when you make an even money bet on the wheel, such as all odds or all red. In the case of an even money bet, you would normally lose the entirety of the bet if the ball lands on the green “house” space. These bets offer you some relief.

  • In the case of an imprisoned, or “en prison” in European terms, you won’t lose your bey. It will just stay in place until the next spin, where it could be returned in full to you if the wheel lands on one of the numbers covered by your bet.
  • There is also a surrender, or “la partage,” option offered by some online casinos. In this scenario, you would only lose half of your wager if the ball lands in a green space when you’ve made an even-money bet. The other half is returned to you.

In either case, having these conditions in place are a bonus to the player. It will raise your potential payback. You should choose games with imprisoned or surrender options when they’re available to you.

Odds and Expected Payback for Online Roulette

As we’ve pointed out, online roulette is a pretty easy game to learn. But is it a beneficial game to you as a player? Read on to find out.

House Edge and Return to Player

These two terms essentially account for 100% of the amount that you bet playing a game like online roulette. The return to player, or RTP, is the percentage of the player’s original bankroll expected to still be remaining after your bets. And the house edge is what the casino is expected to win.

In the case of online roulette, the house edge for American-style roulette is 5.26%, which means an RTP of 94.74%. If you’re playing European Roulette, the house edge drops to 2.7%, for an RTP of 97.3%.

If you can find games with surrender or imprisoned options, you can drop the house edge a little bit more. For example, a European-style game with one of those options lowers the house edge to just a shade over 1%.

Roulette Strategies

Here is the bad news when it comes to online roulette: there is no way to strategize so that you have a better chance at winning over the long term. You’re at the mercy of that random number generator. And the house edge never changes, because the odds on each spin never do.

That said, you can pick a roulette strategy that fits what you’re looking for out of the game. For example, if you’re trying to win a lot in a short amount of time, you should be making straight bets. Getting paid 35 to 1 is a pretty good return in any casino-style game.

If, on the other hand, you’re hoping to play for a long time with the bankroll that you’ve established, you should be focused on the even-money bets. The variance, which is a fancy word for how high and low your bankroll might swing, will be much lower when you play in this fashion. As a result, you can make online roulette last a little bit longer than it otherwise might.

Roulette for Beginners FAQ

  • Is There a Way to Guess the Outcome of the Wheel With Any Accuracy?

    The key here is remembering that you’re dealing with a random number generator. And the key word in that phrase is “random.” Trying to guess the results of any spin will be a sure way to come out disappointed.

    On any given spin, your chance of seeing a certain number as a winner is either 1 in 38 or 1 in 37, depending on how many spaces are on the wheel. Those odds do not change, regardless of whether the number hasn’t come up in the last 1,000 spins or if it has come up nine spins in a row. Don’t try to spot trends in online roulette, because they just don’t exist except by pure, unpredictable coincidence.

  • Is There One Betting System That’s Better Than Others?

    When you do research on online roulette, you’re bound to find dozens of betting systems that promise great results. In truth, there is no betting system that will change your odds of winning. All they do is disperse the money that you bet in different configurations.

    Of course, there might be a system that fits your budget and your betting preferences more than others. But it doesn’t mean that it will be any more successful for you in terms of your expected return. Don’t get any high hopes that a betting system can make much of a difference for your bottom line.

  • How Important Is Choosing a Good Site for My Online Roulette Action?

    It is crucially important. In fact, you can make the legitimate argument that choosing a roulette game at a top gambling website is better than choosing a game with better odds at a lesser site. The peace of mind that you’ll get from choosing a proven site will mean a lot.

    After all, a site promising great odds that can’t actually pay off your winnings won’t be very useful to you. It’s better to choose a site that is reliable in terms of deposits and withdrawals. Such sites are also much more likely to offer aggressive bonuses to add to your bankroll.


We hope that this article has provided you with a clear understanding of the basics of online roulette for beginners. As you play a little bit more, you’ll get more and more confident. Your results should improve along the way as well.