It only takes a few seconds to figure out how to play roulette, but this classic casino game has hidden depths if you’re willing to look beyond the reds, blacks and lucky numbers.  

After 300 years, roulette is still the same game, an ode to the laws of physics that will always fascinate us. Wheel meets ball, meets number. Did you guess the right number? You win a prize! That’s roulette in a nutshell.  

In this roulette guide, we’re going to look at how a game of roulette works, the main bets and how to play roulette online.  

Roulette basics

The aim of roulette is to pick the winning number by predicting where a roulette ball settles on a roulette wheel. Where blackjack uses playing cards which are shuffled to create randomness, roulette uses a rotating wheel full of numbers, and a ball which zooms down a track in the opposite direction, making it impossible to predict where it’ll land.  

Here’s a 10 second roulette tutorial which explains how a game works.  

#1 Place your bet

Use chips to pick numbers, sections or a colour before the betting round closes.  

chips being placed on various inside and outside bets

#2 Spin the roulette wheel  

A winning number is randomly chosen by a ball spinning round a wheel.  

wheel spinning, ball travelling/landing on a number from #1

#3 Win if the number matches your bet

Guess correctly and you’ll win between 1 and 35 times your bet depending on the bet type. 

dealer placing dolly on that number, and paying out the winnings

How to play online roulette

A single game of roulette lasts less than a minute, from the start of the betting round to the settling of bets after the ball has stopped. In that time, you’ll need to get your funds, pick a table and be ready to play. Then it’s for the gods to decide where the ball lands, and the croupier to do their work.  

Let’s see how a typical game of online roulette works…

Step 1: Choose a roulette table

In a typical high street casino, you’ll have several roulette tables to choose from. They’ll use the same rules, so the only way to choose between them is by minimum and maximum stakes, and if there’s a free spot at the table.   

At PlayOJO there are hundreds of online roulette tables to choose from, with a whole array of rules, stakes, and unusual formats. Before you play roulette online, start by thinking if you’d prefer RNG roulette against the computer, or Live Roulette with real croupiers. Then it’s down to which providers you like, what stakes you want to play, and if you fancy trying something new like Lightning Roulette or Red Door Roulette with slightly different roulette rules, extra features and bigger payout odds.

Step 2: Get some chips

In a land-based casino, most players convert cash chips into roulette chips at the table. Each player will use their own colour of chips. If you’re betting anything except single numbers, you can place cash chips if you wish.

In online roulette, you can bet straight from your balance, using virtual chips. You won’t see any other player’s chips either, so the betting table will always be nice and clear.    

Step 3: Get ready to bet

If you play RNG roulette, you can place bets as soon as you fire up the game. But in a real casino, or if you play live dealer roulette, the window of opportunity to place your roulette bets starts as soon as the croupier has paid out any winners from the previous spin, and cleared the board of losing bets. Listen out for them to say “place your bets” too.  

Once the croupier thinks everyone has had enough time to bet, they’ll give the wheel a spin one way, launch the ball the other way and announce “no more bets”. If you haven’t got all of your chips in place by then, you’re too late and you’ll have to wait for the next game.  

full game timings using a clock

Online roulette revolutionised the roulette experience, putting players in control. By offering your own private table and a spin button, casinos let you play at your own speed, so you need never miss a spin. It also made it easier to learn how to play roulette by making advanced features like special bets much more accessible.  

Step 4: Placing bets

Placing your online roulette bets is considerably easier than doing it in the busy casino. You might have less time to place your bets if you play Live Roulette, but at least you’ll never need to elbow anyone out of the way. Here are typical roulette table rules for placing bets:

  • You can only place bets when the betting round is open
  • Choose the value of your chips before you play
  • Place bets by tapping the numbers or sections on the roulette table
  • If you misplace a chip by accident, you can remove the last bet, or clear all bets and start again

Step 5: The result

Once the croupier has released the ball, it usually takes around 10 seconds for the ball to drop into a pocket, although the speed of wheel and ball varies from croupier to croupier.  

When the ball stops, the dealer will call the number, the colour and if it’s odd or even. At a real roulette table, they’ll place a glass marker called a dolly on top of the winning number on the betting board, clear away the losing bets and pay out each player’s winning in turn. In land based roulette, the croupier will slide a bigger stack of chips over to you when you win, but in an online casino the winnings will just get added to your account balance.

One little roulette tip to bear in mind is that in some roulette games, your winning bet will be left on the table, so be sure to remove it if you won’t want to let it ride.

In terms of roulette rules for beginners, that really is all you need to know. Once you’ve played a few spins, you’ll get get the picture. But with over 200 different bets to choose from, the best part about roulette is the variety in what you can play. To really get the most out of the experience when playing roulette, you need to understand the rules of roulette for each bet type.

Roulette bet types

There are more bet types in roulette than any other casino game, and a much wider range of roulette odds too.

Roulette bets are grouped into inside, outside and special bets. Inside bets are all contained within the main numbers grid, while outside bets such as Odd/Even outside the grid. You can find some special bets in the racetrack area, but many are simply verbal or ‘announced’ bets.   

3 players around a roulette table, each betting in a different way

Inside bets

Inside bets in roulette are bets on specific roulette wheel numbers. You can bet on single numbers or groups of up to 6 numbers, and you get the biggest roulette odds of any bet types.  Inside bets are the longer shots of roulette, but the roulette payouts are bigger.

mini graphics showing a close-up of a chip on that section of the board
Straight UpNumbers: 1Odds: 35 to 1
SplitNumbers: 2Odds: 17 to 1
StreetNumbers: 3Odds: 11 to 1
CornerNumbers: 4Odds: 8 to 1
LineNumbers: 6Odds: 5 to 1

Outside bets

Winning at roulette is easier if you play more numbers, although it won’t make you any richer as the house edge is the same for every bet.  

If you want to cover a bigger proportion of the wheel, the outside bets below and at the end of the number grid are a good place to start. As you’re betting on many more numbers, you’ll win more often, but the odds are shorter too.  

mini graphics showing a chip on that section of the board

ColumnNumbers: 12Odds: 2 to 1
DozenNumbers: 12Odds: 2 to 1
Odd or EvenNumbers: 18Odds: 1 to 1
High or LowNumbers: 18Odds: 1 to 1
Black or RedNumbers: 18Odds: 1 to 1

Special bets

As if 10 roulette bets wasn’t enough, the French forefathers of roulette came up with a range of special sector bets which allowed players to cover collections of numbers based on colours, digits or location on the wheel.  Because of their unusual names and location in an online roulette table, specials are probably the least well known online roulette rules. But the truth is, they are no more complicated than Dozens or Streets.

Section bets 

To cover a wide section of the wheel, look for any of the following bet types.  

  • Les Voisins du Zero (or Serie 0/2/3) 8 split bets covering 17 numbers 
  • Orphelins – 8 single number bets 
  • Tiers du Cylinder (or Serie 5/8) – 6 split bets covering 12 numbers 
  • Jeu Zero – 3 splits and 1 straight-up, covering 7 numbers 

Neighbours bets 

A neighbours bet is one of my favourite roulette betting options, as it allows you to cover 5 numbers in a row on the wheel. To do that, place a chip on the middle number of the 5 you want to cover, using the racetrack section of the roulette table. The resulting bet is exactly the same as placing 5 straight-up bets on single numbers.   

Final bets 

These specials involve groups that end in a particular number. 

  • Final PleinStraight up bets on all numbers ending in a specific number (e.g. Final Plein 5 includes 5, 15, 25 & 35) 
  • Final Cheval – A combination of straight-up and split bets on any number ending in either of 2 numbers (e.g. Final Cheval 5/8 includes 5, 8, 15, 18, 25, 28, 35) 

Colour splits 

Bets on pairs of same-colour numbers that are next to each other on the betting board.  

  • Red Splits – 4 split bets on the pairs of adjacent red numbers on the board 
  • Black Splits – 7 split bets on the adjacent black numbers


With a dramatic way of choosing random numbers and a selection of bet types to suit any player, roulette is one of the most popular games of chance. Now you know the basic rules of roulette including what happens on each spin, the various bets, and how the house edge works, you’re pretty much good to go.

Learning how to play roulette by reading a roulette guide is one thing, but nothing replaces the experience of playing the game. Go give it a spin! 


Does knowing the odds help you win?

It’s possible to play roulette and win without any clue what you’re betting on, or how much you’ll be paid out. But understanding the bet types on offer, the odds of winning and payouts will help you bet smarter, appreciate the different ways to win, and have a more complete roulette experience. So short answer, yes!

What can you win at roulette?

Unlike blackjack which is a low volatility game with maximum odds of 3 to 2, roulette has a wide range of payouts, from 1 to 1 right up to 35 to 1. A typical low stakes online roulette table will have a maximum bet of £100 per spin, which means the most you can win in a single spin is £3,500.

What are inside and outside bets?

A typical roulette table has a grid of numbers which match those on the wheel. All inside bets require you to place a chip inside the number grid, and these include single numbers, splits, corners and so on. The other bets found outside the grid usually involve the largest groupings of numbers, such as 1st column, 2nd dozen, 1-18 or red. Inside bets have the highest odds, but outside bets are easier to win.

How do you guarantee a win in roulette?

There’s only 1 way to guarantee a ‘win’ (in the sense of a bet that is paid out by the croupier: To bet on every number! One of your bets will inevitably win, but you’ll lose the rest and make a small loss which equates exactly to the house edge. Overall, that is clearly not guaranteeing yourself a win. Some might say that by following the Martingale roulette system and starting with very small stakes, you’re guaranteed to win but statistically speaking, it is possible to lose 10 spins in a row. So nothing is guaranteed. The Martingale system is certainly the most popular and likely way to guarantee a win in roulette, but read my explanation of the Martingale system and you’ll see why I view the downside as far too great.

What new variations of roulette are there?

Games developers are always looking for ways to innovate, and that’s led to the invention of new and exciting roulette games. In Lightning Roulette, some numbers are selected for bigger payout odds of up to 500x, but the remaining straight up bets pay 30 to 1. In Double Ball Roulette, you have 2 chances to win and your odds are halved. You can also get 35 to 1 odds for both balls to land on together on any number, or 1,300 to 1 odds if both balls land on the same specific number 

How does roulette work?

At its most basic, roulette is a game of chance that selects one number from 37 possible outcomes. Numbers can be chosen either by a physical ball spinning round a wheel, or by software involving a random number generator. Players can bet on specific numbers, groups of numbers or colours.

Is roulette a hard game to learn?

Of all the casino games, roulette rules are probably the easiest to learn. It’s a pure game of chance, so there’s not a great deal of roulette strategy involved. Roulette is therefore one of the easiest casino games to learn, but the sheer volume of different bets, including complicated ‘special bets’ are perhaps the only factor to consider when learning how to play roulette online. Roulette table rules generally don’t vary, whether you play live or online, but there are small differences between American, European and French roulette.

Daniel Grant

Daniel Grant

Dan Grant has been writing about gambling for 15 years, and been fascinated by beating the odds for even longer. Now he’s on a mission to help others bet smarter and avoid the mistakes he made. When he’s not obsessing over bankroll strategy or counting cards badly, he’s hosting The OJO Show podcast.