Roulette etiquette may sound like something from a Jane Austen novel, but my roulette etiquette tips will help you play nice with your table mates, contribute to a great atmosphere at the table and avoid some of the pitfalls which can sour a new player’s first live roulette experience.
My 9 rules of roulette etiquette
In almost 20 years of playing roulette, I’ve seen it all: Drunk players, clumsy players, clueless players and conniving players. Casino staff are invariably patient and helpful when players are learning how to play roulette and will cut you some slack. But if you follow my 9 favourite rules of roulette table etiquette, you won’t need to test their patience at all.
You’re in rush? Jump onto the unknown roulette etiquette:
- Tip #1: Get your bets in on time
- Tip #2: Never throw your chips at the croupier
- Tip #3: Don’t touch another player’s chips
- Tip #4: Cash out your coloured chips before you leave the table
- Tip #5: Only tip when you mean it
- Tip #6: Stack ’em neat
- Tip #7: Keep your food and drink off the felt
- Tip #8: Don’t hog the space if you’re not playing
- Tip #9: Take victory and defeat just the same
Tip #1: Get your bets in on time
This is the most common “don’t” in roulette, and it’s a sure-fire way to get on the croupier’s nerves. Betting or moving chips after the round has closed is a big no-no and the pit bosses won’t give you many second chances.
The croupier will give you plenty of warning before a new betting round begins, and you’ll have at least 20 seconds to place all your bets, so there are really no excuses. If you find you don’t have enough time or you are rushing in the dying seconds before you hear the immortal words “No more bets”, you’re probably betting on too many different numbers. Reign it in, or play roulette online.
Tip #2: Never throw your chips at the croupier
I don’t mean this in a ‘Sharon Stone in Casino’ way. Virtually all casinos forbid players and dealers from passing anything to each other by hand, mostly for security reasons, for your own good. Any cash or chips that go from one to the other must be placed on the table first.
If you want the croupier to place a bet for you, put the chip on the felt, slide it across to them if necessary, then clearly state the bet and amount you want. And say thanks. It’s good karma.
Tip #3: Don’t touch another player’s chips
A crowded roulette table can often result in several bets being placed on the same number, one of top of the other. You’ll also see many different coloured roulette chips packed into the same betting zones.
With so little margin for error, a chip that started out on 14 can easily be nudged inadvertently onto the 14-17 split. It might seem insignificant, but it’s a mistake that could potentially cost your tablemate a 17 to 1 payout.
Be nimble and careful when placing your chips. If you do make a mistake, quickly correct the error yourself, or ask the dealer to do it for you. The croupier can always call on the camera footage in the event of a dispute, but that slows down the game and usually upsets at least one of the players at the table.
Tip #4: Cash out your coloured chips before you leave the table
If you buy a set of roulette chips from the croupier, it means they’re specific to that table and can’t be taken away. If you try to cash them in at the cashier’s desk, they’ll send you back to the roulette table.
Tell the croupier that you’d like to cash out and they’ll give you cash chips you can take to the cashier to exchange for the real thing. There’s nothing worse than waking up the next day with worthless casino chips in your back pocket.
Tip #5: Only tip when you mean it
Advice on tipping etiquette pops up in every roulette guide, but it’s largely an American thing. Go to any casino in Vegas (or cab rank, for that matter) and you’ll see players tipping away their money as if they had the edge, not the house. I’m not against thanking an exceptional dealer for putting in a great shift, but in general I would advise saving your bankroll for what it does best.
You’re already fighting an uphill battle by playing a game with a house edge of 2% or more, so you need every chip you’ve got. Don’t be bullied into tipping by other players, especially after a single winning hand or spin of the wheel. If you do want to show the love at the end of a good winning session, that’s a more sensible way of doing it.
Tip #6: Stack ’em neat
This one applies to any table game, but it’s particularly relevant to roulette because you’ll often have several tall stacks of ‘colour’ to manage. One slip and there’s chips everywhere. At best, you’ll miss your go or hold up the table, and at worst, you’ll cause chaos and the pit boss will need to step in and clear up your mess.
Tip #7: Keep your food and drink off the felt
It’s tempting to pop your Campari & Soda on the table while you ponder your next move, but you’ve no idea how hard it is to get a stain out and keep a casino table looking pucker. Thousands of players might pass through a roulette game in a weekend, and a classy joint can quickly turn grim if we don’t show the place some respect.
Better to knock that little side table over and spill your tipple on the carpet. Knocking red wine across the felt is not my preferred version of how to win at roulette.
Tip #8: Don’t hog the space if you’re not playing
There’s a charming old saying – ‘sh*t or get off the pot’ and that applies to roulette too. Unless it’s quiet in the casino and there aren’t many players at your table, don’t take up space when spectating that other players can put to good use.
There are limited births around the table and spectators don’t pay the bills. If you want to watch your friend play, stand behind them and be mindful of others who want to get in on the action.
Tip #9: Take victory and defeat just the same
I’m no stranger to a fistpump when my number comes in, so I am certainly not saying you shouldn’t celebrate a win. But for every winner, there are losers. Be respectful of others, even those who are playing at other tables near you.
One day it could be you on the end of a losing streak, and some other chump doing a conga.
Whooping and hollering is for the movies, not your local casino.
Roulette etiquette FAQs
How much do you tip in roulette ?
Tipping is not allowed in every casino, but where it is permitted, you should keep it small. Some casinos are happy for you to tip but insist on cash chips, rather than roulette chips. If you’ve had a winning session, wait until you’ve cashed out and then send a chip their way.
If you made a loss, tipping isn’t the smartest play. If you did well, tipping 2-5% of your profit (not your total return including your original stake) is not unreasonable. Just don’t make a habit of it!
How do you join a roulette table?
With a cunning plan and a glint in your eye! But seriously, the right way to join a table is to scout the room for one that isn’t obviously full. Approach the table, ask the dealer is there’s space and then decide if you want to bet with cash chips, or exchange for your own unique coloured set. Easy.
Can I drink while I play roulette?
Every casino I’ve ever been to has served alcohol, so in that respect, yes you can drink while you play. How much you drink and where you put your glass is another matter. Keep your drinks off the table, and don’t drink to excess.
Casinos aren’t nightclubs, and gambling should be done safely. A few too many beers can lower your inhibitions, ruin any roulette strategy you had in mind, and lead to bad financial decisions and regrets the morning after.
I won! When do I collect my roulette winnings?
Once the ball has landed in a number, the croupier will place a marker called a dolly on the winning number. They’ll clear away losing bets and methodically pay out each bet in turn. Wait until they have either slid your chips over to you – or removed the dolly, the final act of the round – before you touch your winnings.
Roulette etiquette: The bottom line
Most of what makes for good roulette etiquette is just polite behaviour and good manners. Don’t get drunk, be nice to the staff and your fellow casino-goers, and win with a bit of class.
Even if you break some of the unwritten (and now written!) rules of roulette etiquette, you’ll probably get a friendly word of advice from the croupier and you won’t make the same mistake twice.