Roulette

There is no doubt that Roulette carries with it a certain amount of excitement, flair if you will. This image was created by that "Mother of all super spies," James Bond, who, with a beautiful woman nearby, preferred to play this fast-paced game, when not beating the bad guys at Baccarat.

Although a game favored by Europeans, Roulette has managed to gather a strong following in North America, most likely for its simplicity and the chance to win big money.

HISTORY

Roulette means "little wheel" in French. The invention of the game that we're familiar with today is generally attributed to the French philosopher and mathematician, Blaise Pascal, who is also credited with originating the probability theory.

But forerunners of Roulette, basically carnival wheel games, were in use throughout Europe, as early as the mid-1500s. In fact, the earliest gambling action in Monaco consisted of two gaming wheels in a barn.

HOW TO PLAY

Roulette is a very easy game to learn. It's simply a guessing game with a little white ball and a big spinning wheel.

The ball spins in one direction as the wheel spins in the other, until the ball lands in one of the 38 pockets on the wheel.

If your money is on the right number, set of numbers, or color, you collect. What could be easier than that?

BETTING

There are a dozen different bets to be made on a Roulette wheel. They fall under one of two categories: "inside" bets and "outside" bets.

Inside bets are made on the individual numbers, one through 36, and the zeros.

Betting on a single number is called a "straight-up" wager. Say you bet on number 23. If the ball drops into the number 23 pocket, you're paid off at 35-1. Not bad, huh?

To bet on two numbers, place your chips on the line between the two numbers you wish to bet on, such as between 1 and 2, or 1 and the single zero, or 1 and 4. This "split" bet pays off at 17-1.

You can also bet on three numbers at a time, paying 11-1, four numbers (8-1), five numbers (6-1) and six numbers (5-1). Those are all the inside bets.

Outside bets are the wagers made on the outside of the layout. These are the bets on red-black, odd-even, and high-low.

If you place your chips in the even box and the ball drops into the number 24, you win. If it drops into number 23, you lose. Simple as that. These bets pay even money.

You can also bet on 12 numbers each in the "column" boxes at the far end of the layout. The first 12, second 12 and third 12 all pay 2-1. If you put a $5 chip in the second column and the ball drops into number 17, you win $10.

You can mix, match and make as many bets as you like on a single spin. Read a book, ask a dealer, study the layout, or just watch for a while and you'll quickly know how to make every bet that's offered.

BETTING CHIPS

The chip system for Roulette is a little different from the other table games. You can buy in and play with standard casino chips, but each table also has its own set of special "wheel chips."

Wheel chips, which come in several different colors, are used so that the dealer can distinguish among all the different players' bets on the layout.

When you go to exchange your cash, or casino chips, for wheel chips, inform the dealer of the denomination (within the stated betting limits) that you want your chips to be.

Say you want each chip to be worth $1. If you give the dealer a $20 bill, he'll give you back 20 wheel chips worth $1 each. The player next to you might be betting with brown chips worth $5 each, and the player next to him might be using white wheel chips worth $25 apiece.

Wheel chips allow for a practice that's unique to Roulette: the co-mingling of different players' bets. Unlike other casino games where bets must be kept separate, Roulette players can stack their bets on top of one another's. If you've got one of those feelings that the next number will be 15 and somebody's already on that number, just pile your wheel chips right on top.

BETTING RULES

Before sitting down to play, take particular note of the table-minimum betting rules. There will be a table minimum and a chip minimum.

The table minimum applies to all bets on the table. It indicates the lowest wager allowed on any outside bet and the lowest total bet inside.

The chip minimum tells you the least amount you can bet inside on a number.

Here's an example. A $2 table minimum and 50-cent chip minimum, means that you must bet a minimum of $2 on any outside bet, but you can combine four 50-cent bets to satisfy the minimum requirements for your inside bet. In other words, you can bet 50 cents on four different numbers.

You are allowed to place bets even while the wheel is spinning, up until the point when the dealer announces, "No more bets." This is the fun part. On a table that's really jamming, players twist, lunge and sometimes elbow their way past other players to get their bets down before the deadline.

When you're ready to cash out, don't forget to redeem your wheel chips (for real chips) right at the table. You CAN'T exchange them anywhere else in the casino, not even at the cashier's cage.

SOME INFO AND ADVICE

  • Most Roulette wheels in Las Vegas have two green-colored pockets, one displaying a zero, and a second with two zeros. The zeros are called house numbers, because when the ball lands in one of them, the casino collects all bets except those placed on the zeros.
  • The casino advantage on a double-zero Roulette wheel is 5.26%. On occasion, you'll encounter Roulette wheels that have only one zero. The house edge on a single-zero wheel is only 2.7%.
  • The double-zero game has one bet that you should always avoid: the five-number bet on 0, 00, 1, 2, 3. It has a whopping casino edge of 7.89%.
  • Some casinos provide reader boards that track the last 20 to 30 spins. While interesting to observe and look for patterns, they don't provide much information of practical use. Roulette is a game of independent trials, which means the ball has no memory of what has occurred in the past, and cannot become more predictable because of prior results.

Since the casino edge on both the inside and outside bets is the same, it doesn't really matter which you choose to play. For excitement purposes, it's better to divide your stake into smaller units (defined by the chip minimum) and spread chips over several numbers inside.

RECAP

Be sure to read the placard that lists the table minimum and chip minimum, then buy your wheel chips from the dealer.

You can place your bets anywhere and everywhere on the layout, even on the top of the chips of other players, up until the time the dealer says, "No more bets."

Then stand back, relax, and pray that the ball drops into the pocket with your money in it.

ON THE LIGHTER SIDE

Did you hear the one about the young woman playing Roulette who asked her boyfriend which number she should play.

The boyfriend said, "Bet your age."

So his girlfriend placed a chip on 23.

The ball landed on 29 and the woman fainted.

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