Roulette has always been regarded as one of the classiest games in the casino, but what a lot of players don’t appreciate is the math behind it. There’s a lot more to roulette as a game than meets the eye, and understanding how it works could be the difference between you making money on it or not.

Read on as we dive into everything you could possibly need to know about how a roulette wheel works, how it’s laid out and the main differences between the two different sets of rules of roulette – American vs European.

How a Roulette Wheel Works

In the game of roulette, the dealer (known often as the ‘croupier’) places the ball onto the wheel as it spins in one direction. The ball then rolls in the opposite direction alongside a track, using centrifugal force to stay spinning.

After the ball begins to lose momentum, it starts to head down towards the table. Eventually, it drops into one of 36 numbers (half of them red, half of them black, bar one or two green zeros).

Players can bet on a specific number, a group of numbers (low red, high black etc.) or simply odd or even, which is a near on 50–50 chance of a win.

The roulette wheel itself is a staple part of casino culture and is certainly one of the most impressive attractions within a casino as well.

Another interesting aspect to learn about is how a roulette wheel is made. It’s actually beautifully crafted out of wood – often mahogany. The process of making one is quite a spectacle.

The Roulette Wheel Layout

The roulette wheel is made up of several different parts and it’s good to know about what each of them does. So, here it is, the roulette wheel explained.

  • The diamonds: These are weights that enable the momentum of the wheel. In early wheels, they were manufactured in slightly different sizes, which is where the phrase ‘dominant diamonds’ comes from. A lot of people believe that this has been used to rig tables over the years. Another function of the diamonds is to disrupt the trajectory of the roulette wheel ball.
  • The ball track: The way that the roulette wheel ball makes an entrance onto the table is perhaps the most visually impressive part of the spin. So, the design of the track that goes into it is important, plus it has to seem as random as possible to avoid any chance of a dealer advantage, as the dealer should have no roulette wheel control.
  • The frets: The metal bars in between the numbers are called the frets.
  • The rotor: The main part of the wheel that controls its rotational spin, and the only part of the wheel with moving parts, is the rotor. A perfectly balanced rotor ensures random spin outcomes.
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American vs European Roulette Wheel

The main difference between the rules of the American vs European games is the roulette wheel blank, or the number zero. In European roulette, there is just the one, whereas, in the American version of the game, there are two zeros on opposite sides of the wheel.

Believe it or not, this difference can completely change the dynamic of the game. Some players swear by European roulette because the lower number of zeros increases the chances of certain bet groups, such as odd vs even. However, American roulette players prefer their version of the game because it allows them to play by different tactics.

American Roulette Wheel Bet Types

You can bet on the following if you are playing American-style roulette:

  • Straight/single: Provides the lowest odds and the biggest wins. One single number.
  • Split: A bet on two opposite numbers on the roulette table, placing the chip between the two numbers on the roulette table.
  • Street: A bet on three numbers in a row on the roulette table.
  • Corner/square: A bet whereby the chip is placed in the corner of four numbers on the roulette table.
  • Six line/double street: A bet on six numbers in a row, or two lines of three numbers.
  • Trio: A bet on three numbers in a row with one zero.

The bet type that is unique to American roulette is ‘basket’ – a bet on 0, 00, 1, 2 and 3.

European Roulette Wheel Bet Types

European roulette offers the same bet types for the most part. However, as there is only one less zero to play with, the odds of each bet is different when compared to the American game. As a result, players are going to want to play with different tactics.

The bet type that is unique to European roulette is ‘first four’ – a bet on 0, 1, 2 and 3.

Roulette Fate

Can you predict a roulette wheel? Probably not. But a lot of players seem to think that there is more to it than meets the eye, especially if the diamonds are taken into consideration.

Some punters throughout history have found themselves wondering ‘is the roulette wheel rigged?’ The short answer is no. However, there are some roulette wheel best numbers that tend to pop up again and again. 

The red seven is the main one of those. It’s somewhat of a legend that red seven is the most popular roulette number, and that’s where we get the phrase ‘lucky seven’ from. This is also one of the symbols in Charles Fey’s famous Liberty Bell slot machine, and you will continue to see it on numerous slot machines around the world to this day.

On the flip side, it shouldn’t make sense that the roulette wheel colors are different in their odds, but the roulette wheel’s black numbers are famously considered to be rarer to land wins on than their red counterparts. 

How to Win on the Roulette Wheel

Learning the ins and outs of how to use the roulette wheel is basically part of the process of learning how to play roulette itself. If you’re going to be spending your money on bets then this is crucial. You can also check out roulette strategy to hone your skills.

Remember, learn which types of bets are best for either American or European roulette, and learn which are the riskier types. With these in mind, you’re ready to get betting.

Author: Tanya Fields

Campaign Acquisition Manager Length with RC: 1 year, 9 months Favorite Casino Game: Starburst Background in iGaming: Opened the iGaming Department at Hard Rock Atlantic City in 2018 in both Customer Service, and then CRM, prior to moving over to RC in January 2021 Location: Based in NJ at the RC HQ Content: Occasionally, but only as it pertains to RC


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