Online Roulette 101: A beginner’s guide to playing and winning

If you’re considering trying your hand at casino roulette, you are in the right place. Read our detailed guide to ensure that you understand the game, the bets and the odds available. Roulette is a game of chance, so there is no magic strategy that will guarantee a win, but our rundown of online roulette tricks and tips will help you understand the nuances of the game and ensure you enjoy your time at the roulette table as much as possible.


Introduction to roulette 

Roulette is one of the most popular casino games out there, probably because it is easy to play and comes with a relatively low house edge, depending of course on the types of bet you place. This makes it appealing to both beginners and seasoned gamblers. It has been speculated that the roulette wheel was invented by French physicist and mathematician Blaise Pascal in 1655, entirely by accident. The story is that he was actually attempting to create a type of perpetual motion machine at the time. However, the earliest references to an actual game called roulette seem to be from the mid-1700s, and there is a record of roulette being played in some form in Paris from 1796 onwards.

The game is simple enough. A ball is released onto a spinning wheel, and as the wheel comes to a halt, the ball lands in one of the pockets situated around the edge of the wheel. The segments are either red or black and are numbered from one to 36, with either a double or single zero space, which is usually green. You can bet that the ball will land in any one of the spaces, or you can place other bets such as betting on the color it will land on. This is part of the reason why roulette is known as an easy game to play. Beginner players can simply bet on red or black and will have an almost 50/50 chance of winning. Almost, but not quite, because of those zero spaces – they are what give the casino that inevitable house edge.


Roulette table layout

There are different versions of roulette, and some of them come with a slightly different wheel layout than others. It’s important to know this, because some versions of the game are slightly easier to win than others. When playing European roulette, you will see the wheel has just one green zero space, whereas an American roulette wheel features two zero spaces, one of which is generally a double zero. This means that in European roulette, players who simply bet on red or black, for example, have a slightly better chance of their bet coming up, because although the chance of the ball landing on zero is very small, it is still twice as likely with American roulette. 

The actual roulette table layout is similar at any casino. It shows all the numbers in a rectangular grid, and they will be marked as red or black, as on the wheel itself. Along the side of the grid will be the other bets you can place, if you do not want to bet on specific numbers. This is where most beginner players will place their bets. There are sections where you can bet on red or black, or odd or even, for example. 

You can also bet on the ball landing on numbers one through 18, or 19 through 36. Or you can bet on the ball landing on the first 12 (numbers one through 12), the second 12 (numbers 13 through 24) or the third 12 (numbers 25 through 36). In addition, there are other bets you can go for that are a little more complex. For example, you can place a corner bet, where you bet on four numbers that meet at a corner of the table, or a street bet, which is when you bet on three consecutive numbers in a horizontal line. However, beginners generally find it easiest to ease in with simple bets such as red or black.

Bets are placed by putting your chips on a particular space. In a land-based casino, players generally play with different colored chips to make it obvious who placed which bet on what space and therefore makes it clear who has won and how much. Once bets are placed, the wheel is spun, and at that point, you simply have to keep your fingers crossed that your bet will come up. Roulette really is a game of luck. There is no skill involved, except perhaps in deciding where to place your bets. This is another reason it is popular with beginner gamblers.


How to play roulette online?

Playing online roulette is similar to playing it in a land-based casino. Again, you’ll often find there are different versions available in the online casino lobby, just as in a real-life casino. The rules will be the same, and you can often play online roulette in the live lobby, which will give you a very similar feel to playing offline. The virtual table will be laid out as described above and displayed on your screen, and you’ll need to start by deciding on the amount you want to stake. Then you will place a bet, or bets, either on a specific number or on one of the other options available.


If you’re playing in a live lobby, the dealer will spin the wheel. In other online versions of the game, you’ll get to click the spinner yourself to make the wheel spin. Online games are designed using random number generators to ensure that the results are truly randomized and fair. When the wheel stops, you’ll be able to see if you have won or not. 


If you’re a winner, you’ll receive a virtual payout straight away into your online casino account. You can then withdraw your funds at any time, as long as you meet any conditions the online casino has set for making withdrawals. Once the wheel has stopped and payouts have been awarded, that round is over. You can choose to play again, call it quits for the night or move on to another game.

If you’re playing roulette with any bonus funds awarded to you by your online casino, make sure you fully understand what you have to do to claim your bonus. Most casinos have wagering requirements, also sometimes referred to as play-through requirements. Not all games in the lobby count towards those requirements, and some have different weightings, so if you’re playing with bonus funds, check that betting those funds on roulette will count towards those all-important wagering requirements.


Tips for beginners

While the game is quite straightforward, there are definitely a few roulette tips you may want to keep in mind as a beginner. Here are just a few of them.

Understand the bet types and how they impact your chances of winning. Roulette is considered to have a very low house edge, which means your chances of winning are good. This is true as long as you take the bets with a close to 50/50 chance of winning. If you bet on red or black, odds or evens, or the first half (one to 18) or the second half (19 through 36), your odds of winning are very close to evens. If you bet on the first, second or third 12, they are closer to 1 in 3, and if you choose to place a bet on one specific number, your odds are close to 1 in 36.


Know which version of the game you’re playing. As we have mentioned, different versions of roulette are played on different wheels, and this can also impact your chances of winning. We stated above that betting on a single number gives you odds of close to 1 in 36, but not quite. That’s because of the zero space that you’ll find in European roulette and the single and double zero spaces in American roulette. These spaces give the ball somewhere else to land, meaning that betting on a single number actually takes your odds to 1 in 37 on a European roulette wheel and 1 in 38 on an American one. It also means that even if you’re just betting on red or black, you’re slightly less likely to win on an American wheel. One or two extra spaces may not seem like much, but the result is a pretty low house edge of just 2.7% in European roulette, as opposed to a house edge of 5.26% in American roulette.


Remember, there’s a reason why people might choose the riskier bets – it’s because they pay out more. The outside bets, as they’re often referred to, have lower odds of winning, but the rewards are greater if you do happen to get lucky. Whereas the odds on a “red or black” bet or “odd or even” bet are usually evens, and the odds when you bet on a specific third are 2 to 1, the odds when you bet on a single number are 35 to 1. A street bet pays out at 11 to 1, whereas a corner bet pays out at 8 to 1. This is why some players will take a risk. However, most beginners tend to stick to the inside bets as there’s a bigger chance of winning, even though the payout will be smaller.


Manage your bankroll carefully. As with any gambling, online or off, it’s vital to set yourself a budget and stick to it. Have a strategy to do this effectively. If you want to be playing for a long time, for example, you’ll want to be placing lots of small bets to stretch that bankroll. The golden rule of gambling is to only ever bet with money you can afford to lose. You won’t lose every time, of course, but statistically, the whole system is set up in favor of the house, so it’s always best to look at your gambling budget as money you could potentially lose and never as money you are guaranteed to win back over time.


Common mistakes to avoid

There are a few common mistakes new roulette players may make. Here are some to avoid.

Don’t rely on betting systems. You’ll often see people talking about betting systems such as the Martingale or the Fibonacci, and maybe implying these systems can help you win. They really can’t. Roulette is a game of luck, and there is no real system that can help you win. The betting strategies often discussed online are ways to manage your betting when dealing with games of chance, but many of them are inherently flawed. They often rely on progressively increasing the amount you bet, based on the theory that no losing streak is likely to last forever. However, many gamblers run out of money using these systems before the losing streak ends.

Don’t ignore the small print. We’ve outlined normal odds-on roulette above, but any casino can give slightly different odds or levy extra charges such as commissions on certain games or on cashing in your virtual chips. Every online casino has many terms and conditions that may or may not apply to you, depending on your circumstances. Read the conditions carefully even though it may seem like extra hassle, because then you’ll know what you’re dealing with. As we’ve already mentioned, the conditions of any bonus you accept are particularly important as you’ll have to meet them to cash out and may lose your bonus funds if you don’t plan for this.

Don’t chase losses. This is tied to a couple of the tips above, particularly the idea of carefully managing your bankroll and not falling for betting systems. It is tempting to chase after lost money by betting more and more in the hope that your luck will change. It might, or it might not. Most losing (and winning) streaks do eventually end, but some players rely on this and keep betting after their budget is exhausted in the hope, or conviction, that things will turn around. Learn to gamble responsibly and walk away when you need to, regardless of whether you are on a winning or losing streak at the time.

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