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Understanding the Odds of Online Roulette

Top Roulette Bets

Roulette is one of the most iconic games you’ll find at Canadian online casinos. The image of the spinning wheel and red-and-black board is almost synonymous with the image of casino games itself.

The house edge in roulette is fairly small, and the game itself requires little skill to play but can pay out big rewards in the short-term - perhaps why it’s so popular with online casino players both in Canada and the world over.

Here's a quick overview of what you can expect when you sit down at an online roulette table.

The Basics

Roulette is a game in which players bet on where a ball lands on a spinning wheel. The wheel is divided into 37 or 38 segments, all of which are red or black except for the green 0. Players bet on a board which also features these numbers and their corresponding colors arranged in three columns.

Red and black, odd and even, and other even money bets

One of the reasons roulette is such a big hit with online casino players is the wealth of even money bets that you can make. These are not dissimilar to flipping a coin (albeit a coin that is slightly in the house's favor) and simply involve picking one of two options.

There are three even money bets available on a standard game of roulette: red/black, odd/even, and low/high. The first two are self-explanatory - simply bet on whether the ball will land on a /black number or an odd/ even number. Low/high bets are simply betting on whether the ball will land on one of the numbers 1-18 or 19-36. Note that if the ball lands on zero, you lose your bet.

"There's no way to reduce or increase roulette's house edge, meaning inexperienced players have the same odds of hitting a massive win as a seasoned gambling veteran."

Columns and dozens

The board in roulette is divided into three columns and you can bet on any of these. This simply means that if the ball lands on a number present in the column you wagered on, you’ll win at a payout of 2/1.

Additionally, you can bet on "dozens" - as you might think this means betting on the ball landing between 1-12, 13-24, and 25-36. Again, if the ball lands on zero then you’ll lose your bet.

The numbers

The most complex betting in online roulette games is still a very simple system. The bulk of the board is made of the individual numbers themselves, and betting on these or combinations of these will yield the highest payouts.

Betting on an individual number pays out at 35/1. You can split, placing your bet on two adjacent numbers at once, for a 17/1 payout. You can make a three-number bet on adjacent numbers (street) with 11/1 odds, a "corner" bet on four adjacent numbers at 8/1, or a six-number bet (line) on adjacent numbers at 5/1.

Unlike previous bets, here you can bet on zero to insure yourself against losses.

This guide provides a more in-depth explanation of the math of the game.

The house edge

The main variation of roulette, European roulette, has a house edge of 2.70%. This means that an even-money bet is actually a 47.3/52.7 wager instead of 50/50. In the short-term this is barely noticeable and you can quite easily leave the table with more than you started, but it means that it’s impossible to be a long-term winner playing roulette games online.

American roulette has an even larger edge, with a house edge of 5.26% owing to the double zero. The safest bet is French roulette, which offers insurance against zeros thanks to the La Partage and En Prison rules. The house edge is mathematically the same as European roulette, but the insurance for the player in the short-term is a nice bonus.

That's the basic idea behind the 'house edge' - if you'd like to learn more about it then check out this page from the Center For Gaming Research.