Of all the games spread in casinos, Roulette has the most glamour. This is where you will find the high rollers cheering in their numbers – alongside the savvy gambler trying out the latest ‘system’.
Online roulette games have significantly improved over the last few years. Faster network connections and better computers mean that 3D graphics with realistic effects are the norm. You can now also play real money roulette on your smartphone – or even bet on a real wheel operated remotely at a live dealer studio.
For new players each roulette game looks much like the others. This does hide some significant differences between the games which can have a direct effect on your bottom line. This page will take you through the key background information you need before you start playing online roulette for real money.
First of all below the 3 main types of roulette game offered (along with some minor variations) are covered. After that you will find more on the streamed live dealer roulette games. The dangers of betting systems, stakes and types of bets and those all-important roulette bonuses are then discussed.
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Different Types of Real Money Roulette Game
There are 2 different wheels and one further rule variation which distinguish the 3 main roulette games you will find online.
US Roulette: This game has 36 colored slots (18 black and 18 red), plus 2 green slots. One of these is labelled ‘0’ (zero) and the other ‘00’ double zero. The odds of 35-to-1 for any number mean that the house edge in this game is around 5.26%, which is significantly higher than other roulette wheels. The bet 00-0-1-2-3 is unique to the US wheel (though again, does not have very good odds).
European Roulette: The numbered slots are identical to the US wheel, with 18 red and 18 black slots. In this game there is only a single zero slot. This keeps the house edge for all types of bets much smaller, at 2.70%. The names of the wheels are simply labels, so wherever you are located your default choice should be the European wheel.
French Roulette: This game uses the European wheel, and has an extra rule in place which keeps the house edge the lowest of all games. This is known as ‘la partage’, and means that when the ball lands in the (single) zero slot – all even money bets (red / black, odd / even, 1-18 / 19-36) return 50% of their stake. This makes the house edge one of the lowest anywhere in the casino at 1.35% (when playing outside bets) and makes French Roulette the game of choice for experienced gamblers.
Other variations you might find online include multi-player games (timed games where many people bet on the same spin), multi-wheel roulette (up to 8 reels at once), jackpot games (for example PlayTech’s Marvel roulette) and entertaining variations such as Pinball Roulette.
Live Dealer Roulette Games
Technology now allows games with a real dealer to be streamed into your computer in real time. These are proving very popular and many casinos now have remote studios dotted around the world to provide these games (alongside Blackjack, Baccarat and Casino Holdem).
You will be able to bet using your mouse in the same way you do for a virtual roulette game. These bets are timed to keep the game moving. The dealer then spins the wheel, with the bets being automatically settled by the software at the end of the spin. You can chat with the dealer and the other players at the table using a text chat option at most live dealer casinos.
There are 2 variations on the regular roulette wheels offered at some live dealer studios. The first one is an automated wheel. This does spin live, sitting inside a plastic dome without a dealer. The studio of Evolution Gaming also run a game called ‘Immersive Roulette’ which is a dealer hosted game with extra special effects and slow motion replays of the action.
The Risks of Roulette Betting Systems
Many people come to the online roulette tables armed with a ‘can’t lose’ secret betting system. These can be complex, though are usually based on a stake doubling concept (known as the Martingale system) or a positive progression where you increase your stake after wins.
These can work in the short term to reduce your variance in the games. Over the long term they do not work, whatever the slick sales letter or friend-of-a-friend claims. The fact that the casinos welcome players using these systems should be evidence enough. The best way to enjoy the games is to play within your bankroll, take advantage of any bonus or promotional offers and enjoy the occasional windfall when your numbers come up!
Real Money Roulette Games – Stakes and Bets
Before you head to the tables, here is a run-down of the stakes and bets.
The minimum and maximum stakes will depend on the bet you are making and the game you choose. Bets can be loosely divided into 3 types, inside bets, outside bets and specialist bets.
Inside Bets: These are bets on the individual numbers, you will get odds of 35-to-1 if you hit the right one. You can also add chips on a line between 2 numbers (betting half on each) the cross between 4 numbers, or sometimes a row of 3 numbers across the grid. Stakes start at 25c online, with live dealer casinos often more expensive at $1 minimums.
Outside Bets: Here you bet on red or black, odd or even or 1-18 / 19-36 – getting even money if you guess correctly. There are also 2-to-1 chances, which are the 3 groups of 12 numbers (1-12, 13-24, 25-36 – or the 3 long rows along the length of the betting grid). Outside bets usually have a $1 minimum in virtual games, this can go up to $5 minimum for the live dealer games.
Specialist Bets: Many games also offer a racetrack betting area, which is an oval showing the numbers as they appear on the reel. You can bet on adjacent groups of numbers on that oval. There are also larger groups known as Series A, Series B or Orphans.
Bonuses for Real Money Roulette Games
While most casinos offer some kind of bonus for real money roulette players, you do need to be careful that you stay within the rules. What the casinos are trying to do is offer a fair bonus for genuine players, while protecting themselves from abuse by players who only play to clear the bonus and then leave.
The main restriction is on covering the entire table with chips. This would enable you to meet the wagering requirement of your bonus very quickly (and with little risk). Most casinos would consider this as abuse, with a restriction of 50% coverage for any one bet in place.
When you compare welcome bonus offers, make sure that roulette is included in the list of permitted games. You should also check the weighting of this game for bonus clearing purposes. 25% is the standard amount, though some casinos will only count this at 10% or even 5%.
Remember that the welcome bonus will be gone fast. It is the ongoing incentives and rewards for loyal players which will make the bigger difference to your bankroll over time. Look for casinos with generous comp point reward systems, regular reloads and promotions which include the roulette players.