The Basics of Roulette

Roulette is a casino game that involves spinning a wheel with numbered slots. Players place bets on the number or type of number they believe will come up. Correctly guessing the winning number or type of number earns a payout. The rules of the game are relatively simple, but serious players often employ complicated strategies to gain an edge.

The name of the game derives from the French words for little wheel. Fanciful stories claim that it was invented by the 17th-century French mathematician Blaise Pascal or by Dominican monks. Whatever its origins, roulette became a popular game in the casinos and gambling dens of Europe during the 18th century.

In the United States, the game migrated westward with riverboats and made its way into gambling dens across the Mississippi River. Because of rampant cheating, the American version of the game was modified to prevent devices from being hidden in the wheel and table. The game was also simplified, and the betting layout standardized.

Before the ball is spun, players make their bets by placing chips on a special mat. A grid marks the betting area with specific positions for each type of bet. Bets on individual numbers are called “inside bets,” while bets on groups of numbers are known as “outside bets.”

A croupier spins the wheel and releases the ball into its rotating groove. As it loses speed, the ball drops from its track into a compartment marked with a color (red or black) and a number (1-18 or 19-36). If the player has placed a bet on that particular number or on a grouping of numbers, they win.

The game has a certain glamour, mystery and excitement that draws people to it. It is also a game of chance, with the house taking an edge over the player. However, it is possible to minimize the house edge by observing the rules and playing the game with a predetermined budget.

The basic game consists of a wheel with 37 or 38 numbered pockets, including one or two zeros (or 0 and 00 in American roulette). Each pocket is alternatingly red and black. The outside of the wheel, which covers most of the betting area, has all the odd numbers, while the inside has the even numbers. There are also a few rows of red and black numbers separated by a single green space. A player may bet on a single number, various groupings of numbers, the color of the number (red or black), or whether it is high or low (19-36). In some games, the player can also place a bet on a pair of adjacent numbers.