The Ultimate Guide to Roulette Odds

In its essence, roulette is a simple game. The roulette wheel spins and a ball is spun in the opposite direction. Everyone waits to see where it lands, and where it does declares the winner. What matters most is the betting action that comes before! The player interaction in roulette comes from placing bets. While trying to predict a random number sounds straightforward, although not easy to get right, there’s a bit more to it. In this game, it’s all about the odds, payouts and knowing where to place your chips. If they’re an inch or two to the left on the roulette table, you’ll be making a different wager.

The two most popular versions of roulette are American roulette and European roulette. The European version has one single green zero while the American version has single green zero as well as a green double zero. This affects the house edge and that is shown later in the article. For the examples for the odds and explaining them we are using the American version of the game but you will see odds for the bets for each version later on.

In this guide, we look at what you need to know before you approach a roulette table, whether virtual or real. Keep reading to find out about the bet types, odds, payouts and table layout.

What Are Odds and How Do They Work in Roulette?

Like other casino games, roulette is played against the house (the casino). You’re not competing with other players, simply trying to predict where the ball will land. This aspect is essential to understand what’s referred to as the house edge.

You might have heard the phrase the house always wins. That isn’t true, but it does have an advantage. Online roulette casinos need to make money, and so games are designed with that in mind. In roulette, there are even bets, where you’re choosing between two options, such as red or black. It’s a nearly 50-50 chance and I say nearly, as you can hit the single zero in the European version or single or double zero in the American version.

What Are Odds?

Odds show your chances of winning a bet. With a quick bit of counting and math, you can work out the odds for roulette bets. On an American wheel, there are 38 numbers, which means your odds of hitting a specific single number are 37:1.

You can also express odds as a percentage. It’s better to do so with roulette to avoid confusing the odds with the potential payout (more on that later). To find the odds of hitting a single number, I divide my chance, which is one, by the number of possible outcomes, which is 38. I multiply that by 100 to make a percentage and get 2.6%.

Payout Vs Odds

There’s a crucial difference between the potential payout and the odds. The odds tell you the probability of your outcome occurring. In American roulette, the odds of hitting a single number are 37:1 or 2.6%.

However, your payout doesn’t look the same. Think of it as ignoring the green spaces to create the house edge, if you will. Roulette payouts for betting on a single number are 35:1. A $10 bet would get you a $350 payout.

The odds of something happening and the potential payout are both useful figures when it comes to wagering. They tell how risky your bet is and how much you stand to gain. Just remember that an even bet is not an even risk! Let’s take a look at all the bet types, odds and payouts to understand what that means.

Roulette Bet Types

So far, we’ve talked in simple terms about betting on a single number. Plus, we’ve mentioned red or black, which is a type of even bet. The layout of a roulette table allows for many other types of bets. When making your predictions, you can create all sorts of combinations.

It means that, in some cases, you’re betting on more than one possible outcome. We’ll need to do just a little more math (a tiny bit) to understand the odds and payouts. First, we’ll set out the two categories for wagers: inside and outside bets.

Outside Bets

Outside bets are the ones with a higher probability of occurring. In correlation, your payouts aren’t going to be as high. The name comes from the table layout as you place your chips on one of the outside sections to wager.

This category includes the three even bets, such as high or low (1-18, 19-36) and red or black. They get their name from the payout 1:1, not the probability percentage, which is actually 47.37%. Don’t forget about the green spaces!

Another option is a column bet, where you pick one of the three columns of numbers on the table. The other choice is dozen, which separates the numbers as 1 to 12, 13 to 24 and 25 to 36. The odds for column bets and dozen bets are 31.6% and these bets pay out at 2:1.

Inside Bets

Inside bets have a lower probability of occurring. However, with this greater risk comes larger payouts. The name comes from the position of your chips when placing your bets, which will be on the inside sections of the table.

To place an inside bet, you need to put your chips in specific locations to indicate which number or group of numbers is part of your wager. The simplest is placing your chips squarely on one number for a straight bet. As we know, this pays 35:1 with 2.6% odds.

A split bet means putting your chips on the line between two numbers. You’re backing either of them to be the winner with 5.3% odds and a 17:1 payout. Place your chip on the edge of a row to cover those three numbers in a street bet with 7.9% odds.

Bet on four numbers by placing your chip where the lines intersect for a corner bet that has 10.5% odds. The basket bet allows you to bet on zero and double zero, one, two and three. Put your chip on the lines between the zeroes for a five-number wager and 13.2% odds.

The inside bet with the highest probability and lowest payout is the double street bet. You have a 15.8% chance of landing this one. You place your chip at the edge of where two rows begin, to cover six numbers.

Calculating Roulette Payouts and Odds

It’s finally arrived, time for some math! Don’t worry; you don’t need to be a mathematician to bet on roulette. We’ll give you the tools to work this out for yourself, but there’s also a handy table with the potential payout and odds for each of the inside and outside bets.

You’ll notice an extra column in our table. So far, we’ve used an American wheel as an example. However, a European wheel doesn’t include the double zero, which means different odds. It’s still the same payout, though, which is why many players prefer this format.

We’ve provided the formula for calculating odds. Now it’s time to determine the payout. The number comes from a simple formula. First, start with the number of possible outcomes excluding the zeroes, which is 36. You divide that by the number of squares your bet covers and then subtract one.

You can apply that to any roulette wager. For example, when you place a corner bet, you’re covering four numbers. 36 divided by four is nine. Nine minus one is eight, leaving you with a potential payout of 8:1.

Odds and Payouts At a Glance

Here’s a table with each bet type, potential payout, and the European and American odds.

Bet Type Potential Payout American Odds European Odds
Outside Bets
Red or black 1 to 1 47.37% 48.65%
High or low 1 to 1 47.37% 48.65%
Odd or even 1 to 1 47.37% 48.65%
Column 2 to 1 31.6% 32.4%
Dozen 2 to 1 31.6% 32.4%
Inside Bets
Straight 35 to 1 2.6% 2.7%
Split 17 to 1 5.3% 5.4%
Street 11 to 1 7.9% 8.1%
Corner 8 to 1 10.5% 10.8%
Basket 6 to 1 13.2% N/A*
Double Street 5 to 1 15.8% 16.2%

*Since there isn’t a double zero in European roulette, the basket isn’t a five number bet. When playing that variant, a basket covers zero, one, two and three, giving you four numbers, and the same odds and payout as a corner bet.

A Master of Roulette

You’ve now got everything you need to play roulette, place a bet, and have fun. Step one is choosing the bet type you want. Understanding the probability of each outcome means you can make a decision that considers the risk involved. See our roulette tips page for more information.

There is no roulette strategy that will make you win every spin, but there are methods that will help with maximizing your winnings.

Risks are balanced by rewards. You can weigh up the odds with the payout potential for your chosen bet. This information will also help with the second part, deciding how much to wager. The final step is placing your chips. Now you know exactly where they should be to make a clear and valid bet before the croupier spins the wheel.

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