Roulette Wheel & Table Layout Explained

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Close-up of a spinning roulette wheel with colorful numbers and a blur effect, set in a softly lit casino ambiance.
BetMGM Feb 07, 2024, 6:40 AM

Roulette is one of the oldest and most popular casino table games. Whether you’re playing online or at a real table, it’s one of the few betting games where random outcomes and fixed odds combine to form truly satisfying gameplay, with the mesmerizing spin of the wheel leading to unforgettable moments of excitement and anticipation.

You can play the game in a variety of formats with two main archetypes to choose from: American and European. There are several similarities shared by both versions, but there are also subtle differences that make each game type unique, from table layout and wheel structure to betting options and odds for outcomes. 

Understanding the Basics of Roulette

Before diving into the specifics of each archetype, it’s best to familiarize yourself with the fundamentals of the game. The premise is simple enough — pick a number or set of numbers and hope that the ball lands on your selection. 

There are 36 numbered pockets to choose from, alternating in color between red and black as you go around the wheel. There are also one or two green zero pockets, depending on the variation you’re playing. In other words, you have 37 or 38 potential outcomes per spin.

The wheel itself is made up of hundreds of separate parts, carefully constructed to provide random and unbiased outcomes. Invented in France in the 18th century, not much has changed in the original design of the wheel and table. The ball, also known as the pill, can be made from several materials and comes in different sizes that impact the physics at play.

Generally, a livelier ball means more hopping and skipping between pockets. The ball can’t be too heavy, or it will stay in the first pocket it lands in. On the other hand, a ball that’s too lively will delay the game by taking too long to settle into a pocket.

Understanding what each table offers in terms of gameplay is crucial for your enjoyment of the game. Knowing your chances of winning will set you up for success, especially if you’re trying to win a tournament against professional players. Seeing as online roulette casino games are arguably the most popular format, the table type and layout you’re likely to see the most is the American one.

American vs. European Roulette

The fundamental difference that sets American and European tables apart is the number of green zero pockets. There’s only one green pocket for European tables, whereas American tables have two: a single zero and a double zero. The additional zero alters the odds, giving the American version a higher house edge.

With a single zero green and 36 numbers, the house edge for European tables is 2.7%. The American version has a house edge of 5.26% thanks to the second zero pocket. 

You can bet on zero green for a large payout with odds of +3,500, but the chances of winning are much smaller than other betting options.

Numbers around the wheel are set up differently in each version of the game. On European tables, numbers don’t follow a recognizable pattern around the wheel, ensuring a balanced distribution of odd and even numbers. American tables follow a more discernible pattern, with high and low numbers stacked next to each other. 

If given the choice, most players would prefer to play on European tables due to the lower house edge. The increased house edge on American tables might seem like a minor difference percentage-wise, but there’s a major knock-on effect that impacts all types of bets. Every change to the odds, no matter how small, will affect your chances of winning when playing casino games online.

Roulette Betting Options and Odds

Bets for both table types vary greatly in terms of odds, depending on how broad or narrow you want your range to be. The two main types of bets are inside bets and outside bets. Inside bets are placed on individual numbers or specific groups of numbers, while outside bets cover larger groups of numbers on the outer edges of the table.

If you want to focus on a specific number or group of numbers, inside bets allow you to bet on up to six numbers in total. While inside bets have the lowest odds of winning, they also reward you with the highest payouts when you land a winning bet. Similar to most online casino games, the level of risk matches the potential payout. The higher your odds of winning, the lower the payout will be.

Even-money bets offer the most generous odds, but you have to keep the green zero pockets in mind when placing them. These bets include red or black, odds or evens, high or low, dozen bets, and column bets. The odds of winning are close to +100 for most outside bets, making them the best option for players with low risk tolerance.

Like online poker, the odds for every bet can be calculated with enough information. There’s a diverse range of betting options and odds, allowing you to manage your betting options based on risk tolerance, experience, and preferences. 

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Our BetMGM editors and authors are casino experts with a wealth of knowledge of the online casino industry at all levels. Their coverage includes company news, game reviews, how-to instructional articles, strategy guides, and editorials showcasing BetMGM’s superior product and game library.

Our BetMGM editors and authors are casino experts with a wealth of knowledge of the online casino industry at all levels. Their coverage includes company news, game reviews, how-to instructional articles, strategy guides, and editorials showcasing BetMGM’s superior product and game library.