There are 38 different pockets that the ball may fall into (37 on the French-style wheel). Couple that with 11 different types of bets that you can make, and you have countless ways to wager at the roulette table. You can go for the long shot or the more conservative even-money wagers. Either way, you're probably playing against the same house edge, unless you're taking advantage of the "En Prison" or "Surrender" options (see our Table Etiquette… article for an in-depth explanation of the two).
Bets are usually broken up into two different categories: "Outside Bets" and "Inside Bets." The outside bets are called that for a good reason. These are the bets that are contained outside of the numbered grid. They include the even-money wagers and the 2-to-1 wagers. As you might guess, the inside bets are found on the inside of the numbered grid or layout. These bets are also treated a little differently. If the minimum wager is $10 for that table, then all of your individual inside bets must add up to the minimum. Chances are, you will be playing with $1 chips, so you will have to use at least ten $1 chips on the inside of the betting layout. The outside bets, on the other hand, require that each bet equals the table minimum. So, for our $10 table example, if you wanted to wager on "black," the "Second Dozen," and the "Odd" numbers, then you would have to bet at least $30 total, or three times the table minimum. Because the outside bets can afford you the space to have separate bets placed, you can use the regular house chips with the denominations on them for outside betting.
The other difference between inside and outside bets is that all inside bets from all players are stacked on top of each other. Unlike the other games, where everyone has their own place to make a wager, there is only one spot on the inside layout for each particular bet. That's why each person at the table (in North American casinos) is issued his or her own private color of "wheel chips" with which to bet (see Table Etiquette…). For the outside bets, you will place your own wager, or stack of chips, separate from anyone else's. The outside bets will have a higher maximum bet allowed as compared to the inside bets. If the maximum inside wager is $100, then the maximum outside bet is probably $1000 or $2000. Imagine a patron likes the number 20, for example, so he wagers $1000 straight up on it. The dealer falls into a pattern and hits three 20's in the next five spins… the casino would be down over a $100,000 in short order. Or worse yet, the dealer is skilled and has an accomplice betting a certain set of numbers for high stakes… well, you get the picture. A lot of money could change hands very quickly! The lower inside number maximum prevents wild fluctuations (whether random or not) from killing their "hold."
In our Illustration above, chips A through F are placed on the Even Money Wagers; that is to say that they pay 1 to 1. Each of these bets gives you 18 ways to win and 20 (American wheel) or 19 (French wheel) ways to lose. Below is an explanation of each wager with its English and French name:
A.Numbers 1 through 18 (Low or Manque).
B.All 18 different "Even" numbers (Even or Pair). Zeros are not considered even numbers.
C.Includes all 18 "Red" numbers (Red or Rouge). D.All 18 "Black" numbers (Black or Noir).
E.All 18 different "Odd" numbers (Odd or Impair).
F.Numbers 19 through 36 (High or Passe).
Also above you see the "2-to-1" wagers: the "Dozens" and the "Columns." Each dozen wager covers the 12 numbers directly above its marked betting area. The column bets are simply labeled "2 to 1." They include the 12 numbers starting just to the right of the zeros on the layout, all the way down the column and just to the left of the "2 to 1" space, where you would wager on that column.
G.Numbers 13 through 24 (2nd Dozen or Moyenne Douzaine).
Note: In Europe, the dozens are lined up across the bottom of the layout, under the "2 to 1" column bets. The space labeled "12 P" (Premiere Douzaine) is reserved for wagers on the first dozen. "12 M" (Moyenne Douzaine) refers to the "middle" or second dozen and "12 D" (Derniere Douzaine) denotes the "last" or third dozen.
H.Covers the 12 numbers starting with number 3 and adding by 3's up to 36 (3rd Column or 3rd Colonne). In our picture above, one of each bet type is included as an example. Each wager is explained as follows:
I.A one-number wager on "5" (Straight Up or En plein) - It pays 35 to 1.
J.A two-number bet on "17 & 20" (Split or A¢ Cheval) - paying 17 to 1.
K.Three-number bet on "10, 11 & 12" (Street or Transversale plein) - it pays 11:1.
L.Four-number bet covering "26, 27, 29 & 30" (Corner or En carre¢) - paying 8:1.
M.Five-number bet. Incidentally this is the only 5-number wager on the board. It covers "0, 00, 1, 2 & 3." It is the only non 5.26% house edge. It gives the house a whopping 7.89% edge (Top Line or Cinq numeros) - 6:1.
N.Six-number wager on "31 through 36" (Line or Sizain) - 5:1.
If you cannot reach a number on the layout, solicit the dealer for assistance. Once the dealer waves his arm across the table and declares, "No more bets" you must stop wagering. Hopefully, this article helped to explain the various betting options that you have and their resulting payoffs. Have fun and good luck!