How to Play & Win at European Roulette

Roulette – of all descriptions – is supposed to be a simple thing. The objective of this longstanding casino experience can be summarised in just a handful of words, but, of course, operators and players are rarely satisfied with the standard, out-of-the-box experience. This need to experiment has produced plenty of variants, including some rather…

Roulette – of all descriptions – is supposed to be a simple thing. The objective of this longstanding casino experience can be summarised in just a handful of words, but, of course, operators and players are rarely satisfied with the standard, out-of-the-box experience. This need to experiment has produced plenty of variants, including some rather eccentric games like multi-ball and multi-wheel roulette.

For a newcomer to the roulette wheel, the variety can all be a bit overwhelming, although all these choices do paint a bit of a false picture. European and American Roulette are the most dominant versions of the game by far, possessing a simple ruleset and a vast array of betting options that can be combined into advanced systems. We’re going to take a look at how to win European Roulette today. 

So, welcome to our guide to European Roulette rules, consisting of a run-down on odds, payouts and the overall return-to-player (RTP) values within the game.

European Roulette Rules

Of all the casino games you’re likely to play over your lifetime, roulette will probably be the easiest to pick up and play. Essentially, it’s a simple guessing game. Either before or slightly after the croupier throws the ball into the wheel, you’ll have to place a bet on what numbered pocket it will land in. The player can choose to wager on single numbers, a colour (red or black), or a bundle of numbers that can take any form at all. 

European Roulette is as close to the original version of the game as it’s possible to get today. Invented in the 17th century but codified in the 18th, roulette was reportedly devised to be a perpetual motion machine by French mathematician Blaise Pascal. These devices were all the rage at the time, as they were theorised to run forever without losing energy. Of course, now, we know that they violate natural law and cannot exist.

It’s easy to learn how to win European Roulette. This version of the game has 37 pockets compared to the 38 of American Roulette. To understand the difference, you’ll need to know that the casino or house has its own number on every wheel. This usually takes the form of one or two zero pockets. European Roulette has just a single zero, while the American game has both a single zero and a double zero. These are painted green.

This seemingly minor difference actually has quite a large influence on the outcome of the game. For one, the additional pocket in American Roulette means that bets are subject to a higher house edge. This is the small advantage that the casino always has in games of chance played on the premises. American Roulette has a house edge of 5.26%, while the European Roulette iteration has a comparatively friendly 2.70%.

Put another way, you have a much better chance of winning European Roulette than you do winning a game of American Roulette. It’s worth noting, however, that while European Roulette is the standard form outside the States, it’s highly unlikely to be found at American casinos. Conversely, American Roulette isn’t quite as popular overseas due to the reason we’ve just discussed, namely, the casino’s larger advantage.

What part does betting play in knowing how to win European Roulette? Just how convoluted can it get in such a simple game? We’ve already touched on the different ways to wager in roulette but, in general, you’ll be able to place both inside and outside bets. We’ll go into betting in detail in the next section when we cover the game’s odds.

European Roulette Wheel Odds, RTP & Payout

Let’s forget about American Roulette now, as we’ve already dedicated an entire guide to that particular subject. In European Roulette odds, the chances of certain outcomes happening are determined by a number of factors, including the numbers and/or colours you’ve wagered on and the house edge. Before we explain how to win European Roulette, though, we’ll have to talk about the two betting categories we just mentioned, inside and outside.

The European Roulette table (not the wheel) is roughly divided into two segments. The inner section, where all the numbers are listed side-on to the player, is where inside bets are placed. This is a high payout, high-risk area of the European Roulette board. The kind of wagers you place here will involve collections of numbers. As a quick primer, here’s a rundown of the most common inside bets:

TypeBet NamePayoutProbabilityHow to Bet
InsideStraight Up35:12.7%A single number.
 Split17:15.4%Two numbers next to each other.
 Street11:18.1%Three consecutive numbers.
 Square8:110.8%Four numbers in a square.
 Double Street5:116.2%Two rows of three numbers.

Note that it’s possible to bet on a set of numbers by placing a single chip overlapping the lines between them. So, for the square bet, put your chip in the centre of the ‘cube’ of numbers you’d like to wager on. 

Now, the outside bets:

TypeBet NamePayoutProbabilityHow to Bet
 Column2:132.4%A column of 12 numbers.
 Dozen2:132.4%1-12, 13-24, 25-36.

Outside bets are much simpler in form than outside ones. It’s for this very reason that they are recommended for people new to the game and therefore less experienced and overall less acquainted with the techniques on how to win European Roulette. These wagers usually have a 33.3% or 50% chance (minus the house edge) of winning. Outside bets are contained within the rectangular area that faces the player on the game’s board. Be aware that, while it’s possible to place bets on zero, this only applies to inside bets.

As the final point of this section, let’s talk about the European Roulette RTP or return to player values. All casino games, especially electronic ones like slots, come bundled with an RTP value. This figure describes how much of your wager you can expect to have returned over an extended number of plays, usually in the millions. For instance, a game with 100% RTP would (eventually) return the entirety of a £10 bet. 

The RTP isn’t an essential part of knowing how to win European Roulette, but it does help to understand the concept. The RTP is worked out by dividing the number of neutral positions by the number of guaranteed losses. There are 36 neutral positions in roulette (the pockets) and a single loss position, the zero. This gives European roulette an RTP of 97.30%.

In other words, theoretically you will eventually recoup £97.30p from a wager of £100, although this number is determined over a massive sample size. This can be a difficult concept to understand so just remember that a higher RTP is always better, instead.

European Roulette Tricks to Win

There are no guarantees in casino gaming. With the exception of poker, which can be influenced to some extent by experience and skill, roulette, craps, slots, blackjack, and bingo are all games of chance. That’s not to say that playing more efficiently can’t improve your chances of success. It’s just that you should be wary of anything (or anyone) who offers a can’t lose strategy when describing how to win European Roulette.

As a starter, you can try playing a strategy like Martingale in low-stakes games to cover your losses. In brief, this strategy requires the player to double their bet on a loss. The idea is that you can win back several losses in a row with just a single success. The problem is that Martingale can rapidly exhaust your bankroll if you end up on a losing streak. This is the issue with most roulette strategies though, unfortunately.

It would help if you also tried alternating between inside and outside bets, as the 48.7% probability of a red/black wager gives you a better chance of winning than any inside bet does. The difference in odds between these two categories is quite large (the best chance you have of winning an inside bet is 16.2%) so it’s important to strike a balance between risk and reward to extend your play sessions. 

We hope you’ve enjoyed our guide to European Roulette. Be sure to check out our other pages dedicated to roulette for more tips and tricks for this popular game.