How to Play Roulette

Learning how to deal roulette begins with understanding how to play roulette. And there’s no better place to learn than Las Vegas’ #1 dealing school, Gold Star School of Gaming.

Roulette is a very straight forward game, consisting of its own lingo (see bottom). Players bet on the number, color, column, row, etc. where they expect the ball will land. If they guess correctly they’re paid. If they guess wrong, they lose. Each position (straight up, split, corner, etc.) pays out at its own odds and dealers should memorize the pay table for 1-20 units if possible (1-10 units at a minimum). Memorizing picture bets and roulette keys are other ways to greatly enhance game knowledge and speed.


roulettewheel How to Play Roulette

The house edge on roulette is easy to see. The wheel is numbered 1-36 with an additional 0 and 00. Every spin made on a perfectly balanced wheel has a 1/38 chance of landing into the slot of any given number, but the corresponding payout is 35:1.

The order of numbers on the roulette wheel is something that you’ll gain familiarity with as you gain experience. The pattern of red and black will become apparent and after some time dealing the game, you will know what color corresponds to each number without thought.


The standard cheques in a casino (red $5 cheques, green $25 cheques, black $100 cheques, etc.) have value. In roulette, the betting instruments are referred to as chips, not cheques. They have no value outside of the roulette table they’re played on. Swiftly pushing chip stacks to players is a skill and one that takes time to learn. Click the link in the previous sentence to view a picture series showing different pushing patterns. The best advice we provide our students is to keep practicing!

Players buy-in on a table, indicating the denomination they would like their chips to be worth. Dealers will mark this denomination with a lammer on a clear plastic rail corresponding to the player’s position at the table. The rail is two-tiered, and it holds a chip and a lammer that denotes the denomination. The lammer choices are 5, 20, 100, or 500. There are 20 chips in a stack, so if a player wants the chips to be worth $1 each, one full stack is worth $20, so the dealer will use the lammer marked 20.

Only one player may play a specific color, even if the players are sitting and playing together. As a dealer, you will have to instruct players that only one person may place bets. It is a house rule, created after several disputes no doubt.

Players must color up and convert their roulette chips into casino cheques before they leave the table. Roulette chips have no value at the cashier’s cage. As a dealer, you should be very aware of the number of chips in each stack. The most common roulette scam is to have one player buy-in using the assigned color as $1 chips and sneak some off the table. Then another player will buy-in that same chip color, requesting $5 or $25 chips, sneaking the chips back on the table.

Roulette Lingo

American Roulette (a.k.a. Double Zero Roulette): The standard roulette game found in American casinos.  The table has both a zero and a double zero.

Any Way to the Number: When the casino allows “any way to the number” it means a player can bet the table max on every possible bet.  If the max is $1,000, the player can bet $1,000 straight up, $1,000 on a split, $1,000 on a corner, etc.

Capping: A form of cheating where the player adds chips to a winning bet.

Casing the Layout: Watching the layout to make sure all bets are properly placed and no one cheats.

Chips: The non-value chips used solely for the game of roulette.

Chunking: When the dealer clears large piles of losing bets and keeps the piles together, he is chunking.

Column Bet: Betting on a column of numbers (12 at once), pays 2:1

Combination Bet:  A bet with multiple chips on two or more numbers.

Corner Bet: Betting on four numbers at once, pays 8:1.

Courtesy Line: The line in between the second and third dozens where a player bets the 0,00 split.

Dolly (a.k.a. Roulette Marker): Clear glass object used to mark the winning number.

Dozens: An outside bet for 12 numbers at once, pays 2:1.

European Roulette (a.k.a. Single Zero Roulette): This style consist of a roulette wheel which has 37 compartments and numbers from 1 to 36 with the addition of a 0. European roulette provides a lower house edge, compared to the American roulette, so the odds of winning are greater.

Even Money Bet: A wager that pays even money or 1:1, including bets on Red/Black, Odd/Even, Low/High.

Five Number Bet:  The worst possible bet in Roulette which carries a house edge of 7.89%. It is a combination bet on 0, 00, 1, 2, 3 and wins if the ball lands on any of these numbers.

Flat Bettor: A player who never varies the size of his bets, and bets the same amount each time.

Inside Bet: When a player bets on or between numbers in the boxes of the layout.

Marking Nickels: When a player buys roulette chips worth $5 each.

Marking Quarters: When a player buys roulette chips worth $25 each.

Martingale System: A negative progression betting system where the player places an even money bet and continues to double it if it loses.  This system works with infinite trials, but a player’s bankroll and the ceiling of a table maximum make it very risky.

Money at Risk: Money that has been wagered and can be lost.  If a player bets one chip straight up on every single number, his money at risk is not 38 chips, it’s actually 2 chips.  He will be paid 35 chips on one number, plus he’ll retain his original bet.  Betting on every number is a maneuver players use thinking they’re manipulating the comps system.

Mucker (a.k.a. Apron): One who mucks.  Typically a dealer assigned to help the roulette dealer.

Mucking: The act of quickly restacking roulette chips.

Non-Value Chip: The chips used on a roulette table are non-value chips, meaning that the player may not cash them in anywhere other than the roulette table they were purchased at for the session.  They have a game specific value assigned.

Outside Bet: A bet made on the outside of the roulette wheel that either pays 1:1 or 2:1.

Parlay:  When a player places his winnings on top of the original bet, betting it all on the next spin.

Past-Posting: A form of cheating where the player adds a bet to the layout after the ball has already dropped or after the dealer has declared “no more bets.”

Pinching: A form of cheating where the player removes chips from a losing bet.

Penciling (a.k.a. Wiping): Wiping the excess chips (between 1-6 chips) on the layout, proving a stack is correct by showing the excess, rather than breaking down the payout.

Progressive: When a player may bet the table maximum in a series.  For example, if the table max is $1,000 progressives, that means $1,000 bet on the one number bets (straight up), $2,000 bet on two number bets (splits), $3,000 bet on three number bets (streets), etc.

Split Bet: A bet on two numbers together (payout 17:1).

Stack: A group of 20 roulette chips.

Straight Bet (a.k.a. Straight Up Bet): A bet on a single number (payout 35:1).

Street Bet: A bet on three numbers in the same row (payout 11:1)

Wheel, The: Another name for the game Roulette.  A supervisor may ask: “Do you deal the wheel?”

Wheel Clocking: When a player keeps track of the results to determine patters and wheel bias.

Wheel Head: The part of the roulette wheel with the numbered pockets.