The familiar red and black numbers on the roulette wheel will be a recognisable sight for most people, even if they’ve never set foot in a casino before.
The basics of roulette are simple: predict where the ball will finish, spin the wheel and wait to see if you’ve won! Of course, it’s possible to place more complex bets, but at its core, roulette is a game that everyone can pick up and enjoy.
But what most people don’t realise is that there’s a very precise layout to the roulette wheel. Despite appearances, the roulette numbers aren’t just scattered anywhere.
We’re going to take you on a spin of the roulette wheel and let you in on the secrets it holds.
If you look very closely at a series of roulette wheels, you'll spot that not every wheel is the same. The layout of the roulette wheel numbers is different, and some wheels have two green zero pockets.
That’s because roulette wheels fall into one of two categories: the European Roulette wheel and the American Roulette wheel. Technically there are three actual types of roulette, but French Roulette is played on the European Roulette wheel.
The European wheel is the most popular, and it's the one that you should aim to play on, if at all possible. This is because the casino house edge is lower. The reason is there is only one green zero pocket. You'll lose your bet if the ball lands in the zero, which is why the number of zero pockets is particularly important!
On the European wheel, there are 37 pockets, with numbers 1-36 joining the single green zero.
On the American wheel, there are 38 pockets, with numbers 1-36 plus TWO green zero pockets.
The highest number on the roulette wheel is the same for both American and European wheels.
Roulette is played the same way on both wheels, but you'll find that most online roulette games are based on the European wheel.
The most apparent difference between the two wheels is the extra green pocket, but the actual layout of the numbers also varies between the two.
The European wheel layout is generally preferred because it's widely described as more balanced. This more even distribution of numbers is better to play on, rather than the American layout, which has specific groups of numbers more bunched up together.
The layout of the European wheel running counterclockwise is:
0, 26, 3, 35, 12, 28, 7, 29, 18, 22, 9, 31, 14, 20, 1, 33, 16, 24, 5, 10, 23, 8, 30, 11, 36, 13, 27, 6, 34, 17, 25, 2, 21, 4, 19, 15, and 32
The layout of the American wheel running counterclockwise is:
0, 2, 14, 35, 23, 4, 16, 33, 21, 6, 18, 31, 19, 8, 12, 29, 25, 10, 27, 00, 1, 13, 36, 24, 3, 15, 34, 22, 5, 17, 32, 20, 7, 11, 30, 26, 9, 28.
Both wheels alternate between black and red, but there’s also a sequence to the other numbers.
On the American wheel, the two green zero pockets are on opposite sides. The numbers are then placed consecutively around the board, spreading out from the zero pockets. So number one is next to 00, and number 2 is on the opposite side next to the single zero and so on.
The European wheel has a distinct pattern, too; if you split the wheel in half, you'll see the high red numbers and the low black numbers on the left hand side, with the low red numbers and the high black numbers on the right hand side.
The American wheel doesn't have the same distribution of odds and evens across the entire board, so if you're placing a bet on a particular group of numbers, such as low/high, the European wheel is the better pick. This is because the high and low numbers don't alternate in the same way on the American wheel, and you can end up with groups of numbers tightly clustered together.
We’ve got lots of other roulette guides, including how to play, so why not check them out before diving in and choosing a roulette wheel to play?