Fascinating Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Roulette

Roulette is one of the most entertaining, and accessible, games in a Las Vegas casino.

Even seasoned roulette players will be surprised by some of the fascinating aspects of the game we’ve hastily slapped together.

Roulette

Ah, roulette being roulette.

Let’s start with a couple of names for things we didn’t know had names. First, there’s a term for when a roulette dealer gathers and restacks chips, it’s called “mucking.”

Also, there’s another name for the object used to mark a winning number: A “marker” is also called a “dolly.”

Roulette dolly

Roulette markers, or dollys, come in all shapes and sizes.

It’s also worth noting a roulette dealer is also called a “croupier.”

Are we having fun yet?

Here’s a surprising fact about roulette: Just as people are left and right-handed, there are also right-handed and left-handed tables.

If you’ve played roulette, you’re probably more familiar with the right-handed table. The wheel sits to the right side of the dealer.

Roulette right-handed

We’re going to pretend Hard Rock reserved this right-handed table for us. Just go with it.

Here’s a left-handed roulette table. If you guessed the wheel is to the left of the dealer, you’re well on your way to a job as an elected official.

Roulette left-handed

The left-handed layout can cause confusion with players. Example: “It’s backwards! Pay me for the number I thought I was betting on!”

Here’s what happens when a right-handed roulette table and a left-handed roulette table hook up in Las Vegas.

El Cortez roulette

This roulette table at El Cortez goes both ways.

Here’s a relatively useless fact: On roulette tables, the ball spins in the opposite direction of the wheel’s rotation.

On a right-handed table, the wheel goes counter-clockwise while the ball goes clockwise. On a left-handed table, the ball goes counter-clockwise while the wheel goes clockwise.

Interestingly, a roulette dealer trained in a European casino will reverse the rotation of the wheel and ball following every spin.

Triple Zero Sands Roulette

If you see a triple zero roulette table, just run.

Many of the procedures and devices on a roulette table are to try and ensure the results are randoms.

On a roulette wheel, for example, small devices called “canoes” are installed to give the ball additional obstacles to divert the ball from a predictable path as it falls into the wheel.

Roulette canoe

Canoes are also called frets, making this blog post, officially, the most useless in the history of the Interwebs.

Players sometimes try to pick up on a dealer’s pattern or rhythm, called a “dealer signature,” to predict where the ball is likely to fall. When player’s see a pattern, they practice something known as “section shooting,” or betting in certain areas of the wheel to try and gain an advantage over the house.

Now, let’s talk chips!

It’s a little-known fact that dealers, when pushing stacked chips to players, can’t move the chips in a way that conceals them from the security cameras above.

Dealers spend a lot of time practicing pushing stacks of chips. If you’re ever asked, 20 is the standard number of chips in a stack at a roulette table. Try pushing five stacks of 20 chips without them tipping over!

Roulette

Use the Force, Luke.

Unlike other casino chips, roulette chips have no value away from the table and can’t be traded for cash at the casino cashier, or “cage.”

That’s because roulette chips have no set value. Players determine what value a chip will have. Chips can be worth $1, $5 or more, as stated when the player buys in.

Taking chips from a roulette table is discouraged, because it’s a common scam to buy in for a low denomination (say, $1 per chip), to take chips away from the table, then return at another time, buying in for a higher denomination (say, $5), then slipping the previous low-value chips back into the game for an immediate profit. It happens quite often, actually, and the practice is illegal.

We’ve been playing roulette quite a long time, but only recently learned about “picture bets.”

Picture bets are a way for dealers to easily recognize and pay out common chip combinations. Those chip combinations often have colorful names, and dealers memorize the names and payouts to keep games moving. (The more spins, the more money a casino makes, by the way. The house edge for double zero roulette is 5.26%.)

Think of picture bets as flash cards for dealers.

Here are a couple of picture bets, and let’s say the chips are worth $1 just to keep it simple.

The “Mickey Mouse” is two corners (each pays 8-to-1) and one straight up number (pays 35-to-one), and it pays $51.

Roulette Mickey Mouse

To see some of these “picture bets,” like the Mickey Mouse, you have to view the bets from the perspective of the dealer.

“Deck of Cards” is called that because it pays $52 (52 cards in a deck): It’s one straight up number and one split (pays 17-to-1).

Roulette deck of cards

Want to win a bar bet? Tell your friends roulette involves a “deck of cards.”

A “Basket” pays $67 for two corners and three splits. We’ll turn it on its side for you.

Roulette basket

We flipped it so you can see the basket. You’re welcome.

A “Picture Frame” is one straight up number, four corners and four splits. This pays a healthy $135. An “Empty Picture Frame” is the same configuration, but without the straight up number.

Roulette picture frame

Somebody got a phone call!

Our favorite picture bet, because it’s the dirtiest, of course, is “Dinner for Two.” This bet is two splits and a straight up number. It pays (wait for it) $69.

Roulette dinner for two

Because “dinner for two.” We’ll wait.

Hey, roulette dealers often have a lot of idle time on their hands!

Here’s something to watch the next time you’re near a roulette table: Notice that dealers in a live roulette game must keep the wheel in perpetual motion. It’s a gaming regulation.

Now, have fun, and give roulette a spin.

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17 thoughts on “Fascinating Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Roulette

  1. Mako10

    Another little known bet, probably because its so expensive to make, is a “complete” bet…its 40 chips (though sometimes less depending on the number you bet on) placed all around a number in various bet sizes…payout is 392 chips. you only see these in the nosebleed limits though.

    Reply
  2. Gordon Nishino

    Great article! Did you take the photos or use stock images? Just wondering because of the shot of the ball landing in number 22, 22, 22…2 2…22… was genius.

    Reply
      1. Wolfdog

        Yeah, Mirage had a single-zero game. Might still have it. It was always too crowded for me to give it a spin.
        Old Nevada Palace, out on Boulder Hwy, had/has one, as well.

        Reply
      2. bro

        Not sure if they still have it, but MGM Grand had single zero in the higher limit pit on the way to the arena, and I’ve heard Aria has a single-zero table in the high roller area/room that observes en prison or la partage rules (can’t remember which).

        My personal favorite was at Riviera back when it was open, it always had a single zero table open with $5-$10 minimums. Best deal in Vegas! How I miss that place…

        Reply
  3. bro

    While you mentioned the triple-zero game at Sands properties, you forgot to include the double-ball money-suck at Trop, and Riverboat at Golden Gate—Maybe this comment will incite a feature piece of roulette variations at a later date? While I think the propositions on Riverboat are fun, I’ll still take a regular double zero with neighbors layout anytime.

    Reply
  4. Live Odds

    While reading about Roulette rules for different places i came to know of a fun fact that Californians play roulette with cards.

    As many people might be aware that not all jurisdictions allow roulette. California law prohibits all games of chance except those that involve cards. However, if you enter a casino in California, you might well see tables offering ‘roulette’. This is because casino operators have found a clever way to skirt the law.

    California Roulette is basically exactly the same as roulette, but it replaces the wheel with a deck of special cards. There are 38 – the wheel numbers plus 0 and 00 – and each is colored according to a standard roulette wheel. Using a card machine, numbers can be ‘dealt’ at random and players can bet on the numbers and colors just as they would in a normal roulette game.

    Reply

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