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Roulette Numbers: How Do They Work?

January 21, 2022

Take a glance at the numbers on a roulette wheel. They seem to offer just a few dozen different possibilities for players. But what happens when you look deeper at the roulette board layout? You’ll find there are myriad bets and combinations to be enjoyed.

This is roulette in a nutshell: a simple and accessible game with many interesting possibilities and permutations. It is this marriage of the simple and complex that makes the game so beloved by players at casinos the world over. Whether played amidst a buzzing crowd at a live casino, or simply when playing roulette online, it’s one of the most popular casino games in the world.

In short, there are few more iconic sights in a casino than the whirling red and black wheel at the roulette table. Let’s take a look at both the complex and the simple facets of this quintessential casino game.

How many numbers are on a roulette wheel?

The answer to this question is another question: which roulette are we talking about?

The two most common types of roulette you’ll find at most online casinos are European roulette and American roulette. The one key difference between European roulette and American roulette is the number of pockets on the wheel.

European roulette vs American roulette wheel layout

In either game, the roulette wheel has pockets numbered from 1 to 36. The difference lies in the zero. In American roulette, there is a double zero pocket in addition to the single zero found on European roulette wheels. You’ll find it directly opposite the single zero, also marked in green.

This means that there are 37 pockets in a European roulette wheel and 38 in an American roulette wheel. The savvy mathematicians among you will have already worked out that this also means American roulette has a higher house edge. The house edge in American roulette is 5.26% compared to 2.7% for European roulette.

What are the numbers on a roulette wheel?

While the main difference between American roulette and European roulette is the double zero, observant players of both games will notice another.

The sequence of numbers on an American roulette wheel differs from that of its European counterpart, running clockwise from zero as follows: 0, 28, 9, 26, 30, 11, 7, 20…

The European roulette wheel instead reads: 0, 32, 15, 19, 4, 21, 2, 25, 17…

Both are somewhat random, but many consider the European roulette wheel to be more balanced. While both wheels have alternating red and black numbers, the European roulette wheel also ensures that low (1-18) and high (19-36) numbers also alternate for the most part. There are also no instances of three consecutive odd or even numbers on either wheel.

The roulette board layout

Of course, the roulette wheel is just one part of the roulette table. Alongside the wheel is the roulette board upon which players place their chips in order to bet. The main part of the board is clear: it features all the red and black numbers on the board. You’ll find the zero (and double zero, if present) alongside its leftmost edge.

However, you’ll also see several other betting areas alongside this grid of numbers. This is a way to allow players to bet on groups of numbers, such as the first, second and third group of dozens; all high numbers or low numbers; all red or black numbers; or all odd and oven numbers. There are also column bets to choose an alternative set of 12 numbers.

Note that the zero and double zero are not included in any of these groupings.

Common roulette patterns and bets

In European roulette you might also see a “racetrack” around the board which is based on the sequence of numbers on the wheel. These are called “call bets” or sometimes “announced bets” and enable players to make a few different combination bets:

  • Neighbours of Zero: this bet covers all numbers from 22 through to 25, a sequence of numbers that runs either side of the zero pocket.
  • Thirds of the Wheel: this bet, as the name suggests, places a bet on a dozen numbers (one third of the wheel). The numbers chosen are those opposite to the zero.
  • The Orphans: these lonely numbers are the remaining six numbers not covered by Neighbours of Zero or Thirds of the Wheel.

What roulette number hits the most?

Roulette players can get very focused on hot and cold numbers – those that have hit frequently in recent spins and those that have not hit for a while. Unfortunately for enterprising players, these streaks are irrelevant, especially in online roulette. Each number in a European roulette wheel has a 37/1 chance of hitting on any given spin, regardless of what has happened in previous spins.

That being said, there are still numbers favoured by players for various reasons. The most popular number by far is 7, considered lucky by many people. Another hit is 17 due to its central position on the table. Also, 8 is lucky in many Asian cultures and will also be frequently bet on.

As for the “unlucky” numbers, you’ll rarely see people betting on 13 for obvious reasons. Another unpopular choice is 0 – unless a player feels particularly risk-averse. Betting on 0 can be a way to hedge against an odd/even bet.