There are many betting options when it comes to roulette and beginners can easily be overwhelmed by the various wagers listed. The concept of the racetrack is simple enough and, as with all bets in roulette, even casino newbies will rapidly get to grips with how it works.
The racetrack is the name given to a tool that allows you to place certain specific bets on groups of numbers without having to individually place chips on them all. These bets are known as call bets, called bets, or announced bets, and get their name from the way they would be placed in the real world (you know, that place beyond your computer).
Traditionally such bets would be verbally called to the croupier to save a player manually reaching across the table to place multiple single-number wagers. These groups of bets are sometimes called the French bets and are usually offered at French/European roulette tables.
The Different Roulette Racetrack Bets
The four main betting options on the racetrack are:
- Zero or Jeu Zero (meaning “zero game”)
- Le Tiers du Cylindre, or just Tier (third of the wheel)
- Orphelins (orphans)
- Voisins du Zero, or simply Voisins (neighbours of zero)
The racetrack is the visual representation of these traditional call bets. You will see the racetrack at some, though not all, online roulette games. It is called the racetrack for the fairly obvious reason that it is shaped like one (if you use your imagination just a little) and is typically located next to the main betting area. This varies from one online casino to another but if the racetrack is available you won’t really be able to miss it.
The numbers are laid out on the racetrack in the same way they appear on the wheel. So, for example, 26 and 32 will be either side of the single zero on both. Note that Jeu Zero, which you may see listed as Zero Spiel (this is German for zero game and this wager is sometimes referred to as “the German bet”) is not always offered online. It is not traditionally one of the “French bets” but you will see it at some of the best online roulette casinos so we will cover it here. In fact, let’s start at the beginning… at zero!
Zero, Jeu Zero Or Zero Spiel
This covers zero itself plus six numbers close to it, four to one side and two to the other. That means that this bet is a winner if any of the following hit: 0, 26, 32, 15, 3, 35 or 12. It uses four chips to cover these seven numbers, with a single chip on the 0/3, 12/15 and 32/35 splits, and a straight up bet on 26.
The desired outcome is, of course, 26, for a 35/1 payout (though technically 35/4 due to your overall stake), with any other number delivering a win at the split odds of 17/1 (again, 17/4 really). With seven numbers covered you have a 7/37 chance of winning, or a chance of just under 19%.
Le Tiers du Cylindre, Serie 5/8 or just Tier
This wager will always be available on the racetrack and is one of the classic French bets. It covers just under one third of the wheel, with the wager using six chips to cover 12 numbers. The numbers are the 12 broadly opposite the zero, running from 27 to 33 inclusive. These are: 5, 8, 10, 11, 13, 16, 23, 24, 27, 30, 33 and 36.
Each chip is placed on the relevant split bet, so 5/8, 10/11, 13/16, 23/24, 27/30 and 33/36. Any win will be at 17/1, although of course you will lose the other five chips you wagered for an overall net win of 12. With 12 numbers covered, your chances of success are 12/37 which equates to 32.4%.
This bet, sometimes listed as Les Orphelins, covers numbers 1, 6, 9, 14, 17, 20, 31 and 34. They are called the orphans as they are out on their own in the middle of the board with the following bet, Voisins, on one side, and Le Tiers du Cylindre on the other. 17, 34 and 6 are on one side with their orphan friends – 1, 9, 14, 20 and 31 – on the other.
Five chips are used to cover the eight numbers in question, with a straight up bet on 1 and splits on 6/9, 14/17, 17/20 and 31/34. That means that overall you have an 8/37 (21.6%) chance of winning but that 17, which is part of two split bets, and 1, will deliver bigger wins than the other numbers.
Voisins du Zero, Grands Voisins du Zero or simply Voisins
The neighbours of zero does what it says on the tin and is basically an expanded version of Jeu Zero, covering more numbers around the zero. This runs from 22 to 25 inclusive covering the following 17 numbers: 22, 18, 29, 7, 28, 12, 35, 3, 26, 0, 32, 15, 19, 4, 21, 2, 25. With a whopping 17 options to win, this has a 45.9% chance of success so you can expect to win not too far short of once every two spins.
Neighbours of zero consists of seven separate wagers that will cost nine chips to cover the 17 numbers. Two chips are placed on the 0, 2, 3 trio (paying out at 11/1) and also on the corner covering 25, 26, 28 and 29 (paying out at 8/1). The other five chips all go on two-number splits paying out at 17/1 as always. These are: 4/7, 12/15, 18/21, 19/22 and 32/35.
Neighbours Bet on the Racetrack
There are often further bets possible through the racetrack system and the most common is called Neighbours. These Neighbours don’t come with “a little understanding” a la Kylie and Jason Donovan but instead come with their two neighbours either side.
Whilst the other racetrack bets are fixed, this wager allows you to choose any number on the wheel and the two numbers either side of it. Note that the numbers are the two either side on the track and wheel, rather than on the standard betting table. If you were in a bricks and mortar establishment you might call such a bet by saying “18 and the neighbours”. In such a scenario the croupier would place your chips on 18 and the two numbers either side (9, 22, 29 and 7).
When playing online a neighbours bet can be made simply by hovering over a single number on the racetrack. This will typically cause the number itself and the two either side to be highlighted and a bet will see one chip placed on each. With five numbers covered you have a 13.5% chance of winning and whichever of your numbers does hit, you will get 36 chips back in total.
Some online casinos have a tab or button that allows you to alter the number of neighbouring numbers you are backing. Two is the usual default and some may only allow this. At others, however, you may opt to back just one number either side, or increase to three or more.
House Edge On Racetrack Bets
Racetrack bets are simply composite bets made up from other standard wagers. The house edge does not alter in roulette, no matter what you bet on. That means that no matter which of the main call bets you use the racetrack to place, the house edge will be the same as if you made a bet on red, black, lucky number 7 or anything else.
Whilst the house edge remains unaltered at 2.7% (on a single zero, standard European roulette wheel), the variance does alter. In the same way that you will win more often betting on red or black than you will on a single number, Voisins will hit a lot more often (more than three times as often) as a Neighbours bet.