Russian Roulette Explained & Why It is Better to Play the American Style

Ah, the infamous game of Russian Roulette. Whenever we hear those words, the first thing that comes to our mind is someone spinning a revolver with a single bullet on one of its chambers and pointing it towards their head. Russian roulette might be one of the most dangerous gambling games in the world, but it doesn’t necessarily need to end in death – not if you play non-lethal variants, anyway.  We have already discussed why you should play European Roulette over American Roulette, but the Russians take it to the next level (once again).

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A bullet in a revolver truly puts into perspective the world of gambling and makes the American Roulette’s double-zero feel way less unfair than it actually is. After all, it’s always better to play with a higher house edge than blow your brains against a wall, isn’t it? Not everything needs to be about death when playing Russian roulette, though. There are some amazing variants of this game that give you the joy of gambling and the thrill of lethal roulette without having to fear for your life. In this article, we’ll explore them all!

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What is Russian Roulette?

First things first: we’ll start by telling you all about the original game of Russian Roulette. The actual origins of this game are unclear, but its presence in pop culture is nothing short of unquestionable. The game consists of picking up a revolver, unloading it, and loading a single bullet in one of its chambers, only to roll the cylinder so you can’t see where the bullet is. Then, each player of the game will put the gun against their head and pull the trigger. If the bullet doesn’t blow their brains out, then they pass the gun to the next player so they can repeat the process.

As you can see, Russian Roulette is gambling taken to the extreme. As you can imagine, the game was originated in Russia and was widely played among Russian soldiers, which is where it gets its name from. The popularity of the game has grown thanks to its presence in popular Hollywood films as well as world-renown videogames like Call of Duty: Black Ops. This has led for many variations of the game to develop, many of which don’t require you to put your life on the line to play it.

The Origins of Russian Roulette – How Did It Came to Be

We know what you’re thinking: how did such an insane game get invented and how did it become so popular? How is it possible for such a crazy game to be known by so many people across the planet? Well, even though it is unclear where the game truly originated, it is said that it started to become popular during the first half of the twentieth century. It was popularized by Russian soldiers, as the tale goes, and it was originally meant to be played by war prisoners as a way for the Russian soldiers to keep themselves entertained.

That’s one easy way to explain why it was so popular: it wasn’t the Russians themselves who mostly played it, but the people that they captured during the war. To be fair, no one in their sane judgment would go around trying their luck to see if they would blow their brains out or not, so it only makes sense that it was prisoners who originally got dragged into the madness. The concept of Russian Roulette and the game itself came into contact with pop culture in the late twentieth century, though, when a Swiss author popularized the term and the concept in the West.

How to Play Russian Roulette?

How to play Russian Roulette is completely dependent on the type of Russian roulette that you want to play. If you truly wish to put a bullet in your revolver’s chamber to test your luck against your friends, then that’s completely on you. We really don’t recommend you to try it, though, as it’s probably going to end up with you either losing a friend or you losing your life.

Some friends might be worth losing, but cleaning the mess that a Russian roulette loser leaves? That’s another story. In any case and leaving all jokes aside, there are many variations of Russian roulette that you can play if you wish to have a fun afternoon with your friends and you don’t wish to lose any lives in the process. We will be exploring the best variations of the game so you can experience a new type of gambling, but we’ll also tell you why we still think that playing classic American and European roulette is still better than taking a random risk with Russian Roulette.

Actual Russian Roulette Tips that Will Help You Survive (Serious!)

Alright, before we go on to tell you all about other fun variants of the game, let us look at actual Russian Roulette and see whether it is possible to win as well as some tips that will help you stay alive when playing the game. Before we go on, we really, really want you to be aware that there are variants of this game that don’t involve people dying. They are much more fun, trust us. As such, even if you are playing a version of the game that doesn’t involve death but still takes the concept of a losing chance of 1 out of 6, these tips will help you out.

Furthermore, you will be able to make the best of your time as a Russian Roulette player if you put these tips into consideration. Even if you’re going to be playing a drinking game variant of Russian Roulette, you’ll want to get a good grasp of all of these pieces of advice to increase your chances of winning through the roof!

Always Try to Go Last if There are Many Players

Alright, let’s say that you’re going to be playing a variant of Russian Roulette where there are 6 people around a table. The gun, or whatever it is that you’re using to substitute the gun with, is sitting in the middle. If you have the chance to decide who goes first, always choose to go last.

You will never want to go first in a table with 6 other players, as this would practically mean that you have the worst odds. If you manage to go last, that means that the gun (or whichever variant you’re using) has had to be fired a total of 5 times already, meaning that it’s very likely that it has already gone off. Going last in a table of Russian Roulette with more than 5 players is the best way to ensure that you won’t be losing the game. This is an even more important piece of advice to take to heart if you’re playing the lethal version of the game, but seriously: just don’t do it.

Go First if It’s a 1v1!

Now, things do take a different turn if you’re going to be playing in a 1v1 of Russian Roulette or any of its variants. If you go first, you will always have better odds of not taking the bullet (or whichever variant you’re using) than your rival. Picture this, you start with a 1 in 6 chance of losing. You pull the trigger. Now, it’s your rival’s turn – and they will have a chance of 1 in 5 of losing. If they survive, it’ll be your turn again, and you’ll have a 1 in 4 chance of losing but, should you survive, your rival will have a 1 in 3 chance. It’s always better to go last if you have the chance, as long as it’s a 1v1 game. The more people are playing, the better it is to be the last one. Always go first in 1v1s, though.

If You Have the Chance, Cheat!

I mean, if you’re playing a fun variant of Russian Roulette with your friends, then do not listen to this advice. However, if you’re going to be playing real Russian Roulette, you might as well cheat if you want to save your life. Chances are that you’re being forced to do it, anyway, so you will be better off trying to cheat in order to escape such an intricate situation. This is the first time on our site that we’re advising our readers to cheat, but let’s face it: it’s well and truly justified. It would be a matter of life and death anyway, so cheating your way to stay alive doesn’t sound as bad as cheating in an online casino to get more money from a slot machine!

Russian Roulette Games (the Fun Ones) (Non-Lethal)

Now that we’ve gotten these crazy Russian Roulette tips out of the way, it’s time for us to take a closer look at the game’s variants. It’s not all about putting your life on the line if you want to have fun, and we’re about to find out some amazing ways that we’ve tried out in the past and that have made it easy for us to have a ton of fun without unnecessary risks. Keep in mind that you may also involve alcohol in some of these ways to have extra fun, but we’ll go into details about this later.

Nerf-Gun Russian Roulette

Do you remember those nerf guns that we all had when we were kids? If you do, then you know that you could choose how many nerf darts to load into some of the models. Have someone load one of these Nerf guns and play the game as a normal game of Russian Roulette. For extra entertainment, you can add punishment to whoever losses the game. This is a fantastic game to play against your friends or a good game to play as a couple (if you know what we mean). In any case, it will bring you as close to shooting an actual gun as possible without putting your life on the line.

Chocolate – Chili Russian Roulette

There were some toy guns that you could buy that allowed you to load them with things that weren’t bullets. One of the best things you can do with these guns is load them with different things, and one of our favorite ones to play Russian roulette is to load 5 of these with chocolate and one in the chamber with a very spicy chili. The loser will have to eat this extremely spicy chili and there are no returns allowed. If they spit it out, they lose the game. This variant of Russian Roulette makes it possible for the “loser” to keep playing if they don’t spit the chili, and it’s one of the best Russian roulette party games that you can play.

Egg Russian Roulette

Another fantastic variation of Russian roulette that not many people know is the one that you play with eggs. Play with many boiled eggs and one non-boiled, raw egg and pick one at random and smash it against your forehead. Whoever gets the misfortune of smashing the raw egg against their forehead is the one that losses! Much like the other variants of the game, this is a very fun version of Russian roulette to play if you add a punishment for the loser. It can vary, but it’s up to you and your group of friends to choose whichever one you deem worthy!

World Championship Russian Roulette

Alright, this is one of our favorite board games that exist. It will not only put the thrill of Russian Roulette back in the menu without you actually having to put your life on the line, but it’s also one of the best party board games that we have ever come across. It’s not an expensive game and it’s themed around the Russian military, as you would expect. It makes it really easy for players to enjoy Russian Roulette without actually having to shoot each other and, what’s more, it makes for a fantastic experience to train yourself in the art of bluffing. It’s one of the best games to learn how to bluff on the planet! If you really want to play Russian Roulette but you’re not too keen on putting your life on the line on a Thursday afternoon, we suggest you give this title a try.

Russian Roulette Drinking Games

What’s more Russian than playing Russian roulette and drinking? Well, probably playing a variation of Russian roulette, drinking, and not dying in the process. You don’t need to put an actual gun against your head if you really want to have fun while playing Russian roulette, which is why there are some amazing variants of the game with which you’ll be able to have a world of fun and get smashed with your friends. Let’s take a look at three incredible Russian roulette drinking games that require little preparation and that you will probably be able to play with some things that you have laying around your home (except perhaps the Paintball gun, but hey, you never know). Disclaimer: None of these variants of Russian roulette involve cleaning guts from the floor. It’s all about getting smashed with alcohol, not by bullets

Nerf-Gun or Paintball Russian Roulette (Pain + Booze!)

Ah, so you want to play Russian roulette, not die, get smashed, but still feel the consequence of getting shot? If so, then there’s no better variant of the game to play than the one we mentioned with the Nerf guns but with the added consequence of the loser getting to take a sip of vodka or a shot of booze from a shot glass. Maybe the paintball version of this game might be a little bit more extreme and, to be fair, we do recommend you playing it by shooting the random bullet against your leg and not your head. You also need to have a paintball gun that uses a cylinder instead f the classic large magazine, which can be more difficult to come by. You may find some of them on Amazon or Craigslist, though.

Virtual Russian Roulette

Another fun way to play Russian roulette that still keeps the thrill of you shooting a revolver bullet but not having to put your life on the line, with the loser having to drink a shot of your favorite beverage, is the one that you play using the mobile device of your computer. The best way to play this Russian roulette drinking game is by simply downloading a revolver app on your phone, loading a single bullet in the chamber, and passing your phone among your friends to see who is the unlucky one that will get shot. Always remember to spin the cylinder of the revolver to make sure that it will be completely random whoever takes the bullet when the trigger is pulled. In any case, this variation of the dangerous game is the best one that you can play if you really want to try it out without putting your life on the line. What’s even better is that you will get to experience the effects of being a loser with the added dose of booze that you’ll have to drink if you take the virtual bullet to the head!

Dice Russian Roulette – Play Russian Roulette with Dice

Another great variation of Russian Roulette that you can play without putting your life on the line is one that only requires dice for you to play it. Set a number among all of your friends and make it a group number. For example, let’s say that your party decides that the losing number will be 5. You will all take turns and whoever gets the number five in their dice roll will be the one to drink a shot. It’s less risky than Russian Roulette and, in fact, it does work a bit different because the same numbers can still repeat themselves with each throw of the dice. However, the thrill of playing the game is similar and you still get to experience the magic of Russian Roulette without having to put your neck on the line. It’s a cool variant of the game and one that has been fairly popular in college parties for as long as the sun has been shining. It may not involve any sort of pain, but it’s a fun way to get drunk quickly if that’s what you’re looking for.

American Roulette VS Russian Roulette (and European Roulette!)

Now, it’s time for us to approach the world of traditional casinos and start leaving behind the madness that is playing Russian Roulette. Let’s face it: there’s just no way that you’re going to play a game like Russian roulette in a land-based casino, nor will you be able to try any of the variants of the game in a reputable establishment. 

Russian roulette and variants of the game are better to be played at home. You can even play the game with real money and bet against your friends or family but no reputable casino will take the chance of having a game so closely related to death. If you’re looking to play American Roulette, though, things will be different.

This classic online casino game is one of the most played versions of roulette on the planet. Even though it doesn’t offer odds as great as the ones that you get with French or European roulette, American roulette is still a widely popular game that you’ll be able to enjoy in the best casinos in the world. As you can imagine, American Roulette is playing with a classic roulette wheel that consists of a normal layout but it has two green slots instead of three. There are no guns involved in this game.

American Roulette VS European Roulette

Sure, American roulette sounds much better than Russian roulette – and there are good reasons for it. However, you may still do better if you spend your money at a European roulette table rather than playing its American counterpart. The reasoning for this is quite simple: European roulette is far more popular around the globe because it provides players with much better odds to win money than the American version of the game. It’s not impossible to make a killing in rewards playing American roulette, but it’s easier to do so when playing European roulette instead. Both are better than putting a gun to your head, though!


Why You Should Consider European Roulette

European Roulette is one of the most popular games in the world and the best variant of the popular roulette wheel game that you often see in the best casinos in the world. The game comes with a single green slot (the zero – there is no double zero like there is in American roulette), which means that regular color bets or odds/even bets provide the player with better odds of winning. It doesn’t matter what you want to do with your money or which roulette game you want to play, but the higher RTP of European roulette makes it the best roulette game to play in the world of online casinos.


Why You Should Play American Roulette (and European Roulette) Instead of Russian Roulette

Even though playing Russian Roulette may sound fun on paper, you may not want to put yourself in a situation where your life is at risk. Sure, the variations of the game that we’ve presented to you are solid alternatives that will still give you the thrill of playing Russian roulette without you having to take a bullet to the brain, but there are still many sound reasons why it’s better to play a classic game of roulette instead of this high-risk war game. Keep in mind that the reasons that we’re going to be listing below are reasons why you should be playing any type of casino roulette instead of Russian roulette in general. We’re not necessarily speaking about American roulette. If you’re keen to play wheel-based roulette and you’re not too sure why or where, we’ll start with the why. Then, after this section, we’ll tell you where. Oh, and you’ll get to play with bonuses to earn yourself some cash while you enjoy the best roulette games on the internet.

You Won’t Die in the Process (Yay!)

Arguably the main reason why you should be playing classic casino roulette instead of Russian roulette is that you don’t have to put your life on the line if you are to make some money in the process. Classic roulette is one of the best games that you can play and whether that is American or European doesn’t matter: it’s always fun to sit down and spin the wheel at random or while employing the best roulette strategies out there. Make sure to visit the best online casinos in the world and play this classic game. Save yourself the trouble of loading a gun – either with nerf darts or spicy peppers!

You Get to Play from Home in the Best Online Casinos

Some of the best variants of roulette can be found in many of the world’s best online casinos, which allows you to make the best of your time playing online whilst also having the chance to enjoy the best games on the planet. You will always have the chance to play any of these games from your phone, your desktop, laptop, or tablet. You won’t need to do any setting up other than entering your favorite casino’s address in the search bar and getting your credit card ready to make a deposit in your favorite online casino!

There are No Bonuses for Russian Roulette

Well, even though this is almost stating the obvious, there are no bonuses that you can claim to play Russian roulette. Variants of the game are either played at home with friends or at non-legal establishments, which means that there are no bonuses to play the game. Why put your life on the line when you could play for free in one of the world’s best online casinos? It’s time for you to take that crazy idea out of your mind and spend your cash at one of the world’s leading iGaming establishments instead.

The Worst You Get at American Roulette is a Double Zero on the Wheel

American Roulette might be giving you double zeros from time to time, but Russian Roulette has a much bigger disadvantage if you lose. There is no better reward than winning money when spinning the wheel of your favorite American or European Roulette games. There’s no need for you to play Russian roulette with such games at your disposal!

10 Recommended Roulette Casinos

Now that you know all about why it’s better to play American Roulette rather than its lethal Russian counterpart (another point for America), it’s time for you to discover the best online casinos to play roulette and spend your money at the best iGaming establishments whilst having fun from home.

Keep in mind that all of these amazing online casinos come packed with incredible bonuses that you’ll get to try out and enjoy from home. All you need is to make an account on any of these casinos, make your first deposit, and start playing any roulette game that you like the most.

Most of these casinos also allow you to play European roulette, so you might want to give it a shot if you really want to ensure the best of experiences possible. It’s all up to you, though, but keep in mind that European roulette gives you better odds of winning than American roulette. Nothing comes as close as keeping you out of online casinos forever than Russian roulette, though, so just play whichever variant of the game you like the most – be it American or European!

Play Russian Roulette and Survive the Wheel of Fun

Let’s face it: playing real Russian roulette is not only risky; it’s also extremely fun and straight-up illegal. Do not do it – it’s really not worth it. However, playing one of the variations of Russian roulette that we’ve mentioned in this article is a fantastic way to pass the time or a great party game to play among friends or during one of those family reunions with the crazy cousins that like to drink more than they should In any case, we have given you all the information you need to have fun while playing Russian roulette. It is up to you to choose whatever it is that you want to do with this information, but one thing’s for sure: the world of non-lethal Russian roulette is within your grasp! Get going and play now!

Last updated  August 11, 2022
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About the author




Marco holds the title as Chief Content Writer and has a Mass Communications Major with a Specialization in Digital Marketing. He's an experienced casino writer with more than half a decade of gambling-related work on his back. He took a keen interest in gambling as a young adult and started writing expert content for the casino and sports betting niche in 2015. Now, he specializes in online slots, table games, and sports betting – producing well-researched content on all fronts of the iGaming world. He's also a regular contributor to Quora, where you can ask him anything related to online gambling and he’ll happily answer!

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