How to Play Rouleur Derby

Predict. Win. Have fun.

For each major bike race, Rouleur Derby creates a series of questions, known as propositions. Typical propositions include “Who will win the Tour de France?” and “Will Peter Sagan win the Tour of Flanders?” Each proposition will have two or more options that reflect the possible outcomes.

Bet points on the option—or options—you think will be the correct outcome. If that option turns out to be correct, you win points. The longer the odds, the greater the reward.

Rouleur Derby is set up as a parimutuel, a form of betting common to horse racing. Odds fluctuate based how many points have been collectively bet on that outcome. Odds are finalized when betting closes, not when a given bet is made.

There are rules. They are listed here.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do the odds work?

Rouleur Derby uses fractional odds. In fractional odds, the numbers combine to reflect the potential profit for each point bet. Given 4/1 odds, for example, a 100-point bet would return a 400-point profit, or 500 points total. Given 3/2 odds, a 100-point bet would return a 150-point profit, or 250 points total.

Odds are designed to reflect an outcome’s chances of happening. If an outcome has odds of 5/1, the crowd has deemed it to have a 1-in-6 chance of happening. Odds of 1/1 are called “even odds,” meaning the outcome has a 1-in-2 chance of happening, the same as a coin flip.

Options within propositions are listed in order from most to least likely.

What is Wide Angle Podium?

Wide Angle Podium is an artist-owned network of cycling podcasts, including the excellent Slow Ride Podcast, and it is an official Rouleur Derby partner.

Members of Wide Angle Podium are entitled to a 500-point bonus at Rouleur Derby. Not a member? Join here, and your bonus should appear within 24 hours.

(To receive your bonus, you must use the same email address at both Rouleur Derby and Wide Angle Podium. If your addresses are different, or if there is some other error, contact Rouleur Derby.)

How is this better than other fantasy cycling games?

Other games are great, but Rouleur Derby, like cycling itself, rewards guile, patience, and taking calculated risks.

In Rouleur Derby, going with the herd will still earn points, but more points are earned by spotting outcomes that are undervalued by the other players.

In addition, Rouleur Derby introduces a variety of fun side propositions, not just race winners. Popular prop bets include “Who will get over the Poggio first?” and “Will there be a dog- or livestock-related crash at the Tour de France?” With dozens of prop bets available, players can spread their resources across the game, placing more points on the outcomes they feel strongest about.

And unlike other cycling games, Rouleur Derby can be played almost every single day of the cycling season.

What races are included?

Rouleur Derby will follow all major European races, with extra attention on the classics and grand tours. Also included will be major American races, such as the Tour of California and national championships. Most propositions will become availble the week before each race, once start lists are finalized.

How long is the season?

An annual winner will be declared after the UCI world championships in September. After a short break, the following season will begin by tracking the major cyclocross races.

Is it free to play?

Yes.

Is it gambling?

No.

Are there prizes?

No. That would make it gambling.

I was late to the party, and it looks like other players already have a big lead. What fun is that?

It can still be a lot of fun!

It’s a long season, and it's never too late to catch up. In addition, separate leaderboards are kept for each of the grand tours (Giro d’Italia, Tour de France, Vuelta a España). Those contests are judged by percentage gained, so your initial scores won’t matter.

I just placed a bet and the odds changed. What gives?

That’s how a parimutuel works. The more points that are bet on a given outcome, the less that outcome will yield.

In the early stages of each bet, the odds may swing wildly. As more players place bets, however, odds will reach equilibrium.

To help you see the effect your bets may have on the odds, the odds will turn blue when you enter values for bets to give you a preview of what the odds will be after you bet.

Each proposition will show the number of points that have been wagered (the “action”). If there is not yet much action, your wager may have a significant effect on the odds. Note, however, that the shortest possible odds are 1/10, meaning you will always earn at least 10 percent on an accurate prediction.

Can I place more than one bet in a race?

Yes. And you can place multiple bets on the same outcome.

Can I cancel a bet?

No. If you make mistake or change your mind, your best recourse is to place additional bets on the other options in the proposition.

What if I run out of points?

Once you drop below 100 points, you will be shown an option to take out a bailout loan. These loans must be repaid, with 10 percent interest, by the end of the season. Furthermore, for the first three days after a loan, you will be limited to 25-point bets.

Once you have accrued enough points to pay back your loan, you will be shown an option to do so.

I don't know anything about cycling. Should I still play?

Absolutely. Use the same strategy that you would if you were at the horse track. Which is to say, bet on the riders with the goofiest names.

What’s the deal with nemeses and victims?

Rouleur Derby is what’s known as a “zero-sum game.” Every point that someone loses is won by someone else. As such, the game keeps track of whose points you're winning, as well as from whom you are winning yours. Players who have lost points to you are your victims. Players who have won points from you are your nemeses. Wag your fist at them if you see them on the bike path.

How do I stay up to date with the game?

Rouleur Derby Report is an occcassional email newsletter with news, upcoming races, and other developments, and players are invited to join the Rouleur Derby Slack community. Also be sure to "like" us on Facebook and follow Rouleur Derby on Twitter.

How do I join Rouleur Derby on Slack?

New players should receive an invitation when they join Rouleur Derby. If you did not receive your invitation, contact Rouleur Derby for a new one.

What is a “rouleur”?

A rouleur is a bike racer who is a good all-arounder, as opposed to specialists like sprinters, climbers, and time trialists. Likewise, players who thrive in Rouleur Derby will be the ones with a wide breadth of knowledge who can make accurate predictions on a wide range of propositions.

Why are you doing this?

Rouleur Derby started in 2010 as an exercise to teach myself Django, a popular web application framework. The exercises in the books were boring, but bike racing is fun!

After going on hiatus after the 2013 season, Rouleur Derby returned for the 2019 season. It is still built in Django, this time with a React front end.