There are three main variations of roulette that you are most likely to encounter – European, American and French. While appearing similar at first glance, there are distinct differences between them, that significantly affect the game in the long term. Understanding how they are different from each other, can and will have consequences on the outcome of your games. For your convenience, we have compiled all of the important information that you should become familiar with before you begin your roulette career.
The roulette wheel was first invented in the 17th century by French mathematician and physicist Blaise Pascal, while he was looking to create a perpetual motion machine. This version of the wheel was only primitive but it set the stage for a game that would come to dominate the casino halls of Europe. By the end of the 18th century, roulette had become an incredibly popular game. The wheel itself featured a red zero and black double zero pocket.
In 1843 brothers Francois and Louis Blanc introduced the single zero roulette wheel in the German spa and casino town Bad Homburg. This was done to compete with the French casinos which were dominant gambling establishments in Europe. After gambling was outlawed by the local government, the Frenchmen moved to Monte Carlo, which to this day is known as one of the most prestigious gambling locations in the world, partly due to the Blanc brothers’ involvement. There have been rumours and legends about how Francois Blanc acquired the secrets to roulette by making a deal with the devil. This preposterous and ridiculous notion bases its argument on the fact that when you add up all the numbers on a roulette wheel you will get 666, which is considered the Number of the Beast.
Roulette Wheels Additional TipsThe wheel is arguably the most important mechanism in a roulette table, after all, the game is named after it. It is the device where the ball spins and where the number slots are located. There are similarities and differences between the different wheels. An interesting similarity between the French and American wheels is that in ranges from 1 to 10 and 19 to 28 even numbers are colored black and odd numbers are red, whereas it is the opposite in ranges from 11 to 18 and from 29 to 36.
A very significant difference between the two versions is in how the wheel is presented. The American wheel features 36 pockets, colored red and black, as well as two pockets for the zero and the double zero (00). Both zero pockets are positioned on opposite sides of the wheel, with the same being true for every other pair of numbers. Going counterclockwise, the numbers are arranged in the following manner: 0, 2, 14, 35, 23, 4, 16, 33, 21, 6, 18, 31, 19, 8, 12, 29, 25, 10, 27, 00, 1, 13, 36, 24, 3, 15, 34, 22, 5, 17, 32, 20, 7, 11, 30, 26, 9, 28.
European and French Roulette share the same wheel layout and number distribution. Unlike American Roulette, there is only a single zero pocket on the wheel, in addition to the other 36 for the regular numbers. Naturally, this wheel features an alternating red and black color scheme, with green for the zero pocket. Going clockwise, the numbers are positioned in the following sequence: 0, 32, 15, 19, 4, 21, 2, 25, 17, 34, 6, 27, 13, 36, 11, 30, 8, 23, 10, 5, 24, 16, 33, 1, 20, 14, 31, 9, 22, 18, 29,7 28, 12, 35, 3, 26.
As you can see the only difference between these two types of wheels is a single pocket. While that may seem minor at first glance, it has an immense impact on the game that is certainly felt by experienced players. Below we will go further into detail about how this seemingly small detail can change the game in such a drastic way.
European roulette is one of the main variations of roulette that you are likely to encounter at online and European land-based casinos. This game features 36 numbers and a single zero. It is a very common version of roulette and can be found at most online casinos, as well as land-based establishments in Europe and Asia. European Roulette stands in the middle in terms of odds, with French being first with the most favorable odds, and American being third with the least favorable.
The European Roulette table layout is very cleanly presented. The number grid is laid out horizontally across the table. Beneath it, are located the Outside bets, in two rows. On the top row, you can see the three Dozen bets, while the bottom one you will find the other bets in the following order – Low, Even, Red, Black, Odd, High. The Column bets are placed on the right side of the grid.
European Roulette Gameplay
French Roulette uses the same wheel and betting options found in European roulette. Both games are practically identical with the exception of two very important rules that players of the French version can benefit from.
French Roulette features some rules not found in the other versions of the game. These are ‘la partage’ and ‘en prison’. La partage dictates that when you lose an Outside bet because the ball landed in the zero pocket, then you can receive half of your bet back. The en prison rule, on the other hand, gives you another chance to win back the money placed on an Outside bet when the ball lands on zero. The bet stays in the same spot and is marked as ‘en prison’. If the next spin wins you get you bet back, but if it loses then the house claims it. These rules work in the player’s favor and are exclusively featured in French roulette. They give the same statistical advantage and reduce the house edge on even money bets by half down to 1.35%.
The French roulette table layout is specific and different from the American and European. The numbers grid is positioned horizontally across the table. The Outside bets are placed on both sides of it, with High, Even and Black being on top and Low, Odd and Red on the bottom. The Dozen Bets are presents on both the upper and lower right side of the grid.
French Roulette Gameplay
American Roulette differs slightly from its European and French counterparts. For starters, the wheel is much different in the way the numbers are positioned and the fact that there is an extra pocket for the double zero, bringing the total number of pockets to 38. This changes the game in quite a significant way. For instance, the house edge is pushed further into the favor of the casino to an almost double 5.26%. This is due to the fact that there is an extra pocket, while the payoff ratios remain the same.
Casinos based in Atlantic City feature a version of American Roulette where you can make use of the ‘Surrender’ rule. This is practically the same as ‘la partage’ in French Roulette, where losing an Outside bet because the ball landed in the zero pocket allows you to keep half of your bet.
The American Roulette table layout closely resembles that of European Roulette with some minor alterations. The number grid is laid out vertically, instead of horizontally, and on its left side, you will find the zero and double zero bets. The Outside bets are also positioned beneath the grid in two rows.
As mentioned above, the use of different wheels has a significant impact on the game and it is most felt in the odds. A game of French or European roulette has a much lower house edge than one using an American wheel. This is due to the extra pocket on the American version. On a European game, there are 37 possible outcomes. When you place a Straight Up bet the chance to win is 1 in 37, meaning odds 36:1.
However, this bet pays only 35:1 if you win it. The difference between true odds and casino odds is what is referred to as the house edge. The house edge is the statistical advantage that the casino has against its players. For example, if you spin the wheel 37 times you are expected to win once and lose 36 times. If the game paid 36:1 on a winning bet you bankroll would not suffer since every win makes up for the other 36 losses. However, in reality, the game pays 35:1 when you win a single number bet.
Odds Comparison Additional TipsThat means that if you spin the wheel 37 times and win once and lose 36 times, you will leave the table with a negative balance. With this into account, we can calculate how often the house will keep your money. The difference between true odds and casino odds are 36 – 35 = 1. So 1 out of every 37 spins will be a guaranteed loss in the long run, or put simply, 1/37 = 2.7% of the time. This percentage of all money wagered at a roulette table will be kept by the house, with the other 97.3% being paid out in winnings.
French Roulette, however, features the ‘la partage’ or ‘en prison’ rule, where you either get to keep half of your bet or get another chance at betting in a situation where you would normally lose your money on an even money bet. Due to this fact, the house edge of this game is brought down by half at 1.35%.
We use the same method to determine the house edge of American roulette. The American variation features 38 possible outcomes, with numbers 1 through 36, zero and double zero. Meaning that every you can expect to win every 1 in 38 spins, which makes for 37:1 true odds. However, the American version still pays 35:1 on a Straight Up bet. The difference between true odds and casino odds are 37 – 35 = 2. With this in mind, we will lose money on 2 out of every 38 spins, or 2/38 = 5.26% of the time. The addition of the extra zero pocket nearly doubles the house edge and makes this game unfavorable.
Furthermore, American roulette features a bet not found in the French or European version. The Basket bet, where you bet on 0-00-1-2-3, pays 6:1 when in reality it should be slightly higher. The chance to lose is 33 in 38 times against 5 in 38 times to win, meaning true odds of 6.6 to 1. But the difference between the true odds and the casino odds is 6.6 – 6 = 0.6. So on an average of 7.6 spins, we will lose money on 0.6 of those spins, which translates to 0.6/7.6 = 7.8947% house edge.
What you have to take into account is that this data is meant to represent the overall advantage of the casino over the course of thousands of spins. It is only indicative of the results in the long term. It is impossible, however, to determine what can happen in the short term. This is the reason why reason why some players are able to enter a casino and leave with huge winnings. Essentially, what you should take from this is that if you play for long enough you will start to lose money. It is best to keep your roulette sessions within a reasonable time frame to avoid the negative effect of the house edge.
Roulette has some of the broadest betting options out of most, if not all, casino games. You can bet on specific numbers, groups of number, the color of the winning number, etc. Since there are several versions of roulette, it makes sense for there to be differences between their bets. For starters, European, French and American roulette feature relatively the same betting options. Below you will find a detailed account of all of the betting options and how they differ between the popular versions.
This is a bet on a single number in the grind. This bet pays 35:1 across all versions of the game. The true odds are 36:1 on French and European roulette, and 37:1 on American roulette.
A bet on two numbers from a single unit. The chip is placed on the border that separates the two numbers. This bet pays 17:1 on either version, but the true odds are 17.5:1 on French and European Roulette and 18:1 on American Roulette.
This bet covers a horizontal row of 3 numbers at the same time. The chip is placed on the leftmost side of the row. The bet has a payout of 11:1, but the actual odds of winning are 11.33:1 on European and French roulette, and 11.67:1 on American Roulette.
A bet on four adjoining numbers simultaneously. The chips are placed on the point where the four numbers meet. Winning this bet will result in a payout of 8:1. The true odds are 8.25:1 for the European and French version, and 8.5:1 on American roulette.
Top Line or Basket
This bet only exists on American Roulette and it covers numbers 0-00-1-2-3. This is one of the worst bets that you can place since it features the worst odds in the game. Winning a Basket bet will net you a 6:1 payout, whereas the odds of winning one is 6.6:1. As we covered previously in the article, this bet has a 7.89% house edge, whereas other American roulette bets have only a 5.26% house advantage.
This is essentially a double Street bet. It covers 6 consecutive numbers or two rows. The chips are placed on the spot where the meeting point of the two rows. Winning a Line Bet rewards you 5:1 while having true odds of 5.167:1 on European and 5.33:1 on American Roulette.
This is a bet whether or not the winning number will belong to one of the three vertical columns. The payout ratio is 2:1, while the true odds are 2.083:1 on European and French Roulette and 2.167:1 on American Roulette.
This bet is practically identical to the Column Bet in terms of odds and payout ratios. The only difference is that you bet on a different set of 12 numbers. The three groups of numbers are 1-12, 13-24, 25-36.
Odd or Even Bet
Here you wager on the parity of the winning number. These two bets are identical in payout and odds. Both pay even money – 1:1, but the real chance to win a bet is 1.056:1 on European and French Roulette, with 1.11:1 being the true odds on American Roulette.
Red or Black
This is a bet on the color of the winning number. This bet pays even money and features true odds of 1.056:1 on European and French Roulette and 1.11:1 on the American variety.
High or Low
This bet involves wagering in which group the winning number will belong. The possibilities are either between 1-18 or 18-36. These bets feature identical odds and payouts as the other even money bets on roulette.
As you can see, the American version of roulette features much worse odds than its European and French counterparts. This is due to fact that it pays the same amount of money for a winning bet, while having worse true odds. The addition of the double zero pocket has a significant influence on the return to player percentage. For example, on European roulette for every dollar that you wager you can statistically expect a return of $-0.027, whereas on American roulette that number increases to $-0.053 on all bets, with the exception of the Basket bet where the player return would be $-0.079. Statistically, American Roulette is the worst to play in terms of odds and return to player ratios.
Call bets, also known as announced bets, are a specific type of bets normally played on European and French Roulette. Technically, there is a difference between call and announced bets. A call bet is when the player does not have enough funds to cover the cost of their bet so the house extends credit to them on the table. Whereas announced bets are placed by the gambler using their own money.
Call bets are not permitted in some places in the world, as several jurisdictions have made it illegal to gamble on credit. Whatever the case is, these types of bets refer to wagers not generally found on the table. While some tables have specifically dedicated grids for them on the layout, most do not. They are taken at the convenience of the dealer and can be refused if they do not have time to place them.
This is a bet on all numbers placed between 22 and 25 on the wheel. There are nine of those in total and you will require that many chips to place the bet. The numbers are 22-18-29-7-28-12-35-3-26-0-32-15-19-4-21-2-25 on a single zero wheel.
Here you bet on numbers that are located close to the zero. The sequence includes the numbers 12-35-3-26-0-32-15. A minimum of four chips are required to place this bet, three on the 12-15, 0-3, 32-35 Splits and a single one for a Straight Up bet on 26.
Translating to ‘a third of the wheel’ in English, this bet involves just that. You place bets on the numbers between 27 and 33, which are 12 in total. While twelve may not the be an exact third, it is the closest you can get to one-third of 37. Six chips or multiples of that number are required to place this bet. The splits you have to bet on are 5-8, 10-11, 13-16, 23-24, 27-30, and 33-36.
The numbers that make up this bet are located on two opposite sides of the wheel. Numbers 1-20-14-31-9 are located on one end, while 17-34-6 are placed on the opposite. Five chips or multiples of that are required to make this bet. A single Straight Up bet is placed on 1, and four others on the Splits 6-9, 14-17, 17-20, and 31-34.
This is a somewhat self-explanatory bet, covering a number and the four others surrounding it. This requires five chips to be wagered on each individual number. A bet on 5 and the neighbours, for instance, would be to bet on 32-10-5-24-16.
A final bet is a bet on all number ending in ‘x’. For example, when you place Final threes you wager on 3-13-23-33. The number of chips required varies between the different Finals bets. Finals 0 through 6 needs four chips, whereas Finals 7 through 9 requires only three.
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Are there other variations of roulette we can come across while playing at online casinos?
As software providers compete in developing newer and more intriguing casino games, there is an abundance of roulette variants you can find at different online casinos. These may offer special multipliers, progressive jackpots, bonus games, and even more betting options due to an increased number of pockets. That said, the majority of the games we see online are variations of American, European, or French roulette.
Some progressive roulette games have one 0 pocket but have added another section dedicated to a bonus game or the random jackpot prize. That makes such games variations of the good-old American roulette. Meanwhile, you may have live-dealer games like Lightning Roulette and XXXtreme Lightning Roulette, with both options offering enhanced payouts on straight-ups. Despite that, the base game is a variation of European roulette, with the wheel featuring only one 0 pocket. That said, such games offer reduced payouts for the standard straight-ups, making them a bit different than your classic European roulette. Either way, it is best to always familiarize yourself with the rules of every roulette game before you start playing for real money as you may face some intriguing deviations from the standard rules of European, American, or French roulette.
Is there a roulette variation with a house edge higher than the one in American roulette?
If you thought that standard double-zero American roulette was the least advantageous variant of the casino classic, then you have not heard of the triple-zero roulette version. This variation of roulette started appearing in major Las Vegas casinos a few years back, presenting players with quite the challenge by adding yet another socket to the roulette wheel.
While a typical American wheel increases the house edge to 5.26% by adding a double-zero pocket to the game, there is an even worse variant. The 0-00-000 wheel introduced at some US casinos has a house edge of 7.69%, officially giving the house the biggest possible advantage over players that pay in land-based casinos. The reason why this table has started gaining popularity is the lower betting limits that triple-zero roulette tables tend to have. This seems to be a good enough reason for many casino visitors to prefer the newer roulette version to the classic American-style roulette game. That said, I highly recommend avoiding this game and opting for standard American roulette instead. Even better, pick a single-zero-wheeled roulette if you happen to see one.