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American, European, or French Roulette: The Difference Is in the Odds

Roulette, House edge, Payouts, Odds, French Roulette, American Roulette, European Roulette

Roulette wheel; Spin Palace BlogSource: Photo by Macau Photo Agency on Unsplash

French for “little wheel,” Roulette is a classic casino game for everyone. But before the wheel spins and the ball rolls, let’s review the basics and delve into the different variations of the game.

The Little Wheel of Fortune: How to Play

Fun and simple, roulette pays well and it’s entirely based on chance, giving players an exciting yet comforting adrenaline rush. Each play begins with the croupier, or dealer, taking bets, spinning the wheel in one direction, and rolling the ball in the other. It ends with the ball landing on one of the wheel’s numbered pockets and the croupier distributing the payouts. Players can bet on a single number or a combination of numbers from 1-36. The number 0 is reserved for the house: players may not bet on this pocket and the house takes all payouts when the ball lands on it. The American version of roulette includes an additional house number, the double zero (00), increasing the house odds.

Put Your Chips on the Table: Bets and Payouts

American, French, and European roulette games have two main types of bet, inside bets and outside bets, referring to the place on the betting table where players place their chips. Inside bets are number-specific, have lower odds of winning, and offer bigger payouts. Outside bets are feature-specific (such as odd/even numbers, red/black color pockets, high/low numbers), have a higher winning probability and lower payouts. If you wish to play it safe, place outside bets with chances of winning close to 50%.

European and American Roulette Bets; Spin Palace Blog

Additionally, the French and European versions also feature announced bets. These bets are placed on numbers in relation to their position on the roulette wheel and not the table. There are two types: fixed announced bets and variable announced bets.

As expected, the payouts are based on probability and the more likely you are to win, the lower the payout you will receive. In general, the math is stacked in favor of the house and odds are you will lose more times than you will win.

Which Variation Yields the Best Odds?

As you can see from the table, the French/European style of roulette always yields the best odds of winning. The addition of the double zero in American roulettes awards the house a greater edge. This translates to a 5.3 percent house edge for the American roulette versus a significantly lower 2.7 percent house edge for the French/European wheel.

Roulette table; Spin Palace BlogSource: Photo by Angelo Giordano on Pixabay

The French version differentiates itself from the European roulette in two ways. First, the table is in French and not English. Second, and most notably, the French roulette has two rules that can favor players greatly. The Le Partage and the En Prison rules work to decrease your losses in outside bets of even-money (high/low, black/red, even/odd). If Le Partage is in place and the ball lands on 0, you get half of your money back, effectively reducing your losses (and the house edge). With the En Prison rule, your losses can be reduced even further. If you place an even-money bet and the ball lands on 0, you get an extra spin for a second chance to win while the loss is “in prison” (and reduced by half).

So, if you want to reduce your losses, play with the French. If you are American and like the familiarity of the double zero wheel of Vegas casinos, c’est la vie; sometimes playing the roulette can be a cultural thing.

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