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American Roulette vs European Roulette: What’s the Difference?

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At first glance, roulette looks like a fairly simple game. You have a revolving wheel with multiple numbered compartments built into the table, a ball that you drop into the wheel, and a map with numbers printed on the table for people to place bets in. The rules are also very simple – you pick a number or a color and place a bet on it, spin the wheel, and drop the ball in.

If it lands on the number/color you selected, you win, and that’s it. It all sounds rather simple, and while it is almost as simple as a slot game, it can be significantly more exciting. However, the big question for today is, if the game itself is so simple, how can there be different versions of the game?

Different versions of roulette

While it might be hard to imagine, there are three major versions of roulette. These include American Roulette, European Roulette, and French Roulette. The differences between them are actually quite minor, but they are big enough to classify each of them as different versions of the game.

Today, we are interested in looking into the differences between the American and European versions, as these two differ the most. But, before we proceed with our comparison, let’s quickly go through another segment, which is:

The history of Roulette

Roulette is quite a well-known game. In fact, it is massive and big enough for every casino to have at least one roulette table. When gambling moved to online casinos, roulette was there with the first games to reach their digital versions. Ever since it was invented, it has been among the most popular casino games, and its origins were traced back to 17th century France.

The game was invented by Blaise Pascal, a French inventor who was also a famous mathematician and physicist. He was attempting to engineer a perpetual motion machine that would be able to operate without drawing external energy. Today, this is believed to be quite impossible to achieve, but Pascal believed that it can be done, and as an inventor and a curious person by nature, he could not give up on it without trying. And while he failed at it, he accidentally invented one of the most popular casino games ever.

Those early roulette games featured both double zero and single zero, with the double zero granting the house a more significant edge. However, over time, the games started to split based on small changes, and today, we have the three mentioned versions.

Not only that, but today, we even have different strategies for playing roulette, different odds, different house edges depending on the version of the game, the strategy that you use, and alike.

With all that said, it is now time to go back to our original question and see how European and American roulette versions differ from one another.

American Roulette vs European Roulette: What’s the difference?

To start off, we have American Roulette, which features both zero and double zero, just like the original game. However, this is generally considered to be a bad thing for the player, with the only exception being when the player chooses to place a bet on the ball landing on one of these two fields or if they take out a Five Number Bet. Apart from this, all other bets are pretty much forfeited.

When it comes to European Roulette, on the other hand, the numbers on the wheel are placed in a different order, and this type of wheel does not have the double zero (00) segment. There is only one zero on a green field. While this might seem like a pretty small distinction, it matters a lot for the player’s overall odds once you understand the nuances of the game.

Advantages of European Roulette

With the double zero pockets missing from the European Roulette wheel, the total number of pockets comes down to 37. Meanwhile, thanks to 00, American Roulette has 38. In other words, with one pocket less in European Roulette, the player has better chances of the ball landing in the spot they placed a bet on. The chance with European Roulette is 1 in 37, while in American Roulette, it is 1 in 38.

But, that is not the only thing that lowers the house edge in European Roulette — there is also something that is called En Prison, or In prison, according to translation. En Prison is a good thing for the players, even though the name might not immediately indicate it.

Basically, if the player had backed a 1:1 bet prior to the spin — let’s say they selected red or black, or odd/even — then they get a stay of execution if the ball ends up landing on the green field that marks the zero pocket. All other players would lose their bets, but you can keep your bet for another spin of the wheel, which gives you the second chance.

This is an aspect of the game that European Roulette has, and it is one of the main tricks that European Roulette players can use to win. And, since American Roulette doesn’t have this, and it has an extra pocket for the double zero, that makes European Roulette a better version, as the chance of winning is increased.

The Five Number Bet

Earlier, we mentioned a Five Number Bet, which is another difference between American and European Roulette. The Five Number Bet appears in the American version of the game, and it is essentially a wager that covers five numbers, including zero, double zero, and numbers 1, 2 and 3.

The bottom line of the bet is that it comes with a payout of 6:1, which might seem like a good thing for the player. Unfortunately, the looks are deceiving in this case, and after digging a little deeper, it quickly becomes clear that this is the least beneficial play in American Roulette. The numbers don’t lie, and they show that the house edge for this play is 7.9%, and that makes the player’s odds of winning very low.

American Roulette vs European Roulette: The Verdict

So, which version of the game is better? According to everything we have seen so far, European Roulette seems to have significantly better odds for the player, but in the end, it all comes down to what you want to achieve by playing.

The way you play the game will not change significantly, and if your goal is to win money, or increase your chances at winning money, then European Roulette is your best option. It has one less pocket that increases your chances of winning from 38:1 to 37:1, and it has the En Prison option, which lets you take another spin before losing your bet if the ball falls on the green zero fields during the initial spin.

On the other hand, there are players who choose to go for American Roulette despite the small edge. This game is considerably more difficult to win at, but for some players, that makes it more fun. In the end, each individual chooses their own way of being entertained, and there more betting options in American Roulette, which also includes the Five Number Bet. While this is not a good way to make money, it is still a great thing to use to add variety, increase risk, and alike, and for some players, the feeling of taking that risk and attempting to win despite lower odds is where all the excitement lies.

The odds vary slightly based on the type of roulette game that is played. European roulette has slightly better odds than American roulette. The betting odds in American roulette of hitting a single number with a straight-up bet are 37 to 1, since there are 38 numbers (1 to 36, plus 0 and 00). However, the house only pays out 35 to 1 on winning bets.

The odds in European roulette are slightly better since there is no 00 on the board. (1 to 36, plus 0)

The house edge is with the 0 and 00, as these numbers cannot be won by the player.

Please view the following chart:

Bet TypeBetsOdds & PayoutsWin Probability in %
InsideStraight Up35:135 to 135:12.702.702.60
InsideSplit17:117 to 117:15.405.405.30
InsideStreet11:111 to 111:
InsideCorner8:18 to 18:110.8010.8010.50
InsideBasket    -   -6:1    -    -13.2
InsideLine5:15 to 15:
OutsideRed/Black1:11 to 11:148.6548.6547.37
OutsideEven/Odd1:11 to 11:148.6548.6547.37
OutsideHigh/Low1:11 to 11:146.6546.6547.37
OutsideColumn2:12 to 12:132.4032.4031.60
OutsideDozen2:12 to 12:132.4032.4031.60

There are multiple different strategies that are popular with players who are trying to improve their odds of winning.

We go into details into the different strategies here:

Called bets only apply to European and French roulette.

These are the types of available called bets:

Neighbors of Zero - A bet on all 17 numbers near to the green zero.

Thirds of the Wheel - A bet on 12 numbers which are found adjacent to the neighbors of zero.

Zero Game - A bet on seven numbers near to the green zero.

The Orphans - A bet on any of the numbers which are not covered by the other called bets.

The Neighbors - A bet on 5 adjacent numbers

The Finals - A bet on the last digit (e.g. 5 would be a bet on 5, 15, 25, 35)

An outside bet is when you are not betting on a specific number, but instead choose to bet on odd or even, red or black, 1-18, or 1-36. These bets while they are lower risk, they still offer the house an edge due to the 0 and 00 on the board.

A straight bet is the simplest type of bet to understand in roulette. It is simply choosing a number (for example: 7), if the ball lands on the number then the player wins with the payout calculated as 35:1.

Roulette is all about statistics, the payout for selection the correct number the ball lands on is 35 to 1.

That being stated there is a house edge due to the 0 and 00. The odds of winning are actually 2.6% for American roulette, and slightly better odds of 2.7% with European roulette.

The odds are slightly better for the player with European roulette.

American roulette has both a 0 and a 00.

European roulette only has a 0.

If the ball lands on either the 0 or 00, the house automatically wins. This means it is in the players best interest to play European roulette.

To learn more visit our advanced guide that compares American vs European Roulette.

The real difference between the two games lies at the table, specifically, in the French table. The table boxes that correspond to the pockets in the wheel are all in red. Furthermore, the words and numbers in the French table are in French, while the European version uses English. Of course, this is not too big of an issue, especially since most resources were published with translations for the words and numbers that the French roulette table has to offer.

The French version has its own advantages, however, such as the use of th e La Partage rule. Basically, this is the rule that allows the players to use the even money bet. Essentially, what this means is that players who choose to play with this rule will get half of the amount they bet if the ball falls in the pocket with the zero.

To learn more visit our French Roulette Vs. European Roulette guide.

Lloyd is passionate about online gambling, he lives and breathes blackjack and other table games, and he enjoys sports betting.

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