Whether you’re a beginner or veteran, the most responsible way to look after your bankroll when playing online roulette is to look for a value game.
But not all roulette wheels are the same, believe it or not.
On the surface they all look similar; they all have slots with different colours, and the goal is to guess where the ball ends up. So, what sets them apart from one another?
Even though it’s just one slot, the zero changes things dramatically. This can be thought of as the house’s number, since it is not included in any of the outside bets, but believe it or not, many game developers have had the audacity to include more of them.
This makes some roulette wheels much worse value than others, and in this post we will show you how to tell the difference.
What Is the House Edge in European Roulette?
This type of roulette wheel is often thought of as the ‘original’ version.
The biggest thing to note here is that there is only one zero slot. Numbers 1 through 36 are equally split between red and black, whilst the zero slot is green, and this gives European roulette a house edge of 2.7%.
Whenever you have the option, you should always choose European roulette wheels over American ones. We will get onto why shortly, but essentially it has one less extra slot on the wheel and therefore one less chance for your bet to lose.
Of course, even European roulette wheels are designed to favour the house, but they are still mathematically favourable to American wheels, with the house edge halved.
Be careful if you see a European roulette variant with multipliers or bonus drops though. Oftentimes, this means that there’s some kind of trade off. Whether it’s lower payouts or some other alteration, the house will always have an edge.
Read the rules and check out online reviews if the trade off isn’t obvious to you.
What Is the House Edge in American Roulette?
American Roulette has a house edge of 5.25%, by far the worst amongst all traditional roulette wheels.
The reason for such a high edge (and therefore a low RTP) is because American Roulette has 38 wheel slots, whereas other traditional versions have 37. Developed in illegal gambling dens in the Eastern Colonies, the American roulette wheel has not one but two zeroes – 0 and 00.
Mathematically, the house is always in an advantageous position with roulette, but adding extra zeros increases this advantage.
Let’s say you’re betting on black. It means you’re playing against 18 red slots and two zeroes, so there are 20 slots that lose your bet, but just 18 that win. The odds of you winning are therefore 18/38, or 47.4%.
What’s even worse is that American roulette still pays 35:1 for straight-up bets, the same as European roulette. If the payout matched the reduced chance of winning, it would be on par with European roulette, but like this? No thanks.
This might seem like just a slight deviation from single-zero wheels, but in the long run, American roulette can lead to quicker losses and staking strategies being less effective. Therefore, if you plan on playing for longer periods of time, it makes sense to play with the best odds possible. An additional zero is not going to help you achieve this.
Which Roulette Game Should I Choose?
You’re probably guessing European, right? Well, if were just comparing it to American roulette, it’s by far the better choice.
However, there is another version of the game that we have so far failed to mention which embodies the best European traits and adds a few rules that tilt the scales further in the player’s favour.
We’re talking about French Roulette.
French Roulette – The Best House Edge
French Roulette is the genuine original version of the game, since roulette as we know it today was born in France. It has a house edge of just 1.35%.
Legend has it that French physicist and mathematician Blaise Pascal accidentally invented the roulette wheel (but not the game) while trying to create a perpetual motion machine.
In fact, French wheels were dominant throughout the 19th century when the first American casinos were opened. Since gambling was illegal in North America back then, clandestine casinos could tweak their wheels any way they wanted. Adding 00 was a subtle but effective way of increasing takings.
True French roulette is a much more extravagant affair, with a completely different table shape and several members of staff running the game, but most versions you will find these days have simply transferred the French rules to a European style table.
So, how does French Roulette compare to American and European Roulette? It has only one zero, as well as 18 red and 18 black slots, and while this makes it sound exactly the same as European roulette, there are several special rules and bets you may encounter in this game.
La Partage & En Prison – Second Chances for Even Money Bets
American and European Roulette are ruthless when it comes to even money bets. If you wager on an even money bet and the ball lands on zero, you automatically lose. French Roulette, however, gives you another crack at the whip in these situations, and this is why the house edge is so much lower.
This works using one of two rules:
- La Partage rule: if you lose an even-money bet because the ball lands on zero, the wager is split 50:50 between you and the house. This means you only lose half as much, and the casino only makes half as much on these losing bets.
- En Prison rule: losing even-money bets are temporarily “imprisoned” rather than being lost – they stay on the table for one more turn. If the next spin of the wheel lands in your favour your stake is returned, if not, then this time the bet is lost.
Remember that these are two different variations of French roulette second chance rules. You will find one or the other, but not both simultaneously. Which rule is used depends on the developer, or the casino floor manager if you’re at a land-based casino.
Both La Partage and En Prison help the player, and amount to the same thing in terms of the house edge, but they go about it in different ways.
French Roulette Called Bets
Called bets are another addition we have French roulette to thank for, and although they are not unique to this variant, it is where they originated. So while you may find a racetrack with the following bet types available on it, unless the En Prison or La Partage rules are also included, it is not really French roulette.
They focus on sections on the wheel and are as follows:
- Jue Zero (Zero Game): targets six numbers left and right of zero, including zero itself. Ranges from 27 to 33. It’s a series of three splits of two chips each.
- Voisins du Zero (neighbours of Zero): ranges from 22 to 25 and is a complex web of splits, threesomes, and corners. Statistically the emost likely of the called bets to land since it covers almost half the wheel.
- Le Tiers du Cylinder (thirds of the wheel): aimed at numbers 27 through 33, the game’s creators chose these numbers because they’re on the opposite side of the zero slot.
- Orphelines (orphans): This called bet got its name because the numbers it targets aren’t a part of any large group. Therefore, they’re alone, or “orphans” in a way. They come in two groups: 1, 20, 14, 31, 9 and 6, 34, 17.
- Finales: A unique bet involving the ending digits of numbers. You can call a finales bet en plain (a single number) or a cheval (two or more numbers). Let’s say you’re wagering on a 6 finales bet, if the ball hits 6, 16 or 26, 36 you would win. The required stake is greater for numbers with four winning outcomes than those with three, such as 9, since there is no number 39.
With these five bets, French Roulette provides another set of options to use in your game.
Where Can I Play French Roulette?
Online tables are the best choice if you want to try your hand at French roulette, but since it is more favourable it is also harder to find.
If you’re more of a land-based casino type of player, you’ll probably be disappointed. Since French Roulette has a house edge of just 1.35%, it’s not feasible for the brick and mortar operators to run such a tight game.
The Casino Monte Carlo is the only place we know of that offers French roulette in person, since this is where it was famously ‘created’, but if you aren’t local to Monaco then your only hope will be a good European Roulette wheel, electronic or otherwise.
Still, if you want to enjoy additional bets and get second chances, online French Roulette is the best this game has to offer.