American vs. European Roulette: The Differences that Matter

Roulette gaming in a casino image

📖 Published on: April 2nd, 2024

✍️ Updated: April 4th, 2024

⏳ 7 mins read

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Maybe it’s arguable, but a game of roulette is one that keeps drawing players back in. It might be the captivating spin of the roulette wheel or the intriguing way the balls land on your wagered numbers; Roulette has remained a cornerstone of the casino experience for centuries, captivating players with its blend of chance and strategy.

 

Yet, within this seemingly simple game lie subtle but significant distinctions that can greatly impact gameplay and strategy. This, of course, points to the cultural and technical distinctions between American and European roulette. In this blog, we delve into the nuances of each variant, exploring how they differ and why those distinctions matter to players, particularly in the realm of online table games.

 

The Originator: French/European Roulette

If you don’t know already, the word ‘Roulette’ is actually French for small wheel, which is where the whole game originated. You won’t miss it in a casino, it’s the one with the wheel and a ball that players bet on. In French or European roulette, there are 37 pockets with numbers 1 through 36 and one zero (0). Moreover, the house edge is usually about 2.7% for the majority of wagers, which is about half that of American roulette.

 

Table Layout

In French roulette, the table layout presents a single zero roulette wheel which gives players a bigger chance to win every time the wheel does its thing. Even if the layouts are different, the rules of roulette still apply to both European and American roulette, which makes learning the dynamics of both types of games easier than you’d think.

 

Call Bets

Compared to American roulette, French roulette has a lower house edge, which gives players a higher chance of success in wagering. However, more players have found American roulette to be more exciting and challenging. This is all due to the fact that making call bets in American roulette means you can pick up to five or six numbers to wager on– the catch? The house edge tends to be higher on the American table.

Call bets are typically placed by announcing them to the dealer rather than placing chips directly on the betting layout. Call bets are common in European and French roulette and include bets like Voisins du Zéro, Orphelins, and Tiers du Cylindre.

Roulette mobile gaming

 

En Prison and La Partage

What many American players miss out on in American roulette is that French roulette gives players more leniency on how results turn out. What exactly does that mean, right? Well, in European roulette, when going for an outside bet and the ball happens to land on zero, players have the choice to either select ‘la partage’ where players can’t abandon their wagers, or ‘en prison’ which is a rule that applies to even money bets.

 

French roulette table image

 

Choosing ‘La partage’ is when the ball lands on a zero, you may still have the chance to win the whole pot. Now, with ‘en prison,’ the dealer, referred to as a ‘croupier’ in French casinos, will mark your wager as ‘locked.’ You will then be able to make the same bet leaving you with either a win or a forfeit if you lose twice.

 

The American Way: American Roulette

Aside from roulette terms, there are certain distinctions to keep an eye out for from the different rules to the odds when playing live roulette.

 

Table Layout

In American roulette, the wheel is divided into 38 pockets, where you’ll easily see numbers 1 through 36 plus a single zero (0) and a double zero (00). This key distinction sets it apart from its European counterpart, which contains only a single zero.

 

American roulette table image

You might be thinking, “Is that the only difference?” The thing is, this one distinction has a significant impact on the game's odds and house edge. The addition of the double zero increases the casino's edge, reducing the overall RTP (Return to Player) compared to European roulette. If you’re a player looking to get “quick wins,” then the European table might be more suited to your taste. However, both types of roulette have the same payouts despite the house edge being higher in American roulette.

 

Five-number Bets

Another variant to take note of is the five-number bet on the American table. Also known as a ‘basket bet,’ this wager covers the first five numbers: 0,00, 1, 2, and 3. Keep in mind that, even if there is a +500 chance that the ball will land on these numbers, you will only win 11 times your investment. This indicates that in this specific wager, the house has a massive 7.89% advantage. So, it sucks to be the ball buster but, five-number bets are the worst bet you could make in American roulette.

 

To better compare the two, here’s a table that might help:

 

American Roulette

 

Bet Type Bet Payout RTP
Straight 35/1 94.74%
Split 17/1 94.74%
Street 11/1 94.74%
Corner 8/1 94.74%
Five Line 5/1 92.11%
Six Line 6/1 94.74%
Column 5/1 94.74%
Dozen 2/1 94.74%
Red/Black 2/1 94.74%
Odd/Even 1/1 94.74%
High/Low   94.74%

French Roulette

 

Bet Type Bet Payout RTP
Straight 35/1 97.3%
Split 17/1 97.3%
Street 11/1 97.3%
Corner 8/1 97.3%
Five Line 0 97.3%
Six Line 6/1 97.3%
Column 5/1 97.3%
Dozen 2/1 97.3%
Red/Black 1/1 97.3%
Odd/Even 1/1 97.3%
High/Low 1/1 97.3%

 

Spend enough time in online casinos, and you’ll soon learn that most live roulette table games offer both American and European roulette, which gives you more flexibility as a player; that’s all you can ask for in these types of table games. So learning how to maximize your odds when playing is crucial by practicing in online roulette games and going through the basics.

 

Spin it your way

Whether you're spinning the wheel in American or European roulette, understanding the differences in rules and odds can greatly make or break your game. Now that you already know that American roulette can offer the allure of quick wins, it’s also critical to understand (if you haven’t already) that European roulette often provides better odds for players. Regardless of what you want and how you want to play, practicing in online roulette games can make a difference when it comes to honing your roulette skills and maximizing your chances of success.

 

Get a better idea of how roulette works, and the rules to remember from our blog at GambleSpot.

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