All about the Different Variations of Roulette

ROULETTE Updated on: 5 September 2018

Roulette is a world dominated by two heavyweights: European and American roulette. As far as playing experience goes, the difference between the two games is hardly noticeable. However, when you take into consideration the odds of winning with either of these roulette versions, then it becomes clear why the two games are so different, and often considered as such by those in the know.

But this article presumes no prior knowledge of these games. Therefore, I will be explaining to you the difference between the two roulette versions, and your chances of winning with either variant. So, if you want to enjoy and win more as you play roulette, I suggest you consider the factors I have discussed below carefully before your next roulette gaming session.

1. American Roulette

You would be forgiven to think that American roulette was invented after European roulette, since the game originated in Europe, which would make it reasonable to assume America came up with their own roulette variant and named it American roulette. But European roulette came after American roulette. Even more interesting is the fact that American roulette was invented in Europe, not America.

Granted, this game did not bear this name when it was first introduced into the world. At the time roulette spread out from France, its land of origin, and into the rest of Europe and eventually the Americas, it bore the design configuration associated with roulette variant we call American roulette today.

This roulette game has two zeros, which effectively increased the casino’s edge over the players. When roulette made it to America through English and French colonists, it had two zeros, just like the original version of the game. Americans wasted no time in taking it up and making it one of their leading casino favorites.

But later on, thousands of miles away in its land of origin, radical changes were being made to the game’s design – the Europeans were dropping one of the zeros to boost interest in the game. America missed on this prevalent revolution.

And since the double zero roulette version ended up being played primarily in America, and the single zero roulette version devoured the double zero version in Europe, clear demographic demarcations in the prevalence of the two roulette variants were glaring. Therefore, the double zero roulette version was called American roulette, while the single zero alternative ended up being called the European roulette.

But make no mistake about, America did not play any role in inventing a roulette game, it only helped to keep the original version alive at a time when it did not stand a chance by failing to embrace the newly improved roulette version that had changed the historical journey of the game in Europe. Anyway, as far as your chances of winning go, European roulette is the better alternative.

European Roulette

This game is attributed to two Frenchmen: Francois and Louis Blanc. As a way to make more people amenable to the idea of playing casino games in the German town of Homburg, these guys decided to do away with one of the zero pockets.

Their strategy worked, and soon, other casinos had no option but to ditch the double-zero game in favor of the increasingly popular single zero variant in order to keep their patrons happy. Being thousands of miles away, and with the double-zero version already bringing in drones of players, America did not have to jump on this bandwagon to increase interest in the game; and the American casinos decided to stick to the double zero version.

So, since Europe had practically said goodbye to the double-zero (original) version of roulette in favor of the single zero version, and America had decided it could do without the single zero version, American and European roulette variants were born.

Odd Differences Between American and European Roulette

American roulette has a higher house edge, obviously. This is because of the two zeros. Specifically, you will be exposed to a 5.26% house edge when you play American roulette. However, when playing European roulette, the house edge is significantly lower at 2.7%.

For this reason, it almost always advisable to play European roulette. But if you want the experience of playing American roulette, there is no reason you should not give it a try, just as long as you understand that you will lose more with this game.

Rule Differences Between American and European Roulette

Other than the odds, the two roulette types have other differences, especially with regard to the rules. But these don’t usually come up in discussions of differences between the two games because they do little to change the general aspect of the game. They include the following.

“En Prison” Rule

In American roulette, when the ball ends up landing on the zero, you lose your bet. But with European roulette, you don’t. However, you don’t automatically get your money back either, you will have to play an additional round using the same bet amount. But if the ball ends up on the zero for the second time, you will get your money back. Please be advised; this rule is not used for all European roulette versions. It is in fact more common in real casinos.

“La Partage” Rule

As with the “En Prison” rule, this rule involves the zero pocket; and it applies only to European roulette. In this case, when the ball lands on the zero pocket, you don’t lose your entire bet, just half of it. Again, the use of this rule is more common in brick-and-mortar casinos.

“Surrender” Rule

This rule is found in American roulette, unlike the previous two. The “Surrender” rule is basically similar to the “La Partage” rule in that you will get half your bet back if the ball lands on the zero pocket after your spin.

Basically, that does it. Above are the differences between American and European roulette. As you can see, the variations between the two games are mostly statistical. You won’t find much difference between the two games as far as gameplay or design is concerned.

But this article only highlights the way these two games are different. In other ways, the two games are very similar. This is especially true when you take into consideration things like bet types and winning tips. I have prepared guides covering these aspects of roulette and posted them right here on Gamble711. Be sure to check them out.