Roulette variations | American, European & French

At first glance, roulette looks like a relatively simple casino game. You place a bet, the dealer spins the wheel, drops the ball, and then the player waits to see whether they have won or lost. 

However, dig a little, and you’ll find that there’s more to this game than meets the eye. Gaming enthusiasts will tell you that if you want to be an expert, you need to know the roulette variations and the subtle differences between them. 

Some casinos offer all three variations – American, European and French – while others have just one or two. If you know the difference between them, you will not be caught off guard. 

It’s worthwhile taking a moment to remind ourselves what roulette is and how it is played. 

Roulette is a casino game that is played on a spinning, compartmented wheel. Players make a bet, and then the dealer spins the wheel and drops a ball. Everyone around the table waits for the wheel to come to a stop. If the ball falls in the pocket that the player had bet on, they win. If it falls into any other pocket, they lose. A player can bet on one or more pockets. 

Roulette is an old game. The first people to play it were the French in the 18th century. It spread to the rest of Europe and much later to America. That is why we have French, European and American roulette, and online roulette variations that offer different bonuses and demo versions. 

The rules of the game don’t change very much between the three variations. However, there are subtle differences that a player should be aware of if they hope to maximize their odds of winning. 

Always remember that roulette is a game of probability. Understanding the rules and knowing a few strategies increase your odds, but there are no secret tips that guarantee a win. 

American roulette

As the name suggests, this type of roulette is most common in American casinos. However, over time, it has been adopted in many other countries.

An ordinary roulette wheel is made up of 36 numbers and a zero, but the American version has a pocket with a zero and another with two zeros. 

If you find yourself playing on an American table, don’t panic – the game is played in much the same way as it is on any other roulette table. However, because of the additional pocket, the odds change, and there are slightly different rules.

Wheel layout

The American roulette wheel isn’t very different from the European version. If you are playing in a land-based casino, you may notice that the American wheel is smaller (2.9 m x 1.7 m). A French roulette wheel is a little bigger (we’ll get to that later). 

The wheel is placed on the shorter side of the table, and the dealer is on the longer side. Players are allowed to sit either opposite the wheel or opposite the dealer. 

Because the table is smaller, it usually has just one dealer instead of two, like in French roulette. The numbers are also laid out differently. Instead of a horizontal grid, the numbers are in a vertical grid. Games also tend to be faster on an American table.

The zero and double zero bets are on the left rather than the right, and outside bets are under the grid in a double row. 

What distinguishes an American roulette table from a French one is the number of pockets. It has 38, which includes a double zero, and this affects the odds and the house edge. The numbers are also laid out differently, usually with three even numbers followed by two odd numbers. 

One question that is commonly asked by beginners is whether the tables are different in online roulette. The answer is yes, they are. All roulette variations differ slightly from each other, so look closely the next time you want to play online roulette. 

House edge and odds

The double zero in the American roulette table has a significant effect on the odds and the house edge. The additional pockets reduce your chance of winning. Rather than betting on 37 compartments, you are betting on 38, which means that your odds are just a little lower. 

The house edge in American roulette is also higher, at 5.26%. The house edge is how much of your aggregate bet the house gets to keep. For example, if you bet $100 and win, the house will keep $5.26 of this, and you’ll walk away with $94.74.

Because of the lower odds and higher house edge, many players prefer to steer clear of American roulette. It makes sense, especially for those who plan to bet big amounts. 

The slightly lower odds can mount up significantly when your bets are in the hundreds. The higher house edge also adds up. If your interest is purely in the money, you are better opting for other roulette variations such as French or European. 

However, if you are playing to have fun, American roulette is recommended. The speed of the game alone keeps many a player coming back. 

Other features

  • The five bet or the basket bet – This is a bet that covers the 00, as well as the first four numbers on the American roulette table. The player places their bet on 00, 0, 1, 2 and 3. It has a nice payout of 6:1, but the odds are rather low. It is called the sucker bet in some circles. It also has a higher house edge at 7.9%. Players are advised to stay away from this bet.
  • Inside bets – These are riskier than outside bets, and players only bet on one number or a small group of numbers.
  • Outside bets – These offer small payouts, but they carry less risk because players bet on a large group of numbers. They are highly recommended for beginners in the game. 
  • Dozens – The numbers can be divided into three (1-12, 13-24 and 25-36). These aren’t bad because you get to bet on a large group of numbers. 
  • Red or black – A player can opt to bet on all-black pockets or all-red. This means that they are betting on a total of 18 pockets.

All this may sound quite complicated to a beginner, but it shouldn’t discourage you. The more you play, the more familiar everything becomes. Before long, you’ll have mastered the table layout and the rules of the game. 

European roulette

By now, you may have figured out that many players prefer to play this version of the game as it has a lower house edge and higher odds. 

It is played by both seasoned and recreational gamblers, and it is the most common version of roulette in most countries.

Big land-based casinos in the US have European roulette tables, but they are usually patronized by high rollers. However, beginners who have done their homework seek out this variation because they know that they stand to win more money. 

Wheel layout

The table has 36 pockets and one additional one that has a zero. The zero pocket is green, and all the others are red or black. When you place a bet, your odds are a little higher than on an American roulette table because instead of 38 pockets, this one has 37.

The wheel for European roulette sits at the center of the table, and the number layouts on either side mirror each other. 

The dealer stands next to the wheel, while the players can stand on either side of the table. Because of this layout, this type of table can accommodate more players. However, the game tends to be a little slower than American roulette.

Players can place both inside and outside bets. Both these bets stand an equal chance of winning, but zero is what makes the difference. It is easier to predict the outcome of outside bets, so their payouts tend to be lower. 

House edge and odds

This game has a lower house edge at 2.7%. Say that you bet $100, and you win. You will walk away with $97.30. This may not seem like a big deal compared to the house edge in American roulette but think about if you were betting large amounts. 

If you were to place a bet of $1,000, for example, you would win $973, and $27 would go to the house. 

The odds are also better because instead of betting on 38 pockets, you bet on 37. Because of the way that numbers are sequenced in European roulette, there are several additional bets. Players are allowed to bet on as many as 17 numbers that are in sequence, making their odds of winning pretty high. 

The simpler sequence of numbers in this variation also means that the dealer can place chips for players. This is not allowed in American roulette. 

Is it that much easier to win in European roulette? It would be a mistake to think that wins come easily. It is still a game of chance, and all players can do is place their bets and hope that when the wheel stops spinning, the ball is in the right pocket. 

Other features

  • La Partage rule – This rule dictates that players who win get half the house edge back. In effect, the house edge is reduced to 1.3%. It is an excellent game to play if you can find a casino that offers it. However, for obvious reasons, many don’t. 
  • En Prison rule – Here, the dealer places a marker on all even-money bets, and if the ball lands in the zero pocket, the player gets one free spin. This has the effect of reducing the house edge to 1.35%, which means that a lot of casinos don’t offer it. However, you may find it in some big American casinos and places such as Monaco and Macao.

New players are better off playing European roulette. It is easier to win, you win more, and because the game moves a little slower than the American version, it is easier to learn. 

This doesn’t mean that you should always restrict yourself to this version of the game just so that you can win more. If you want to become a well-rounded player of all roulette variations, you should also try American roulette. 

French roulette

This version is similar to the European one. You play on the same table, and it uses the same rules except for a couple of small differences. 

Wheel layout

The wheel has 37 pockets and measures 3.3 m x 1.8 m. The wheel is at the center of the table and players stand on either side. 

Because of the larger size of the French roulette table, it has two dealers (croupiers). Each holds a long stick called a croupier’s rake that they use to pull the chips after each round. They sit on high chairs at either end and they act like referees. 

This version has excellent odds and a nice RTP. 

House edge and odds

Like the European version, the house edge in French roulette is 2.7%. Straight away, you can see that it is better to play the French version instead of the American version. Certain rules in the game can drive the edge as low as 1.35%. Naturally, not many casinos offer this type of roulette. 

The odds also favor the player. Because the table has only one zero pocket, players stand a higher chance to win than in American roulette, which has 38 pockets. 

Other features

  • En Prison – Just like in European roulette, this rule allows players who place even-money bets to lock down their chips, effectively playing the next round for free. 
  • La Partage – Players can get half of the house edge back.

Where to play

Whether you are looking to play French, European or American roulette, you should choose a trusted casino. If you are in New Jersey, we recommend Resorts Casino. It is a trusted establishment that has been around for a long time and offers a secure environment for gamblers. 

The casino also offers a variety of online roulette games that you can play from wherever you are. Just visit the website, register and choose a game of your choice. Each game has a free demo, and new players are awarded excellent bonuses to get them going.

You can follow Resorts Casino’s influencers to learn more about the game on any evening of the week. Alternatively, watch any of the videos that are uploaded every day to get the inside track on your favorite online casino games.

Author: Tanya Fields

Campaign Acquisition Manager Length with RC: 1 year, 9 months Favorite Casino Game: Starburst Background in iGaming: Opened the iGaming Department at Hard Rock Atlantic City in 2018 in both Customer Service, and then CRM, prior to moving over to RC in January 2021 Location: Based in NJ at the RC HQ Content: Occasionally, but only as it pertains to RC