The Differences Between American and European Roulette

The Differences Between American and European Roulette


With centuries of existence behind it, it is no wonder that Roulette has changed some aspects of its game play. Due to its massive popularity back in the days, just as nowadays, the game underwent a rapid expansion, from French territory where it had been invented, throughout the European continent, all the way to America.

Such territorial and cultural differences caused the game to develop differently, and ultimately resulted in several different variants. The two most popular ones delve between the American and the European version (also known as French), and they are mainly distinguished on their basic criteria, as the ones mentioned below.


The Wheel Structure

The structure of the American and European wheel is different in regard to the number of pockets available. Namely, based on its original form from its earliest beginnings, the European roulette wheel has had a pocket for numbers 1-36 in order to indicate complete equality between red and black, odds and evens, high and low, and a single slot marked 0 for the house edge. Once the game moved to the American continent, the roulette wheel suddenly got an extra pocket marked 00, increasing the house edge and changing the wheel structure. Reasons for this move vary, with some claiming that it is done to increase the game’s suspense, while others place the blame in US casino operators, wishing to turn the odds in their favor.


The House Edge

As mentioned in the paragraph above, the 0 and 00 pockets in the roulette wheels are added in order to create a decent house edge. This is arguably one of the most rewarding games on the casino floor, and should the roulette wheel feature numbers 1-36 solely, it would mean a win on every turn.

The European roulette wheel with its single 0 pocket has a house edge of 2.70%, while the American wheel featuring 0 and 00 pockets has a nearly double edge of 5.26% as explained by this website. Having this in mind, it is hardly credible that the latter version of the game has been able to retain its position and grow in popularity. As you will see in the next paragraph, there are some redeeming rules which allow the players to lower the edge and improve their chances of success.


The Rules of Game Play

European and American roulette wheels differ in yet a third aspect – the rules of game play. Namely, European roulette has the “En Prison” rule completely at players’ disposal, allowing them to make use of its benefits. Basically, this rule allows players to have another spin before losing their stake, even if the ball landed on 0 in the first spin. The house edge under these terms that eliminate the risk of 0 is drastically reduced to 1.35%.

The structure of American roulette wheels, on the other hand, allows for ‘five number bets’, covering the pockets 1, 2, 3, 0 and 00. The fact that it includes ‘00’ makes it unique to this wheel type. What is more, it increases the edge to 7.9% and the payout to 6:1, in the true spirit of risk-takers!