American or European Roulette?

One gives the edge to the house, the other to the player...

While roulette is very much a game of luck, players can gain an edge by understanding the two kinds of roulette – American and European – and decide which version gives them a better chance of winning.

European Roulette

Originating in 17th century France, European (or French) Roulette includes a wheel, a metal ball that is thrown on the wheel, and a table where people place their bets. The wheel contains 37 numbered slots or pockets - 18 red, 18 black and a single zero in green. There is an equal proportion of black/red, odd/even numbers. Because the zero adds a 37th pocket that the ball could land on, the odds of the ball landing in red or black are slightly less than half, giving the casino a 2.70% edge.

American Roulette

The game was brought to America and became popular in the 20th century. In American roulette, the table has a numbered board laid out in the grids. While this version has the same rules as European Roulette, it has been changed a bit to increase the house edge and make American casinos more profitable. By adding an extra green colored slot with double zeroes, the American version now contained 38, not 37, pockets – the numbers ranging from 1 to 36, 0 and double 0.

Which Version Gives You the Edge?

While the rules of the game are pretty much the same for both, there’s one very important difference – the additional zero in American Roulette increases, actually doubles, the house edge. Here’s how: On a single zero roulette wheel, the odds of any given number coming up are 36 to 1; on a double-zero wheel, it’s 37 to 1. The roulette always pays out 35 to 1 for the bet, so this makes the house edge on American roulette 5.26% (you lose $5.26 for every $100 bet) and on European roulette, only about 2.7% (you lose only $2.70 per $100 bet). 

Obviously, while winning depends heavily on luck and instinct, for players who want to minimize the house edge, European Roulette is the better roulette game.