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Difference Between American and European Roulette

roulette-wheelThe game of Roulette is played in both North American and European casinos. It consists of a wheel divided into several different numbered slots coloured red, black and green. The croupier spins the wheel in one direction and the ball is released and travels around the wheel several times and then drops into the wheel itself where it bounces around until finally settling in one of the numbered pockets.

Players can place a wager on a single numbered slot, on several slots, or on groups of slots. If the ball settles in a pocket that contains the number that matches the slot or slots that they have wagered on, either as a single number or part of the group of numbers selected the player wins.

The wheel also has green pocket(s) that if the ball settles in cause all group bets to lose. There is always a green pocket to designate the zero on the wheel. But the one major difference between European and American Roulette wheels is the presence of a double zero pocket on the American wheel.

The American roulette wheel has 38 slots that are numbered 1 to 36, and 0, 00. The European wheel contains 37 slots numbered 1 to 36 and 0, there is no 00 pocket. The double zero American Roulette wheel has a casino edge of about 5.26% while the single zero European wheel has a casino edge of only 2.7%.

The European game offers the players even better odds by offering a betting option, called “En Prison” that reduces the house edge to 1.35%. When the ball lands in the zero (green) pocket the “En Prison” option is offered. The “En Prison” option gives any player who has made an even number bet two options: They can give up one half of the bet, or they can “imprison” the bet. This means that the bet is set aside until the next spin of the wheel. If on the next spin the players bet wins the player’s bets are returned but without the usual payoff. If on the next spin the players’ bet loses the bet is lost for good. In the rare case when the next spin results in zero the bets remain imprisoned and spinning continues until the winning number is not zero.

This difference in house advantage explains why roulette is much less popular in North America than in Europe. In European casinos roulette accounts for 50% of total casino revenues, while in North America it accounts for less than 5% of total casino revenues.

So whether you enjoy playing American or European roulette, most casinos will let you gamble on either, or even play for free just to test out the software or have a good time without risking any money. We suggest that you read these tips on how to keep the casino roulette house edge as low as possible:

1. Play using the European roulette wheel. Casinos using the American (double zero) wheel should be avoided as it gives the house almost twice the advantage of a casino using an European (single zero) wheel.

2. Play roulette with the “En Prison” option. It is also known as the surrender rule. It is mainly applicable in European roulette. The En Prison option is exercised when the winning number is green (0 or 00 on the American wheel, 0 on the European wheel). When green wins the player has two options:

2.1 They can surrender one half of the wager or,

2.2 They can imprison the wager. Imprisoning the bet means setting it aside until the next spin of the wheel. If on the next spin this imprisoned bet wins, then the wager is returned to the player, but without the payoff. If the next spin results in the original wager losing then the bet is lost. If the wheel produces a green number winner again the bet stays imprisoned and the decision on the bet is held until the wheel is again spun.

3. The En Prison option reduces the house edge by 50%. A game using the American wheel reduces its edge to 2.63% from 5.26%, while a game that uses the European wheel reduces its edge to 1.35% from 2.70%.

4. Don’t bet the five-spot or top line (0, 00, 1, 2 and 3). This bet is the worst wager in roulette it has a house advantage of 7.98% compared to a casino advantage of 5.26% for every other type of roulette wager. You are would be better off making any other bet.

October 28, 2013 - Offer valid as of date published. T&Cs apply.