First things first, choosing the ‘right’ version of roulette means choosing the version you enjoy most. Irrespective of odds, gameplay style, potential wins and so on, it all comes down to your own personal preferences.
Still, there are subtle yet important differences between the most popular versions of roulette, which all players need to know. Whether playing online or in a traditional casino, you almost always come across at least two versions of the popular game.
European roulette and American roulette are the preferred choices for most players, and are the staples you will find in most casinos.
Ask any group of seasoned casino gamblers which is best and at least 99% of them will tell you to stick with European roulette. As for why this is the case…well, let’s dig into the basics of these two hugely popular types of roulette in a little more detail.
The game of roulette dates back to the 18th century, when the first rudimentary roulette wheel was invented by Blaise Pascal. The premise of the game really could not be simpler – there were 38 spaces on the wheel numbered zero to 36, accompanied by a second double-zero space.
All players had to do is predict where the ball would land, and await the outcome with each spin.
From a business perspective, the whole thing was and is pure genius. The casino gains an advantage thanks to the two ‘zero’ spaces, meaning that the player is always technically at a disadvantage. This means that even when a player bets on an almost straight 50-50 outcome (like odds or evens, reds or blacks), they don’t actually have a 50% chance of winning.
Instead, they have more like a 47% chance of a successful outcome. This margin may seem insignificant, but over the course of time adds up to generous and continuous profits for the casino. In fact, it’s with small and ongoing profits like these that casinos earn most of their money.
Contrary to popular belief, it’s actually the cheapest penny slots that are the biggest money-spinners for casinos worldwide.
Back with American roulette, the house benefits from an edge of 5.26%. Which again does not sound like much, but it adds up over time. Particularly when you consider the vast quantities of cash that gets spent at the roulette wheel every hour of every day, and online.
At some point in the 19th century, two brothers in France – Francois and Louis Blanc – decided to set up their own casino business. There were already plenty of casinos and gambling halls in the area, so they needed to come up with something unique to help them stand out from the crowd.
They came up with an idea that was almost as ingenious as the invention of roulette itself. They simply removed the double-zero slot from their roulette wheel, leaving just a single zero space.
And in doing so, invented the game that would come to be known as European roulette.
The significance of this zero-space removal seems minimal at first, but is actually a big deal when you do the maths. With American roulette, the house benefits from an edge of 5.26%. With European roulette, this is reduced to just 2.7% – almost 50% less.
For the player, this means double the likelihood of the ball not landing in a zero space, and costing them their stack. It means that irrespective of how you place your bets, you are statistically least likely to use.
True, American roulette brings the advantage (in some instances) of being able to bet on the zero and double-zero slots. Something you cannot do with European roulette, but this does not change the fact that the odds of winning with European roulette are slightly higher.
Hence, the advice from those who know roulette is fairly straightforward. Where both versions of the game are available and you would like the best shot at winning a prize, it is better to stick with European roulette.
What About French Roulette?
Just to complicate things a little further, there is technically a third version of roulette that you may come across while doing your rounds. French roulette is almost identical to European roulette, and uses the exact same wheel with just one zero space.
But where French roulette differs from European roulette is in the additional betting options open to players. The betting table therefore looks slightly different, in order to accommodate the following:
- La Partage: A betting option that gives players the opportunity to win back half of estate in the event that the ball hits the zero space.
- En Prison: With this option, a player who loses their bet due to a zero outcome does not get half their stake back, but instead puts it in ‘prison’. Then, if they win on the next spin, they get their whole stake back, but don’t earn any profit from it.
You’ll tend to find that availability of these rules is scarce in conventional casinos, where management and hosts alike prefer to keep things simple. However, online casinos are bursting at the seams with weird and wonderful takes on the original game, so there’s always something interesting to check out on the web.
A Word on Multi-Wheel Roulette
Rounding things off, a word of common sense caution on multi-wheel roulette. Something you will often come across online, and can be tempting to check out.
With multi-wheel roulette, you can play up to eight games of roulette at the same time, across our eight separate wheels. All well and good, but this is really nothing more than a way to burn through your stack even quicker. You won’t really be able to focus any of your attention on any specific wheel, and the whole thing quickly becomes mechanical…robotic…boring.
It’s a little like automating online slot play and walking away from the screen – a bit of a pointless endeavour. Roulette is meant to be enjoyed, so stick with a single wheel and focus on getting the most out of the experience.
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