Roulette ball on zeroFor those that rarely go to the casino, the idea of playing roulette can be a thrilling one. It is one of the most popular games to get involved in, largely thanks to the simplicity of the play. On the surface, you choose which number to put your chips on, or which of the outside bets to opt for if that appeals, then wait to see whether you’re a winner or not. Of course, as with all things that are ostensibly quite simple, there are layers to roulette that make it a more complex game to be involved in once you start to dig deeper.

For starters, there are several different types of roulette that you can opt for. The most common one available will largely depend on where you’re playing, with European roulette offering a single zero and American roulette offering two zeroes. French roulette has a number of options available to punters that changes the odds, whilst Las Vegas has started to introduce triple zero roulette tables in recent times. As a result of this, the version of roulette that you choose to play can make a huge difference to your odds.

The Basic Bets on a Roulette Table

Let us begin by looking at the most basic bets available on a roulette table. These are the bets that are available on pretty much all roulette tables before you starting making things more complicated by adding in the rules for French roulette or sticking in extra zeroes. As well as the bet, we’ll also have a look a the odds in European and American roulette, plus the payout if you’re lucky enough to hit the actual bet and see your chip stack increase in size accordingly.

Bet Type American Odds European Odds Payout
Single Number 2.60% 2.70% 35/1
2 Numbers 5.3% 5.4% 17/1
3 Numbers 7.9% 8.1% 11/1
4 Numbers 10.5% 10.8% 8/1
5 Numbers 13.2% 13.5% 6/1
6 Numbers 15.8% 16.2% 5/1
Entire Column 31.6% 32.40% 2/1
12 Numbers (e.g. 1st 12) 31.6% 32.40% 2/1
1-18 or 19-36 47.40% 48.60% Evens
Even or Odd 47.40% 48.60% Evens
Black or Red 47.40% 48.60% Evens

As you can see and will have expected, the odds increase the smaller the amount of numbers you’re betting on. The biggest bet that you can place on a roulette wheel is for a single number, which pays out at 35/1 regardless of whether you’re playing European, American or French roulette. Indeed, the only thing that changes from game to game is what the table looks like. French roulette is the most confusing upon initial inspection, but once you understand the way that it works and the bets that you can place, it makes more sense.

Single Zero v Double Zero

American vs European Roulette

The biggest debate in the world of the roulette table is playing on one with a single zero versus one with a double zero. In many ways, it is surprising that anyone is ever willing to play a table with a double zero, unless they don’t have any other option, given that the second zero’s presence on the table reduces the odds of you winning but doesn’t change the payout. You would think that the makers would at least have the decency to pay you more for being willing to play on a double zero table, but no such luck.

Considering the House Edge

It all comes down to the House Edge, which is the built-in profit for casinos that gives them a long-term advantage. It is put in place by ensuring that the payout for any given result is never ‘true’, meaning that the casino will always make a profit over a given period of time. You might win every bet that you place, for example, but the casino doesn’t care too much because two other people are losing every bet that they place, ensuring that the House wins in the long run. One way in which the odds are shifted into the House’s favour is by offering double zero roulette.

American Roulette & the 00

In double zero roulette, also known as American roulette, there are 38 numbers on offer: those that are 1 through to 36, as well as a 0 and a 00. Given the payout is 35/1, that means that the House Edge stands at 5.26%. In single zero roulette, more commonly known as European roulette, there are 37 numbers, giving an Edge of 2.70%. To put it another way, you’re giving the House an extra 2.56% chance of making money from you if you opt to play American roulette instead of its European counterpart.

Of course, casino managers aren’t stupid. They know as well as we do that American roulette is the variation that sees them win the most money the most often, so in some places it is the only version of the game that they’ll offer. For many people, the allure of such a fast-paced game is too much to resist, so if you find yourself in that category then make sure that you avoid the top-line bet. Betting on 0, 00, 1, 2 and 3 might present you with a payout of 6/1, but the House Edge is 7.9%; comfortably the worse bet in roulette.

One thing that is worth remembering is that the House Edge for European roulette is the same, regardless of which bet you opt for. The same is also true for American roulette, with the one difference being that top-line wager. A bet on that is the equivalent of just handing your money to the casino, even if you’ve seen it be a winner every now and then or even won the bet yourself from time-to-time. Just don’t do it.

French Even Money Bets

Monte Carlo in Monaco

The famous Monte Carlo in Monaco

If you want to play a version of roulette that will present you with the best possible odds then you’ll want to have a look at French roulette. It is closer to European roulette than American roulette, insomuch as it has a single zero on the table. The big difference between French roulette and other forms of the game is the fact that it offers both La Partage and En Prison rules, in the majority of cases. This is what can shift the odds in your favour, so they are very much rules that it is worth finding out more about.

The La Partage Rule

The La Partage rule says that a bet on one of the Evens wagers, such as red or black, will work in your favour if the ball lands on the zero. Instead of losing your entire stake, as would happen with European or American roulette, you’ll get half of your stake back. The House Edge for an Evens bet is cut by 50%, dropping from 2.70% to 1.35%. There is a variation of the La Partage rule called En Prison. If En Prison is the House rule in play, you neither get 50% of your stake back nor lose it in its entirety, instead getting another crack of the whip.

‘En Prison’

As long as you have placed your bet on one of the options with Evens odds, your bet will be placed ‘en prison’, or in prison, for the next spin, if the ball landed on zero on your actual bet. This is usually indicated by something being placed on top of your stake. If the next spin results in your wager being a winning one then you will get your stake back in full, whilst if it is a losing one then you will lose your stake in its entirety. This is normally an option offered to players, depending on the rules of the House in the casino you’re playing in.

That is to say, it might be that La Partage is played automatically in the casino and your stake is simply returned to you in half. In some casinos that play the La Partage rule, however, the croupier will give you the option to take half of your stake or to put the entire stake en prison. If you opt for the latter, then en prison rules will be in-play for the next spin. How it is handled if it lands on zero again depends on the House rules, with some treating it is a loss, some a win and some once again offering La Partage rules.

Triple Zero Roulette

If French roulette is the best type of roulette that you can play thanks to the La Portage and En Prison rules, there is no question that triple zero roulette is the variation of the game to avoid at all costs. The triple zero wheel first appeared in America thanks to roulette wheels that offered the numbers 1 to 28, with a 0, a 00 and an American eagle also on the table. The eagle acted as another zero, even though it was sold by game producers as a sign of American liberty. Proof, perhaps, that you can convince Americans of anything if you say it is patriotic.

Makes a Comeback in Vegas in 2016

Having disappeared from the American market, the triple zero roulette wheel returned to the Las Vegas strip in 2016. It was offered at the Venetian, party of the Las Vegas Sands group of hotels and casinos. There was no big announcement or celebration of its return, with the casino instead simply putting the table on its gaming floor with two zeroes and a Sands logo. In Las Vegas, where one casino starts, others will soon follow. Unsurprisingly, therefore, the likes of New York New York and Planet Hollywood soon started putting their own triple zero tables out on the floor.

The One to Avoid

When you consider that adding an extra zero to a roulette table merely serves to increase the House Edge from 5.26% on a traditional American roulette wheel to 7.69%, the experiment should have been over before it even began. Punters, however, kept on playing it, so casinos kept on offering it. There is likely to be some kind of psychological explanation as to why bettors decided to play triple zero roulette, but the answer is probably because casinos offered it with a low minimum bet, appealing to people more than higher cost tables.

Which Is the Best Version of Roulette to Play?

Man playing roulette

You have probably figured out by know which version of roulette is the best to play in a casino that offers all forms of the game. Even so, there is no harm in spelling things out. As a result, here are the House Edges for each variation of roulette:

  • French Roulette with La Partage Rules on Evens Bets: 1.35%
  • European Roulette: 2.70%
  • American Roulette: 5.26%
  • Triple Zero Roulette: 7.69%

Always bet on the Evens options on French roulette tables with La Partage rules in play if you can. That is the lowest House Edge by some distance. If you can’t, either French roulette without La Partage or European roulette is fine, given that they work in basically identical ways. Try to avoid American roulette tables if you can and if your only option is triple zero roulette then the most sensible suggestion is for you to play a different game.