Comparing American, European and French Roulette

Double zero on an American roulette wheel

European, American and French roulette tables might share some gaming similarities, but they each have their own unique characteristics. The variations are primarily in the number of pockets on the wheels and their associated probabilities. European roulette is the most popular, as it typically offers the lowest house edge, and therefore greatest advantage to the player.

You might not see a big difference when gaming, but it is important to understand the tables. The uniqueness of the table affects the gaming mechanics. This will cause a significant difference, especially when playing high stakes roulette.

European Roulette

The European roulette wheel has 37 pockets; 0 then 1 to 36. They are either coloured in red, black or green. Gaming involves purchasing chips, placing bets on the table and then waiting for the outcome of where the ball lands in the wheel once the croupier has set it in motion. If you are playing high limit roulette, you should know how much you have invested. A payout table shows how much each type of bet pays out, pretty much according to the probability of it occurring, and winning bets are quantified and paid out at the end of each wheel spin. Of all high limit casino games on roulette, it is the most played.

European Roulette

French Roulette

A French roulette wheel has 37 pockets, just like the European one. Aside from the writing being in French, the biggest difference is the "la partage" and the "en prison" rules. The la partage (to divide) rule gives the gamer half the amount staked if the ball lands on pocket 0. The en prison (in prison) rule states that when you make a real money bet and the ball hits 0, the stake is given back to you as a bonus.

These two rules reduce the probability of the house gaining from the bet by about 1.35%, which makes French roulette another extremely popular roulette variation. It can be difficult to find in many land-based casinos, but is easily found in most online casinos.

French Roulette

American Roulette

The American roulette wheel is different in that it has 38 pockets; 2 zeros (0 and 00) and 1 to 36. They are in red, black and green colours. The addition of this extra 00 means there is a higher chance of the house winning, as not only is there an extra number for the roulette ball to land on, but most players tend to either ignore the zeros when placing bets or stick to a red/black bet for simplicity. However, some high stakes roulette games reward customers with the "la partage" rule when playing American roulette, so it is always worth checking before you sit down to play or dismiss it entirely.

American Roulette

Differences Among European, French and American Roulette

  • The Number of Pockets – French and European roulette have 37 pockets each while American roulette has 38. American roulette has 2 sets of zeros (0 and 00) while French and European roulette has one 0.

  • Winning Formula – In French Roulette, when the ball hits zero, you are guaranteed either half or full amount of the stake to be given back as bonus. For American roulette, when the ball hits either of the 2 pockets of zeros, you lose the entire bet unless you have placed a specific bet on them.

  • Gaming Mantra – Each of the 3 roulettes has a house bias. French roulette is the most favourable for a player, thanks to the "la partage" and "en prison" rule. European roulette is ranked fair among the participants. American roulette favours the house, thanks to the number of zero pockets. This translates into a house edge of 5.3% for American roulette, 2.7% for European roulette and 1.35% for French roulette.

  • The Betting Layout – Outside bets on the American roulette table are on the same side. For the French table, they are equally split between two long sides.
  • Conclusion

    All three variants of roulette are quite similar to each other. Best are placed, the wheel is spun, and payouts are made accordingly. Even the payouts are almost identical for most of the betting options. Rather than having to learn how to play vastly differing games, a person will only have to acquire an understanding of a few distinctions between European, French and American roulette.

    That being said, these subtle differences can make a big difference to your overall success and bankroll, especially when wagering large amounts of cash, so it is crucial to fully understand the rules of the one you are about to play before you do so. The best way is to open an account and play for free/demo money whilst you learn the ropes, or just consider playing low stakes roulette for relatively little money until you become comfortable with the nuances of each roulette variant. You are likely to find that you prefer and do better at one version over another.

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