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American, European or French roulette: What's the difference?

Tim Crump 30 May 2017
  • Learn the differences between the key Roulette variants
  • Play the best-value games and watch your bankroll benefit!
French roulette: It may look the same, but it's not

Choosing a suitable roulette game can be a bewildering experience: You only have to visit sites like BetVictor, with their multiple live rooms and seemingly endless virtual games to see why.

Every month or so a new, fancy idea comes along to confuse you even more: In an attempt to lure slots players into roulette games they now offer progressive jackpot roulette on some sites; in a similar move the Age of the Gods brand has made its way onto the roulette wheel on Playtech sites, proving that nothing is sacred when it comes to online gaming.

It's not that complicated!

However, in reality the basics will never change: However much the software developers tart up the game of roulette, it’s unlikely to ever deviate from its basic principles: It’s been around too long and is too popular to truly be messed with. So what are the ‘true’ roulette games and which should you go for? 

There are really only three types of roulette: American, European and French. So what’s the difference?

The answer lies in the little green slot on the roulette wheel. Betting grids always look the same, but the odds of the ball landing in a numbered slot vary between the American version of the game and the European/French games.

One green for European and French; two for American

European wheels, have one green ‘zero’ slot. As there are 36 numbered slots and straight up bets (where you just bet on one number) pay 35:1, the green slot gives the casino operators their house edge. Without the green slot, the expected takings from the table earned by the casino would average out at zero, and there would be no point in them running the game. 

The American game – pays the same odds – but there are two green slots; the zero and a double zero. As you can imagine, a casino running this game is twice as likely to get a ball landing in the green slot. The casino’s house edge – the advantage it has over you – is therefore doubled, meaning that over time you’re significantly less likely to enjoy a decent return on your money. 

This is why roulette is considerably more popular in Europe: You don’t tend to see as many tables in Vegas and other US gaming resorts as you’d expect, and it’s because they’re savvy enough to have worked out that a double zero game comes with a low expected return.

American Roulette is best left in Vegas

Generally speaking, then we’d advise you to avoid American roulette unless you’re making just a few bets; even then, it’s only worth playing if – for some reason – you can’t find a better table, which will be highly unlikely given the proliferation of European tables on the web. Most people who play American roulette simply aren’t aware of the disadvantage that it comes with, and are not serious enough about the game to have researched it. That’s the only reason for its existence online, and now that you know, you can avoid it.

French roulette, however, is played with a single zero wheel - leading many to assume that it’s the same as European roulette. But it’s not: There’s a small detail that lowers the house edge even further with this game, which is why you should always try and find a French table to play at if possible:

When you make an outside bet (odd/even or red/black bets or any other bets paying 1:1) and the ball lands in the green slot in a French game, half of your bets is returned to you. This is known as La Partage, and over thousands of spins this will make a crucial difference to your returns. 

The differences between these games won’t mean much if you’re having a flutter in your local land casino at the office Christmas party - but play online regularly and you’ll start to benefit, so wise up, look out for those French tables and vive la difference… 

Other roulette variations you might want to check out:


Play Roulette online! United States

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American, European or French roulette: What's the difference?

Do you know the difference between the main types of roulette? If you play regularly, you ought to - so read our guide and find out how the top players get the best returns

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