What is the difference between American and European roulette

The main difference is European roulette has one zero, while American roulette includes both a single and double zero.


Roulette, often termed as the “King of Casino Games”, has been an integral part of the gambling culture since its inception. With a rich history and widespread popularity, it has carved its niche in casinos across continents.

What is the difference between American and European roulette
What is the difference between American and European roulette

Brief history of roulette

The origins of roulette can be traced back to 17th-century France, where mathematician Blaise Pascal inadvertently created a primitive version of the game in his pursuit to design a perpetual motion machine. The game underwent several modifications over the next century, evolving into the game we recognize today.

By the 18th century, roulette was popularized across Europe, especially in Monaco and France. It was during this time that two distinct versions emerged: the European and the American. While the European version retained the single zero, the American version introduced a double zero, impacting the odds and gameplay strategies.

By the 19th century, immigrants took the game to the United States, where it underwent further modifications and gained massive popularity in the burgeoning casino culture of Las Vegas and Atlantic City.

Popularity of roulette in casinos worldwide

Roulette is renowned for its straightforward rules and the thrill it offers, making it a favorite among both newbies and seasoned gamblers. By the late 20th century, the game’s popularity had spread globally, with casinos in Asia, Europe, and the Americas housing lavish roulette tables.

With the advent of online gambling, roulette transitioned into the digital age, making it accessible to millions worldwide. Today, it is estimated that over 40% of online casino players have tried their hand at roulette, with variations like mini-roulette and multi-wheel roulette offering new dimensions to the classic game.

Roulette’s revenue contribution to global casino earnings has been substantial, with its tables accounting for nearly 15% of the total casino floor space in places like Macau and Las Vegas. The average bet size in a game of roulette ranges from $5 to $500, with high-roller tables accommodating wagers upwards of $10,000. Given the odds and the house edge, casinos make a significant profit, with an average roulette table generating approximately $250,000 in revenue per year.

The game’s widespread appeal is evident in the vast number of strategies players employ, from the Martingale to the Labouchère system. Despite the inherent risks, the potential rewards, coupled with the sheer excitement the game offers, make it a timeless classic in the casino world.

Physical Differences

When walking into a casino or browsing an online platform, one might wonder about the differences between American and European roulette wheels. At first glance, they may appear quite similar, but upon closer examination, discerning eyes can spot some distinct physical differences that significantly impact the game’s dynamics.

Number of pockets

One of the most glaring differences between the two roulette versions is the number of pockets. The European roulette wheel comprises 37 pockets in total: numbers 1 through 36 and a single zero (0). In contrast, the American roulette wheel has 38 pockets, with numbers 1 through 36, a single zero (0), and an additional double zero (00). This extra pocket in the American version increases the house edge, making it slightly less favorable for players in terms of odds.

Wheel layout comparison

While both wheels have the numbers 1 through 36, their layouts are not identical. In the European wheel, numbers are placed in a specific sequence, such as 0-32-15-19-4 and so on, aiming to strike a balance between high (19-36) and low (1-18) numbers. Conversely, the American wheel organizes its numbers in a different sequence, for instance, 0-28-9-26-30, and the addition of the double zero makes for a slightly more chaotic distribution.

When examining the wheels side by side, one can see that opposite numbers on the European wheel tend to add up to 37 (e.g., 19 and 18, 15 and 22). In contrast, this pattern is not consistently seen on the American wheel.

Color and design variations

Both versions of the roulette wheel have alternating red and black pockets for numbers 1 through 36. However, the zeros are typically colored green, setting them apart from the other numbers. In terms of design quality and materials, high-end roulette wheels, irrespective of their version, are crafted using polished mahogany, chrome, and other premium materials to ensure smooth operation and durability. A quality European or American roulette wheel can cost anywhere from $2,500 to $15,000, depending on the craftsmanship, materials used, and manufacturer.

In summary, while the European and American roulette wheels may seem quite alike to the untrained eye, understanding their physical differences is crucial for players who wish to enhance their gameplay strategy and odds.

What's The Difference Between American And European Roulette
What’s The Difference Between American And European Roulette

The Zero Factor

When discussing the intricacies of roulette, the role of the zero cannot be overstated. This unique number, isolated from the standard 1-36, has been the focal point of many strategies and has played a pivotal role in shaping the odds of the game. Its treatment in European and American versions of the game is particularly intriguing and is a defining feature of the game’s evolution.

Presence of the single zero in European roulette

The European roulette wheel features 37 pockets, with numbers ranging from 1 to 36 and a singular zero pocket. This zero is not merely a design choice but impacts the game significantly. When the ball lands on zero, all bets placed on even odds – like red/black or high/low – lose. This gives the house a slight advantage, specifically a house edge of 2.7%.

The introduction of the zero in roulette, historically speaking, was a game-changer. Before its inclusion, the game was purely based on even odds, meaning the casinos had no advantage. With the introduction of the single zero, casinos found a way to make the game profitable, ensuring their longevity and widespread adoption across European gambling establishments.

Introduction of the double zero in American roulette

As roulette made its way to America, the game underwent a significant transformation. The American roulette wheel added an extra pocket: the double zero (00). This was not merely a design modification but a strategic move to increase the house’s profit margins. With the addition of the double zero, the house edge nearly doubled, jumping to 5.26%.

This meant that for every $100 wagered on the American wheel, the casino stood to gain approximately $5.26, compared to the $2.70 they would earn from the European version. This heightened house advantage made American roulette less favorable for players in terms of pure odds. However, it has remained popular due to its deep-rooted history in American gambling culture and the allure of larger potential payouts.

In conclusion, the zero factor is not just a numerical addition but serves as the backbone of the roulette game’s economic structure. Its strategic placement and variation between European and American versions are testament to the game’s evolving nature, always adapting to provide both excitement for players and profitability for casinos.

House Edge

In the world of gambling, the term “house edge” is paramount. This figure represents the statistical advantage that a casino has over players in a particular game. The lower the house edge, the better the odds for the player, and vice versa. Roulette, with its iconic wheel, is a game where the house edge is particularly pronounced, and understanding it is crucial for any player hoping to improve their odds of success.

How the number of zeros affects the house edge

The presence of zeros on a roulette wheel is not just a matter of design or tradition; it’s the primary mechanism through which the house maintains its edge. In games where players are betting on specific outcomes (like red or black, even or odd), the zero provides a margin where neither of the main bets win.

In European roulette, with its single zero, the house edge stands at 2.7%. This means that, statistically, for every $100 wagered by players, the house expects to retain $2.70. Players, therefore, can expect to receive $97.30 of their initial $100 back in the long run.

On the other hand, when American roulette introduced the double zero, the house edge jumped significantly. With two positions (0 and 00) where the main bets lose, the house edge rises to 5.26%. In monetary terms, for every $100 bet, the house retains $5.26, leaving players with $94.74 of their original bet on average.

Comparison of house advantage in both versions

It’s clear when comparing the two main versions of roulette that the American version is less favorable to players in terms of house edge. A difference of 2.56% (5.26% – 2.7%) might seem minor, but over extended gameplay and with substantial bets, this disparity can translate into significant amounts of money.

For instance, if a player were to bet a total of $10,000 on European roulette, they could expect to lose, on average, $270. The same amount wagered on an American wheel would result in an average loss of $526, nearly double the amount.

This stark difference is why many seasoned players and strategists often lean towards the European version when given a choice. The reduced house edge offers a better chance of walking away with more of their money, making it a more attractive option for those in the know.

In summary, while both versions of roulette offer thrilling experiences, understanding the house edge and its implications can be the key to a more profitable and enjoyable game.

American Roulette vs European Roulette
American Roulette vs European Roulette

Betting Options

Roulette, with its spinning wheel and betting grid, offers a myriad of wagering possibilities. This versatility in betting options attracts players of all experience levels, from novices hoping for a beginner’s luck to seasoned professionals with complex strategies. Both the European and American versions offer a range of bets, but there are nuances that differentiate them.

Inside and outside bets in both games

Inside bets are wagers placed directly on numbers. These bets have higher payouts due to their lower probabilities. Some popular inside bets include:

  • Straight up: A bet on a single number. If successful, it pays out at 35:1.
  • Split: A wager on two adjacent numbers on the betting grid. The payout for a win is 17:1.
  • Street: Betting on three consecutive numbers in a horizontal line, with a payout of 11:1.
  • Corner: A bet covering four numbers that form a square on the grid. It pays out at 8:1.
  • Six line: Covering six numbers in two consecutive rows, offering a payout of 5:1.

Outside bets are placed on broader categories of numbers, making them more likely to win, but with smaller payouts. Some of the primary outside bets include:

  • Red or Black: Betting on the color outcome, with even money returns.
  • Even or Odd: Predicting whether the winning number will be even or odd, again paying even money.
  • Dozens: Wagering on one of the three dozen numbers (1-12, 13-24, 25-36), with a payout of 2:1.
  • Columns: Betting on a vertical column of 12 numbers, also offering a 2:1 return.

Unique bets offered in European and American roulette

The European roulette version, particularly in its French variation, provides some unique betting options, rooted in its rich history. These include:

  • Voisins du Zero: Covering the 17 numbers surrounding and including zero.
  • Tiers du Cylindre: Covering a third of the wheel opposite the zero.
  • Orphelins: Wagering on the numbers not covered by the first two French bets.

These bets are often placed using a special section of the roulette table and involve specific combinations of straight, split, and corner bets.

American roulette, due to its double zero, introduces some additional betting possibilities:

  • Top Line: A bet covering both zeros (0 and 00) and numbers 1, 2, and 3. This offers a payout of 6:1, but it’s worth noting that it carries the highest house edge of any bet at 7.89%.

In conclusion, whether players are drawn to the straightforward nature of outside bets or the excitement of the high-risk, high-reward inside bets, both European and American roulette tables offer an array of options to suit any gambling style. Recognizing the differences and potentials of each bet can shape one’s strategy and potentially lead to more significant wins.

Gameplay and Rules

Roulette is not just a game of luck; it’s also a game of strategy. While the basic premise of placing bets and waiting for the ball to land in a pocket remains consistent across both European and American versions, the slight variations in rules can significantly impact gameplay. Some of these rule differences benefit the player by reducing the house edge and offering a safety net in specific scenarios.

Differences Between American and European Roulette
Differences Between American and European Roulette

En Prison and La Partage rules in European roulette

Both the En Prison and La Partage rules are most commonly found in the European version of roulette, specifically the French variant, and they offer players a reprieve in the event the ball lands on the zero during an even money bet.

  • La Partage: If you place an even money bet (like red/black or odd/even) and the ball lands on zero, you don’t lose your entire wager. Instead, you only lose half of your bet, and the other half is returned to you. This rule effectively reduces the house edge on even money bets to 1.35%, making them particularly attractive in games that offer this rule.
  • En Prison: This rule also comes into play when the ball lands on zero following an even money bet. However, instead of taking half the bet, the wager “goes into prison.” On the next spin, if the bet wins, the player gets back their original wager without any additional winnings. If it loses, the house takes the full bet. If the ball lands on zero again, different casinos have various rules, but generally, the bet remains in prison. Like La Partage, the En Prison rule also cuts the house edge on even money bets to 1.35%.

Surrender rule in American roulette

While American roulette generally has a higher house edge due to the double zero, there is one rule that can give players a bit of an advantage in certain situations.

  • Surrender: Similar in spirit to the La Partage rule, the Surrender rule in American roulette applies when the ball lands on either of the zeros (0 or 00) following an even money bet. If this occurs, the player will lose only half of their wager, with the other half being returned. By doing so, the house edge on these bets drops from 5.26% to 2.63%, making them more favorable for the player.

In conclusion, while the spinning wheel and the thrill of the potential outcome are constants in roulette, the nuanced differences in rules between European and American roulette can significantly influence gameplay strategies and decisions. Being aware of these rules and their implications can guide players to make more informed bets, ultimately enhancing their playing experience.

Strategies and Approaches

Roulette has captivated the minds of gamblers for centuries, and over time, many have tried to crack the code to consistent winnings. As with any game of chance, there’s no guaranteed method to beat the odds completely. However, various strategies have emerged, some with merits worth considering. Whether you’re playing European or American roulette, understanding these approaches can enhance your gameplay experience and potentially improve your odds.

Common strategies used for each version

  • Martingale Strategy: One of the oldest and most famous roulette strategies, the principle here is simple: after a loss, double your bet. The idea is that a win will recover all previous losses and gain a profit equal to the original bet. For example, if you bet $5 and lose, your next bet would be $10. If you lose again, you’d bet $20, and so on. When you finally win, you’d recover all previous losses and get a $5 profit. However, this strategy requires a sizable bankroll and the guts to keep doubling after consecutive losses. Also, casinos have table limits, which can hinder the effectiveness of this strategy.
  • D’Alembert Strategy: This is a safer alternative to the Martingale. After a loss, you increase your bet by one unit and decrease it by one unit after a win. While it doesn’t offer massive wins, it also doesn’t expose players to massive losses like the Martingale.
  • Fibonacci Strategy: Based on the Fibonacci sequence – a series of numbers where the next number is the sum of the two preceding ones (e.g., 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13…), this strategy involves increasing your bet following this sequence after a loss. After a win, move back two numbers in the sequence and bet that amount.
  • James Bond Strategy: Named after the famous fictional spy, this is a flat betting system where you cover more than half the table in bets to increase your chances of winning. For instance, if you have $100, you might bet $70 on high numbers (19-36), $25 on the numbers 13-18, and $5 on zero as insurance.

Effectiveness of strategies in reducing the house edge

Despite the various strategies, it’s essential to understand that none of them can change the inherent house edge in roulette. What they can do, however, is manage your bankroll, structure your bets, and potentially reduce losses or increase wins in the short term.

For instance:

  • Martingale’s Risk: The Martingale system can be effective in the short term, but it poses a risk of significant losses during long losing streaks, especially considering table limits.
  • D’Alembert’s Balance: D’Alembert offers more balance, allowing for longer gameplay without the high risk of big losses, but it may not bring massive wins either.
  • Fibonacci’s Middle Ground: The Fibonacci strategy is somewhere between the Martingale and D’Alembert in terms of risk and reward. It can lead to moderate wins and losses.
  • James Bond’s Coverage: The James Bond strategy offers broad table coverage, giving higher chances of winning each spin, but losses can be more substantial when they do happen.

In conclusion, while strategies can guide betting patterns and bankroll management, they can’t alter the game’s inherent randomness or the built-in house advantage. Players should approach these strategies as tools for structured gameplay rather than surefire ways to beat the game. Always remember to gamble responsibly, understand the risks, and enjoy the thrill that roulette offers.


Popularity and Availability

Roulette, the enthralling game of chance, has etched its mark in the world of casinos for generations. Its iconic spinning wheel is instantly recognizable, and its various versions offer unique experiences for players globally. However, when it comes to preference and accessibility, both geography and the digital age have played pivotal roles in shaping roulette’s global standing.

Geographic preference for each version

  • European Roulette: As its name implies, European Roulette finds its roots in Europe. Historically, it has been the most popular version across countries like France, Germany, Spain, and Italy. Many casinos in Europe primarily offer this variant, attributing its popularity to the single zero, which provides players with slightly better odds.
  • American Roulette: Unsurprisingly, this double-zero variant is most prevalent in North American casinos, especially in gambling hotspots like Las Vegas and Atlantic City. Its inception came about as casino owners sought to increase the house edge, thus making the game slightly more profitable for the establishment.

The popularity of these versions often corresponds to their origin. Tourists and players might find both types available in global casino hubs, but local preferences often dictate which version dominates the casino floors.

Evolution of online roulette games

The digital era has revamped many traditional norms, and roulette is no exception. The advent of online casinos has brought forth significant shifts in how players engage with this classic game.

  • Increased Accessibility: With just a few clicks, enthusiasts can now dive into a roulette game without the need to physically visit a casino. This easy access has seen a surge in the game’s popularity, particularly among younger generations.
  • Variants Galore: Online platforms are not bound by the same space constraints as brick-and-mortar establishments. As a result, players can find a wider array of roulette versions online, including French, Mini, Multi-Wheel, and Live Dealer Roulette, to name a few.
  • Technological Enhancements: Modern online roulette games boast high-quality graphics, immersive sound effects, and intricate design details, replicating the land-based casino experience. Some platforms also employ augmented and virtual reality to deliver a more immersive gaming experience.
  • Mobile Gaming: The rise of smartphones has spurred the development of mobile-friendly roulette games. Now, players can indulge in a game even on the go, with many apps offering both free-play and real-money options.

In summation, while traditional casinos have shaped the geographic preferences of roulette versions, the online realm has democratized access, offering myriad options and convenience like never before.


Roulette’s global charm is undeniable. As we journeyed through the nuanced differences between the American and European versions of the game, we unearthed unique characteristics intrinsic to each. As players look to place their bets and engage with this timeless casino game, understanding these distinctions becomes crucial to enhancing the gaming experience.

American vs European Roulette
American vs European Roulette

Summary of key differences

  • Number of Zeros: The most prominent distinction lies in the zeros. European Roulette, with its single zero, contrasts the American counterpart, which features both a single and a double zero.
  • House Edge: This difference in zeros directly impacts the house edge. Players find slightly more favorable odds in the European version due to the absence of the double zero.
  • Betting Options and Gameplay: Unique rules like “En Prison” and “La Partage” in European roulette and the “Surrender” rule in American roulette can influence betting decisions and potential returns.
  • Global Popularity: While European Roulette dominates European casinos, American Roulette finds favor in North America. However, with the onset of online gaming, players now have the luxury to experiment with both versions at their convenience.

Recommendations for players based on preferences

  • For Beginners: If you’re new to the game, European Roulette might be more approachable. Its straightforward layout and slightly better odds can be beneficial as you familiarize yourself with the game’s mechanics.
  • Risk Takers: If you’re feeling adventurous and seek a higher house edge challenge, American Roulette might be your game of choice. Remember, with higher risk can come higher reward.
  • Strategy Enthusiasts: If you have a penchant for devising strategies and are keen on exploiting specific game rules for potential benefits, immerse yourself in understanding the unique rules each version offers. This knowledge could significantly influence your betting decisions.
  • Online Gamers: The digital realm offers both versions abundantly. If you’re playing online, experiment with both to determine which resonates more with your playing style.

In essence, roulette is a blend of chance and strategy, and your game preference should align with your risk appetite, playing style, and enjoyment factor. Whether you’re captivated by the single zero of European Roulette or enticed by the added challenge of the double zero in American Roulette, the spinning wheel awaits your bet. Happy gaming!

How does the presence of zeros impact the game?

Zeros affect the house edge. European Roulette with one zero has a house edge of 2.7%, while American Roulette, with a single and double zero, has a house edge of 5.26%.

Are the betting options the same in both versions?

No, besides common bets, European roulette has "En Prison" and "La Partage" rules, while American roulette has the "Surrender" rule.

Which version offers better odds for players?

European Roulette provides slightly better odds because of its single zero and a lower house edge.

Where is American Roulette more popular?

American Roulette is predominantly favored in North American casinos.

How has online gaming influenced the popularity of these roulette versions?

Online gaming has democratized access, allowing players worldwide to choose and play both versions irrespective of geographical preferences.

Are there strategies specific to each version of roulette?

Yes, strategies often take into account the unique rules of each version, such as "En Prison" in European roulette.

Which version is recommended for beginners?

European Roulette is generally recommended for beginners due to its straightforward layout and slightly better odds.

How do the payouts differ between the two versions?

While individual bet payouts remain consistent across versions, the overall odds and house edge differ, making European Roulette slightly more favorable in terms of potential returns.

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