Tuesday, August 11, 2020

European vs American Roulette: Differences and Odds Explained

Staff Writer in Casino Strategies 8 Nov 2017


Having originated from 17th century France, Roulette became one of the most popular and most played casino games ever. You’re likely familiar with the three basic variants regularly featured at online gaming sites as well as brick-and-mortar establishments – European, French and American, and there’s many more to be found at hundreds of virtual casinos. Eventually, they’re all based on standard game variants which makes understanding European and American Roulette a must, whichever you eventually decide to play.  So let’s take a look at how these two compare in terms of layout, gameplay and odds.

Differences Between European and American Roulette

The wheel in the European Roulette contains black and red slots with numbers 1 to 36, plus a green slot marked zero. The way numbers have been distributed around the wheel is by no means random; their arrangement has been carefully planned to ensure equal odds for landing high or low, odd or even. The green zero has been included for the benefit of the casino, as without it the odds of winning these bets would be 50:50. The addition of zero makes your winning chances go slightly below 50%, giving the house an edge of 2.7%.

American Roulette plays by same rules as European Roulette, the main difference being that the wheel has an extra green slot with double zero. Bets and payouts are exactly the same; for example, both will pay even money on Red / Black bet, and 35:1 for a Straight number bet. What’s not the same is the house edge. American Roulette is favored by casinos far more than players because this little addition almost doubles house edge, increasing it from 2.7% to 5.26%.

You may think that American Roulette is a later invention created by greedy casino owners, but it’s not the case. Until the 19th century, the wheel actually featured both zero and double zero slots. In 1843, two French brothers by the name of Louis and Francois Blanc, re-launched the game with only one zero to increase the odds in favor of the player. While this variant stuck as the dominant one in Europe, our American friends initially played with an extra slot called an American Eagle as well as double zero, only to later abandon the first since it became obvious their proposition wasn’t creating fans.

Odds in European and American Roulette

Even if you’re new to the gambling world, you probably understand that the higher house edge is, the lower is your chance of winning, and vice versa. Facing the odds of 2.7% means that, over the long run, you’d lose about $270 from $10,000 staked – if you were to play European Roulette. Switch to American and suddenly you’re losing $526. We could be more brutal and say the latter will rid you of your cash almost twice as fast.

Red or Black is one of the most popular Roulette bets as it has the lowest casino edge. In European variant, the odds of winning on Black / Red are 48.6%. This number is a result of simple mathematical equation: you’ve got 37 numbers the ball could land on, out of which 18 are red and 18 are black. Simply diving 18 (number of desired outcomes) by 37 (number of possible outcomes) gives you percentage above. In American Roulette, number of potential outcomes goes up to 38, but the number of black and red slots is still the same, giving you odds of 47.4% on this same bet.

Identical logic can be applied to any bet one can make in a Roulette game. A single number bet comes with odds of 1:37 (2.7%) in European, and 1:38 (2.6%) in American Roulette, odds for Column and Dozen bets are 32.4% (European) vs 31.6% (American), and so on.

All this clearly spells: if you’re looking to increase your winning chances, you’ll always choose European Roulette over its American cousin. So why do players still play American Roulette? The only logical reason would be if payouts were better, which is not the case; both games pay exactly the same for the same kind of bets. So what’s the deal?

Why Play American Roulette?

It could be there’s no choice, though the existence of hundreds of online casinos pretty much crushes this argument. Or perhaps you’re very patriotic and will support anything American. We’ll take a wild guess and assume that American Roulette is largely played by gamers who are not aware of the crucial difference between the two. If you used to be a member of this group, we’re willing to bet you’ll be playing the European variant from now on.


Staff Writer



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