Roulette is really a very simple game, although the fact that there are different variations of the game can make it seem slightly more complicated. There’s actually very little difference between the main variants though: American Roulette, European Roulette, and French Roulette. The basic principle of the game is essentially the same.
The widespread popularity of the game has led to many online casinos developing additional versions, and most of these are very easy to learn. Ultimately they are all based on betting on which number is going to come up next.
On this page, we’ve provided some details on the main roulette variants and also some of the versions offered by online casinos.
European Roulette & American Roulette
American roulette, as the name indicates, is the version of the game typically played in American casinos. European roulette is the version played in most parts of the world outside of America. The only tangible difference between these two variants is the American wheel has a single zero and a double zero while the European wheel has just the single zero. Both wheels use the numbers 1-36, although the order of the numbers is different in the two versions.
As a general rule you should really play European roulette if you have the choice, as the house edge is lower than in American roulette.
The extra double zero doesn’t practically impact the way the game is played, other than adding an extra number to bet on, but it does make a difference to the house edge. The odds for all wagers in both games are the same but because of the extra number in American roulette the actual probability changes and as such the house edge increases. European roulette is therefore slightly more favorable for the player in strict mathematical terms.
Another difference is in the available bets. The vast majority of them are the same, but there are some other wagers that aren’t offered in both games. One is obviously the single bet on the double zero, which cannot be placed in European roulette due to the fact that there isn’t one. There’s one other extra bet in American roulette: the five number bet. This covers the zero, the double zero, and the numbers 1, 2, and 3.
In European roulette there are a few additional bets known as called bets, or racetrack bets. These are bets that cover a specific section of the wheel or a specific group of numbers. When playing in a land based casino, you can ask the dealer, or croupier, to place the bets for you using your chips. This highlights another difference between the two versions; in American roulette the dealer cannot place bets on your behalf. Of course, this makes absolutely no difference when playing online.
French roulette is almost exactly the same as European roulette. There’s no double zero and all the bets are the same. The betting board is laid out slightly different, but this doesn’t change the way the game is played. More significantly there are a couple of extra rules; the “La Partage” rule and the “en prison” rule.
These rules are optional so not all casinos apply them. They can actually be used in European roulette too, but they are far more commonly used in the French version. The “La Partage” rule states that if a player has made an even money bet (such as red or black, or odd or even) and the zero comes up, they receive half their stake back.
The “en prison” rule states that instead of receiving half of their stake back in these circumstances a player can leave their bet on the table for the following spin. This is known as placing the bet “in prison,” hence its name. On the following spin, if the bet wins the player gets their full stake back but no winnings. If the bet loses the whole stake is lost.
Online Versions of Roulette
Over the last few years a number of online casinos have introduced new versions of roulette, with extra features or amended rules. Although the traditional versions remain the most popular, some of these new games offer something a bit different and are worth taking a look at.
Mini roulette is a great example and this variant is offered at several online casinos. It’s basically just a miniature version of the game. There are less numbers and fewer betting options, but everything else is essentially the same.
Multi-wheel roulette is another example that seems to be taking off. Again the main principles are largely the same, but in this version you can bet on the outcome of several wheels at one time. The number of available wheels is generally somewhere between two and eight.
There are other variants too, such as progressive roulette, which can pay out a big prize if the same number comes up in several consecutive spins. We recommend that you start with the traditional versions if you’re new to the game, but it’s also worth seeing what other versions the various online casinos have to offer.