American, European, and French Roulette: How Are They Different?

Roulette has been around for centuries, and this popular casino game is similar to many of its counterparts in that different variations have been adapted and adopted in different parts of the world.

There are three main examples of roulette, although only two different types of wheels to get to grips with. The rest of the differences come down to the way that the tables are laid out and the betting is handled.

Let’s delve into this juicy topic and give you the details on the variations of roulette from France, Europe and the US so that you know where you stand if you decide to play today.

Working out which wheel is being used

As mentioned, there are just two roulette wheel designs you need to know about. The first is the version which is found across Europe, featuring a total of 38 different numbers which the ball can land on, in addition to the dreaded zero. It actually originated in France before being embraced elsewhere.

The second is the American roulette wheel, which has exactly the same setup as its European counterpart, albeit for the addition of the even more cunning double zero. This is essentially a means of tilting the odds in favor of the house and ensuring that there’s profit to be made from running this casino game, as explained in the complete guide on how to play roulette.

Of course there’s no guarantee that you’ll walk away from the roulette table with more money than you started, even without the double zero pocket involved. So being savvy about budgeting before a trip to a casino is sensible.

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There are of course quite a few other distinctions which separate European and American roulette wheels, such as the numbers themselves being organized differently. However, it’s definitely the presence of the double zero on the latter which is the most significant aspect to take onboard as a player.

Tackling the topic of table design

In terms of the layout, features and rules of the roulette table itself, both French and European variants are closely linked.

Often the biggest gulf between the two comes in the form of the ability to bet on specific segments of numbers across a given span of the wheel, rather than standard groups of two or four.

There’s also the ‘en prison’ quirk of French and European roulette, which allows players who lose out on an even money wager to recoup half their stake rather than forfeiting the whole thing. So if you bet that the ball will land on an odd or even number, or a red or black pocket, and miss, not everything will be lost.

An American roulette table will not support this ‘en prison’ rule, and will also be organized quite differently, specifically with regards to where the numbers are placed, how they are oriented and where players can see them from.

Basically, American roulette has the numbers facing one side of the table, while French and European roulette keeps the numbers oriented vertically, giving players on either side of the table the equal ability to see them, rather than leaving half of those present trying to interpret figures that are upside down from their perspective.

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Then there’s the administrative aspect of roulette in North America and Europe. It’s normal for American tables, and some European tables outside of France, to be operated by just one dealer. Meanwhile in France it’s typical for a pair of dealers, otherwise known as croupiers, to take charge of the action.

The bottom line

The fundamentals of all roulette games are the same; you place your bet, the wheel spins, the ball clatters around and lands in a pocket, and you either win or lose.

In spite of this, having just a small amount of additional knowledge on the differences between French, European and American roulette will give you the edge, or at least let you adjust your expectations whenever you play.

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