Did you know that not every roulette wheel is the same? There are those with a single zero and those with both a single and a double zero pocket. The first wheel is the European one, and the second originates from America. When we say that these two roulette systems differ only in the number of zero fields, it can sound like these two wheels are practically the same. However, if you thought that these two variants are almost identical, you couldn’t be more wrong. Actually, one extra zero fields on a roulette wheel change the players’ odds of winning, and it changes them a lot.
However, in American and European versions of roulette, it’s not just the odds that are different — the principle of wagering is too. Also, there is a difference in the table layout between the American and the European versions. In this article, we are going to answer the following questions:
- Why are these two roulette wheels different? What caused these game variations?
- Why is it essential for you to know about the difference between American and European roulette?
- Which roulette wheel is better, and why?
Let’s start by answering the first question right away. Let’s learn more about the two roulette wheels’ histories.
The History of Two Zeros — When Was the Other One Born?
American roulette has two zero fields, and European has but one. Also, it’s a common fact that the casino game of roulette was invented and first played in France. So you can easily conclude that the single-zero roulette started out as a French version. Well, you would be wrong to assume that — the history of roulette is a lot more complicated.
When the first roulette wheel was designed in France, it had two zero pockets — one was a single zero pocket, and the other one was a double zero pocket. Also, that initial version of French roulette wheel featured only two colors — the legendary red and black. The green color was added to the wheel much later so that the players wouldn’t get confused while playing the game. So if the French first played with two zeros, who introduced the single zero?
Well, the roulette wheel with one zero pocket was designed by the Germans, and that’s the version of the wheel that we today call the European wheel. This wheel soon became popular in European casinos. Later on, Americans joined in on the fun and introduced their own version — the wheel that had 28 numbers, two zeros, and an American Eagle. This early American version pretty soon evolved in the version that we know today as American roulette — the version with two zero pockets and no American liberty symbols. So between the French, Germans, and Americans, three versions were made, and only two survived. Now, let’s see what the extra zero-field changes for the player. How does this field influence your odds?
The Odds — Which Version of Roulette Is More Generous
It was centuries ago when a French writer by the name of Jacques Lablee noticed one simple yet crucial fact about the game of roulette. Lablee wrote that there was one quite obvious, and at the same time, the primary purpose of zero fields on the roulette wheel — these fields made sure that the house always won. The only reason why these, today green, fields exist is to assure that the casino always profits. So the more of them there are, the more money the house earns.
However, the extra double zero field doesn’t just lower the general RTP of the game — it affects the odds of each bet. It’s really all about simple math — the mere presence of the zero-field guarantees the house that some money will always return to them. The green pocket in roulette is something like a “safe pocket” for the casino. So when there are more of these “safe pockets,” your chances of winning every single bet decrease. But how much exactly does a double zero in American roulette change your odds? What’s the damage?
Let’s Talk Numbers
The general RTP of American roulette wheel is approximately 94.74%. Now, the general approximate RTP of the European roulette wheel is 97.3%. This difference of 2.56% cannot be disregarded — it’s a pretty big difference, especially on a large scale. Let’s put these numbers into perspective — let’s say that during one night, $100,000 are wagered on roulette in a casino. The casino with the American wheel would pay out $94,739.99, while the casino with a European wheel would pay out $97,300.
So the casino with an American wheel would keep $5,260.01. However, the one with the European wheel would keep $2,700. Finally, the casino with an American wheel would earn $2,560.01 more than the casino with the European wheel. To compare the numbers, we will point out that the casino with an American wheel would earn almost double of what the other one would (2,560.01 is approximately 94% of 2,700). And when we put things into perspective, that difference of 2.56% doesn’t seem so small anymore, does it?
Single Bet Odds
That one extra zero field on a roulette wheel influence your odds of winning in every bet type. So how much does this additional pocket reduce your odds of winning some money? Let’s see what the statistics say!
- Betting on High or Low, Red or Black, and Even or Odd — In the classic American game of roulette, your chances of taking some money would be 47.37%, while in European roulette, they would be 48.65%.
- Betting on Columns or Dozens — In this case, American roulette gives you the following chances of winning — 31.58% — while its European counterpart gives you 32.43%.
- Straight Bet — American roulette offers you 2.63% odds, while European roulette is a bit more generous and offers you 2.70%. Of course, this bet has the lowest odds — the chances that the number you put your faith in is the winning one are in both cases lower than 3%!
- Split Bet — In the classic American roulette, you play with 5.26% odds, while in European, you play with 5.41%.
- Street Bet — Again, the American roulette offers lower odds, in this particular case, they are 7.89%. At the same time, European roulette grants you 8.11%.
- Square Bet — In this case, American roulette is just slightly less generous — it offers you chances of 10.53%, while European gives you 10.81%.
- Six Line Bet — Here, the difference is a bit more obvious — American roulette gives you odds of 15.79%, while the European version gives 16.22%.
As we can see, the math likes European roulette more — for every single bet type, your chances are better with the European version. However, it’s important to note one thing — gambling is about math on a large scale. Now, on a single-bet scale, gambling is all about luck! So while you should learn about these statistics, these numbers shouldn’t lead you to believe that the European roulette wheel guarantees you that you are going to leave the casino with more money than you’ve wagered. After all, it all comes down to luck. When the wheel spins and the ball lands, statistics don’t decide the outcome — fate does. Now, since the European and American wheels don’t only differ in RTP, let’s learn about all the other differences between these two “little wheels.”
The Table Layout, the Wheel Layout, and the Bet Types — How to Place Your Bet in Each Version of Roulette
American and European roulette also differ in the table layout and the types of wagers that you can place. Although the basic rules for each version are the same, there are a few variations that are important to know. These influence both the way the game is played and your chances of actually winning some money. Let’s start with the variation in betting rules.
In European roulette, if you want to play a Red Splits bet, Thirds of the Wheel, Zero Game, Orphans, or the Neighbours bet, you can make these bets by merely calling them out to the dealer — no placing the chips upfront is required. This type of bet in European roulette is called a “call bet.” However, American roulette has its pros too — in this roulette version, you can play on five numbers (the top line bet), which gives you 13.16% odds of winning.
Furthermore, the table layouts of the two roulette versions are quite similar, while the French one has a pretty unique table layout. The first and quite obvious distinction here is in the number of zero pockets, as we’ve already mentioned. The table for American roulette has two, while the European one has but a single. Moreover, the order of the numbers on the European and the American wheels is not the same. In fact, the European wheel is far more successful in maintaining the balance between high and low numbers. Let’s take a look at the actual layouts.
European Wheel Layout
American Wheel Layout
As we can see here, the balance between high and low and odd and even numbers is better — the pattern appears to be more random in the European version. Since we have now gone through all the facts, let’s answer the final question!
Final Verdict — American vs. European Roulette
The European wheel is undoubtedly better than its American counterpart — it has higher RTP, better wheel design, and some great betting options that are Call Bets. The only advantage of the American roulette is that you can bet on Top Line (five numbers). All differences between the two roulettes are subtle but significant. And even though the variations between the two seem minor, they have a huge impact on the players. In other words, they make a world of difference in the long run. So next time you go to a casino with an intent to try your luck on a roulette wheel, make sure to pick the European one!