Ever since the first roulette wheel was made in the late 17th century by the French mathematician and inventor Blaise Pascal it’s been the casino game that has transfixed million upon million of players. And, although it failed to create the perpetual motion machine that Pascal intended, it has therefore found its way into the hearts of many of us who have tried our luck at the game.
There’s something about that little white ball that spins in the opposite direction to the slowly rotating wheel that captivates and thrills, creating the quintessential casino experience, whether in a “bricks and mortar” establishment or playing online.
But for all of its simplicity, there are a number of subtle differences between the different versions of the game that it’s important to know about before you play – and this is where you’ll learn about them.
Anyone deciding to play online roulette will generally find that there are three main variations of the game available: European, French and American Roulette. A number of sites also offer a low-stakes variant of so-called Penny Roulette as well as a version that also introduces the concept of spread betting into the game. For the moment, though, we’re concentrating on the first three kinds of the game.
Roulette with just one zero
In European Roulette there are thirty-seven numbers on the wheel, 1 to 36 and a 0 space. This is the most commonly-played variation of the game that you will generally find online with many choosing it for the simplicity of the rules.
French Roulette is very similar in that it also has the numbers 1 to 36 and a single zero. The numbers are arranged in exactly the same order around the wheel. But the difference between European and French Roulette lies in what happens when the ball lands in the zero, as the law of probability says it will on average (over an extended period of time) once every 37 spins of the wheel.
Additional rules such as “La Partage”
In European roulette, bets on other numbers would be lost, but the French version offers two options when this happens. In the first, called “la partage”, players will be given half the value of their bet back. The second, called “en prison” means that, as long as the bet is on an even number, the game is effectively frozen for the spin and all bets remain as they were for the second spin of the wheel. Both of these features obviously reduce the house edge in the game, making it a more attractive option for the player.
There’s two 00s in the American game
In American roulette, however, it is the house that has the extra edge. This is because there is both a 0 and a 00 space on the wheel as well as the standard 36 numbers. By lowering the probability of a player correctly selecting where the ball will land, this has the effect of increasing the house edge. That’s an important aspect to consider before sitting down to an American table.
So next time you fancy trying your hand at a game or two, bear these facts in mind. Because anything that tips the odds in your favor has to be a very good idea indeed.