Roulette is a simple game. A ball traverses a wheel, landing in a numbered slot, and all bets corresponding to the number or colour of the slot win.
Roulette’s simplicity hasn’t stopped casinos for creating a large number of variations. This is especially true for online casinos, which offer versions like Classic, 3D, Live casino, Dragonara and Speed roulette. But for all the different styles of play, the basic game of roulette adheres to a core set of rules.
The most fundamental difference exists between the American and European versions of the game, which use different wheels.
The Order of Numbers
One difference between the wheels is how the numbers are ordered. For example, on a European wheel, the number 24 is situated between five and 16. On an American wheel, 24 is flanked by three and 36.
The order of numbers has no fundamental bearing on the likelihood of a particular outcome. Though some players like to monitor a wheel’s patterns, the nature in which these patterns emerge will not be altered, so long as the numbers remain in order from one spin to the next, as is the case.
What does alter the probability of potential outcomes is the addition of an extra number to the American wheel.
The Double Zero Slot
Both wheels feature a green slot for the number zero. This slot results in a loss for every possible bet, except for wagers placed on the zero tile.
The American wheel has a second green slot – double zero (00). This slot, like the single zero, results in a loss for all bets except those made on the 00 tile.
The Extra Number Decreases your Odds
The addition of a new slot does more than change the wheel – it changes your odds. For example, the chance of winning a red/black bet on a European wheel is 48.65%. On an American wheel it’s 47.37%. The odds of winning a number bet on a European wheel is 2.7%. On the American wheel, your odds are 2.63%.
The kicker is that the American wheel, despite offering worse odds, doesn’t offer a better payout rate. You play with a reduced chance of success without augmenting your potential winnings. In other words, more risk for the same reward.
You may look at the wheels and think the difference would be so small it doesn’t make a difference. Though it’s true the difference is minor, the effect can be dramatic when applied over numerous wagers. In fact, the house edge nearly doubles for casinos using an American wheel.
Which Roulette Wheel is Better: American or European
Unless you find a casino offering bigger payouts for playing the American wheel (which is not typical), the European wheel is the way to go. You have better odds of winning, plain and simple, and there is no drawback that helps the American wheel level the playing field.
This is obvious when you stop to think about it, but a surprising number of people don’t distinguish (or don’t understand the significance of the difference) between the American and European wheel. Now you no longer have to be one of them.