When gamblers first learn the rules of the road in roulette, lessons almost always begin with the distinction between American and European wheels.
Under the traditional European version of the game, a roulette wheel is outfitted with the numbers 1 through 36 in alternating red and black spaces — plus a single green “0” space working for the house. With 37 spaces on the wheel in total, the house edge on every available wager stands at 2.70%.
When enterprising casino operators saw an opportunity to increase their profit margins, American roulette wheels featuring both the “0” and “00” green spaces were born. These 38-space wheels nearly double the house edge players are up against to 5.26%.
After learning this fundamental rule — which inherently forms the foundational strategy of roulette game selection — most roulette students quickly move on to learning the various wager types.
Once they’ve memorized the three “outside” bets (red or black, odd or even, low or high), along with the lineup of “inside” bets (single number, street, corner, column, etc.), many roulette novices mistakenly believe they’ve mastered the game.
And without a full picture of how the game is played, many people out there miss easy opportunities to increase their odds over the long run.
To help you avoid that fate, I’ve dug up three little-known rules and strategies most players don’t know about roulette. Read on to expand your knowledge of this great game before heading out to your nearest casino to take advantage of these roulette tips.
While the vast majority of the 450+ roulette tables found in Las Vegas use American rules, and a handful offer European rules in exchange for a higher minimum bet, there’s actually a third version of the game to watch for — French roulette.
Roulette itself is a game originating in France, of course, but among veteran players, the term French roulette refers to a specific set of rules known as “La Partage.”
La Partage translates to “the divide” in English, which makes perfect sense considering how the rule works.
French roulette using La Partage is played on a European single-zero wheel. Because the European gambling community largely prefers the game’s even-money wagers — red or black, odd or even, low (1-18) or high (19-36) — casinos use the La Partage rule to protect even-money bettors from the dreaded green “0” space.
When the La Partage rule is in effect, and the ball finds its way to the “0” space, the croupier will immediately pay back half of any even-money bet on the board. Thus, if you had a $20 bet on red, for example, you’d receive a $10 rebate if the ball lands on green “0.”
The other half of these even-money bets is still claimed by the house, but players benefit immensely by having their liability reduced by 50%.
Under the La Partage rule, the house edge on a French roulette wheel’s even-money wagers is sliced neatly in two, falling from 2.70% to 1.35%.
When compared to American double-zero roulette, playing with La Partage in effect drops the house edge on even-money bets from 5.26% to 1.35%.
French roulette is obviously far more prevalent in Europe than it is in the United States, but gamblers visiting Las Vegas can find a handful of tables scattered across Sin City.
Using the invaluable Wizard of Vegas Las Vegas roulette survey — which classifies French wheels under the heading “EURO” — you’ll find La Partage gameplay offered at the following casinos.
French La Partage Roulette Tables in Las Vegas
As you can see, the price players pay for that reduced house edge is a higher minimum bet threshold. You’ll need to bet between $50 and $100 for the most part, but remember, those minimum limits can be covered by multiple even-money outside bets.
And for the very best French roulette game in all of Las Vegas, head to the MGM Grand casino on the Strip, where La Partage rules can be played for just a $25 minimum bet.
On a final note, if you make your way to Atlantic City, enjoy the East Coast gambling capital’s generous variation of La Partage.
When playing roulette in A.C., all even-money bets on American double-zero wheels will receive a one-half rebate when the ball lands on “0” or “00.” This reduces the house edge on even-money wagers from 5.26% to 2.63%.
Based on its status as a pure game of chance — and one with a relatively high house edge on American double-zero wheels — roulette is a favorite for casino operators.
Skilled players can’t beat them to the punch like they can in blackjack or video poker, and all bets are resolved immediately, unlike in craps where players can stretch a single bet out for several rolls.
Throw in a brisk pace of play, with a new spin starting every minute or so, and casinos consider roulette to be a cash cow.
But even as the casinos in Nevada hauled in over $384 million on roulette wins alone last year, players in the know were able to subsidize their play through the lucrative comp system.
Casino comps come in many forms, but for the most part, players parlay their time at the tables into cash credits good at the in-house retail outlets, buffet vouchers, show tickets, and even free rooms.
From there, the table game pit boss will track your average wagers and hours played before awarding comp points to your account.
Fortunately for roulette players, the casino industry prioritizes games of chance like roulette, baccarat, and slots over the skill-games like blackjack and video poker.
And as you can see in the table below, American double-zero roulette is by far the juiciest game for comp chasers to play.
Casino Comp Formula for Table Games
|Game||Comps Earned Per Hour ($10 bets)|
While wagering in $10 average units, players on the double-zero wheel can earn $17 per hour in comp dollars. That’s more than double what baccarat and craps enthusiasts earn and more than triple the rate for blackjack play.
But unlike these other games, which play out in a zero-sum dynamic pitting player against the house, roulette allows for a little loophole of sorts.
One of the “secret” strategies utilized by sharp roulette players takes advantage of the binary even-money wagers on the board. By playing as a team along with a partner, you can easily stretch a small bankroll over the course of several hours while piling up the comp points.
All you need to do is bet on one side of an even-money wager while your partner takes the other side. With you betting on black and their money on red, you’ll both have a 47.37% chance to win even-money and a 47.37% chance to lose your bet.
That leaves just a 5.26% shot that both of you will lose when the ball finds a green “0” or “00” space.
By playing like this, you and your partner will essentially be passing bets back and forth, winning and losing roughly half the time. The goal here isn’t to win money on the tables, as your bets will always balance the other’s out.
Instead, you’re trying to tread water and stay on the tables for as long as possible, all while your comp account receives a steady stream of points.
It is important to point out, however, that even the best of comps will not outweigh the house edge. Never play for longer than you would have otherwise just to collect comps. In the long run, you’ll still lose more than you gain.
You’ve learned about single-zero and double-zero wheels, so let’s dive into the scourge known as “Sands Roulette.”
Introduced in 2016 by the Venetian Sands corporation, which runs the Venetian and Palazzo casinos in Vegas, Sands Roulette adds a third green house space to the wheel. This space simply reads “S,” hence the name, but it essentially serves as a supplement to the “0” and “00” spaces.
Unless you wager on the “S,” your inside and outside bets will all lose if the ball lands there.
This triple-zero version of the game was rolled out to exploit uninformed tourists who don’t know any better. The additional house space increases the house edge from 5.26% to 7.69%, making it one of the worst table games on any casino floor.
The bastardization of roulette is catching on too, apparently, as casino game designer TCS John Huxley has recently added SATURN™ Triple Zero Roulette tables to its inventory.
When you see one of these trash tables, turn tail and run.
Roulette stands out as one of the rare pure games of chance, what with its flattened house edge rates and inability to influence where the ball will wind up.
Nonetheless, savvy players know how to give themselves every possible advantage by exploiting the rules and strategies described above.
Now that you know the score, be sure to play roulette under optimal conditions whenever the circumstances allow.
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