Roulette comes in different forms. Its variations differ in terms of the wheel and special rules.
French roulette is undoubtedly one of the most-unpopular variations. It’s not featured in many casinos and is lightly played.
Surprisingly, enough, French roulette also offers one of the highest chances to win out of any casino game. Why, then, do other gamblers not enjoy playing this game much?
I’ll answer this question later on. But first, I’ll cover the basics of French roulette so as to offer a better understanding on why it’s unpopular.
Why French Roulette Is Great (Even When Others Don’t Realize It)
French roulette is played on the European wheel. The latter features 37 numbers and a single zero pocket.
The single zero helps the house win all outside bets and most inside wagers. Normally, this aspect would lead to French roulette carrying a 2.70% house edge (1/37).
However, this game features one of two special rules that lower the house advantage further. French roulette tables offer either the “la partage” or “en prison” rule.
Here’s how these two rules work:
En prison – The ball lands in the zero pocket. Your wager remains imprisoned and will ride on the next spin’s outcome.
La partage – The ball stops in the zero pocket. You receive half back on your wager (e.g. $5 back on $10 bet).
You must place an even-money bet to take advantage of either rule. As long as you do this, then you’ll only face a 1.35% house edge.
Most casino games feature a house advantage that ranges between 2% and 8%. Therefore, French roulette gives you a stronger change to win than most other real money casino games.
How to Play French Roulette
The biggest hurdle to playing the French version remains the language barrier. Many tables list the bets in French, which presents an obvious problem when you don’t speak this language.
Below, you can see common roulette wagers along with their corresponding French names:
Even = Pair
Odd = Impair
Red or Black = Rogue ou noir
1-18 (low) = Manqué
19-36 (high) = Passé
1-12 (first dozen) = Premiere Douzaine
13-24 (second dozen) = Moyenne Douzaine
25-36 (third dozen) = Derniere Douzaine
You can already see where these names cause confusion if you’re new to the French variation. The matter only becomes more difficult when adding the extra “Neighbor” and “Call” bets into the equation.
These wagers are available in both European and French roulette. Again, though, you’ll deal with French names with the latter game.
Here are the wagers in question:
“Jeu zéro” (zero game) – Bet that covers the numbers closest to zero. These pockets include: 12-35-3-26-0-32-15. Three chips must be placed on splits and one chip is put on a straight-up wager (four total).
“Le tiers du cylindre” (third of the wheel) – This wager covers 12 pockets ranging from 27 through 33. Six chips must be put on splits.
“Orphelins” (orphans) – Bet that covers the two wheel slices found outside of voisins and orphelins. It covers eight total numbers, including 1-20-14-31-9 and 17-34-6. Four chips are put on splits and one is placed on a straight-up wager (five total).
“Voisins du zero” (neighbors of zero) – This wager covers 17 pockets that lie between 22 and 25. Five chips are put on splits, two on corners, and two on trios (nine total).
“Neighbors” – Five chips are spread across a number and the two numbers on both sides of it.
If you’re struggling to figure out these bets, then you can always find a free online French roulette game. The software acts as a guiding hand as you figure out which French names correspond to which pockets.
Reasons Why People Don’t Play French Roulette
French roulette should be the ideal version of the game. However, most people play other variations. You can see why this is the case below.
Bets Listed in French
Many gamblers are immediately turned off when they look at a French roulette table. As non-French speakers, they’re confused when they see terms like impair and manqué listed.
The modern version of casino roulette spawned in France. Therefore, the game should feature French terms on it in some cases.
Nevertheless, non-speakers have no clue where they should place their chips on these tables. They ignore this variation as a result.
People can’t play the latter when it’s not available. So, roulette aficionados will take whatever is available to them.
French tables are mainly confined to a few European countries and a couple online software developers. Their limited availability and foreign language (to most) are an unattractive combination.
Comfortable with Other Variations
Many roulette players who start with a certain version aren’t apt to switch when they see the French variation. They may have begun with American or European roulette and want to continue playing these games.
Luckily, one doesn’t need to devote much time to learning French roulette. This guide offers everything a player needs with regard to the French terminology.
Nevertheless, many gamblers like sticking to what they know. Unfortunately, they often know the lower-paying variations.
What Are Your Other Roulette Options?
Armed with knowledge of the house edge, you should seek French roulette whenever possible. Again, though, this game isn’t always available.
What are your other options when the French variant is out of the question. The following games—for better or worse—are backup plans.
The American roulette wheel features 38 pockets. These numbers include 1-36, zero, and double zero.
This game features two pockets that favor the house. The extra casino-friendly pocket causes the house advantage to shoot up to 5.26% (2/38).
The European wheel features 37 pockets. These numbers include 1-36 and zero.
As explained before, this game only offers one pocket that provides the casino an advantage. The lone casino-friendly number leads to a 2.70% house edge.
The mini wheel only contains 13 pockets. These numbers include 1-12 and zero.
The lone casino-friendly pocket would normally lead to a massive 7.69% house edge (1/13). However, almost every mini roulette game features the la partage rule.
Provided the la partage rule is in effect, then mini roulette features a 3.85% house advantage.
Where Can You Find French Roulette?
Outside of mini roulette, the French variation is the least common. Nevertheless, you can still find it in a fair number of land-based and online casinos.
Europe is the birthplace of French roulette. Therefore, it’s little surprise that some European land-based casinos offer this game.
It’s mostly confined to certain countries, including France, Germany, Italy, and Monaco (Monte Carlo). French and German casinos are especially generous with French roulette.
You can find this game in other European nations outside of the mentioned ones. However, this roulette variation isn’t widespread in Europe.
Certain Software Developers
French roulette is featured at online casinos that run Microgaming and Realtime Gaming (RTG) software.
Microgaming casinos are available to most of Europe, Central America, and South America. This developer is considered one of the most-successful in the industry.
RTG casinos are available to most countries outside of Europe. For example, they cover Canada, South Africa, and the United States.
I’m not aware of any other software developers that feature French roulette at the time of this writing. However, one or more other providers could very well offer this game.
Roulette features the same basic concept no matter the wheel and rules. You wager on which pocket(s) the ball will settle in.
Therefore, you might as well play the version that gives you the best odds. French roulette and its 1.35% house edge represent your top chance to win.
This variation takes European roulette a step further by introducing the la partage or en prison rule. The result is that you hold a better chance of earning money.
Unfortunately, many other players can’t get past the different terminology. They see wagers listed in French and run.
You, on the other hand, shouldn’t see the language barrier as a serious challenge. You can consult this guide for translations and explanations on the French-named wagers.
As long as you understand the bet names, then you’ll have no trouble playing this game. I strongly recommend that you stick with the following outside bets to take advantage of la partage/en prison:
Rogue ou noir (red/black)
Premiiere Douzaine (1-12)
Moyenne Douzaine (13-24)
Derniere Douzaine (25-36)
You’ll benefit from the low 1.35% house edge by choosing these wagers. Furthermore, you’ll have one of the best chances to win out of any casino game.
Michael Stevens has been researching and writing topics involving the gambling industry for well over a decade now and is considered an expert on all things casino and sports betting. Michael has been writing for GamblingSites.org since early 2016. ...
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