Variations of Roulette
Traditionally, roulette has been played in two main variations: European and American. The main differences between these two games will be explained with a comparison of the odds. Additionally we'll look at another fairly common variation of the game, French roulette, and some online versions such as mini roulette.
The primary rules and betting options of all these games are largely the same. If you aren't familiar with the basics of the game, please take a look at our page on roulette rules and betting options.
European roulette is the most commonly-offered version of roulette at casinos in Europe and many other parts of the world. The wheel has only a single zero, rather than a single zero and a double zero. You'll find European roulette games at most web-based casinos. Below are a couple of screenshots showing the European roulette on offer at the Bet365 online casino.
American roulette is the version of the game you'll find in most casinos in the US. It's basically the same as European roulette apart from one significant difference: the wheel has a single zero and a double zero. Again, you'll find it at most online casinos. Below is a screenshot of American Roulette at the Bovada online casino.
American vs European: Comparing the Odds
Although American and European roulette are incredibly similar, the extra double zero in the American game does actually make a big difference. A lot of players prefer it for some reason, but European is much more player-friendly.
The payouts for each bet in the game are the same, but because there are only a total of 37 numbers in the European version, the probability for each of these bets winning is slightly higher, as demonstrated in the table below.
Probability - American
Probability - European
|Straight Up||35 to 1||2.63%||2.7%|
|Split||17 to 1||5.26%||5.41%|
|Street||11 to 1||7.89%||8.1%|
|Corner||8 to 1||10.53%||10.81%|
|Line||5 to 1||15.79%||16.22%|
|Dozens or Columns||2 to 1||31.58%||32.43%|
|Red/Black, Odd/Even, High/Low||Even Money||47.37%||48.65%|
As you can see, the differences in the probabilities of each bet winning are really quite small. However, it can make a big difference in your return over the long term. As such, if you have the choice, you should always play European roulette.
French roulette is also very similar to European, although the betting board is laid out a bit differently. The same betting options are available with the same payouts, and there's only the single zero. What makes French notably different is the addition of the "La Partage" rule. Under the terms of this rule, any player who has made an even money bet receives half of his stake back if the spin results in a zero.
This is an advantage to the player and makes French roulette an ever better game than European. Some games also include the "en prison" rule giving the player the option to have their even money bet placed "in prison" if a zero is spun. Putting a bet in prison means that it stays on the board for the next spin. If the bet wins, the player gets his stake back. If the bet loses, the bet is lost.
Mini roulette is a much less common form of roulette, although it has been gaining popularity online. It's essentially a scaled-down version of the game with fewer numbers and less betting options. The basic principle remains the same however. Below is a screenshot of the mini roulette game at the Bet365 online casino.
This is a new version of the game that a number of online casinos have started offering. The rules and betting options are basically the same, but you can bet on the results of multiple wheels at one time. Most places that offer this game allow you to choose how many wheels to bet on, typically between 2 and 8. In the version pictured here, you can see that there are 6 wheels available.
Other Online Roulette Games
Many online casinos have developed their own versions of roulette with additional features or rules. The main principle of the game remains the same, but there will be a few twists to make them a bit more exciting. For example, there are progressive games that pay out big jackpots if the same number appears a certain number of times in a row.
There are far too many variations of roulette to list them all here. Your best bet is to check out a few casinos to see what is on offer. Our main page on roulette includes a list of what we consider to be the best casinos sites for playing roulette, or you can check out our full list of recommended casinos for alternative options as well.
Author: Brad Johnson
Updated: March 2015
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