The Different Types of Roulette

Roulette is one of the most recognizable and popular casino games in the world. Its roots can be traced to France and the famous scientist Blaise Pascal, who built a simplified roulette wheel in his attempt to create a perpetual motion machine.

Roulette is one of the most recognizable and popular casino games in the world. Its roots can be traced to France and the famous scientist Blaise Pascal, who built a simplified roulette wheel in his attempt to create a perpetual motion machine. Sadly, perpetual motion remains an unsolved mystery, but that first wheel was the start of something big.

The first ‘modern’ roulette wheel can be traced back of the end of 18th century, and it hasn’t changed much since. Its enduring success lies in the fact that the basic rules are simple and the house edge is low – the perfect combination for mass appeal.

Roulette: A Quick-Start Guide

A game of roulette requires a wheel and a board. Each of those has a set of 36 numbers, half of which are black and the other half red. On the roulette table, they are divided into a 12-line by 3-line grid, with all the numbers evenly distributed around both the wheel and the board.

Before the game itself starts, all the players have to place their bets. When this is done, the dealer spins the wheel and drops an ivory marble in the opposite direction of the spin. Players can still place a wager until the dealer announces that the betting phase is over.

The wheel has a pocket for each number and when the marble falls in one of them, the round is finished. Winning bets are paid, the croupier gathers the rest and the next round can start.

See our main roulette guide for the rules of the game and the different bets you can male

American Roulette

The US version is broadly similar to European roulette, with almost identical wheels. The difference lies in an additional zero pocket, the double zero, which introduces a greater house edge against the player. This developed separately from the European game, and remains prominent in North and South America, as well as in various online forms.

You’ll find this version available wherever roulette is offered online but it should be avoided at all costs, as it offers no benefits over the European game to make up for the inferior odds to the player.

The Effect of that Extra Zero

A simple calculation shows that the casino has a margin of 2.70% on wagers on a single number when there is one zero (as in the European version of roulette), but the double-zero pushes that to 5.26%. It’s a significant difference that also applies to other types of bets. This is the main reason why roulette in general is not that popular in the United States in comparison to Europe.

European Roulette

European Roulette has 37 wells across the wheel – the numbers 1-36, plus an additional single 0. This game version draws its origins from the 17th century, and it offers much better value to the player, as it has only one zero instead of two. This means a much lower house edge and a better return, as the payouts are the same as in American roulette. It is the popular choice in most casinos around Europe and in Asia, as well as online.

French Roulette

At first glance, French roulette seems identical to the more common European version. True, it also has only one zero, but there is a key difference that makes the game even better from the player’s perspective. If you place an Even Money bet on any of its variations: black or redodd or even, ‘first 18’ or ‘last 18’, and the ball drops into the zero well, half of your bet is returned (La Partage Rule). It’s a big deal over the long term and lowers the house edge for this type of wager from 2.7% in the European game to just 1.35%.

Some versions of the French game feature the En Prison Rule, where any failed even-money bets are held for a second spin, giving the player a second chance to win. It has the same effect on odds as La Partage, which is why we always recommend that you play exactly this variation of the game, if possible.

Online Roulette – New Versions of an Old Favourite

Roulette has taken on a new life online, with fierce competition fueling attempts to add further excitement and appeal to the basic roulette format. The freedom allowed by the digital medium has afforded developers the opportunity to take roulette in any direction they wish, offering side bets, additional wells, fun brandin, and further chances to win.

The basic premise for all these game versions remains the same, however the odds will vary depending on the number of wells on the wheel and the distribution of payouts according to specific game version rules.

Multi-Wheel Roulette allows the player to bet on up to eight wheels simultaneously, with a single bet. The result of each wheel’s spin is taken independently of the others. Aside from the number of wheels, rules, bets and payouts are based on the standard European model. Just be careful, your wager on each spin is multiplied by the number of wheels you have enabled.

Live roulette takes online roulette back to its roots, allowing the player to “sit” at a table with a live dealer in a casino environment. Live roulette is a great way to experience a taste of real casino glamour and excitement from home. At the best live casinos you’ll find a variety of different versions overseen by experienced croupiers.

Jackpot Roulette games, such as Playtech’s Age of the Gods Roulette and the now discontinued Marvel Roulette, offer a game that follows the traditional format, but with the addition of a Bonus Well, which opens up access to a bonus mini-slot game with big jackpot prizes on offer.

Mini-Wheel Roulette shrinks down the wheel, usually to 12 numbers plus the zero. Watch out for significantly poorer odds as a result, although some versions offer half back on number bets when the ball lands on zero.

No-Zero Roulette, or Zero Lounge Roulette, was once a major selling point for Betfair Casino. Who could fail to be swayed by a version of roulette with no built-in house edge? Hardly surprising that the game was withdrawn from the sit in late 2013.

As you may have gathered, few online “specials” offer any advantage to the player other than a novel experience. You’ll almost always be playing with worse odds of winning, so remember to check the RTP when trying out a new roulette game for real money. 

Choose your online roulette venue the smart way – with PlayRight. Our roulette ranking is updated to reflect the very best places to play, based on the latest testing conducted by our review team.