American vs European Roulette: the Difference of Rules, Odds, and Strategies

Last Updated on June 1, 2024 by LTC Casino Editorial

Roulette is one of the most popular and iconic casino games worldwide, offering excitement and a blend of strategy and chance. The game has two main versions: American Roulette and European Roulette. Each variant comes with its unique set of rules, odds, and strategies, which can significantly impact a player’s chances of winning. This comprehensive guide delves into these differences, helping you choose the right game and potentially enhance your gameplay.

Basic Rules of Roulette

Roulette, derived from the French word meaning “little wheel,” involves a spinning wheel, a small ball, and a betting table. Players place bets on where they predict the ball will land after the wheel is spun. Bets can range from specific numbers to broader categories such as red or black, odd or even, and high or low numbers. Understanding the basic rules is the first step toward mastering the game.

European Roulette Rules

European Roulette is played with a wheel that has 37 pockets, numbered from 0 to 36. The single zero (0) pocket significantly lowers the house edge compared to the American version. Players can place inside bets on specific numbers or small groups of numbers and outside bets on larger groups of numbers. The simplicity and lower house edge make European Roulette a favorite among many players.

Inside Bets in European Roulette

  1. Straight Up: Betting on a single number.
  2. Split: Betting on two adjacent numbers.
  3. Street: Betting on three numbers in a horizontal line.
  4. Corner: Betting on four numbers that form a square.
  5. Six Line: Betting on two adjacent rows of three numbers.

Outside Bets in European Roulette

  1. Red/Black: Betting on all red or all black numbers.
  2. Odd/Even: Betting on all odd or all even numbers.
  3. High/Low: Betting on high (19-36) or low (1-18) numbers.
  4. Dozens: Betting on one of three groups of twelve numbers.
  5. Columns: Betting on one of the three vertical columns of numbers.

European roulette betting layout

American Roulette Rules

American Roulette features a wheel with 38 pockets, including a single zero (0) and a double zero (00). The inclusion of the double zero increases the house edge, making it less favorable for players compared to European Roulette. However, American Roulette (and it’s variants represented as crypto roulettes) is widely available in casinos across the United States, making it a common choice for many players.

Inside Bets in American Roulette

  1. Straight Up: Betting on a single number.
  2. Split: Betting on two adjacent numbers.
  3. Street: Betting on three numbers in a horizontal line.
  4. Corner: Betting on four numbers that form a square.
  5. Six Line: Betting on two adjacent rows of three numbers.
  6. Top Line: Betting on 0, 00, 1, 2, and 3.

Outside Bets in American Roulette

  1. Red/Black: Betting on all red or all black numbers.
  2. Odd/Even: Betting on all odd or all even numbers.
  3. High/Low: Betting on high (19-36) or low (1-18) numbers.
  4. Dozens: Betting on one of three groups of twelve numbers.
  5. Columns: Betting on one of the three vertical columns of numbers.

American roulette betting layout

Key Differences between European and American Roulette

Understanding the key differences between European and American Roulette can help you decide which game is more suited to your playing style and strategy.

1. Number of Pockets

The most apparent difference is the number of pockets on the wheel. European Roulette has 37 pockets, including a single zero, while American Roulette has 38 pockets, with the addition of a double zero. This extra pocket increases the house edge in American Roulette.

2. House Edge

The house edge in European Roulette is 2.7%, whereas, in American Roulette, it jumps to 5.26%. This significant difference is due to the double zero pocket in American Roulette, which gives the house a greater advantage.

3. Betting Options

Both versions offer similar inside and outside betting options, but the presence of the double zero in American Roulette introduces the Top Line bet, which is not available in European Roulette.

4. Special Rules

European Roulette sometimes features special rules like En Prison and La Partage, which can further reduce the house edge on even-money bets. These rules are generally not available in American Roulette.

FeatureEuropean RouletteAmerican Roulette
Number of Pockets37 pockets (0 to 36)38 pockets (0, 00, 1 to 36)
House Edge2.7%5.26%
Special RulesEn Prison and La PartageNot available
Top Line BetNot availableAvailable (0, 00, 1, 2, 3)
Odds on Red/Black, Odd/Even, High/Low48.65%47.37%
ProsLower house edge, player-friendly rulesWidely available in US casinos, more betting options
ConsLess common in American casinosHigher house edge, no special rules

House Edge and Odds Comparison

Understanding the house edge is crucial for any serious roulette player. The house edge represents the average percentage of each bet that the casino expects to keep over the long run. Here’s a detailed comparison:

European Roulette

  • House Edge: 2.7%
  • Odds of Winning on a Single Number: 1 in 37
  • Odds on Red/Black, Odd/Even, High/Low: 48.65%

American Roulette

  • House Edge: 5.26%
  • Odds of Winning on a Single Number: 1 in 38
  • Odds on Red/Black, Odd/Even, High/Low: 47.37%
Bet TypePayoutEuropean Roulette OddsEuropean Roulette House EdgeAmerican Roulette OddsAmerican Roulette House Edge
Straight Up35 to 11 in 372.70%1 in 385.26%
Split17 to 11 in 18.52.70%1 in 195.26%
Street11 to 11 in 12.332.70%1 in 12.675.26%
Corner8 to 11 in 9.252.70%1 in 9.55.26%
Six Line5 to 11 in 6.172.70%1 in 6.335.26%
Dozen2 to 11 in 3.082.70%1 in 3.175.26%
Column2 to 11 in 3.082.70%1 in 3.175.26%
Red/Black1 to 11 in 1.932.70%1 in 2.115.26%
Odd/Even1 to 11 in 1.932.70%1 in 2.115.26%
High/Low1 to 11 in 1.932.70%1 in 2.115.26%
Top Line6 to 1Not AvailableNot Applicable1 in 7.67.89%

Types of Bets in European and American Roulette

Both versions of roulette offer a variety of betting options, each with different odds and payouts. Understanding these can help you make more informed betting decisions.

Inside Bets

Inside bets are placed on specific numbers or combinations of numbers within the grid layout of the roulette table. These bets have higher payouts but lower odds of winning.

  1. Straight Up: Betting on a single number pays 35 to 1.
  2. Split: Betting on two adjacent numbers pays 17 to 1.
  3. Street: Betting on three numbers in a row pays 11 to 1.
  4. Corner: Betting on four numbers that form a square pays 8 to 1.
  5. Six Line: Betting on six numbers (two adjacent rows of three) pays 5 to 1.

Outside Bets

Outside bets are placed on broader categories, such as colors or ranges of numbers. These bets have lower payouts but higher odds of winning.

  1. Red/Black: Betting on all red or all black numbers pays 1 to 1.
  2. Odd/Even: Betting on all odd or all even numbers pays 1 to 1.
  3. High/Low: Betting on high (19-36) or low (1-18) numbers pays 1 to 1.
  4. Dozens: Betting on one of three groups of twelve numbers pays 2 to 1.
  5. Columns: Betting on one of the three vertical columns of numbers pays 2 to 1.

Special Rules: En Prison and La Partage

European Roulette sometimes features special rules that can significantly affect the outcome of even-money bets.

En Prison

If the ball lands on zero, even-money bets are “imprisoned” for the next spin. If the next spin wins, the original bet is returned to the player without any additional winnings.

La Partage

If the ball lands on zero, players receive half of their even-money bet back, effectively reducing the house edge on these bets to 1.35%.

These rules are beneficial to players and are generally not available in American Roulette.

Quick Fact: During the early 2000s, several casinos in Las Vegas experimented with adding the La Partage rule to attract more European tourists

Pros and Cons of Each Variant

Each variant of roulette has its own advantages and disadvantages, which can influence your choice of game.

European Roulette

Pros:

  • Lower house edge (2.7%)
  • Special rules (En Prison and La Partage) can reduce the house edge further
  • Better odds for players

Cons:

  • Less common in American casinos
  • Fewer betting options compared to American Roulette

American Roulette

Pros:

  • Widely available in the US
  • Familiar and accessible to many players
  • More betting options, including the Top Line bet

Cons:

  • Higher house edge (5.26%)
  • No special rules to reduce losses

Which Version Offers Better Odds?

From a purely mathematical perspective, European Roulette offers better odds due to its lower house edge. The absence of the double zero pocket in European Roulette reduces the house advantage, making it a more favorable option for players. If you have the choice, opting for European Roulette is generally the smarter move.

Conclusion: Which Roulette Game is Better?

Ultimately, the choice between American and European Roulette depends on your location, preference, and playing style. If you’re playing in Europe or at a casino offering both versions, European Roulette is the better choice due to its lower house edge and special rules that can further reduce the house’s advantage. In the US, where American Roulette is more prevalent, understanding the higher house edge is crucial for managing your expectations and strategy.

FAQs about American and European Roulette

What are the differences between American and European Roulette?

The main differences are the number of pockets on the wheel and the house edge. European Roulette has 37 pockets and a house edge of 2.7%, while American Roulette has 38 pockets and a house edge of 5.26%.

Which version offers better odds?

European Roulette offers better odds due to its lower house edge.

How does the double zero in American Roulette affect gameplay?

The double zero increases the house edge, making it more challenging for players to win.

What is the house edge in each version?

European Roulette has a house edge of 2.7%, and American Roulette has a house edge of 5.26%.

What betting options are available?

Both versions offer inside and outside bets, including specific numbers, groups of numbers, and characteristics like red/black or odd/even.

Are there special rules like En Prison and La Partage in European Roulette?

Yes, these rules can be found in European Roulette and can reduce the house edge on even-money bets.

Which version is more advantageous for players?

European Roulette is more advantageous due to its lower house edge and special rules.