For a European audience the name European roulette might sound strange.
The game originates from France – literately it means little wheel – and should perhaps be called just roulette. This is the original. But since the American version of the game also has become very popular, let us call it European roulette to distinguish between the two.
The first roulette game was invented by Mathematician and Philosopher Blaise Pascal in the 17th century. It quickly became popular in Paris and has been played, more or less, in its current form since then.
However, when talking about modern European roulette we have to cross the border into Germany.
The first roulette wheel with only one zero was invented in 1843 in the German town Homburg, and when we talk about European roulette today we always refer to games with 36 numbered slots and only one zero.
From an odds perspective, we always recommend players to choose European games when you play roulette online. The reason is simple: You have a greater chance of winning when playing on European wheels.
European Roulette - A Superior Game
Let's look at European roulette's biggest selling point: The single zero.
If there were no zeros on the roulette wheel, it would be a zero-sum game and the players and the house would break even in the long run. As we all know, casinos don't run that sort of business.
So by adding zeros to the game they gain an advantage. The more zeros, the larger the edge becomes.
House edge in American Roulette (00): 5.26%
House edge in European Roulette (0): 2.70%
Besides this, there is no difference between American and European roulette. The payouts are the same and you can make the same type of wagers.
The American roulette wheel has gone through quite a few transformations before reaching the game we today call American Roulette – a wheel with 36 numbered slots plus two green slots for 0 and 00.
In the late 19th century, for instance, the most popular form of roulette had the numbers 1 to 28 plus 0, 00, and a slot with an American eagle.
Since this roulette version only paid 27 times the wager for a bet on a single number, the house advantage was huge. About every 10th spin ended up on 0, 00 or the eagle, which resulted in the house raking in all the chips on the table.
In consequence, very few players could walk away from the table with a profit in those days.
Luckily the players' odds have improved since these early American roulette variations were developed in Louisiana and made their way up the Mississippi. The house still has an edge, of course, but in modern games it has been reduced significantly.
American Roulette – Payouts and House Edge
As mentioned, the American wheel contains 36 numbers plus a zero and a double zero.
There are many different possible wagers to chose from: Straight up bet (a bet on a single number), Square bet (a bet on four numbers), Red or Black, Even or Odd, just to mention a few.
See complete list of roulette bets on the roulette rules page.
Payouts in American Roulette
It's easy to calculate the payout in American roulette.
Simply use this formula: Payout = (36 - n) / n (n is the number of winning slots)
Say that you bet on red. There are 18 red slots on the wheel. (36 - 18) / 18 = 1. In other words, a red/black bet pays 1 to 1.
If you make a square bet (four numbers) the formula is (36 - 4) / 4 = 8 and you'll get 8 to 1 on your wager.
Roulette Royale is another popular variation, in which you can win a progressive jackpot if the same number gets hit five times in a row.
Since the chance for this to happen is pretty slim, progressive jackpots are constantly growing and can reach very tasty proportions in a hurry.
Roulette Royale is designed with two main types of bets, called inside bets and outside bets. An inside bet is when you wager on any roulette number from 0-36 (corresponding to the number on the pockets of the wheel), while with an outside bet you wager on either red or black, or on various combinations of numbers.
Finally, we must consider the variation called French roulette.
This game contains two types of outside bets: dozen and even-money bets. There is also the addition of call bets, which is based on your prediction of the ball's resting place in the context of the larger betting action.
French roulette is definitely the most complex variation to be played, and thus you should only tackle this one after sharpening your skills on the more basic versions.
The most important thing to remember is that you have an almost infinite amount of options to choose from when playing roulette online.
Find your own favorite roulette variation, and become the best player you can possibly be.