Comparing the US and European Roulette Wheels
There are two main wheels used in casino Roulette games, these are the US wheel, and the European wheel. The key difference between them is that the US version of the Roulette wheel has 38 slots, while the European version has only 37. The extra slot on the US wheel is a ‘Double Zero’. This affects the odds of the game, and also creates a unique bet which is popular with US players. Experienced Roulette players opt for the European wheel, which has a lower house edge.
This article covers the single vs double zero Roulette debate in several different ways. First of all I have covered the history of the wheels, which shows that the US version is the original. Next I look at how the extra zero affects the house edge, using the real numbers. After that a different rule associated with the French Roulette game is introduced. Finally, whichever wheel you choose the key elements of successful play are money management and taking advantage of bonuses and comps – which are discussed towards the end of this page.
The Origins of the Twin Roulette Wheels
When this game was first created in France in the 1750’s, there were two zeroes. These were not green, with one being red and the other black. At some point during the next century, a single green zero first appeared. This proved popular in Europe, and quickly became the standard format.
Meanwhile, the original French wheel has made its way to New Orleans, and from there up the Mississippi river on casino steamboats. Spreading east with traders, and west with pioneers – the double zero wheel became firmly established in the US. This is now known as the US Roulette wheel.
The House Edge Difference between the US and European Wheels
Many players think that having the extra zero is a trivial difference. However, the influence that this has on the house edge is mathematically significant. This turns as reasonably low edge game into a high-edge game when you compare it to other game types on the casino floor.
Here are the bare percentages:
- European (Single Zero) 2.7%
- US (Double Zero) 5.3%
As you will see, you can halve the house edge by choosing the European wheel.
This edge difference happens in 2 ways. First of all even money bets (odd or even and so on) lose when the ball lands on zero. There is also a difference to the number bets. These pay out at 35-to-1, and with 37 slots (on the European wheel) there is an edge build in for the house. The US wheel number bets also pay at 35-to-1, only this time there are 38 possible outcomes.
There is a popular bet on the US wheel which is not available on the single zero version. This is called ‘first 5’ and is a bet on 00-0-1-2-3. While this bet is entertaining, it does have a higher house edge compared to most other Roulette bets, and so is best avoided.
The final point about this house edge is not to be fooled by the small numbers. This edge occurs with every bet you make, which means it accumulates over a session. For example if you bet $50 a spin over 40 times in a session, then the US wheel will take (on average) more than $50 for the house. By comparison the European wheel would only take $27.
‘La Partage’ – Lowering the House Edge Even Further
There is a wheel that offers even better odds than the European Roulette game. This is known as ‘French Roulette’ and uses the single-zero wheel setup. The difference you will find with the French Roulette game is that the zero slot comes with a 50% refund on even money bets.
This does reduce the house edge significantly. The exact size of this reduction really depends on the proportion of inside bets and outside bets that you make. If you are betting on those outside chances any significant amount of the time, then it is definitely worthwhile seeking out the French tables. You may also find some different bets with this game to make your session that little bit more varied.
Roulette Comps, Money Management and Enjoyment
Whichever of the two wheels you choose to play Roulette on, keep in mind that the primary reason for choosing this game should be because it is fun. The house edge can be kept small by choosing the right wheel, however it will still take its toll over time. By managing your money smartly (not betting too much on a single spin) you can keep your money in play and hope for that hot streak to hit.
Remember to take advantage of any comps or bonuses offered to you by your casino – these can make a big difference to your bankroll over time.