American Roulette vs. European Roulette - Which Is Best?

American vs European

Roulette was developed in early 18th-century France from other games of chance including portique and hoca.By the 19th century, European wheels commonly had 38 numbered pockets. This included red and black pockets with numbers 1-36 as well as the '0' and '00' pockets.

By 1864,American roulette had branched off from the original. It used 31 pockets with numbers 1-28, 0, 00, and an eagle pocket. The layout allowed players to bet on four columns instead of three.

Modern roulette wheels have 38 pockets with either a single or double-zero pocket. Today, double-zero wheels are still the most common roulette wheels in North America, the Caribbean and South America. Modern European roulette tables mostly feature single-zero wheels. Online roulette casinos give Canadian players the opportunity to experience both variations of roulette.

American Roulette

American wheels have 38 pockets with 18 red, 18 black and 2 green. The red and black pockets are numbered 1-36, and the green spaces are for zero (0) and double-zero (00). Each zero pocket has 18 numbers separating it from the other zero.

Pockets:It has 38 with 0 and 00.

House Edge:Multiple zero pockets make for a 5.26% edge.

Special Rules: The 'basket bet' allows players to bet on the first five numbers: 0, 00, 1, 2 and 3. It has a higher house edge of 7.89% and a 13.16% chance to win. The 'surrender rule' is sometimes offered at American casinos allowing half of all losing even-money bets to be refunded when either a 0 or 00 is selected.

1864 Layout Modern Layout

European Roulette

European wheels have 37 pockets with 18 red, 18 black and 1 green. Like the American version, the red and black pockets feature majority numbers 1-36. The main difference is its single 0 pocket.

Pockets:It has 37 pockets with a single 0.

House Edge:With only one zero pocket, the house edge is reduced to 2.70%.

Special Rules: This variation may allow French rules that involve the zero pocket and even-money bets. 'En prison' and 'la partage' further reduce the house edge on even-money bets to 1.35%.

1864 Layout Modern Layout

Which Variant is Better?

American Roulette WheelMost of the rules for these two variations are identical. Both offer the same payouts for the bets they have in common. Before we can say which version of the game is better, we need to look at the main difference between the wheels - the number of zero pockets.

The addition of zeros to the wheel gives the house its edge by reducing the likelihood that certain inside bets will win and causing outside bets to lose entirely when a zero is selected. Therefore, the more zeros, the higher the house edge in roulette.

You may have already guessed that this makes European wheels better for the gambler! Let's run the numbers to see exactly how different the house edges are:

Roulette Version Number of Pockets Payout House Edge
American Roulette (double zero) 38 35/1 5.26%
European Roulette (single zero) 37 35/1 2.70%

European Roulette WheelAs you can see, the difference between the house edges in both games is 2.56%. This might sound pretty minuscule, but it can make an impact in the long run. For example, C$100 wagered at a single-zero table could save you C$2.56 on average. That can accumulate over time saving you enough to get a few drinks or even a meal.

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En Prison, La Partage, & Surrender

These special rules reduce the house edge on even-money bets. 'En prison' and 'la partage' are rules found in the French roulette variation of European tables. The 'surrender' rule is an American version of 'la partage.'

Basically, en prison gives your even-money, outside bets (even/odd, red/black, high/low) another chance to win after losing, but only when a zero is shown. Let's look at an example to see how this works in your favor.

Let's say you have a C$50 bet on 'even,' but the ball comes to rest in the '0' pocket. Normally, you would lose all of your C$50, but this casino employs en prison rules, So, you have the option either to request that C$25 be refunded or let the dealer put your bet 'in prison.' You opt for the latter option. Your bet is marked by the dealer and remains on the table for the next spin. The following may occur:

  • If an odd number is shown, you lose all C$50.
  • If an even number appears, your stake is returned with no payout awarded.

Finding a casino that offers en prison rules is probably one of the best things you can do to improve your odds on even-money bets. The house edge is only 1.35% when this is in play.

"The only thing worse than one zero is two of them. 'Zero in' on European wheels to increase your odds of winning online roulette."

Some variations of the 'en prison' rule include 'la partage' and 'surrender.' Both simplify things by immediately refunding half of all even-money wagers with the appearance of either a 0 or 00 depending on which version of roulette you are playing.

Picking Your Favorite Roulette Variation

Both versions offer the same payouts and opportunity for entertainment. However, European, or single-zero, roulette wheels give slightly better odds to win than their American counterparts. While American wheels are the norm in many Canadian casinos, European roulette wheels are offered in several online casinos accessible to Canadian players.

If you are serious about protecting your bankroll, you owe it to yourself to search for these single-zero wheels. Particularly when 'en prison' rules are in play. To make it easier on you, we've done a bit of research, we can recommend dozens of top sites for PC, Mac or smartphone users.