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Understanding the Roulette Wheel and How It Affects Your Odds

Ever wondered whether American or European roulette gives you better luck? Find out the differences between the variants.

Roulette is often seen as a game of chance whose outcome is next to impossible to influence or predict. Yet, this does not deter people from placing their bets on the table and making it one of the most popular and recognisable casino games in the world.

Even if you have never tried your hand at the game, you would have most probably heard the terms American roulette and European roulette at some point of your life. You may now wonder, “What are the differences between the two?” and “Which one offers a better chance of winning?”

In this post, we’ll explore the distinctions and how they affect your odds of winning in roulette.


Organisation of the wheel

When you look casually at a roulette wheel, it is easy to see the numbers displayed as having been randomly thrown onto individual slots for the sake of creating a game. However, each number does not exist on a particular slot on the wheel by chance.

While numbers on the wheel may appear random and confusing at first glance, making it harder for players to notice or track any pattern in the gameplay, a closer inspection will reveal to you that much thought and planning have been put into the number sequence. It is also this seemingly random arrangement of numbers that keeps roulette a balanced game.

Firstly, regardless of variant, you will never see two adjacent pockets sporting the same colour. The red and black pockets always alternate, with the only exception being when they are placed next to a green zero or double zero slot. Even and odd numbers are also distributed relatively evenly in the sequence, especially for the European wheel, which has no more than two even or odd numbers next to each other.

By seeing the way the numbers are organised and other characteristics of the wheel, you can easily tell one variant from the other.

European roulette


Arguably the more popular version of the casino game, the European variant features the numbers 1 to 36 and one green zero pocket – totaling 37 pockets on the wheel. The inclusion of the zero, also called the house pocket, gives casinos an average house edge of 2.7%.

The clockwise sequence of numbers on the wheel is always 0, 32, 15, 19, 4, 21, 2, 25, 17, 34, 6, 27, 13, 36, 11, 30, 8, 23, 10, 5, 24, 16, 33, 1, 20, 14, 31, 9, 22, 18, 29, 7, 28, 12, 35, 3, 26.

In European roulette, the low (1-18) and high (19-36) numbers alternate quite consistently, which is why you will notice the numbers in the sequence jumping from high to low and back again. The only exceptions to this sequence are 5 and 10, which are positioned next to each other even though they are both low numbers.

Additionally, this variant offers players the opportunity to place announced bets, which are bets not based on the layout of the table but of the wheel. Types of announced bets include Neighbours of Zero, Thirds of the Wheel, Zero Game and The Orphans.

American roulette


The most prominent difference between the two variants is that the American wheel sports two green pockets instead of one.

The wheel of any American roulette also always features a standardised sequence, which is 0, 28, 9, 26, 30, 11, 7, 20, 32, 17, 5, 22, 34, 15, 3, 24, 36, 13, 1, 00, 27, 10, 25, 29, 12, 8, 19, 31, 18, 6, 21, 33, 16, 4, 23, 35, 14, 2.

Unlike in European roulette, many high and low numbers are positioned adjacent to their own kind on the wheel of the American counterpart

The additional green pocket on the American roulette wheel increases the total number of pockets in the variant to 38 as opposed to the 37 in the European variant. Labelled double zero, this extra house pocket increases the house edge up to 5.26% – a significant increase compared to the average casino advantage of 2.7% in the European roulette.

Understanding the roulette table

For the most part, the roulette table is the same between roulette variants. However, since American roulette possesses the double zero, its table includes the extra number in a box next to the single zero. Besides this difference, the numbers and sectors for betting are all arranged the same way for both.

There is another version of the game, French roulette, which features the same wheel as the European counterpart but has a table with a slightly different layout and French names for the sectors. Aside from the difference in appearance, the types of bets are still the same and thus do not change a player’s odds of winning.

Which variant should I play?

When playing any casino game, the main goal is to win as big and as often as possible. As American roulette presents almost double the house edge, which means a greater disadvantage for players, it is no wonder that European version is the more popular roulette game both online and at land-based casinos.

With this revelation, it seems like a no-brainer to always favour the European or even French version of the game anytime you are at a casino. Yet, the American variant continues to exist and be played by enthusiasts all over the world.

What does this mean for you? It means you should not discount American roulette too soon. As every variant provides a unique experience to players, you may realise that you prefer the feel of the American version.

In the end, the best way to find out which roulette is best for you is to give both a try and decide for yourself. With a range of roulette games readily available online, that is an easy thing to do.

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