Invariably the discussion about roulette, especially as we look at it in the live casino atmosphere, comes down to being one of two different versions of the game – either live American roulette or live European roulette.
The games look somewhat the same and they play somewhat the same, but there is a difference in what it means to the player. Who would ever think that having one fewer slot in a wheel would reduce the house advantage over the player by almost half?
That is indeed the fact. But just in case you were not aware, the European version is the one that has a single zero, while the American version has both a single and double zero.
So what’s the background?
Well, if you really want to go back to the beginning, the game can be traced to the mid-1700s in North America, and that was actually in Canada – in Quebec specifically. And those who have researched the matter have seen a reference to roulette in the laws that existed in the province at the time, since the game was actually banned. And maybe you even go back a century prior to that, as Blaise Pascal invented the basis for the modern roulette wheel.
Also, if you were wondering, there were 18th Century wheels that had both a zero and a double zero. So this is by no means a recent development.
The single zero became a favored way to go, and that was simply because the house had only one slot, and therefore there were better odds for players. This, by all accounts, originated in 1842 with the Blanc brothers – Francois and Louis – who owned a casino in Hamburg, then moved over to Monaco when Germany outlawed gambling. So at the casino at Monte Carlo, the single-zero roulette wheel really established itself.
For those who like to mythologize, Francois Blanc is said to have made “a deal with the devil” for unlocking all the secrets of the game of roulette, since, as the story goes, he pointed out to Lucifer himself that the numbers, as they are added up on the roulette wheel, came out to 666. And whether you had a single zero or double zero, that total was not affected.
The French, who were much more familiar with the double-zero wheel, brought that over to America, and eventually onto riverboats that had gambling. To make a long story short, it eventually became the standard in the United States.
But as online casinos became established, that kind of thing mattered less. All of it could be delivered through the same outlet, in the same space, and whether there was enough room at the tables was irrelevant.
And with live dealer casinos gaining more and more popularity, live American roulette and live European roulette have both been equally accessible to the general public.
Which version’s better for the player?
When conducting casino games, the house customarily operates at an advantage. The game of roulette is no exception.
Plainly and simply, there is a big difference between the house advantage when it comes to live American roulette and live European roulette.
You see, the individual numbers a player can place a wager on in roulette go from one (1) to 36. The payout is 35-1 on any of these numbers. That sounds like it’s paying out at true odds, right?
Well, not exactly.
In the European game, since there is that single zero, the real odds of hitting any individual number are 36-1. In the American game, with zero AND double-zero, the odds are 37-1. So you are getting “the worst of it.” That is no big surprise, actually, as these games are obviously being run by the casinos for profit.
So when you calculate it, the disadvantage for the player in live European roulette is 2.70%, while the house edge in live American roulette is 5.26%. It would behoove you to look to the European version, which, logic would dictate, makes it more possible to win.
Roulette (the name means “little wheel” in French, by the way) is a very simple game to understand, from a procedural standpoint. The players pace their bets down on the “layout,” and a “croupier” spins the wheel going on the way, and then sets a little along a track that runs up near the perimeter. At some point, the ball is going to stop spinning and land somewhere in the wheel. And whatever slot it wins up in, well, that’s the result.
And that result can mean any number of things, depending on what kind of wager you’ve placed at the table. You’ve got plenty of options.
Okay, so what can we bet on?
Regardless of whether you are playing the American or European version of the game, you can make the same kinds of bets.
Let’s go over some of them, starting with those known as the “inside bets,” which are placed on the inside part of the layout, which contains all the individual numbers, including 0 and 00, in addition to 1 through 36:
* Straight Bet — This one is self-explanatory. You are wagering on any given number coming up. And as we mentioned, the odds against hitting are either 36-1 or 37-1, depending on which version of the game you are playing. You will be paid 35-1.
* Split Bet — Here you’ll bet on two numbers that are adjacent to each other. So the chip will be dragged or placed to a place that is straddling those two numbers. Payout is 17-1.
* Street Bet — This is a bet on any three consecutive numbers on the table. If any of them hits, you win. The payout here is 11-1.
* Line Bet – In this one, you are placing a bet on six numbers at a time, which take up two rows on the table that are adjacent to each other. This can also be referred to as a “Double Street Bet.” This pays 5-1.
* Corner Bet — Here you would bet on four numbers that meet up at one corner inside the layout. This pays off at 8-1 odds.
Then there are the “outside” bets, which are placed outside of the standard payout:
* High or Low — These are bets on whether the number will be in a group that is classified as “Low” (1 to 18) or “High” (19 to 36). It pays off at even money.
* Even or Odd — Self-explanatory. Here you’re wagering on whether the number is even or odd. Again, this is even money.
* Red or Black — Each of the numbers have a corresponding color – red or back. This wager, with an even money payout, seeks to win on the color that is chosen.
* Dozen Bet — With 36 numbers, they are divided into three “dozens.” So with this wager, you’d be able to bet on the “1st 12,” “2nd 12” or “3rd 12.” That means either 1-12, 13-24 or 25-36. And it pays out at 2-1 odds.
* Column Bet — Here you’re betting on anything that falls within an entire column of numbers on the layout, as the chips go right at the bottom of the column itself. There are three different columns to choose from. It’s a 2-1 payout.
One thing that is very important to remember about these proposition bets is that if the number comes up zero (0) or double zero (00), as would be the case with live American Roulette, the wager automatically loses.
Keeping up with the numbers
You may have witnessed on occasion when going into a casino, that the more enthusiastic people at the roulette table are keeping very close track of which numbers are coming up. And that is not cheating in the least; in fact, the casino will provide you with a pencil and paper in order to help you track the numbers.
If you are one of these people, you will be happy to know that when you play live American roulette or live European Roulette, all of that “work” is done for you. First of all, in the interface, you will get to see the wheel spinning up close within the screen. Everything is happening in real time, so you are well aware of what the results are.
And those results are posted so that you can see them – at least the recent ones. You’ll see the numbers that have come out on the wheel, along with where they fit in among the propositions everyone can bet on, whether they are the Red or Black; first, second or third dozen, High or Low. If you have a theory or a “system,” you’ll have some data right at your disposal.
The keys to getting the most out of roulette may be bankroll management. If you are looking for the “big score,” you’ll probably gravitate more toward the individual number bets (the “straight” bets). If you prefer to keep yourself alive for a while, then the “outside” bets, which are even money propositions (or perhaps a little less) might be your way to go.
Either way, live American roulette or live European roulette is not a bad place for you to be.