How European Roulette Differs from American Roulette

Roulette Wheel

If you’ve ever walked into a casino and seen those hypnotic roulette wheels spinning, you may have noticed some differences between the tables. That’s because there are two main variants – European roulette and American roulette. While they may seem similar at first glance, there are some important distinctions that savvy players should understand.

Lower House Edge in European Roulette

One of the biggest advantages European roulette has over its American counterpart is a significantly lower house edge. The house edge refers to the casino’s built-in mathematical advantage over players.

In European roulette, the wheel contains 37 pockets – 18 black, 18 red, and a single green 0 pocket. This results in a house edge of just 2.7%.

American roulette wheels, on the other hand, have an extra green 00 pocket for a total of 38 pockets. This double zero increases the house edge to a considerably higher 5.26%.

A Simplified Wheel Layout

Beyond the difference in house edges, there is also a subtle distinction in how the wheel layouts are designed.

On European roulette wheels, the numbers are arranged more simply in the following order:

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

In contrast, American wheels use a more complex layout designed to increase the randomness of spins by putting higher and lower numbers next to each other. For example:

0, 28, 9, 26, 30, 11, 7, 20, 32, 17, 35, 3, 24, 36, 13, 1, 00, 27, 10, 25, 29, 12, 8, 19, 31, 18, 6, 21, 33, 16, 4, 23, 35, 14, 2, 0, 28…

Different Betting Layouts

The betting layouts on European and American tables also have a few variations.

A key difference is that European layouts do not feature a 00 betting box since that extra pocket does not exist on those wheels. Additionally, the betting boxes are arranged in a more straightforward semicircular pattern compared to the distinct cross formation used on American layouts.

Subtle Rules Differences

There are a couple of minor rules differences as well:

  • If the ball lands in the 0 pocket in European roulette, players making even money bets (red/black, high/low, odd/even) get half their bet returned. In American roulette, all even money bets lose on 0 and 00.
  • Some European wheels use the “en prison” rule where even money bets are imprisoned instead of lost if 0 comes up. Those bets remain for the next spin.

While these gameplay nuances may seem small, they can add up over time for serious roulette players.

Skill vs Entertainment Factor

Because European roulette has a lower house edge, some consider it more of a game of skill where proper betting techniques can overcome that slim 2.7% advantage.

American roulette, with its higher 5.26% house edge, is often seen more as a pure game of chance suited for entertainment and thrills rather than skilled play.

But at the end of the day, both are incredibly fun games to enjoy at online or land-based casinos. Players simply need to be aware of these distinctions and manage their bankrolls accordingly.

The next time you sit down at the roulette tables, you’ll be able to easily spot whether it’s the classic European version or its flashier American cousin you’re playing. With this knowledge in hand, you can fully embrace the unique experience each offers.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

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