Roulette Types and Variations


Easy to understand and fun to play, roulette was born in France during the second half of the 18th century. The game’s namesake comes from the French term for “small wheel,” and was aptly chosen to reflect the main decision-making force behind the game: the roulette wheel. The game came of age in Paris circa 1765, and has since experienced numerous cultural evolutions.

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Roulette’s Origins

Popular legend holds that the Catholic philosopher and mathematician Blaise Pascal invented the game in his quest to create a perpetual motion machine. Instead, the young numbers enthusiast developed the roulette wheel, putting into motion one of the most popular gaming traditions in post-revolutionary France.

Although Pascal’s story remains the most popular among gaming historians, others credit French entrepreneur and casino owner Francois Blanc with popularizing roulette for the masses. Among his other pursuits, Blanc was known for owning the Monte Carlo Casino in Monaco – one of the most fashionable locales on the French Riviera.

Still, other speculators maintain that a game similar to roulette actually came of age in China before being brought to France in the late 18th century. These historians claim that the nuances of roulette were actually introduced to French culture by a group of Dominican monks who had been trading with Chinese merchants.

Roulette Basics and Variations

However it came into the world, roulette quickly took hold in 19th century French culture. As the game grew in popularity, new forms of gameplay were born in the United States and other countries.

Roulette, by its very essence, is a game of chance: Before the wheel is spun and the ball set into motion, players bet that a certain number, color or even/odd specification will be landed upon. There are no strategies or techniques that can increase a player’s odds of winning, aside from knowing the small differences in odds between roulette’s main variations. These differences in odds stem from the two physical variations of the roulette wheel: The American and European versions.

As you get started playing roulette, it’s important to understand how these cultural and physical differences will have an effect on your odds of winning. Today, there are a few popular versions of roulette you should understand before trying your luck:

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American roulette wheel.

American Roulette

American roulette’s prime difference from its European counterpart lies in the design of the roulette wheel. The American roulette wheel has a 00 pocket in addition to a 0 pocket, which has the effect of increasing the house’s advantage as there are simply more spots on the wheel from which the player must choose. When playing American roulette, the odds of winning are 1 to 38.

In addition to the 00 spot, the American roulette wheel differs from a European wheel in that its numbers are placed in logical and sequential order. While European roulette wheels assign number placements at random, American wheels position sequential numbers opposite from one another: For example, 9 is placed across the wheel from 10. Click here to learn more about American Roulette.

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European roulette wheel.

European Roulette

As roulette originated in France, the European version of the game is arguably the most authentic version one can play. The numbers on the European roulette wheel range from 0 to 36 (excluding the 00 found on American wheels), so players have a slightly higher advantage playing European roulette than they do when playing the American variety: When playing European roulette, the odds of winning are 1 to 37.

Furthermore, while the odds of winning increase when playing European roulette, the stakes decrease significantly. The house edge in European roulette amounts to 2.7 percent (in the American variety, the figure is 5.27 percent). This results in smaller losses should you lose while playing European roulette.

There are also cultural, non-numerical differences between American and European roulette. More formalities and gaming options in the European version of the game. In European roulette, players have the option to pay the croupier (traditionally, the person who spins the roulette wheel) to start the ball from a particular spot on the wheel. Additionally, culturally ingrained formalities are acceptable in European roulette, such as the “la partage” rule. This rule states that after a spin of 0, a player is allowed to leave his or her bet “in prison” – that is, on the same spot on which he or she had originally betted before spinning a 0 – in an attempt to try to recover the loss. Click here to learn more about European Roulette.

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Casino Roulette

Casinos in Las Vegas primarily offer American roulette, though some establishments have begun introducing European wheels due to growing demand. When searching for a European-style roulette game in Las Vegas, seek out casinos offering “single-zero roulette.” If a player knows the differences in odds between American and European roulette wheels, he or she should be able to navigate both game variations with relative success. Click here to learn more about casino roulette gameplay.

Rapid Roulette

Rapid roulette – a version of the game which typically combines the benefits of a live dealer with touch-screen betting prompts – has gained popularity in casinos in recent years. Because of the amount of time saved with virtual betting, participants can place up to 65 bets per hour. Many players find this option attractive because at first glance, it appears that there are more opportunities to win. However, a player’s odds of winning are actually the same each time he or she plays, regardless of how many times a bet is individually cast. Click here to learn more about rapid roulette.