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Understanding… different roulette variations

Roulette is one of the most popular casino games in the UK. With the opportunity to win 35 times the initial stake in a single spin, it’s understandably tempting for high rollers and average punters alike. Despite the rather confusing looking markings on the table, roulette is a relatively simple game to play but like many casino games though, there are different variations to be found around the world. These are the two main types found in casinos today…

French roulette

Roulette is thought to have originated in Paris in the late 18th century and from this variation comes the game we know today.  

French roulette is a grand old game. It takes place on a wide table (known as the layout) and is dealt by a team of three dealers: two dealers and an inspector, called the chef de table. The dealers are usually seated and move the chips around the table using a long stick, called a rake. Regardless of where you are playing, French roulette is dealt in the French language. It also has a number of specialty bets, which cover particular sections of the wheel.

French roulette, while still having a house edge, generally offers more favourable odds than more modern variations. Although the rules can vary from casino to casino, there are often rules that mean all chips staked on even money bets (red/black, odd/even etc.) are not automatically lost when the ball lands on zero. Under La Partage rules, half of the stake is returned, while the En Prison version offers the same odds in a different way. When ‘in prison’ chips are locked in place for another spin. If the spin is won, the original stake is returned. If the spin is lost again, the player won’t be seeing them again!

American roulette

If you play roulette in a British or American casino, the chances are that it is a variant of ‘American’ roulette. This is a simplified version of French roulette and is dealt by a single croupier on a smaller table, which is about half the width of a French roulette table. This is important for the casino, as having a single dealer makes the game more profitable for them. In a real casino, the table will be one of several being overseen by a pit boss, while cameras record all actions and will be checked in case of a dispute. In recent years, automatic chip sorting machines have come in to help speed up the game further and make it more profitable, with more spins per hour.

There are two main types of American Roulette. In Europe the wheel generally has 37 pockets, with a single green zero slot, but in the United States the norm is a wheel with 38 numbers – 1-36 in black and red and two green pockets, with 0 and 00.

The extra zero adds more profit to the casino and generally roulette is one of the least popular games in Las Vegas, as gamblers know that the house edge is significant. Although roulette gives players a chance to win big on a single spin, the maths are always in favour of the house and over the long run a player would have to be very, very lucky to come out of any roulette game with a profit.

While the double zero game is generally universally known as ‘American roulette’ the single zero variation is usually known as ‘English roulette’, except in Britain where it is known as ‘American roulette’ – just to make things slightly confusing!

House variations in American roulette

While any player with a basic grasp of the rules can play in any casino with confidence, most casinos will have subtle local variations. In many cases these will increase the house edge (especially on low stakes games) and these will always be available for inspection by any players wishing to read them.

Common variations on English roulette include:

La Partage: some casinos will follow the La Partage rule from French roulette. American roulette (double zero) does not use this rule and is another way in which the house edge is maximised. En Prison rules are not usually used on these games.

Racetrack: some table layouts feature an oval ‘racetrack’ betting layout. This allows players to place bets on ‘neighbours’ as well as the speciality bets from French roulette. The French terms for these bets: voisins, tiers and orphelins are not translated.

What we play at Red Fun Casinos

At Red Fun Casinos we use a standard English roulette layout and play with a full size single zero John Huxley wheel, as used in real life casinos. These tables accommodate between six and eight players, while we also have a ‘double winged’ set up which allows for twice as many players – ideal for charity fundraising events.

Did you know?

Add up all the numbers on a roulette wheel and they add up to 666. Roulette truly is the devil’s game!

Gamble responsibly: At Red Fun Casinos we only play for fun, not real money. If playing roulette for cash, only play with money you can afford to lose. Remember that the house has an edge and if it stops being fun you should stop playing. For advice you can visit: