The Difference Between French Roulette And American Roulette

A top-down shot of a French Roulette wheel.

Casino gambling was not always as widespread as it is today. For hundreds of years many of these games were hard to come by or didn’t even exist at all. Many of them changed over time, morphing and adapting with new rules or growing into completely new games on their own. Even at the beginning of 20th century the best-known casino venues were Monte Carlo in Europe and Las Vegas in the USA. It was only from the 1970s onward that casino gambling became more popular and accessible as it spread around the world.

Another big leap forward in the widespread adoption of casino gambling would be the arrival of global internet connectivity. When the first online casino appeared in 1996, internet gambling entered a whole new world of possibilities. One casino game to ride this new wave of popularity was of course Roulette. The game had been around for hundreds of years but now had the opportunity to shine on a brand-new digital stage on betting sites just like JackpotCity online casino.

The origins of Roulette

It’s believed that the Roulette wheel was first invented by a French inventor named Blaise Pascal in the 17th century. The funny thing is that Pascal wasn’t actually trying to create one of the most popular casino games ever, but was instead trying to create a perpetual motion machine. Though Pascal did fail at his task, he soon adapted his Roulette wheel mechanism into a game and introduced it into French gambling houses of the time. The name Roulette literally translates to “little wheel”.

Roulette and online casinos

Just as with any emerging technology, online casinos changed the way people were able to enjoy roulette and other games. Internet gambling now allowed players to play on demand at any time. This also meant that players no longer needed to travel to venues to play. This also meant they didn’t have to comply with opening hours or dress codes and could instead play whenever and wherever they wanted. Online play also introduced some modern Roulette variants like Multiball Roulette, Pinball Roulette, and Multi Wheel Roulette, all of which mixed up aspects of the traditional game.

Probably the most advanced innovation in the world of online Roulette has been the introduction of live dealer play with VR technology. Playing in VR allows one of the most popular and glamorous of casino games to be enjoyed in virtual surroundings, mimicking the elegance of the game’s illustrious origins in land-based casinos.

The American and French Roulette Variants

As with any game that’s existed for hundreds of years, there exists today several variants of Roulette, each with its own set of rules and strategies. Two of the main variants of Roulette still played today include French Roulette and American Roulette.

Each of these variants of Roulette has a lot in common, at least on the surface, but there are also some important differences between them that players should keep in mind. These differences have had a significant impact on how each version of Roulette has evolved over time. Understanding the differences between how the rules of French and American Roulette can influence games is important for anyone interested in learning more about how to progress as a player.

A dealer laying out casino chips on a Roulette table.

The basics of Roulette

Before diving into the differences between the Roulette variants, it’s important to have a quick refresher on how to play Roulette. The basic premise behind Roulette is simple. Each round of Roulette consists of players placing bets on where they think a tiny ball will end up after being placed into a spinning Roulette wheel.

Each game is played between up to 8 players and is attended by a dealer who controls the game. The dealer spins the wheel once enough bets have been placed and then spins the ball into the wheel in the opposite direction. As the wheel slows the dealer will signal the players not to place any more bets. The ball eventually comes to rest in one of the wheel’s numerous numbered “pockets” once the wheel stops spinning. The players that guessed correctly are paid out based on the amounts they bet.

Determining how Roulette pays out comes down to the type of bet placed. There are numerous ways to bet in Roulette, ranging from single numbers, to dozens, columns, rows, inside bets, outside bets, etc.

The French roulette wheel

The French Roulette wheel is laid out with numbers ranging from 1-36 and includes one single zero pocket. Running clockwise, the numbers run around the wheel in the following sequence:

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

From just looking at the wheel it can be hard to gain any sense of pattern from the layout, but there is method to the madness.

On closer inspection, some features of the layout become apparent:

This order of the numbers in Roulette is therefore not random, but is rather carefully devised to add balance and structure to the game.

The American roulette wheel

The American roulette wheel also features numbers ranging from 1-36, but also includes both a single zero and a double zero pocket. The numbers are also displayed on the wheel in a slightly different pattern. Going around the wheel clockwise, the numbers are:

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

While this may just seem like a random assortment of numbers, a closer look reveals that this alternative sequence has less visual balance with greater chance for high and low numbers, as well as odd and even numbers, appearing beside each other.

Casino chips laid out besides a Roulette wheel.

The Roulette table layout

While these two versions of Roulette have different layouts for the wheels, the layout of the table is more or less exactly the same. The only real differences that do exist have to do with the language of the bet names, being that they are obviously in French for the French version of the game and English for the American version. This has no impact on the outcome of the game and is purely an aesthetic difference.

How wheel layouts impact play

The French Roulette wheel has 37 pockets: this includes the numbers 1-36, plus the one zero pocket. The American Roulette wheel however is numbered 1-36 and includes two further pockets – the single zero plus the double zero pocket. That means that French Roulette sports a house edge of just 2.7%, while American Roulette comes in a much larger 5.26% house edge.

In terms of an RTP (return-to-player) average, the French roulette wheel offers players the likelihood of winning back 97.3% of their total bets. An American Roulette wheel brings a player’s RTP average to only 94.74%. This significant disadvantage in American Roulette might persuade many players to opt for French Roulette over American Roulette when offered choice between the two versions.

A close-up of the single zero on an American Roulette wheel.

The Roulette zero

One final major difference in French Roulette is the effect the zero number has when it comes up on the wheel. In some casinos, all bets are declared ‘en prison’ (i.e. frozen). When this happens the outcome of the bet may be decided by the next spin. Other casinos instead employ ‘le partage’ in which players keep half their frozen bet, while the casino keeps the other half.

Why play American Roulette?

You might be wondering why a player might want to play American Roulette at all. For some players the decision to do so might come down to familiarity. This is most likely true among American players who have had most of their Roulette experience playing this version of the game. Some casinos may also offer lower betting minimums because of the increased house odds, which some players might prefer. Despite the difference in odds, American Roulette is just as fair and random as French Roulette. This is also true of online Roulette where the outcome of the game is decided by a random number generator that keeps every spin 100% fair.

Taking a spin online

As Roulette has continued to evolve over it’s long life, it only makes sense that the next frontier for the game would be a digital one. But with the ability to play Roulette whenever and wherever you want, it’s important that players remember to practice responsible gaming practices. This is why JackpotCity provides every player with the resources for responsible gaming which they need to get the most out of their gaming experience. Looking out for every one of our players is what has made JackpotCity the incredible online casino Canada knows and trusts.

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