If you’re interested in playing roulette, whether at the roulette table in a land based casino or at an online casino, you’ll likely be faced with the choice of either an American or a European roulette wheel. It is important to understand the difference between these two roulette wheels and how they affect the odds of the game.
Understanding the different odds
This is where we will get into the math of roulette a bit. As we all know the odds of casino games are weighted in the casino’s favour, after all, this is how the casino makes a profit. But what are the odds of these 2 roulette wheels?
A European roulette wheel has 36 numbers that you can bet on at any time, and the game’s payout reflects this. At the very basic level, if you bet on any single number, your odds will be 36 to 1. If you bet on 2 numbers, your odds will be 18 to 1, three numbers will be 12 to 1, four numbers 9 to 1, and so on.
This is where it gets more complex. Roulette wheels don’t only have 36 cells where the ball can fall. Depending on which version of roulette you’ll be playing, there will either be 37 cells on the wheel (European roulette) or 38 cells on the wheel (American, or double zero roulette).
Calculating the house edge
If you take these factors into consideration, you’ll see that in the case of European roulette, with every spin you’re only getting equity from 36 out of 37 possible options; meaning that theoretically you’ll only get 97.3% back for each bet you wager and win. This makes the house edge 2.7%.
In American roulette, the odds are slightly more in the casino’s favour. With two zeros on the wheel, the casino has the higher edge, and you’ll only get 94.73% payout for every won bet on a single number, bumping the house edge up to 5.27%. This higher house edge of couse means bigger losses if your number doesn’t come up.
For many players this makes European roulette the version of choice, as the losses are slightly lower than in American roulette.
The numbers on roulette wheels are not simply placed at random, but have a specific order. The American roulette wheel has the numbers 1 to 36 plus a 0 and 00. The numbers are purposely placed in a non-sequential order. This was originally done to avoid cheating on some early roulette wheels (early wheels often had a bias to one side of the wheel). These days, the order of the numbers on the American roulette wheel aren’t done to prevent cheating as the wheels no longer have a bias. Also, in online roulette the wheel is spun using an RGN system which is completely random.
The order of the numbers on an American roulette wheel going clockwise are as follows:
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
On a European roulette wheel the numbers are also in a seemingly random sequence, but is different from the American roulette wheel.
The sequence of numbers on the European Roulette wheel are as follows:
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
The number sequence on a European roulette table have more significance, as the table layout has an extra section that is not found on an American roulette table. This section on a European roulette table allows the player to place a number of extra bets, which are:
Neighbor Bets: A number may be backed along with the 2 numbers on the either side of it in a 5 piece bet. For example, “0 and the Neighbors” is a 5 piece bet with 1 piece straight-up on 3, 26, 0, 32 and 15. Neighbors bets are often put on in combinations, for example “1, 9, 14 and the neighbors” is a 15 piece bet covering 18, 22, 33, 16 with 1 piece; 9, 31, 20, 1 with 2 pieces and 14 with 3 pieces.
Any of the above bets may be combined, e.g. “Orphelins by 1 and Zero and the Neighbors by 1.” The “…and the Neighbors.” is often assumed by the croupier.
Voisins du Zero: This is a name, more accurately Grand Voisins du Zéro, for the seventeen numbers which lie between 22 and 25 on the wheel including 22 and 25 themselves. The series is 22,18,29,7,28,12,35,3,26,0,32,
9 chips or multiples thereof are bet. 2 chips are placed on the 0,2,3 trio; 1 on the 4/7 split; 1 on 12/15; 1 on 18/21; 1 on 19/22; 2 on 25/26/28/29 corner; and 1 on 32/35.
Jeu zero: Zero game, also known as zero spiel (spiel is German for game or play), is the name for the numbers closest to zero. All numbers in the zero game are included in the big series, but are placed differently. The numbers are as follows: 12, 35, 3, 26, 0, 32, 15.
The bet consists of 4 chips or multiples thereof. 1 chip on 0/3 split, 1 on 12-15 split, 1 on 26 straight up and 1 on 32-35 split. Popular bet in Germany and many European casinos. This bet is also offered as a 5 piece bet in many Eastern European casinos. As a 5 piece bet it is known as zero spiel naca and includes, in addition to the chips placed as noted above, a straight-up on number 19.
Tiers du Cylinre: This is the name for the twelve numbers which lie on the opposite side of the wheel between 27 and 33 including 27 and 33 themselves. The series is 27,13,36,11,30,8,23,10,5,24,
6 chips or multiples thereof are bet. 1 chip is placed on each of the following splits: 5/8; 10/11; 13/16; 23/24; 27/30; 33/36.
The Tiers bet is also called the “Small Series” and in some casinos (most notably in South Africa) “Series 5/8” It includes the following wagers which are all splits
5/8, 10/11, 13/16, 23/24, 27/30, 33/36
A variant known as “Tier 5,8,10,11” has an additional chip placed straight up on 5, 8, 10 and 11; and so is a 10-piece bet. In some places the variant is called “giocco/ Giocco Ferrari” with a straight up on 8, 11, 23 and 30; the bet is marked with a red G-button on the racetrack.
Orphans: These numbers make up the two slices of the wheel outside the Tiers and Voisins. They contain a total of eight numbers, comprising 17,34,6 and 1,20,14,31,9.
5 chips or multiples thereof are bet. 1 chip is placed straight-up on 1 and 1 chip on each of the splits: 6/9; 14/17; 17/20 and 31/34.
All of the above European roulette bets still pay out the same odds as any other bet in roulette. Making one of these bets is simply a way of placing a series of bets on a specific section of the wheel without having to do all of them individually.
Which wheel is best?
Deciding which wheel is best depends a lot on your gambling strategy, the level of risk you’re comfortable with and what you want out of the game. Many people prefer European roulette simply based on the slightly better odds and also the fact that there are some more betting options as explained above.