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Roulette Wheels

There are two types of roulette wheels, the French and the American. The French wheel is the original roulette wheel that is used in casinos throughout Europe, so it is often referred to as the European wheel. The difference between the European and the American roulette wheels is the inclusion of the “00” space on the American wheel.

The European version has 36 numbers plus a “0” space, making 37 total numbered slots on the wheel, while the American version has both the “0” and the “00,” so there are 38 slots. Bets are paid based on odds that only consider the 36 numbers and not the extra spaces; therefore, the “0” and the “00” create the house advantage. Having said that, you may have realized that the house has a greater advantage when the American roulette wheel is being used.

Players of American roulette have a house edge of 5.26% on every bet except one, which yields a 7.89% house edge. European players must only face a 2.7% edge, which is lowered to 1.4% on even-money bets, which is defined by the rule “en prison.” This rule will apply when the roulette wheel lands on zero and permits players to choose between taking half their bets back or leaving their bets on the table, or “en prison” (in prison), for the following spin. With a 1.4% house advantage, roulette is a winnable game, but a 5.26% house advantage becomes very difficult for a player to beat, and frankly, turns a lot of casino players off.

You can find a few European roulette wheels used in casinos throughout the US, but these are mainly only located in high-limit areas. The minimum bet requirements are typically very high, though. 

Despite the higher house advantage, though, American casino gamblers do play roulette. Some find it relaxing and enjoy the entertainment value of the game. The dealer (referred to as croupiers in French), generally allows players plenty of time to pick between the dozens of possible wagering options, so it’s can be a very amusing game to play just for the fun of it. And the hope of winning is exciting, much like the feeling you get when you’ve bought a lottery ticket and the numbers are being drawn live on TV as you check your ticket.

Compared to other casino games, the pace of roulette is somewhat slower. If you were a craps player, you’d be able to participate in roughly 100 rolls per hour. Blackjack yields around 60 hands per hour. But roulette only allows for about 45 spins per hour. So there are fewer decisions to be made per hours, which means a roulette player who wagers $5 per spin, can expect a loss of a little higher per hour than the average blackjack player who doesn’t know basic blackjack strategy.

An American wheel has 38 numbered slots. Each slot is colored with red or black, alternating, and corresponding with the numbers that are printed on the roulette table betting layout. In land-based casinos, a small, hard ball is used. This ball was once made out of ivory, but today, it is typically made of plastic. The dealer must state that no more bets will be allowed before spinning the wheel in one direction. At the same time, the ball is spun in the opposite direction along a recessed track that lies on the bowl that holds the roulette wheel. As the ball slows down, it falls off the track inward toward the wheel, bouncing around on the wheel until it finally stops and settles in the winning numbered slot.

Most online casinos offer European roulette, as well as American roulette.

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