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What’s the difference between American and European roulette?

| 07.04.2016

Well, go on, how much do you know about the ‘devil’s game?’

Were you even aware that it’s called the ‘devil’s game?’ Ever wonder how it got that nickname?

Well, it’s because all the numbers add up to 666. See, you learn something new every day – that’s the Coral treatment. We’re always here to help out our players. We care about our players.

Gambling is a pretty tricky affair at first and a lot of people find Vegas or Atlantic City rather confusing. With all the flashing lights and blinking action, casinos like the Bellagio and Caesar’s can be awfully daunting. Anyway, one of the main stumbling points is always roulette, and that’s what we’re here to talk about today.

‘What’s the difference, Ash?’ I’m constantly asked by aspiring casino players – ‘How can you tell the difference between American and European roulette?’ ‘Does it even matter?’ (Hint. Yes it does)

Well, my roulette loving friends, I’ve spent some time playing both kinds of roulette, and I can tell you with confidence that there’s hardly any difference between the two. Anyway, read on and I’ll fill you in on all the details!

It’s all about the house edge…

So yeah, the main difference is the house edge. If you don’t know what house edge is then let me fill you in. Or, rather, another expert will fill you in.

“The house edge is defined as the ratio of the average loss to the initial bet. The house edge is not the ratio of money lost to total money wagered. In some games the beginning wager is not necessarily the ending wager. For example in blackjack, let it ride, and Caribbean stud poker, the player may increase their bet when the odds favor doing so. In these cases the additional money wagered is not figured into the denominator for the purpose of determining the house edge, thus increasing the measure of risk.”

I’ll be honest, that’s even confusing me. Let me explain it to you in a much more simple and digestible way:

The lower the house edge, or ‘ratio’, the more chance you have winning. If the house has a 10% edge over the punter, it has a 10% advantage. Once you think of it that way, you’ll quickly realise that a lower house edge is beneficial.

How is house edge generated in roulette?

That’s a fantastic question and very relevant to the whole article. House edge in roulette is created through the green 0s on the wheel.

Basically, the odds are 50:50 between picking red and black – essentially the same as flipping a coin. That gives the house literally no chance of recouping any money, and as such is a game of chance for both punter and the casino. That’s why the green 0 was introduced, to tip the odds in the house’s favour. Since there are now three options – red, black and green – the third colour, even though it has little chance of occurring – will eventually occur and the majority of the bets on the table will be claimed by the house.

Let’s look at the basic layout of European and American tables:


There’s not much difference between the two, right? They look practically identical. Well, there is one difference and if you’ve spotted it you’re well on your way to becoming a roulette master.

American roulette has two greens – GASP!

That handy little chart above also goes into detail about the house edge – which I told you about before – and the average payout per $100, which you might have worked out, is $100 minus the house edge. You’ll be beating Carol Vorderman at her own game!

But it’s not just the house edge that’s important…

No, of course not, there’s a whole load of other reasons why the two games are different. I mean, for example, did you know you could bet in different ways across the Atlantic? Well, you can, and they’re called call bets.

Call bets are bets made with credit, as opposed to real cash. A player will declare their bet to the croupier who will mark their selection. If their bets are paid out then you are awarded with your winnings. If you lose, then you owe the house! Over in the UK, this is illegal.

En prison can only be played in European casinos and is essentially a second chance. After a bet is declared as a loss, the stake is place in prison. If the bet wins on the next spin, then you will receive your stake back. Whether the stake is returned to the player or remains in play for a third spin is at the discretion of the casino. You can’t play this bet in America though, hence the reason why it’s retained the French name. Maybe.

So, yeah, that’s pretty much everything you need to know when it comes to European and American roulette. Now you know the difference you should easily be able hit the roulette tables with confidence! Good luck at the casino.



Ashley Hughes