When it comes to games of chance, one of the most popular is the game of roulette. There are two main types of roulette – one is used in American and Canadian casinos, while the other is more prevalent in European ones. To the untrained eye, these two types of roulette may seem nearly identical, but the truth is that from the point of view of a player, American roulette and European roulette are markedly different.
How to Tell Them Apart
There’s one very easy way to determine if you’re looking at an American roulette wheel or a European one, and that’s by examining whether or not the wheel has a green pocket.
This pocket, which is only found on American wheels, is marked with a double zero – and the main mechanic behind adding this extra pocket is to actually increase the odds of the house winning on any roulette spin.
The Best Way to Improve Your Odds
Whether you’re betting on an American or a European roulette wheel, there are ways to maximize your odds of winning. One of the most popular strategies for doing so is to not bet on a particular number but on a color instead – both American and European roulette wheels are separated by either red or black pockets, and it’s always been a solid strategy to bet by color instead of by number. The question, though, has always been whether to choose one color over another.
A European roulette wheel will see a payout for a player a bit less of 50 percent of the time
When it comes down to it, the odds of winning on betting on either black or red are relatively high at roulette. A European roulette wheel will see a payout for a player a bit less of 50 percent of the time. There are 37 pockets on a roulette wheel.
The first 36 are delineated between red and black evenly, and therefore placing a bet on either red or black – or conversely, pocket numbers 1-18 or 19-36 or perhaps even numbers or odd numbers gives you around a 48.6 percent chance of winning.
The 37th pocket, a green pocket with a single zero, means that there’s no extra green double-zero pocket to reduce your chances of winning as there is on an American roulette wheel.
The Difference One Additional Green Pocket Makes
It may seem like there’s little to lose when it comes to betting on an American roulette wheel. There is, after all, just one additional pocket that you need to worry about. However, the inclusion of this additional pocket can and does reduce your chances of winning. While a European wheel will pay out on a bet of red or black 48.6 percent of the time, on an American wheel the chances of winning drop to just 47.4.
The drop of 1.2 percentage points seems small to the point of insignificance. However, in the world of gambling, every single percentage point makes a big difference. In essence, if you want to adopt an exclusive red/black betting strategy at roulette, using an American wheel leaves you at a statistical disadvantage. It’s a better choice to make red/black bets exclusively on a European wheel instead, as everything counts in small amounts.
The En Prison Rule
It’s well-established at this point that European roulette is generally more advantageous than its American counterpart, especially since there’s only one green pocket in European roulette while there are two in American roulette. With only one green pocket, the house advantage is much lower, which means it’s easier to win on “even money” red or black bets.
However, there’s one more difference with European roulette that makes it even better for players. It’s called the “en prison” rule, and it’s a rule that is only applicable to European roulette games. The rule is simple: if you make a red or black bet and the roulette wheel comes up zero, you have the possibility of earning back at least half of your bet. This version of en prison, which is known as “la partage,” is common in many European gambling houses.
A more complex version of en prison involves an opportunity to rescue the entirety of your bet instead of just reclaiming half. In these roulette games, if you make an even money bet and zero comes up, your bet will become “imprisoned.” Your chips are held over through the next bet you make, and if you win your bet on your next spin, you’ll be given back all of your bet in lieu of any winnings. If you lose this second bed, that first bet is gone for good.
Of course, this can get complicated if your second bet ends up landing on zero again. In some cases, this second zero is disregarded and your initial bet stays imprisoned. The fate of your initial bet stays up in the air until something besides a zero is rolled. However, some casinos will rule that if your second spin lands on zero, it counts as a loss.
As if this wasn’t enough, other casinos have a “double imprisonment” rule. If you roll a zero on your second spin, you don’t lose your bet but instead get a chance to redeem yourself – albeit your life just got harder. You’ll have to spin again and win to bring your original wager out of double imprisonment. Then you’ll have to spin one more time to see if you can get your bet back or not.
This is advantageous for the casino, as any loss during any of these spins will see your initial bet lost. In extreme examples, you might even be subjected to triple imprisonment if the casino has altered the en prison rules, but with spinning three zeros in a row being exceedingly rare, this is often a once-in-a-lifetime event.