You want the inside skinny on roulette? It’s all about the zero. Or in the case of American roulette, the double zero. And the zero, in the world of roulette, is the most important thing to understand.
The primary difference in the popularity of American roulette and European roulette lies in the simple fact that the European game gives the player much better odds of winning. This is where the 0, 00 difference of the two wheels comes into play.
There are slots numbered from 1 to 36 on the roulette wheel—a total of thirty-six numbers. There is only one way to win for each number chosen from that wheel. That leaves thirty-five losing numbers for the bettor. With thirty-five ways to lose and one way to win, the true odds are 35 to 1 against the player. And that’s exactly what the casino will pay on a single number bet.
So where is the casino’s profit?
It is the zeros added to the wheel that give casinos their edge. With the zeros there are a total of thirty-seven possibilities on a European wheel (single zero added) and thirty–eight possibilities on an American one (double zero added). The casino’s payoff is still 35 to 1, based on the true odds of a thirty-six number wheel. However, with the added zeros, the true odds on a single number bet are now 36 to 1 on a single zero wheel (the European game) and 37 to 1 on a double zero wheel (the American game).
Those zeros give the casino its edge on all bets made. The only way you can win when a 0 or 00 is spun, is if you make a bet directly on that zero or double zero slot. Otherwise, the roll of the zeros causes every other bet in roulette to lose.
The sole exceptions are the even-money bets in a European style game (and in Atlantic City), where the spin of a zero gives the red-black (rouge-noir), high-low (passe-manque) and odd-even (impair-pair) bettors a second chance, and reduces the house edge on these bets to 1.35% (2.63% in Atlantic City). These are the best odds you can receive in roulette.
The zeros represent the house advantage and that is why the 00 in American roulette makes that game a worse gamble for the player than its European counterpart. Atlantic City makes up for this a little by offering surrender on even-money bets, bringing the casino’s edge on these wagers down to 2.63%.
I’ll sum up the odds for you in chart form so that you can see them in one spot.
|CASINO EDGE IN ROULETTE|
|American Roulette||House Edge|
|The 5-Number Bet||7.89%|
|All Other Bets||5.26%|
|Atlantic City - Even Money Bets||2.63%|
|European Roulette (0)||House Edge|
|Even-Money Bets - En Prison Rule||1.35%|
|All Other Bets||2.70%|
The difference between the 1.35% of European style roulette and 5.26% of the American style is significant. The house edge in American roulette is almost four times that of the European game, which means you can expect to lose almost four times more in the double zero American games compared to single zero European ones for the same number of bets.
That’s a big difference, and why American roulette games tend to be so quiet—players soon figure out that their bankroll has a huge leak and move on to better games where they can win money. But if you find a single-zero roulette wheel, now you have a good game!
About the Writer
Avery Cardoza has written twenty-one books on beating the casino and is the world’s largest publisher of gaming and gambling titles (www.cardozabooks.com). Cardoza is also the owner of the legendary Gambler’s Book Club (www.gamblersbookclub.com), home to the world’s largest selection of gaming books. His novel, Lost in Las Vegas, is a critically acclaimed dark comedy about two hapless vacationers who find themselves hunted by the mob, FBI, six killers, and the Rat in a world where nothing is as it seems—and then things go downhill for them. “A fantastic read… The Vegas underbelly as if presented by the Coen brothers.”—Kevin Pollak