If you are new to casino games or even a long-standing veteran, you may have noticed the many types of roulette available. Two of the most popular are American and French. Though they share many similarities, a few differences can drastically alter play.
Many casino games have a convoluted backstory, with similar games and confusing origins from various parts of the world. However, roulette is different because its origins can be traced back to France.
Although still slightly unclear, most accounts attribute it to Blaise Pascal, a French mathematician and physicist. Amongst work on fluid dynamics and vacuums, he was also obsessed with probability. It is believed his invention of the game roulette came from a desire to build a perpetual motion machine.
The first incarnation of the modern-day wheel appeared around the 19th century. Created by two French Brothers, Louis and Francois Blanc, it was first introduced in Germany as gambling was illegal in France at the time. Around this period, rumours abound that it was an ancient Chinese game brought to Europe by monks. There may have been some truth in this, or it may have been a clever marketing ploy.
As its popularity grew, Prince Charles III of Monte Carlo had been having financial problems. He decided to build the world-famous Casino de Monte Carlo to alleviate them. Roulette was one of the main attractions, introducing it to the wealthy elite of Europe, who would then spread it all over the world.
Roulette in the US first appeared in Louisiana, brought by Europeans in the 19th century. However, it did not take off as well as it had over the Atlantic. Many casino operators decided the odds were stacked too far in the player's favour. This is where the first variations of the game came into play.
Americans changed the number of 0 spaces on the roulette wheel. Instead of the single 0 you get in French Roulette, a 00 was also introduced. When a ball lands on this, all bets get lost, so you have more chance of losing on American wheels. It altered the house edge from around 2.7% to 5.3%.
At first, French Roulette was not popular in the US. American Roulette soon became the adopted form despite having a better house edge. It also changed how the ball spun around the wheel. This is still one of the fundamental differences between both versions. Of course, this also changed the table layout.
Now, 0 and 00 are present on an American table. French games are played on a European table, which only has one 0. Another thing you may note about the differences in games is the chips. In French roulette, all chips are the same colour, which can get confusing.
The French Roulette game uses a European roulette table layout. It differs from an American table because it only has one 0. It also differs for odd and even bets, as these are on opposite sides. In an American table, these are located down the board's right-hand side.
A European table will have the 0 in green at the head, closest to the wheel. The numbers descend from this in three columns, grouped into blocks of 12.
Two betting columns are to the left and right of the first block of numbers. You can bet on high numbers 1-18 (Manque) or low numbers 19-36 (Passe).
The next block of 12 numbers has more to either side. On the left, you can bet on even numbers (pair) and odd numbers to the right (Impair).
A final block of 12 numbers will have a red diamond to the left and a black diamond to the right. This allows you to bet on rouge or noir.
At the bottom of the table layout are empty spaces. You can use these to bet on the columns of numbers above. They have a D12, M12, and P12 to the left of them to let you bet on dozens.
As well as one less 0 section, a French wheel has a different configuration from an American one. Starting at 0, moving to the left, the French wheel will have 26 black, three red and continue. To the right, it will have 32 red, 15 black, then carry on.
This differs from an American roulette wheel. Here, the 0 and 00 are on opposite sides of the wheel. To the left of the 0 is a black two, and a black 28 is on the right. When you go to the 00, to the left is a red one, and a red 27 is on the right.
With this table and wheel, there are several bets you can choose to make. Below are the ones you should know before starting your game. They can be split into three categories: Inside, outside and call bets:
These are made in single, adjacent and small groups of numbers.
Use the sections at the side of the numbered layout to place outside bets. They group larger amounts of numbers:
Call bets also come under the name of French bets. They are more a way of placing a bet. Instead of placing the chips on the table, this bet lets you call out your desired bet. When this method is in play, it is common to find that the dealer places all the chips down as they get called.
It is often found in high-stakes brick-and-mortar casinos. You will also see it in action if a large crowd has gathered around a table. As it is not always possible to move to the desired position, bets get called instead.
Here are some examples of announced bets in French roulette:
Learn more about different roulette bets in our blog article!
Each bet comes with its payout and odds. They are depicted in the table below.
|French Roulette Odds and Payouts|
|Square or Corner||10.81%||8:1|
|Dozen or Column||32.4%||2:1|
En Prison and LaPartage are rules which only come into play when the ball lands on zero.
When this happens, the En Prison rule will keep your bet until the next round. Should the ball strike zero again, it will be lost, but hey, at least you got a free round!
If the ball drops to zero, Le Partage returns half your wager to you. The house edge is reduced to 1.3% when these two rules are combined.
A house edge is when these two rules are combined mathematical advantage the person running the roulette game, known as the house, has over the player. It comes as a percentage with each game, from French roulette to blackjack and slots, having its own house edge.
This percentage is the amount of a player's bet that a casino would keep over time. For example, if a game has a house edge of 5%, the casino would keep 5 cents as profit for every dollar bet and give the other 95 cents (95%) back as winnings to players.
French roulette has a much lower house edge than its American counterpart, as there are more red and black possibilities due to only having one 0. Where American roulette has a house edge of around 5.26%, French roulette sits at 2.7%.
French Roulette Live - This roulette game is perfect for playing with live dealers. With multiple unique call bets and a different table layout, you’re sure to enjoy every spin. Take advantage of “La Partage”, a rule that gives back half of the even-money bets when the ball lands on zero.
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The French roulette wheel is the same as in European roulette, so it does not provide additional benefits for the players. However, if compared to American roulette, both European and French roulette variants have a lower house edge and are preferable for the players.
The European wheel with 37 pockets for numbers 1-36 plus zero is used in French roulette. The American wheel contains an extra pocket for a double zero. This extra pocket raises the house edge in American roulette to 5.25%, compared to Europe's friendlier 2.7%.
Beyond the wheel, French roulette has two important rules: En Prison and La Partage, which push or return half your bet if the ball lands in the zero pocket.
French roulette uses the same layout wheel that European; however, it has the additional "En Prison" and "La Partage" rules that work if the ball lands on zero.
"Roulette" has a literal translation of ‘little wheel’.
Learn more about roulette in other guides: