Roulette wheels are a staple of the casino environment wherever you are in the world, but did you know that there is a fundamental and important difference between roulette wheels found in Europe and those in North America?
The difference between the two types of roulette wheel, is that American roulette features an extra pocket on the wheel and therefore an extra space on the layout (the green baize where chips are placed), which is green and numbered 00. This means that the numbers on the wheel are laid out in a different order, but that is a purely cosmetic change. The real difference between the two types of roulette wheel, is a change to the casino’s guaranteed edge (a.k.a house advantage or house edge).
The 00 (double zero) pocket increases the casino’s guaranteed edge by a significant amount, almost double in fact, as it gives players an extra opportunity to lose. Exactly how big an increase in house edge this results in, can be calculated as follows.
European Roulette (37 pockets on the roulette wheel): The true odds of a single number coming up are 1 In 37 (36/1). In other words, if you played 37 times, you would expect to win once. The payout for achieving the feat is 35/1 (your stake back, with 35 times as much on top). This is a difference of 1 unit, so if you played 37 spins at £1 each, you would expect to have lost £1 (36 losing spins cost you £36, 1 winning spin earned you £35 profit). If you divide the difference by 37 (the number of pockets on the roulette wheel) and multiply by 100, you get the house edge, expressed as a percentage.
So, the house edge for European Roulette is: (36-35)/37 * 100 = 2.70%
The same calculation for American Roulette (38 pockets on the wheel): As above, but due to the extra chance to lose, there is a difference of 2 units – playing 38 times at £1 a spin, you would expect to win once (receiving £35 profit) and lose 37 times, costing you £37 – a difference of £2.
So, the house edge for American Roulette: (37-35)/38 * 100 = 5.26%
As you can see, by adding one extra pocket to the wheel, the casino’s advantage is almost doubled. This makes American roulette a poor value game when compared to European roulette, so if you have the choice, play on the European wheels! Most online casinos offer both, so if you are playing from home, there is no simply no excuse for choosing an American roulette wheel.
Good luck at the roulette tables!