American roulette can prove frustrating for those unaccustomed to losing. However, if you’re searching for a game with true international flair, roulette is one of the best bets around. First played in Paris in 1796, it has migrated across the globe and left a loyal following in its wake thanks to its fusion of popular games from Italy, France, and England. Today, casino roulette can be found in every corner of the planet, and the rise of online gaming makes it available to those in even the most remote regions.
Over the centuries, the evolution of the game has led to numerous rule changes, and only two significant versions can now be found: American roulette and European roulette. The emphasis of this article is on the former, although both will be included in the discussion.
Differences between American and European Roulette
When it comes to popularity among the gaming community, American roulette can’t hold a candle to its European counterpart. While some might attribute this to the difference between old world elegance and new world glitz, the disparity in popularity can be summed up in one word: mathematics.
Mathematical formulas don’t lie, and the equations used to calculate the house edge reveal a distinct difference between the two games. In the European version, the casino has a 2.70% edge over the player. American roulette, however, gives the house a 5.26% advantage. When extrapolated over hundreds or thousands of spins, this 2.56% difference has a staggering impact on the success rate of the player.
The house edge is determined by the number of pockets on the roulette wheel, and the American version has 38 versus the traditional 37 on the European wheel. Both versions contain a pocket marked “0,” but the American-style game also has a “00” pocket that further stacks the odds against the player.
It’s interesting to note that all roulette games originally had a “00” pocket, but a pair of enterprising Frenchman developed the single-zero wheel in 1843 in an effort to compete with rival casinos. It certainly worked, as their take on the game is the preferred option in nations ranging from China to Australia (with the exceptions being the United States, Canada, the Caribbean, and South America).
Another difference between American and European roulette is the presence of the “top line” bet, which is a wager that the ball will land in the 0, 00, 1, 2, or 3 pockets. The odds against winning this bet are 6.6 to 1, which makes it one of the worst bets at the table. This is still preferable to the “basket” wager, however, which only wins if the ball lands in one of the following groups chosen by the player: 0, 1, 2; 00, 2, 3; or 0, 00, 2. The odds against winning this wager are 11.667 to 1, although none of these will be a temptation (or an option) for punters when playing at a single-zero table.
American roulette is more profitable for the casino, which is why Las Vegas is so keen to make it the game of choice. And while still one of the iconic games in European casinos; roulette in the United States has fallen behind most other table games in terms of popularity.
One final difference is the layout of the table. If you play in Monte Carlo, you’re likely to encounter traditional French tables with the roulette wheel in the centre. In the rest of the world, however, the standard table features the wheel at one end.
Where to Find Single Zero Tables in Australia and America
If you’d like to take a break from double-zero roulette, you can still find the single-zero versions in casinos around the globe. In this section, we’ll look at the best locations in Australia and the United States.
Finding European roulette in the land of Oz is easy, as tables without double-zero pockets are standard. This shouldn’t be surprising when you consider that Australia has had a long affiliation with Britain, and this is one of many contributions made by the European nation. Whether you’re playing in the heart of Sydney or a more provincial locale, you should expect to see very little of the troublesome double-zero tables.
The exact opposite is true in the United States, which is why the double-zero game is known as American roulette. Casinos up and down the Las Vegas strip offer the version with the more demanding house edge, which is why players tend to gravitate towards slots, blackjack, and other options with more reasonable chances of winning.
There’s always an exception, however, and the best example can be found in the coastal resort of Atlantic City, New Jersey. One of the other gaming meccas in the U.S, Atlantic City, prides itself on offering better odds than their competition in Nevada. This has led them to install at least one single-zero table in each casino, as well as the introduction of the “surrender rule.” This rule variation allows players to retain half their wager when an even-money bet loses because the ball landed on zero or double-zero. It might not seem like much, but it causes the house edge to drop from 5.26% to 2.63%.
Can You Beat American Roulette?
Some players are convinced that they can beat roulette by using the right system or style of play. Let me be clear: roulette is a negative expectation game, which means that the odds are always in favour of the casino. Even if you enjoy tremendous success over a period of time, the odds will always catch up with you. Remember: mathematical formulas don’t lie.
Of course, that doesn’t stop people from trying, and the Internet is loaded with websites schilling the latest strategy or system. The most popular method of “beating” roulette is known as the Martingale, although hardcore players have likely experimented with the D’Alembert and Labouchere systems.
Martingale and Single-Zero Roulette
By using this popular betting system, some players believe they can ensure long-term success just by varying their wagers in a certain way. The Martingale, and endless variations of it, teaches the player to begin their gaming session by placing the table minimum bet on an even-money spot (such as even/odd or black/red). If the result is a loss, the previous wager is doubled in order to catch up. When you win, the profits are set aside and the strategy begins anew.
If a player possessed infinite wealth, this strategy might work. However, even billionaires have a finite amount of funds to play with. The second drawback is the table maximums imposed by the casino. Thanks to these limitations, it soon becomes impossible to keep doubling your bets following a series of losses.
Even if you talk to a trusted friend who swears by the Martingale, keep in mind that any system can seem successful when utilized for a short time. Over the long haul, however, it will prove ineffective and unwise like all the rest.
If you decide to play American roulette, you must either (a) be a glutton for punishment or (b) live across the street from a casino with double-zero tables and free alcohol. In either case, you should expect to walk away with your pockets lighter, as this version of the game offers odds that are far worse than its European counterpart. Unless you live right next to a French or Australian casino, your best bet is to play roulette online. These casinos almost always feature the single-zero version of the game, and you have the added convenience of being able to play in your underwear (without being asked to leave).