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American Roulette vs European Roulette: Differences and Similarities

April 7, 2023

Fans of the game of roulette will surely be aware of the two most important and famous variants of this game: French roulette (otherwise known as European) and American roulette.

This game, often viewed as a founding pillar of casinos, and which still constitutes an essential component of online casinos today, was born in Europe. Its invention is attributed to the mathematician and philosopher French Pascal in the mid-1600s.

In its initial version the wheel already the numbers zero and double zero but they were red and black in colour, respectively. It was only later for practicality that these two numbers became coloured green.

From here roulette arrived in America thanks to French colonists in the early 1800s, bringing with it the typical characteristic of the double zero.

The elimination of the double zero (00) took place in Germany, where entrepreneurs Francois and Louis Blanc took over a small casino in the city of Hamburg.

Due to high competition locally, they decided to give up the advantage of this extra number to favour players and entice them to attend their newly taken over casino.

This innovation brought such impressive results that it soon became the new standard of European roulette.


We have already discussed the best-known difference between these two variants above. It is a difference that shifts the probabilities and the statistical advantage considerably in favour of the bank.

But that’s not the only difference, some rules differentiate American roulette from its older cousin. The presence of the double zero opens one more possibility to players and precludes another:

The Five number bet or Basket Bet

The presence of this extra number also constitutes a different setting of the table layout. The two paired zeros offer the player the possibility to place a bet straddling the two numbers, but these two numbers are placed, within the layout, adjacent to the red and black numbers 1, 2, and 3.

This means that the bet can be placed so that it includes all five numbers.

With a total of 38 numbers in play (from 1 to 36 plus zero and double zero) and 5 chances of winning out of 38, the chances of winning rise to 13.16%, not bad for those who rely on more conservative strategies.

However, the payout will also be proportionate by offering a win of 6 to 1.

The “En Prison” rule

With such a distinctly French nomenclature one can easily imagine that this rule benefits the European variant and is instead excluded from American roulette.

In case a player places a simple bet, for example red or black, and the number 0 comes out the bet will be lost. But here comes the “In prison” rule that gives the player two possibilities:

Lose half of the bet, thus saving half of the amount played;

Or decide to keep your bet imprisoned.

In the second case, the amount will remain fixed on the number on which it was initially bet. The croupier will start the new round giving the player a second chance.

If the bet is lost again the player will have lost the sum, if it is winning the player can recover the entire sum played.


With what has been explained so far it is not difficult to understand that the chances of victory for the player are greater in the old continent version.

The prison rule, as well as the presence of one fewer number shifts the house advantage from a remarkable 5.26% in American roulette to a much more modest 2.7% in European roulette.

At the same time, even the “Basket Bet” which offers an extra possibility of play, does not seem to recover the initial gap between the two variants.

However, the basic strategies for roulette remain almost unchanged.

All the most famous strategies such as the Canon system, dozens, Fibonacci and all the others can be equally applied to one or the other roulette without the need for special adjustments both in the live version and in online roulette in both versions.

The choice therefore remains only with the player and their specific game preferences.