Roulette is one of the longest standing classic casino games. With roots in 17th-century physics, the concept of roulette we developed by a French man named Blaise Pascal.
Mr Pascal, a well-known physicist, mathematician and inventor, attempted to design and build a machine that had perpetual motion. In other words, a machine that would not rely on outside energy to operate. His tenacity and inquisitive nature led him to develop the roulette wheel that would provide the equipment for one of the most successful casino games of all time, despite failing to invent a wheel that would never stop moving.
The layout of the roulette wheel is thought to have been heavily influenced by two additional games that were popular around the time of roulette’s emergence. Called ‘even-odd’ and ‘roly poly’, they were also heavily based around the spin of a wheel and on wagering on the result of the spin.
It wasn’t until the late 18th century that casino roulette began being commonly played and enjoyed in Paris, while French immigrants eventually brought the game across the Atlantic to America, cementing roulette as one of the most popular betting games in Louisiana.
The rules of casino roulette and the role of the wheel
For a game of roulette to begin, all active players must place a bet on the outcome of the next spin of the roulette wheel. Players buy in to a game of casino roulette using real money, receiving casino chips in exchange, ready to place on any number of propositions on the roulette table.
Bets can be placed on a host of number combinations. First and foremost, there are bets known as ‘inside bets’, where you place your chips directly on a specific number or multiple specific numbers. If the ball lands on the number you bet on, you’ll secure a payout at odds of 35/1.
Then, there are ‘outside bets’, which can be placed on certain outcomes such as high or low, odd or even number, red or black, first, second or third dozen. A roulette board’s outside bets tend to have a much higher probability of occurring than inside bets and therefore carry reduced betting odds and subsequent payouts. Which bets you place will ultimately depend upon how risk averse you are and how much you wish to spend.
Understanding the roulette wheel layout
One of the keys to improving your roulette wheel betting is to get a firm handle on how many numbers on a roulette wheel exist and the sequence you can expect to find on the wheel.
First and foremost, it’s important to acknowledge that the position of each number on the roulette wheel is not linked to its numerical value. In fact, the number sequencing is difficult to understand, but there is a simple explanation for it. Each number is placed into the sequence on the wheel to ensure there is no number or section bias whatsoever.
Furthermore, the individual pockets of the wheel alternate between red and black, giving all players a 50% chance of picking correctly. There is an even spread of low-value (1-18) and high-value (19-36) numbers, as well as even and odd numbers, with no two even or odd numbers positioned alongside one another on a roulette wheel.
When it comes to the number of pockets used on a roulette wheel, this differs based on the version of roulette you choose to play. Some casino roulette wheels have up to 38 pockets, while others will have 37 pockets. This is due to the inclusion of a single zero and a double zero pocket. The latter is used in conjunction with the single zero in 38-pocket roulette wheel games. The addition of a double zero on a roulette wheel is designed to reduce your winning probability and increase the game’s edge in favour of the house.
American vs European roulette wheel: What’s the difference?
You might have heard about American and European versions of roulette. These are the two most common variants of the casino roulette table game. European roulette is considered to be the original form of the game, with 37 pockets where the ball can land on the wheel, ranging from 1 to 36 and a green single zero. By comparison, American roulette is played using 38 pockets, ranging from 1 to 36, as well as a green single zero and a green double zero.
Both American and European casino roulette wheels have 18 red pockets and 18 black pockets, so what makes American roulette that much different to the original?
Are the number sequences the same on European and American roulette wheels?
No, they are not. An American roulette wheel has an entirely different number sequence on its wheel compared with its European counterpart. American roulette wheels will have counterclockwise sequencing of their numbers, whilst still ensuring that the red and black and odd and even pockets are evenly distributed around the wheel.
The American roulette wheel appears like this in a clockwise fashion: 0, 28, 9, 26, 30, 11, 7, 20, 32, 17, 5, 22, 34, 15, 3, 24, 36, 13, 1, 00, 27, 10, 25, 29, 12, 8, 19, 31, 18, 6, 21, 33, 16, 4, 23, 35, 14, 2.
As you can see, there is no discernible pattern or bias, just like a European casino roulette wheel, but the addition of the double zero pocket can have a big impact on the outcome of each spin.
Is the house edge the same for both European and American roulette games?
The inclusion of the double zero pocket on an American roulette wheel means the house edge is significantly more in favour of the house than the player. The house edge on a single zero European roulette wheel is 2.70%. The inclusion of a single zero means that the house’s odds of winning are a little higher than 50%, even when you’re simply betting on red or black – 19 pockets can spoil your wager rather than 18.
However, because there are two green pockets in American roulette, the house edge is almost doubled, to 5.26%, since two additional pockets are capable of ruining your even-money wagers as opposed to a single zero pocket.
In summary, given that the payouts for inside and outside bets are the same size in both European and American roulette, you’ll always have a greater probability of winning by playing at a European roulette table, with the odds closer to your favour.
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