American and European Roulette: what’s the difference?

Roulette is one of the most popular casino games there is. It’s a luck-based game that relies on the player placing a bet on a number and hoping that when the wheel stops, the spinning ball lands in the pocket of that number. Across the world, there are various versions of the Roulette wheel which differ very slightly, and you should note that this could actually affect your gameplay strategies and ultimately, your chances of winning!

When waltzing into a lavish casino, or playing online Roulette and placing your bets on the table – it’s important to understand just what you’re getting yourself into. Read on to find out what the difference is between American and European Roulette tables, and why one is perhaps more desirable than the other.

European Roulette Wheel

The European Roulette wheel has 37 pockets, with numbers 1-36 displayed along the red and black pockets and a single zero green pocket. The sequence of numbers is as follows:

0, 32, 15, 19, 4, 21, 2, 25, 17, 34, 6, 27, 13, 36, 11, 30, 8, 23, 10, 5, 24, 16, 33, 1, 20, 14, 31, 9, 22, 18, 29, 7, 28, 12, 35, 3, 26.

As you can see, the numbers do not follow any pattern other than alternating between odd and even. This is why it is often recommended for players to place bets on either red/black or odd/even numbers.

The European Roulette table shows every number you can bet on, with the green zero being featured at the top. There are also a variety of sections you can place bets on – as well as individual numbers. These are:

Red/black, odd/even, the ball landing on numbers 1-12, 13-24, or 25-33, either the left, centre or right column, or which half (0-18 or 19-36) the ball might land in.

American Roulette Wheel

The American Roulette wheel is very similar, but features a 38th potential outcome in the form of an extra double green zero. The sequence displays as:

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.

There is more of a pattern in this sequence than there is on the European wheel – with preceding numbers being placed adjacent on the table. The numbers also don’t alternate between high and low so drastically, as the American wheel displays numbers closer in value to each other next to one another. This doesn’t make a lot of difference when it comes to placing bets, however, as the extra pocket gives American casinos more of a potential to make a profit from the player.

The table is again very similar to that of European Roulette, with the double zero featuring at the top of the table alongside the single one.

The ball

Another feature that can impact gameplay is the ball, often referred to as a pill. In the past, the pill was often made out of ivory, but it’s now more common for it to be made out of moulded acetal, phenolic, or nylon. Each of these materials can make a difference to how the ball acts on the Roulette wheel. At most brick-and-mortar casinos, a dealer is likely to have two or three balls in a variety of sizes at their disposal, and can change this during gameplay if they feel it’s necessary.

So, which wheel is better?

Generally, European Roulette wheels are the most popular, as it offers one less pocket, and therefore a slightly higher chance of placing a winning bet. Whilst American Roulette wheels could offer a better profit for the casino – the players tend to flock towards European tables for this exact reason.

Now, the next time you’re playing either online Roulette, or enjoying a night at a land-based casino, you’ll know what to look out for, and can place your bets based on not only the type and size of ball being used, but the particular table you have chosen to play at.