•    Roulette rules determine how roulette variants are played. They specify the minimum and maximum bets, odds and probabilities, and payouts on different combinations of numbers, and bet selections.
•    European Roulette is the world’s most popular variant. It features a house edge of 2.7%, and an RTP of 97.30%. This single-zero game is available everywhere.
•    French Roulette is a classic roulette variant with two unique betting options, including La Partage and En Prison. The house edge can be as low as 1.35%.
•    American Roulette has the highest house edge of all variants at 5.24%. It features a 0 and 00 in addition to the Top Line Bet which is not a player-friendly bet. 

Table of Contents

Why Are Roulette Rules Important to Players?

Roulette Through the Ages

Roulette is majestic in its simplicity. This centuries-old casino game boasts a rich heritage, with captivating gameplay. Legend has it that roulette began in France, courtesy of the famed mathematician, Blaise Pascal back in the 17th century. In his attempt to construct a ‘perpetual motion machine’, Pascal happened upon the game of roulette. There are many scholars who refute the notion of French hegemony over the game of roulette; the ancient Romans, ancient Chinese, and ancient Greeks ostensibly participated in games similar to roulette. 

Despite the hullabaloo out there, the French indeed influenced the modern-day game of roulette more than most. The French laid the foundation upon which roulette rules are based. The essence of roulette is innately appealing: A wager is placed on the outcome of the spin of a roulette wheel. If the outcome matches the player’s bet, the player wins a specified payout. The more options there are on the roulette wheel, the greater the variation in payouts. 

A modern-day European Roulette, French Roulette, or American Roulette wheel features dozens of numbers. The European and French Roulette variants are known as single-zero games, while American Roulette is a 00 game. The nuances in style and substance give rise to a unique set of roulette rules which govern how these games are played. The subtle inclusion of another number, such as the 00 in American Roulette, dramatically changes the odds and affects the rules of the game.

European Roulette Rules

A rudimentary search of ‘Roulette Rules’ typically results in a treasure trove of information about European Roulette – the gold standard. It comes as no surprise that this variant of the great game is the pre-eminent selection of players the world over. A basic understanding of the European Roulette wheel and betting options makes it much easier to understand European Roulette rules.  For starters, there are 37 numbers in European Roulette. These include a single green 0, followed by numbers 1-36. That means, you have a 1/37 (2.70%) chance of correctly guessing what number will come up on the next spin.

Incidentally, the house edge in European Roulette is 2.70%. That means that every $100 wagered on roulette should yield a profit for the house of $2.70, over the long-term. This house edge has been verified statistically correct over millions of spins of the European Roulette wheel. The RTP (Return to Player) percentage is therefore 100% - 2.70% = 97.30%. That means that a player can expect to win $97.30 back for every $100 wagered on roulette, over the long-term. At this juncture, it's important to highlight that the RTP is merely a theoretical figure. It is entirely possible to lose your entire bankroll, or win substantially more, if the right numbers land on the right bet selections over the short-term.

European Roulette Insights

•    There are alternating red and black numbers on a European Roulette wheel. 
•    Players must comply with the minimum and maximum roulette betting limits.
•    Most roulette bets will have different probabilities of occurring, with associated payouts. In other words, the more likely the outcome, the lower the payouts. The more unlikely the outcome, the higher the payouts.
•    The roulette dealer spins the roulette wheel in one direction, and the ball in the opposite direction. 
•    The inside bets are placed on the inner portions of the roulette betting track, such as the green, red, and black numbers.
•    The outside bets encompass all the other selections on the roulette racetrack, including first 12, second 12, third 12, 1 to 18, 19 to 36, Red or Black, Odd or Even, and 2:1 selections. 

European Roulette Payouts

Based upon the rules of roulette, the following payouts have been determined for European Roulette:

•    Straight bets (bets on individual numbers) – 35:1
•    Split bets (bets on adjacent numbers) – 17:1
•    Street bets (bets on 3 numbers in a row) – 11:1
•    Corner bets (bets on a group of 4 intersecting numbers) – 8: 1
•    Line bets (bets on 2 rows of 3 numbers, or bets on 6 numbers) – 5:1
•    Column bets (bets on the entire column) – 2:1
•    Dozens bets (bets on first 12, second 12, or third 12) – 2:1
•    Color bets (bets on red or black) - 1:1
•    Even/Odd bets (bets on even numbers or odd numbers) - 1:1 
•    Low/High bets (low bets on 1-18 and high bets on 19-36) – 1:1

French Roulette Rules

French Roulette rules differ markedly from European Roulette rules since there are specific betting options available to players. These are known as ‘En Prison’ and ‘La Partage’. Plus, the game is decked out uniquely with French wording, coupled with a suave and sophisticated design. In French Roulette, the same wheel is used as European Roulette. Numbers are randomly positioned on the wheel, with alternating red and black options.

Additionally, at many casinos the French Roulette wheel is located in the center of the table, with the roulette racetrack located on both sides. At online casinos, the rules of roulette do not require a center-based table. You may be able to customize the color of the felt in French Roulette, choosing between burgundy, blue, green, et cetera. The numbers in French Roulette are typically colored in red. The most obvious distinction between French Roulette and European Roulette is the labeling of boxes. All of this is beautifully styled in French. As always, there may be exceptions to this rule, with italics or cursive written in English.

Examples of French words in French Roulette include:

•    Impair/Pair – odds and evens
•    Manque/Passe – low and high bets
•    Rouge and Noir – red and black bets
•    Premier Douzaine - first dozen
•    Moyenne Douzaine – second dozen
•    Dernier Douzaine - third dozen

The major difference between French Roulette and all other variants of roulette are the ones related to ‘En Prison’ and ‘La Partage’. Simply put, when the white ball lands on zero and the player has an even-money bet on the table, the player will not necessarily lose all their money. ‘En Prison’ imprisons the bet until the next spin – no losses occur when 0 lands. With ‘En Prison’ in effect, any even money bet – Red or Black, Odd or Even, 1-19 or 19 – 36 - gets locked up until the next. If, on the next spin, the player wins the bet, the original bet is returned. This is preferable to losing the entire bet!

 ‘La Partage’ as its namesake suggests the divides your bet in half, so that you only lose 50% of it when 0 lands. These rules are designed to favor players when even money bets are placed and 0 lands. As a result, the house edge in French Roulette can be as low as 1.35%. For this reason alone, French Roulette is widely regarded as the most player friendly version of the game. It is not always easy finding a French Roulette table with ‘En Prison’ and ‘La Partage’ rules in play, but they are certainly worthwhile if available.

French Roulette rules such as ‘En Prison’ and ‘La Partage’ make for captivating entertainment at land-based casinos, and online casinos (where available). You may be curious whether these rules change the house edge and payout possibilities in French Roulette? It's worth pointing out that every casino game has a built-in house edge which doesn't change regardless of the bet you place. In European and French Roulette, the house edge remains at 2.70%. In American Roulette, the house edge is 5.24%, as you are about to see in a later section.

French Roulette Payouts

•    Straight bets (bets on individual numbers) – 35:1
•    Split bets (bets on adjacent numbers) – 17:1
•    Street bets (bets 3 numbers in a row) – 11:1
•    Trio bets (bets on 0, 1, 2, or bets on 0, 2, 3) – 11:1
•    Four Number bets (bets on 0, 1, 2, 3) – 8:1
•    Corner bets (bets on a group of 4 intersecting numbers) – 8: 1
•    Line bets (bets on 2 rows of 3 numbers, or bets on 6 numbers) – 5:1
•    Column bets (bets on the entire column) – 2:1
•    Dozens bets (bets on first 12, second 12, or third 12) – 2:1
•    Color bets (bets on red or black) - 1:1
•    Pair (Even)/Impair (Odd) bets (bets on even numbers or odd numbers) - 1:1 
•    Manque (Low)/ Passe (High) bets (low bets on 1-18 and high bets on 19-36) – 1:1

It is worth noting that the bets with the highest probability of occurring are even money bets. Yet it isn't quite a 50-50 probability that players get – it’s 48.64%.  Other unique terms that you will encounter in French Roulette include: Tiers du Cylindre (Third of the Wheel) which covers numbers 27-33, and Orphelins (Orphans) which cover the following 8 numbers 17, 34, 6, 1, 20, 40, 31, & 9. Voisins du Zero refers to the neighbors of zero a.k.a. 17 numbers with all betting options between 22 and 25. Another bet known as Finales (Final in English) is interesting in that it is a bet on any number selection that ends in the same number. For example, 1 could include 1, 11, 21, 31. Number 2 can include 2, 12, 22, 32, et cetera. If you choose a Finals bet that ends in numbers 0-6, you will place a lesser wager since there are fewer of these bets on the table. 

Those are the most important French Roulette rules to remember. Be sure to play French Roulette in demo mode to get a feel for the game before you play for real.

American Roulette Rules

Now that you understand European Roulette and French Roulette, you are ready to tackle American Roulette. There are two schools of thought vis-a-vis American Roulette. The first is that this game is best avoided since it has the lowest RTP, and the highest house edge. How is this so? For starters, you will notice that the American Roulette wheel features 38 numbers. These include 0, 00, 1-36. Therefore, the probability of calling any number correctly is 1/38. That translates into 2.63%. It is marginally lower than the 2.70% likelihood of getting a correct number call in European Roulette and French Roulette.

That 0.07% differential makes the world of difference when it comes to the casino’s house edge. Recall that there is a substantial difference between the true odds and the odds the casino gives you. In the case of American Roulette, you have 1/38 chance of getting the right number, but you don't get paid out 38:1, you get paid out 35:1 on any correct single number. That's an astonishing difference which is much less player friendly than the 37:1 true odds and 35:1 casino odds for European and French Roulette. 

The second school of thought when it comes to American Roulette is as follows: This casino table game provides players with additional betting options. In European and French Roulette, players are limited to numbers 0, 1-36. With American Roulette, you have an additional betting option in 00. Extra choices are enticing to many players. There is also another bet known as a 5 number bet. This is a bet on the following selection of 5 numbers: 0, 00, 1, 2, 3. American Roulette is the only variant with these numbers, making the top line bet unique to this game. This bet is eschewed by many roulette aficionados because it has a high house edge of 7.89%. The payout for this bet is 6:1.

American Roulette Payouts

•    Straight bets (bets on individual numbers) – 35:1 at odds of 2.60%
•    Split bets (bets on adjacent numbers) – 17:1 at odds of 5.3%
•    Street bets (bets on 3 numbers in a row) – 11:1 at odds of 7.9%
•    Corner bets (bets on a group of 4 intersecting numbers) – 8: 1 at odds of 10.5%
•    Line bets (bets on 2 rows of 3 numbers, or bets on 6 numbers) – 5:1 
•    Column bets (bets on the entire column) – 2:1 at odds of 31%
•    Dozens bets (bets on first 12, second 12, or third 12) – 2:1 at odds of 31.6%
•    Color bets (bets on red or black) - 1:1 at odds of 47.4%
•    Even/Odd bets (bets on even numbers or odd numbers) - 1:1 at odds of 47.4%
•    Low/High bets (low bets on 1-18 and high bets on 19-36) – 1:1 at odds of 47.4%

The player odds in American Roulette are lower than they are in European Roulette because there is an additional 00 at play, and the difference between the true odds and the casino odds is elevated in American Roulette. Roulette rules specify precisely what players need to know, in order to make educated betting decisions in this game of chance!


About the Author

With digital marketing strategies in his blood, Louis Wheeler has traveled around the world, exploring gambling cultures and gaining experience in casino games from 2003. If you are in a casino anywhere around the planet, you may find him right next to you, playing blackjack, roulette or texas hold'em.