European Roulette: Moving Through Pockets of Knowledgeable Play

The snapshots of the spinning wheel, the ball turning around its rim, chips on the betting layout, croupiers that observe actions at the green baize, and effervescent patrons gathered around the table have been associated with an image of every brick-and-mortar gambling floor for the last couple of centuries — for an excellent reason. Roulette, one of the oldest casino games in the world, is classic among players: A simple and exciting yet alluring game of pure chance, and a jewel in the category of its own.

Ever since it came to light as a side product of scientific exploration in the 18th century, it has been prominently present in casinos around the world. In time, its popularity gave birth to no less than three similar yet distinct variants: European, American, and French roulette. Each one is easy to learn and hard to master, particularly considering the bevy of playing strategies at hand, and multiple betting systems devised since inception.

The advent of the internet expanded this gripping pastime into the realm of interactive gambling and delivered its tempting and mesmerizing simplicity at fingertips of iGaming punters. Today, roulette is the staple in every online casino, offering thrilling fun both to beginners and expert players.

Such everlasting presence is, in no small part attributed to potentially largesse nature of the game and cautious approach of patrons. To offer a helping hand, in this article, we discuss European roulette, its advantages, peculiarities, and features that make it stand apart from American and French versions in more ways than one.

Brief History

To a certain extent, all roulette versions share the same origins. The snowballing event occurred between the 15th and 17th centuries, with the emergence of the lottery-based game named Biribi. Quite a popular at the time in Italy — it was a favorite game of Casanova — this low-stake game of blind luck had a rather simple set of rules.

The player would put a stake on any given number ranging from 1 to 70, the banker would pull one ticket from the bag — each card corresponded to numbers at table layout — and the winner would receive sixty-four times its stake.

Such a playing environment proved to be fertile soil for numerous cheating incidents. Consequentially, Biribi soon gained notoriety for confrontations between patrons, and, in 1873, it was banned altogether.

In almost parallel development…

…hundreds of miles westward, Blaise Pascal, the French mathematician and physicist, was pursuing a goal of creating the first perpetual motion machine ever. Albeit unsuccessful in his quest, Pascal invented the spinning wheel — the earliest version of what we know today as the roulette wheel — in the process.

By merging the game layout of the Biribi and his spinning wheel, he effectively gave birth to the game of roulette. In doing so, Blaise Pascal presented the players with the perpetual gambling source of neverending excitement that soon swept the casino world off its feet.

By 1796, roulette tables were part of Palais Royal Casino offerings in Paris, France, spreading quickly to land-based gambling houses in Monte Carlo, Monaco, and Marseille.

The original wheel included thirty-six numbers plus two pockets reserved for ‘0’ and ‘00’ digits. These two slots for zeros will soon enough make all the difference in separating distinctive variants of the emerging giant of casino games.

In 1838, in lights of laws imposed by the French King Louis Phillipe I, which banned public gambling, French casinos were forced to migrate into Luxembourg and Germany. While the French Riviera casinos remained unscathed, Bad Homburg soon emerged as the new destination for prominent gamblers.

Therein…

…as a way to entice patrons even further by increasing their statistical chances, in 1843, Francois Blanc — a French entrepreneur and casino owner dubbed as The Magician of Homburg — fully embraced roulette wheel with a single zero pocket only.

In doing so, Blanc, in effect, paved the way for European roulette, which offered much better odds than roulette with two pockets for zeros. In no time, this version gained immense popularity across the continent and survived all regulation efforts to ban it on multiple occasions.

Just like its French and American siblings, European roulette evolved only slightly in years to come. Improvements were mainly in areas of technological and material advancements.

Nowadays, European roulette is one of the most famous games around the world, and, more importantly, the most preferred roulette variation among all.

Wheel and Table Layout

The European roulette wheel has 37 pockets for 36 numbers and one zero, quite similar to the French variant. Eighteen of those are in red, the other eighteen are in black, and the zero is in green color. The presence of one zero creates the first of several differences between these two versions and the American issue of the game.

The most important one comes for the benefit of players.

Namely, absent of a double-zero pocket, the house edge of the European roulette is 2.7 percent. The distinction also includes a French version and applies to all games played both at online and offline casinos.

In contrast…

The American version, which uses both single- and double-zero pockets, totaling 38 numbers, has a house edge of 5.26 percent. Naturally, the first and most obvious conclusion of aspiring and novice roulette players is simple: Whenever possible, play European variant (or French, for that matter).

The number sequence on the European roulette wheel is similarly unique.

Numerals reside in a carefully placed manner, so even and odd numbers do not stand next to each other. There are no adjacent low and high numbers — speaking in roulette parlance, every digit up to 18 is a low one, and all above it, up to 36, are high ones — while colors alternate intermittently in red and black.

Thus, the wheel sequence in European roulette is 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, and 26 (mentioned in clockwise order).

On the other hand…

…the table betting layout in European variant — the area for players to put their wagers at — is similar to the American version but significantly differs from the French one. (The latter is, indeed, entirely original invention instantly recognizable by the use of the French language and unique display.)

European table layout consists of a three-column numbered grid — with a prominently featured single-zero field — further divided into sections for either inside or outside type of bets.

As a general rule, inside bets consist of wagers placed on any of 37 numbers on the roulette wheel. The outside bets, on the other hand, include specific areas to put money at, such as odd/even or red/black or high/low numbers and Dozen or Column type of wagers — as we’ll see a bit later.

Considering peculiarities of iGaming and user interfaces’ limitations, layouts in online roulette may differ somewhat depending on gaming provider and playing device (desktop or mobile).

European Roulette Rules

One of the most significant traits of this game is simple and straightforward rules. Regardless of the roulette variant, the majority of provisions always remain the same.

The dealer spins the wheel in the mandatory counterclockwise direction; the ball always oppositely turns around the rim, that is, clockwise. Patrons can place their wagers until the dealer announces “Rien ne va plus,” or “No more bets.”

Now…

…some bets have to be made before the croupier spins the wheel, and others can be placed while the wheel is still spinning. Once the dealer makes the call, however, all bets are off.

The key distinction between these procedural types of bets falls into the category of Announced Bets, sometimes also called Call Bets, and, when it comes to European roulette, they create one of two rather beneficial exceptions in comparison to American variant.

First off, it’s important to understand that, although quite similar — both allows players to place bets while the wheel keeps spinning — Call Bets are different from Announced Bets: The former allows a player to place a verbal bet by shout to the croupier while the latter requires a patron to place chips on the layout physically.

These two specialized types of wagers are allowed in a number of European casinos, although some countries — United Kingdom, for example — forbid them since they resemble casino credit lines.

The second beneficial exception of European roulette is the En Prison rule.

En Prison rule allows players to have the extra spin whenever they place even money bet — any wager with 1:1 payout, which is by default outside bet — and the ball lands in a zero pocket. This extra spin, in return, offers a fifty-fifty chance of success. If the player wins, it gets its bet back; otherwise, the house wins. By using this rule, patrons can reduce the house edge to 1.35 percent.

(On the side note. En Prison rule somewhat resembles La Partage rule in French variant, but it’s not the same thing. La Partage guarantees half of the initial bet; En Prison only offers the second chance.)

Since roulette is indeed a game of pure chance that requires no particular gaming skills, such simple rules come in handy. On the other hand, patrons need to understand how bets work to be able to make well-informed and prudent decisions.

And, that’s where betting knowledge and playing strategies come in the picture.

Betting Systems, Payouts, and Strategies

As said, there are two basic types of roulette bets — inside and outside ones.

Inside bets are all wagers that players place directly on the numbers at the roulette wheel. Those bets involve placing chips directly on number(s) at the table layout. As such, inside bets include a couple of different wagers with varying payouts:

  • Straight bet, on the individual number — pays 35:1
  • Split bet, on two adjacent numbers — pays 17:1
  • Street bet, on three numbers in line — pays 11:1
  • Corner bet, on four neighboring numbers — pays 8:1
  • Six line bet, on a section of six consecutive numbers — pays 5:1

On the other hand, outside bets involve wagers on several different combinations. They may include red or black and high or low and even or odd numbers, as well as betting on any of available columns or dozens of numbers at the table layout. Payouts vary according to the type:

  • Column bet, on one of the three available rows — pays 2:1
  • Dozen bet, on one of the three dozens of numbers — pays 2:1
  • Even money bet, on even/odd or black/red or high/low numbers — pays 1:1

With such diversified paytables at hand, betting strategies play a huge part in enabling responsible patrons to at least have some chance of winning. After all, excluding high rollers, the majority of players have limited bankrolls, and roulette can produce both unforgiving and unforgettable losing streaks.

Considering the longevity and popularity of the game, many different systems are available to patrons. The most popular ones are d’Alembert, Labouchere, Paroli, Fibonacci, Martingale, as well as Hollandish, Kavouras, Kesselgucken, Shotwell, and Romanosky.

Some of them deliver bit more prudent approaches that include lower bets at a slower pace; some provide for volatile explorations of big bucks wagers. There are those for beginners and those for experts; a few are for limited bankrolls, and the others may work well for high rollers.

Regardless of the strategic option, the bottom line is simple: No perfect roulette strategy exists.

It’s up to each patron to choose the one that fits its playing style, expertise level, and, above all, budget limitations, and to make the best choices with chances at hand.

To learn more about each system and find the one that works best for you, we recommend this deep and analytical insight covering all the nuts and bolts and angles of every aspect of roulette betting strategies which can only make you a better player.

Online European Roulette

Just as is the case blackjack or craps, the European version of roulette is a popular iGaming choice. There are plenty of online casinos that offer this particular variant, and the majority of them follow all the rules we’ve discussed.

Excluding slight differences in UIs depending on the device used to play — which correlates to table layouts outlook and overall position of game elements — the interactive gaming experience can be almost identical to land-based casinos.

To ensure such an outcome, though, players should always pay attention to the most important details such as:

  • Play at iGaming hubs from online jurisdictions with a good reputation
  • Always read Terms and Conditions of online casinos carefully
  • Act in line with national regulations in your country
  • Be aware of the true nature of Random Number Generators and how they work since RNGs define where the ball ends on each roulette wheel spin.

The other important detail is, of course, selecting the game provider. The majority of industry leaders — such as Microgaming, NetEnt, or IGT — offer European roulette both in desktop and mobile deployments, so there are plenty of options to choose from.

The additional kicker may come in the form of live dealer roulette that combines a classic online gaming experience with live streams from land-based casinos or providers’ studios. This particular hybrid will give you a chance to play interactive games compounded by real-life dealers that spin the roulette wheel in person, which is for many the best of both worlds.

Conclusion

The most influential decision in having an excellent roulette session is deciding on which variant to play in the first place.

European version undoubtedly offers the most bang for your bucks considering the house edge, although it may not be included in every online casino offerings.

Afterward, it comes down to a knowledgeable and prudent approach in selecting the most appropriate betting strategy, in line with players’ budget and playing habits.

One way or the other, regardless of version, to this day, roulette remains one of a very few legendary games in the history of gambling, in no small part courtesy of James Bond, of course. Other than the opulence of the whole experience, there’s something to the simplicity and the pure joy of expectations when it comes to comparing patrons’ betting choices with roulette wheel chances.

In other words, European roulette is a must-try for any player, at least once in a lifetime.

No matter how often you might want to indulge in this great game, however, and despite any possible outcome, there is one necessary prerequisite to a great roulette experience: Responsibility while playing within the limits of your budget.

Provided players do follow this simple general rule and apply accumulated knowledge on betting systems, roulette fun is almost guaranteed. The rest, including possible gains, is ultimately in the hands of luck, which plays an astonishing role in this game. With that in mind, have a good one!

Dejan Gavrilovic profile image Dejan Gavrilovic LCB Reviewer - last updated 2020-02-13
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