European and American are among the most popular variants of roulette and constitute two of the three basic types of this game. A casual player may think there is no difference between the two at first glance, or the fact that one of them has an extra 0 pocket may not catch his attention. But in reality, European and American roulette differ in terms of winning odds and betting options. Here, we will talk about the main differences between both and help you make your choice easier.
American VS European Roulette: Which is Better?
Key differences: comparison
You can see the main differences between these two variants in the table below. This table will allow you to see at a glance how European and American roulette differ from each other. Read on to learn more about the information in this table and understand what each one means.
Additional zero – 00
The most important difference of American roulette, which can be seen at first glance, is that it has a second 00 pocket on its wheel (0 + 00). European roulette has only a single 0 pocket. This causes the American variant to have 38 numbers in total (36 + 0 + 00). The European variant has 37 numbers (36 + 0). This is more than a simple difference, as it also affects the chances of winning, as we will explain in the “odds” section below. Also, this is why American roulette is also known as “double zero”. For the same reason, European roulette is also known as “single zero”.
Number sequence on the wheel
The arrangement of the numbers on the wheels of these variants is different from each other. In European roulette, there is 26 (black) on the left of the 0 pocket and 32 (red) on the right. In American roulette, there is 2 (black) on the left of this pocket, 28 (black) on the right, and right across from it is the second house pocket (00).
To calculate the chances of winning a particular bet in roulette, you need to divide the total number of outcomes you bet by the total numbers on the wheel. This causes American roulette to have lower winning odds in general. For example:
- In European roulette, your chance of winning a straight bet is 2.70%. You can find this percentage like this: 1 / 37 = 0.0270.
- In American roulette, the chance of winning for the same bet is 2.63%. Because this time the formula is 1 / 38 = 0.0263.
This bet (and all other bets) pays the same in both variants. So, the difference is not in terms of payout, but in terms of chances of winning. A difference of 0.07% may not seem like much, but in the long run, you need every kind of advantage, no matter how small, to manage your bankroll efficiently and gain an edge over the casino. For high rollers playing with big wagers, even such a difference may be important. In the table below, you can see in more detail what the odds differences will be for both variants.
|Bet||Payout||Odds (european & french)||Odds (american)|
House edge and RTP
The difference in odds also changes how much of your investment you can recover in the long run. This is a situation that affects the RTP and house edge values of both variants. House edge shows the profit the casino makes from your bets. RTP determines how much of the money you invest in roulette can be won back in the long run. In this context:
- European roulette has an RTP of 97.30% and a house edge of 2.70%. If you play with 100 units, you can win back 97.30 units: the casino's profit will be 2.70 units.
- The RTP of American roulette is 94.74% and the house edge is 5.26%. If you play with 100 units, you can win back 94.74 units: the casino's profit will be 5.26 units.
In other words, the European variant allows you to lose less in the long run.
Five number (Basket) bet
This type of bet is exclusive to American roulette only and is not available in the European (or any other) variant. As you might guess from its name, it covers 5 numbers in total – 0, 00, 1, 2, and 3. To place this bet, simply put your chips on the line separating the 0 and 1 pockets. The basket bet pays 6:1 and is often referred to as the “worst bet in roulette.” This is because its RTP rate is very low. As we mentioned above, the overall RTP of American roulette is 94.74%, but in this bet, this rate drops to 92.11%.
Which roulette is better?
In terms of gameplay enjoyment, this is a personal thing: some players enjoy the additional basket bet and find American roulette to be a more dynamic game. There's nothing wrong with that too, play whatever you like. However, if we evaluate in terms of ROI (return on investment), it is not possible to say that American roulette is a good option because it has the lowest RTP value among all variants. By this criterion, European roulette would be a much better choice as it offers a lower house edge & higher RTP.
Why do people play 00?
Despite offering a lower RTP, there are multiple reasons why players still play American roulette. Chief among these is the lack of choice: roulette entered the USA with the double-zero wheel and remained the only option for a very long time. The number of online casinos in the United States is very limited, and the double-zero variant is much more common in land-based casinos because it is more profitable for the casinos. Most casual US players don't even know there is another variant with single-zero.
And for some players, RTP values and/or house edge odds are not important: they find American roulette to have more dynamic gameplay and enjoy the variety that basket betting provides. Whatever the reason, American roulette will certainly remain among the most popular variants.