European Roulette

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While the original 38-number version of Roulette became the standard in America during the 19th century, the European version of the game evolved. Two brothers, Francois and Louis Blanc, modified the wheels in their German casino to have just 37 numbers, eliminating the dreaded Double Zero. This had the effect of reducing the House edge, which meant better odds for the players and wagering increased as a direct result.

Today, any good guide to Roulette will recommend playing the 37-number European version of the game if it is available. The House advantage is about 2.70%. That compares quite favourably to the American layout with its 38 numbers and Double Zero, meaning a House edge of 5.26% on every spin.

The 37 numbers of the European layout include all of the numbers from 1 through 36 plus a Single Zero designated as the “bank slot.” The most commonly seen sequence of numbers on the face of the European Roulette wheel is 0-32-15-19-4-21-2-25-17-34-6-27-13-36-11-30-8-23-10 -5-24-16-33-1-20-14-31-9-22-18-29-7-28-12-35-3-26.

Exceptions do exist, however, such as a number of casinos in Macau, which have adopted a very different pattern. Clockwise to the right of the Single Zero, the slots are number as follows: 0-27-10-25-29-12-8-19-31-18-6-21-33-16-4-23-35 -14-2-28-9-26-30-11-7-20-32-17-5-22-34-15-3-24-36-13-1.

No matter which of the wheel patterns is in place, the odds, payouts and types of wagers remain the same. Similarly, the table layout is fairly standard and differs from the American version only in the absence of the Double Zero. The Red numbers weave down the length of the field like a slalom run from 1 to 36. Black numbers outnumber Red ones in the middle column 8 to 4; Red numbers dominate the third column 8 to 4; and balance is achieved in the first column, 6 to 6. Atop all three columns sits the bank’s Single Zero.

The field is further marked by a number of “outside” betting areas, and in this respect both the European and American layouts are quite alike. French tables, on the other hand, feature some major differences, such as placement of the Noir (Black), Passe (19~36), and (Pair (Even) betting areas on one side of the numbered field, while the Rouge (Red), Manque (1~18), and Impair (Odd) betting areas appear on the other side. Additionally, bets on the dozens must be placed in special areas below the columns, marked P12 for 1~12, M12 for 13~24, and D12 for 25~36.

At French tables, something known as “call bets” can be made. That’s where the player tells the croupier to place wagers on specific sections of the wheel. Representative of such call bets are the “quadrants,” allowing bets to be made on four groups of nine numbers each. If the ball comes to rest in the selected quadrant, the payout is 3-to-1. Some casinos featuring the French table layouts also offer special sector bets, such as Voisins du Zero, or “friends of zero,” whereby all of the numbers on the wheel between 22 and 25 are bet upon as a group.

It should be noted that sector wagering gives the player no extra advantage if the wheel is a fair one. Results should be random, so no segment will perform better than any other on spins that a truly independent events. Another point worthy of mention is that special rules sometimes apply to European Roulette, particularly the French version which can actually reduce the House advantage quite a bit. Most of these apply to even-money wagers.

For example, in some instances bets on Red, Black, and other 1:1 outside areas do not lose completely if the Zero appears. Instead, half the wager is refunded. This lowers the House edge to just 1.35% on those bets.

Another example is casinos that “freeze” the even-money bets for another turn if the Zero comes up. In France, this rule is referred to as en prison. The wager wins or loses, depending on the outcome of the next spin. In rare cases when the Zero repeats, a “double freeze” occurs. This requires two wins in a row to claim even money.

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