Roulette Variations

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Improving upon a table game that has lasted almost unchanged for more than 200 years is no easy task. Still, someone is always willing to try, hoping that the novelty of a new twist will attract players eager to part with their money. In almost all cases, the House edge is higher that it would be for the standard American and European versions of Roulette, so “new” games such as the following should be treated with caution.

American Eagle – Sometime before 1886, an American entrepreneur introduced a version of the wheel with 31 pockets: 14 red numbers, 14 black ones and three bank slots—a Single Zero, a Double Zero and an American Eagle symbol. The payout for a straight up bet on a winning number was 27-to-1, giving the House an advantage of 9.8%. For obvious reasons, the game never caught on. Today, the wheels can only be found in museums.

French Roulette – This is the third most popular form of the game after the European and America versions. Like the European wheel, it features 37 numbers, including a Single Zero. The main difference is the table layout. Betting areas for Noir (Black), Passe (19~36) and (Pair (Even) are grouped on one side of the numbered field, and those for Rouge (Red), Manque (1~18) and Impair (Odd) are on the opposite side. Wagers on the dozens are made in areas directly below the columns marked P12 for 1~12, M12 for 13~24, and D12 for 25~36. Numbers in the field have no colours, but an oval-shaped array of numbers like those on the wheel is used for “call bets” on sectors of the wheel. These include 17 numbers called Les Voisins du Zéro (neighbors of zero), eight numbers known as Les Orphelins (the orphans) and twelve numbers referred to as Le Tiers du Cylindre (a third of the wheel).

La Boule – This game features the numbers 1~9 and three colors—black, red and yellow. A rubber ball, slightly smaller than a tennis ball, spins around a wheel that has four sets of concave colored “dimples” in place of pockets. The dimples, numbered 1~9, are group in two sets the outer edge of the wheel and two sets separating the dimples from the central axis. The dimple where the ball comes to rest is the winner. Even money bets can be made on Red, Black, Low (1~4), High (6~9), Even or Odd. Straight-up wagers on a single number alone pay 7-to-1. The number 5 and the color yellow are for the bank, creating a House edge of 11.11%.

French Boule – The version of La Boule played at Genting Highlands Casino in Malaysia goes by this name. It is different, however, in that it features ten numbers 0~9 and the payout for a straight-up bet on a single winning number is 8-to-1. The inclusion of an extra number for betting also reduces the House edge slightly to 10%.

Mini Roulette – In this game, the wheel and table layout have just 12 numbers, 1~12, plus a Single Zero for the bank. The payout for a straight-up winner on a single number is 11-to-1. Players who enjoy wagering straight up may enjoy seeing winners three times more often, but the House edge is a whopping 7.69%.

Roulette Royale – At first glance, this game looks just like American or European Roulette, but there is one big difference—it offers a special jackpot that correlates to a compulsory side bet. Players must wager at least one unit in the table area marked “Jackpot Side Bet.” Bonus are paid out for catching the same number more than once at the following rates: 15 units for a repeat winner, 200 units for three consecutive wins on the same number and 3,000 units for four hits in a row on the same number. The progressive Jackpot can be up to 250,000 times the wager, and it is awarded for five consecutive repetitions of a winning number.

No Zero Roulette – In this novelty version of the game, the wheel and table layout have just 36 numbers, 1~36, and no bank slots at all. That means there is no House advantage, so the wheel is most often used as a promotional attraction or for home parties. In the few casinos where No Zero Roulette is offered, table limits are typically very low, so not much can be won or lost.

Multiball Roulette – Using a standard European or American wheel and table layout, two or three balls are put in play at the same time, doubling or tripling the number of winners on each spin. Of course, the odds and payouts shrink accordingly, divided by two or three. Although this version of the game offers more opportunities to win, the winnings are smaller and the House edge remains the same.

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