Roulette has several different variations, including French, Mini, and Roulette Royale. However, the most common versions are European Roulette and its transatlantic twin, American Roulette.
The major difference is that while French and European styles have 37 numbers in the roulette wheel, the American version has 38. The additional digit is a double zero, or 00, to partner the single zero pocket. These are both green to contrast the red and black numbers.
The presence of the green double zero almost doubles the house edge from 2.7% in European Roulette to 5.26%. Adding an extra house pocket dilutes the wheel and decreases the chance of a player winning their bet.
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There is a debate about where the extra double zero came from. Some say this was actually the original form of the game and that two French brothers, Francois and Louis Blanc, removed it in 1843 to give their game an edge over other casinos.
But most believe that the modern European wheel came first, with American casinos adding in the double zero in the mid-1800s. The story goes that US-based casinos didn't like the game because of the low bias to the house, so they upped their own odds and dropped the European version.
Not content with almost doubling their odds, American casinos actually added a third house pocket, which was represented by an eagle. Players soon realised that they were playing at a larger disadvantage and avoided this type of wheel, which is why it soon fell out of use.
As the name of the game suggests, American Roulette is very popular in the United States, as well as having a community following online at the best roulette sites. While the reduced house bias makes the European version more popular in general, some players prefer the additional challenge of the American version of the game.
Traditionally, American Roulette tables accepted lower minimum bets because of the reduced chance of a win, but this benefit is less common in the online world.
Roulette is essentially a game of chance and it's not easy to win. But there are techniques and strategies that can improve your chances. A good way for new players to get comfortable with the game and figure out which bets work out more often is to play practice games online without putting up any real money.
Once you're confident enough to move onto the real money games, stick to making outside bets, like betting on red or on even numbers, rather than plumping for a single pocket. The stakes are lower but the chance of a win is higher.
One of the benefits of playing online is that you can make notes. Many brick-and-mortar casinos ban this, but it could be extremely helpful for you to keep track of what's working for you while you're learning.
The Martingale Strategy is popular among beginners. The idea is simple: double your stake after every loss. It's a risky move though, and it can lead you to fast run out of money, which is why most experienced players avoid it. The Paroli system, which involves doubling up after every win, is favoured as it's generally safer.
Take care not to bet more than you intended to and, if possible, pocket your original stake if you win it back so you always at least break even. Whatever you do, don't bet on the first five numbers – zero, double zero, one, two, and three. The house edge jumps to 7.89%, which is why it's such an unpopular bet.
Because of the higher chance of winning at European Roulette, that's the version that most people choose. However, some casinos may only offer certain versions of the game. This will depend on where the casino is based or which audience it's catering to. The American variant of roulette can not only be found as an online game but also in live roulette. In fact, you can find the American variant in the live casino games section of casino sites.
Check whether the casino you choose offers the option of smaller minimum bets on American games – depending on your style, this might give this variant an edge.