A look at the inner workings of the two roulette variations

Regardless of whether you're playing roulette at a land-based casino or at the best online casino you should understand the intricacies of the game in order to achieve the best results.  One of the most important aspects of roulette involves the differences between the American and the European roulette wheels but few people truly understand why they should be choosing one over the other.


The roulette cylinder was introduced by Blaise Pascal, a French physicist, philosopher and inventor who lived in the 17th century.  Pascal wanted to create a perpetual motion machine. The machine that he created, while not a device of perpetual motion, set the stage for the game of roulette.

The early European roulette wheels were, in fact, double zero machines but the single zero became the preferable roulette wheel in the 1800s when German casinos featured it in their gambling venues. Eventually the French also adopted the single-zero wheel but the double zero wheel became the wheel of choice in America.  The double-zero roulette was eventually dubbed "American roulette."

Today many casinos offer both the American and European roulette wheel.  Almost all online casinos feature these options and many land-based casinos also offer both variations.  

Both the American and the European roulette wheels are constructed in the same manner. The difference between them is that the American version has two zeroes on the cylinder and the European version has one. The two-zero wheel leads to a bigger advantage for the casino in the form of a higher house edge. 

There are different types of tables and rules variations for the two types of roulette.

American Wheel

There are a total of 38 pockets on the American wheel. They range from 0 to 36 and have an additional 00 slot. 18 of these pockets are black and the other 18 are red. The 0 and 00 slots are green and are located at the opposite sides of the cylinder. There are no adjacent numbers of the same color. So on an American roulette wheel you'll see: 0, 2, 14, 35, 23, 4, 16, 33, 21, 6, 18, 31, 19, 8, 12, 29, 25, 10, 27, 00, 1, 13, 36, 24, 3, 15, 34, 22, 5, 17, 32, 20, 7, 11, 30, 26, 9, 28. 

European Wheel

The European wheel, which is also used for French roulette,  has only a single zero pocket. This makes it a better choice for players who want to offset the effect of variance. In the long run the house edge is decreased and  gamers mitigate their loses. The zero slot is green and the other 36 numbers split between red and black – 18 red pockets and 18 black pockets. The numbers display as: 26, 3, 35, 12, 28, 7, 29, 18, 22, 9, 31, 14, 20, 1, 33, 16, 24, 5, 10, 23, 8, 30, 11, 36, 13, 27, 6, 34, 17, 25, 2, 21, 4, 19, 15, and 32. 

Unique European Wheel Bets

Some bets are played on the European wheel by the dealer after a player gives him the chips. These bets include:

Voisins de zero (neighbors of zero)

Bet: 9 chips with 2 chips on the 0-2-3 trio, 1 on each of the splits: 4-7, 12-15, 18-21, 19-22, 32-352 and 1 on 25-26-28-29 corner.

Bet covers: 22, 18, 29, 7, 28, 12, 35, 3, 26, 0, 32, 15, 19, 4, 21, 2, 25

Orphelins (orphans)

Bet: 5 chips with 1 chip on 1 and 1 chip on each of the splits: 6-9, 14-17, 17-20, 31-34.

Bet covers: 17, 34, 6, 1, 20, 14, 31, 9

Zero play

Bet: 4 chips with 1 chip on 0/3 split, 1 on 12-15 split, 1 on 26 straight up and 1 on 32-35 split.

Bet covers: 12, 35, 3, 26, 0, 32, 15.


Bet: 6 chips with  1 chip on each of the splits: 5-8, 10-11, 13-16, 23-24, 27-30, 33-36.

Bet covers: 33, 16, 24, 5, 10, 23, 8, 30, 11, 36, 13, 27


Bet: 5 chips, 1 chip straight on each number

Bet covers: five consecutive numbers including a middle number“and its neighbors”Logic

And the Wheel Itself...

The wheel layout is totally different for the American and the European wheels. The layout is to:

  • Confuse the player
  • Alternate colors
  • Alternate lower and higher numbers
  • Alternate even and odd numbers 

Most online players prefer European wheels so there's a higher percentage of European wheels at online casinos. The results in an online roulette game, in which the player competes against a gaming machine, are determined by a random number generator – RNG, which refers to a software that generates a sequence of symbols or numbers that cannot be reasonably predicted better than by a random chance. 

In an online casino live dealer roulette game, or at an on-site, land-based casino, the casino must ensure that the wheel has no wheel bias or other defects that could skew the results. That's where technology comes in – roulette wheels that are manufactured today are precise and don't age easily, issues which have been problematic in the past. 

Attempts to cheat the roulette wheel in the past have involved magnetic balls so today the casinos use anti-magnetic and unpredictable balls to ensure that players can't enjoy an advantage with such balls.