Perhaps the most glamorous casino game of all, roulette is played the world over and, today, it's up there with the most popular online betting options. Regardless of your skill level, bankroll or preferences, online roulette is available in a variety of forms, but they can all trace their roots back the 17th century and Blaise Pascal.
Hailed as the father of modern roulette, Pascal's early experiments with perpetual motion led to the creation of the first roulette wheel. From this early innovation, more numbers were gradually added to the game as it spread around the world and that led to formation of three main roulette varieties.
In this quick guide to roulette variants, we'll give you an overview of the game's three main styles before taking you through some of the online world's unique offerings. However, before we do that, here's our two-line definition of roulette and how to play:
"The aim of roulette is to place a bet/s on where you think a small ball will land on a numbered wheel. The reason this game is popular is because you can be as specific or as general as you like with your picks."
When a zero was added to roulette back in the 19th century, it was there as a single entity. What we mean by this is that you'll see a single zero (0) at the top of the betting board. This set-up is the defining feature of European roulette and means that there are 37 numbers in play. Based on this, the house edge in a game of European roulette is 2.70%.
In today’s online gaming world, European roulette is one of the variants that’s evolved the most. Thanks to its immense popularity, you can now play all manner of games with a unique twist. From progressive jackpot offerings to themed games with bonus rounds, European Roulette is more varied than ever. In fact, these added elements have helped to make European online roulette a more diverse game and, therefore, one that appeals to wide variety of players and not just seasoned casino fans.
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As roulette spread across North America, a second zero was added to the game. This meant a typical American roulette betting board had a single zero (0) and a double zero (00) in play. This structure means there are 38 numbers in play and, because the payouts are identical to the European game, the house edge in 5.26% in this roulette variant.
Despite the house edge being slightly higher in American roulette, it’s still a fan favourite. In fact, if you’re smart, there is a way to help turn things in your favour. By using something known as the double dozen technique, you can use a low risk betting strategy that covers 66% of the board with just two bets. Put simply, if you stake an even amount on two dozen sections, you can cover a lot of numbers and still make some money. Because the payout for a win is 2:1, you’ll make a profit equal to one bet when you’re correct i.e. if you bet £5 twice (£10 total bet) and won, you’d receive £15 back on the winning bet for an overall profit of £5.
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This roulette variant has the same structure as its European counterpart, but the one major difference comes when you place an outside bet and the ball lands on zero. Thanks to a rule known as La Partage (to share), you can get 50% of any even money bets (red/black, odd/even or 1-18 and 19-36) back if the ball lands on zero.
Because of La Partage, the value of betting on 50/50 shots in this game is increased in French Roulette. In other versions of roulette, a 50/50 wager such as red/black isn’t really 50/50 because of the number 0. However, in this game, because you can receive 50% of your stake back, it’s virtually an even money shot (48.7%). Essentially, you should be more willing to make outside bets in French roulette than you otherwise would be. Although they’re the least lucrative betting options, they offer the best chance of winning. In this sense, outside bets in French Roulette are the best way for low stakes players to make a profit.
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When you look at the three main roulette variants, each one has its own benefits. Ultimately, you can play all three whenever and however you want. However, you will probably gravitate towards one variant or another.
To help you make a decision before you ante-up, here’s a few things to consider:
|European Roulette||American Roulette||French Roulette|
|Most popular variant
Many unique versions
Play for low stakes layout
|More betting options
Great for live casino fans
Perfect for high stakes
Lots of group bets
Unique betting board
As we've already covered, roulette has evolved over the centuries and that hasn't slowed down in recent years. Thanks to the online casino world, you'll get to play the following takes on the three traditional variants we've listed above:
A simplified game where the numbers run from 0 to 12, the main advantage of this roulette variant is that the overall house edge is just 3.85%. The one disadvantage is that the max payout is 11:1.
As you'd expect, this game involves multiple wheels. In total, there are six wheels in play and you can choose to activate as many or as few as you like. The main advantage of this game is that you'll have more chances to win, but it's important to note more wheels means you'll have to bet more.
Similar to multi-wheel, this game has a single wheel but you'll be able to choose how many balls you want to use. In total, you can play with up to 10 balls which will increase your chances of hitting a win. The downside to this is that each extra ball will cost you an extra bet.
Although the payouts are the same, Double Action Roulette is played on a 6X6 grid (instead of 3X12) and there are two rings of numbers on the wheel. The disadvantage to this game is that it costs slightly more to play, but the upside is that you can place parlay bets (i.e. betting on the same number to appear on the internal and external rings) and win up to 1,200X.
Available in American, European and French flavours, 3D roulette provides an online interface that offers a 3D board and wheel. There aren't really any disadvantages to these games and the best thing about them is that they look better than standard virtual variants.
Typically based on European roulette, these games have progressive jackpots similar to slots. Age of the Gods Roulette is a great example of this genre and offers a special betting option that, if it comes in, could be worth £100,000+. The downside to this game is that the house edge is slightly bigger than a standard game of European roulette.
Taking RFID and webcam technology, these games give you access to a live game complete with real croupiers. Despite costing a little more to play than a standard game of virtual roulette, these games are more immersive, more realistic and, therefore, more entertaining.
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If you're looking for the best odds, it's always best to stick to the classics and, in particular, European and French roulette. However, if you're looking for bigger jackpots or a little bit of something different to make you smile, we'd suggest checking out our top roulette sites for some of the unique variants we've outlined in this guide.