European roulette is the most common form of the game in the world today. Good reasons exist why single-zero roulette is the favored variation of the famous spinning wheel game found in all large casinos. I'll explain the bets, offer a few tips when playing, and give some insight into the odds you face.
When you walk up to the roulette table, you'll notice a grid with three columns of twelve numbers. The numbers range from 1 to 36, while the 0 is found in a semi-circle at the top of the grid. Around the number box, you'll find other bets offered. Among these are the even money bets: red/black, even/odd, among 1-18/19-36. Other betting options include the 1-12, 13-24, and 25-36 wagers.
Because you place your chips inside the number box to signal you're making these wagers, inside bets are made on single numbers or small amounts of adjacent numbers. The amount of numbers you can bet on for inside bets range between 1 and 6. These include the straight bet (1), split bet (2), street (3), corner (4), basket (4), and six line (6) bets. These wagers have a smaller chance of hitting, but offer a much larger payout than the outside wagers.
Conversely, these bets are successful more often, but don't pay as much. These wagers include the 1-18, also known as the manque, and the 19-36 wager, also known as the passe. Besides red/black and even/odd, people can make dozen, column, or snake bets. Each of these lets you cover a range of twelve numbers, though the patterns they cover are going to be different.
"En prison" or imprisonment is a rule players should seek out when playing European roulette. This rule gives the players a significant advantage over the traditional game, because it gives a player a chance to save part of their money, even when they lose. If you make an even-money bet (red/black, even/odd, etc) and the ball lands on the 0, you don't automatically lose your stake. Instead, it goes into "prison" and the croupier marks it as such. If you win on the next spin, you win back the money which is imprisoned (though you don't win the original bet). If you lose, the house gets your money. This offers significant relief from the single-zero house edge, cutting it almost in half.
La partage is related to imprisonment and is often confused for the same rule. When playing under la partage rules, if you bet on the even-money wagers and the ball lands on the zero, you only lose half your bet. While these are found in Monte Carlo, these are the rules can apply to American roulette, specifically in Atlantic City casinos. In online gaming, casinos might offer this version for American or European roulette, trying to undercut their competition or make the American game more appealing. Always check with a new site you join to make sure imprisonment or la partage rules are offered, because these save you significant amounts of cash over the course of your gambling career.
Odds and Probability
The odds on European roulette aren't as good as the odds on craps or baccarat, but the game is played slowly, so players aren't likely to make as many bets per hour as you would on craps. This means the loss rate is closer than the house edge would indicate. Play at the table with more players, because each spin takes longer. This not only creates a more relaxing game environment, but assures you won't lose money as quickly, if you so happen to be having bad luck (more than 50% do). European roulette played with la partage or en prison rules produces a house edge at 1.35%, which is comparable to craps and baccarat. Finding these rules gives you the best game in the casino, if you don't want to learn a game with strategy.
Brief Background on European Roulette
Though a form of roulette similar to the game we know first appeared in the 18th century, the 17th century inventor and mathematician, Blaise Pascal, first invented a gaming wheel a century earlier. The early variation of the game had irregular set of numbers, but 25 to 30 numbers was common in the earliest days. When the Blanc Brothers opened their casino in Homberg in 1843, they introduced single-zero roulette. After the Homberg was included in the Second German Reich in the 1860s (and gambling was made illegal), the brothers moved to Monte Carlo, where their version of the game became prevalent throughout the world. Double-zero roulette remained only in America, though the game had a life of its own once Las Vegas became a world capital of gambling. In online casinos, the two games are offered side-by-side, but there really is no choice between the two. European roulette is best, at least from a player's standpoint.