French roulette is sometimes confused with European roulette, since both originated in the same part of the world. These are quite different games, so one look at a French roulette wheel is enough to see their many differences. I want to discuss the basic rules of the French version of roulette, while offering some playing tips. Analysis of the bets should give you some strategy ideas.
Announced bets are one of the major rules deviations of note. The announced bet lets a player announces a wager and places their chips on the table immediately, prior to the spin's outcome, but often when the ball is spinning. This is not the same as a called bet (which players usually call them), because a called bet doesn't necessarily involve placing money on the table and is therefore seen as betting on credit, which is illegal in most jurisdictions. Announced wagers have specific names: voisins du zero, jeu zero, le tiers du cylindre, and orphelins.
Voisins du Zeru
"Neighbors of zero" describes those numbers between 22 and 25 on the wheel and include the green 0 slot. This represents 17 different numbers, including the 0, 2, 3, 4, 7, 12, 15, 18, 19, 21, 22, 25, 26, 28, 29, 32, and 35. To make this wager, you need to places 9 different chips or 9 equal multiples of chips on various multiple-number spots on the table: one on the 0-2-3 divider, one on the 4-7 line, one on the 12-13-14-15, one on the 18-19-20-21 corner, one on the 19-20-21-22 corner, two on the 25-26-28-29 corner, and one on the 32-33-34-35 corner. This bet wins 45.9% of the time and has a house edge of 2.7%.
The "zero game" is a more limited wager on those six numbers surrounding the zero, plus the zero: 0, 3, 12, 15, 26, and 32. To indicate your readiness to make this wager, you'll need to place one chip (or set of chips) on the 0-3 line, one chip on the 12-15 divider, one chip straight up on the 26, and one chip on the 32-25 dividing line. This is known as the zero spiel in Germany, where it's a popular play. The zero spiel wins 18.9% of spins. A similar 5-piece wager is common in Eastern European casinos, including the various numbers of the jeu zero, but also including an 8th number (and 5th bet) on the number 19. This is called the "zero spiel naca".
Le Tiers du Cylindre
The "thirds of the wheel" has the same odds as the standard twelves bet, but lets you choose a different set of 12 numbers. In this case, the thirds bet takes a 12-number section of the wheel opposite the neighbors of zero numbers and lets you make a wager on any of those three sections. These are the sequence of ten numbers between 27 and 33, along with those two numbers: 5, 8, 10, 11, 13, 16, 23. 24, 27, 30, 33, and 36. These are played as a series of six split bets placed on the dividing lines between the 5/8, 10/11, 13/16, 23/24, 27/30, and 33/36. For this reason, you'll hear the thirds of the wheel referred to as the "small series". If you play in South Africa, you might hear this named the "Series 5/8" wager. The probability of winning this bet sits at 32.4%, while the house edge remains at just over 2.7%.
The orphans bets involve those two sets of the wheel which aren't included in the neighbors of zero or le tiers du cylindre bets. This includes the three-number sequence of 6-34-17 and the five-number sequence of 1-20-14-31-9, so the orphelins bet is a 8-number wager. To make this play, you'll need to call the bet, then place a straight bet on the 1, along with a split bet on the 6/9, the 14/17, the 17/20, and the 31/34. The chances of hitting on this wager is 24.7%, while the house edge remains at 2.7%.
Finaal, Finale, or Final
The final bets are those placed on the second digit of a number. A final-1 bet would be placed on the 1, 11, 21, and 31. A final-5 bet would be the 5, 15, 25, and 35. This applies to those sequences which wouldn't include four number, so the final-9 bet would include only the 9, 19,and 29. When betting these propositions, you'll need to make straight bets on each number involved.
Another option is to bet a number and its two immediate neighbors on either side of it, for a 5-number wager. If you wanted to bet "4 and its neighbors", this would give you a stake in the outcome of 2-21-4-19-15 sequence. Wagering on the "0 and its neighbors" would give you the 15-32-0-26-3 sequence on the wheel. The odds on this bet would be the same as the infamous American roulette 5-number wager, the basket bet, so this one should be avoided.
French Roulette Odds
As you can see, wagering on the announced bets don't really change your odds of winning. What it does is give you more interesting ways to gamble. The house edge remains comfortably in the 2.7% range for most of the French roulette bets, while offer a few sucker bets for the unwary. If you play using the "la partage" rules, the house edge is cut in half. If you find this option when playing online roulette, take the option over the standard game.