Roulette Odds - Beating the Odds of Roulette

Roulette odds differ depending upon the roulette version and the particular bet, so it’s important to understand the differences before you play roulette.

Roulette Odds in American Roulette

In American roulette, the odds are fairly simple to understand. There are thirty-eight pockets on the wheel, but the casino pays as if there were thirty-six pockets. What does this mean? This means that if you wager one dollar on a single number, your chances of winning are one in thirty-eight, but you’ll only win thirty-six times your bet. (It’s called thirty-five to one, because the stated odds don’t include your initial wager which you get back if you win.) As a result, on most bets in American roulette, the house edge is 5.28%.

There is, in fact, only one bet which has different roulette odds on a standard American roulette wheel. This is called the five-number bet. This bet is tempting, because many players consider the zero and double-zero “house numbers,” and therefore believe that they are more likely to occur. If the roulette odds were that simple, then everyone would bet on the zero and the double-zero and win a lot of money. However, the zero and double zero are only house numbers in the sense that they are not included in most of the regular bets that are placed. They are just as likely to occur as any other numbers. The five-number bet pays six to one, meaning you get back seven times your initial bet. The likelihood of winning, however, is 5/38, which is close to one in eight, giving you a house edge of 7.89%.

Roulette Odds in European Roulette

In European roulette, it’s a little harder to calculate the odds, because different casinos have different versions of the ‘en prison’ rule. The wheel in European roulette has just thirty-seven pockets, while wagers pay the same, meaning that the house edge is significantly lower, coming in at just 2.7%. Simply put, on a single-number bet, your chances of winning are one in thirty-seven, while you’ll end up with thirty-six times your initial wager if you win.

However, the European roulette odds are even more generous than that. There is a rule called ‘en prison.’ In different European casinos, the ‘en prison’ rule works slightly differently. The basic idea of the rule, though, is that even-money bets are not fully lost if the wheel lands on zero. Some European casinos simply return half of the wager when the ball lands on a zero, yielding a house edge of 1.3514%. This is referred to as ‘la partage.’ Other casinos allow the wager to remain on the board for an additional spin. If the next spin is a winning spin, the player will get his bet back, but no additional money. If the ball lands on a losing number other than zero, the bet is lost. In some casinos, if the ball lands on zero twice in a row, the bet is lost, while in other casinos, the bet is doubly imprisoned, and must be won twice in order to get the initial bet back. In yet other casinos, the bet remains in place as long as the ball lands on green, but must only be won once in order to free the bet. As a result, the house edge can vary from 1.3514% to 1.3879% on even-money bets in European roulette.