It is advisable to become well acquainted with the roulette wheel and the distribution of its numbers prior to joining the table to place your wagers. Why? The answer is simple – the wheel serves the most important function in the entire game as its one and only purpose is to determine the winning bets.
In brick-and-mortar venues, the wheel on the roulette table is in a perpetual motion which is not the case when one plays the game online from the comfort of their home. The constant spinning makes for a faster-paced game, but the main reason why the wheel is always in motion is to prevent players from complaining the device is spun too hard or not hard enough by the croupier – something which, needless to say, would influence the outcome of each spin.
Understanding the distribution of the numbers on the wheel is extremely important when one wants to play smartly and implement a given strategy. Also, in European and French roulette there is only one zero pocket on the wheel, while the wheels used in American casinos have 00 and 0 pockets – this greatly influences the way the numbers on the two types of wheel are distributed.
Understanding the Roulette Wheel
Before we proceed to list the differences between the two types of roulette wheels, it is important to mention the numbers on the spinning devices are not distributed at random, although at first glance it may appear to be so. On the contrary, the numbers are spread in a specific way to separate the red and black, odd and even, and high and low numbers in a mathematically balanced pattern.
There are several reasons for this distribution and the first one is to confuse inexperienced players. The latter struggle to form a mental picture of the roulette wheel, not to mention they altogether fail to understand there is actually a relation between the numbers and the wheel’s sections. Seasoned players, on the other hand, have memorised the numbers’ sequence.
Then again, the numbers should alternate depending on their colour. A red number is always positioned next to a black number and this applies to both American and European roulette wheels. The same is valid for odd and even numbers which also need to be distributed as evenly as possible – there should not be more than two adjacent odd or even numbers on the wheel.
Finally, low (1 through 18) and high (19 through 36) numbers should alternate as much as possible. The wheel in American roulette is not as balanced as there are more sections with adjacent Low and adjacent High numbers.
Types of Roulette Wheels
Many gambling venues have adopted European roulette wheels with a specific order of the numbers, starting with the single zero and moving on from there. It goes without saying the order of the numbers differs in American roulette where a double-zero wheel is used. Read on to find more about the differences between the American and European roulette wheels.
The Wheel in American Roulette
In American roulette, the wheel has a total of 38 pockets – 18 black, 18 red and two green pockets numbered 0 and 00. The 0 and 00 pockets are located on the opposite sides of the wheel. Black and red pockets always alternate. If you look closely, you will notice the numbers that are positioned opposite to one another differ by one unit only. For instance, 3 is located opposite to 4, 5 is positioned opposite to 6, 7 faces 8 and so on.
When you rotate the wheel so that the 0 pocket is at the top, you will notice an interesting tendency. All even numbers from 2 to 18 and all odd numbers from 19 to 35 are located to the left of the 0 pocket. Thus, if you place bets on all even numbers from 2 to 18 and on all odd numbers from 19 to 35, you would have covered the left side of the American roulette wheel.
It is exactly the opposite when it comes to the right side of the wheel. All low numbers from 1 to 17 are odd and the high numbers from 20 to 36 are even. From this it follows, a player can learn all numbers on the American roulette wheel by heart simply by using the numbers 2 and 19 as reference points.
The introduction of the 00 pocket greatly increases the house edge. Typically, with American roulette the casino has a built-in advantage of 5.26%. The La Partage and En Prison rules can reduce the house advantage, at least for even-money bets, but unfortunately, they do not apply in the American variant of the game.
The Wheel in European Roulette
In European roulette, the wheel contains only 37 pockets. Pockets from 1 to 36 are numbered and there is only one pocket marked with 0. The numbers face the inside of the wheel, which is not the case with American roulette, where the numbers are facing the outside of the spinning device.
Since there is a single zero on the wheel, players’ chances of winning with even-money bets are higher. The house edge for European roulette stands at 2.70%.
Similarly to the American variation, the wheel in European roulette has 18 black and 18 red pockets which always alternate. Respectively, there are 18 odd numbers and 18 even numbers. The colours associated with each number follow a specific pattern. For the number ranges 1 through 10 and 19 through 28, the odd numbers are in red pockets and the even numbers are in black pockets. With number ranges 11 through 18 and 29 through 36, it is quite the opposite – the even numbers are red while the odd numbers are black.
The 36 numbers form two arcs – one to the right of the zero pocket and one to the left. In the right arc, there are nine black pockets with low numbers (2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 11, 13, 15 and 17) and nine red pockets with high numbers (19, 21, 23, 25, 27, 30, 32, 34, and 36).
The arc that is to the left of the 0 pocket contains nine black pockets with high numbers (20, 22, 24, 26, 28, 29, 31, 33, and 35) and nine red pockets with low numbers (1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 12, 14, 16, and 18).
Why is this distribution important? In the European variation of the game, players are allowed to place the so-called French bets, which cover specific sections of the wheel. One such bet is the Voisins du Zero or Neighbours of Zero which covers almost half of the entire wheel. This type of bet encompasses 17 numbers (from 22 to 25) surrounding the 0 pocket plus the zero itself.
Tiers du Cylindre is another French bet which covers one-third of the wheel and includes numbers 27, 12, 36, 11, 30, 8, 23, 10, 5, 24, 16, and 33. In European roulette, one can also place Orphelins or Orphans bets. The latter encompass 8 numbers. Three of them (17, 34, and 6) are located to the right of the 0 pocket and the remaining five numbers (1, 20, 14, 31, and 9) are positioned to the left.
In American roulette, placing French bets is impossible since the distribution of the numbers on the wheel is based on another pattern.