Ah, roulette.  The game has always been one of my favorites.  With extrmely simple gameplay and equally easy to understand odds, what’s not to love?

Compared to other games featured in our strategy guide series (blackjack, craps, and video poker to name a few), roulette has the most straightforward odds of the bunch.  While the other games feature different beting options with varied odds and/or multiple rule variations that change the odds of the game completely, roulette has only 2 game versions and every bet carries the same odds.  Sound simple enough?  Let’s take a look at the odds.

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America Roulette Odds

The first of the two variations of roulette is American Roulette.  This version of the game is popular in most casinos across the USA.  It’s defining feature is that the roulette wheel has 38 possible numbers for the ball to land on (1 – 36, 0 and 00).

When looking at a roulette table, you may notice that there are a seemingly large variety of possible bets.  You can bet on almost anything including a single number, a color, or a group of numbers.  The best part is, no matter which bet you place, the house edge is exactly the same: 5.26%.

That’s right, no matter if you place a bet on a single number or a group of 12, the house edge for that bet will always be 5.26%.  How is this possible?  Let’s look at a couple of examples.

Betting on Red or Black

Let’s say you want to place a bet on either red or black at the roulette table.  If the bet wins, it pays out at 1 to 1 (if you bet $1 and win, you will be paid $1, plus get your original bet back).  In American Roulette, there are 38 possible numbers the ball can land on- 18 Red, 18 Black, and 2 Green.

If you were to bet on red, there is an 18 in 38 chance (47.23%) that you will win the bet.  At the same time, there is a 20 in 38 (52.77%) chance that you will lose the bet.  If you subtract the chance you will win from the chance you will lose, you will see that the casino has a 5.26% edge on this bet.

Let’s look at another example.

Betting on a Single Number

A winning bet on any single number in Roulette pays 35 to 1.  The chances of a bet on a single number winning in American Roulette is 2.64%.  If you do the following calculation to determine the house edge, you will see that the house edge remains at 5.26%: (−1×37/38) + (35×1/38) = −0.0526 (5.26% house edge).

Betting on Everything Else

If you do the same calculations based on the payout of every bet and the chances of winning, you will see that every possible bet in American Roulette has the same house edge of 5.26%.

The Exception to the Rule

There is ONE bet in American Roulette that has different odds than all of the rest.  You have the option to bet on the first 5 numbers on the roulette table (00, 0, 1, 2, 3).  This bet has a house edge of 7.89%.  Since this gives an even bigger advantage to the house, it is not recommended that players make this bet unless those numbers are screaming your name.

European Roulette Odds

Exactly as the odds are the same for every bet in American Roulette, the odds are the same for every bet in European Roulette.  Without doing all of the calculations again for you, I will simply tell you that the favorable rules of European Roulette allow the house edge for every bet to be reduced to only 2.7%.

Did you like this article?  Have any questions about these odds? Let us know in the comment section below!

Jeff White

Jeff has been an active gambler from the age of 18 when he won a small local poker tournament in San Jose, CA. He moved on to playing other casino games shortly thereafter, with a great interest in the statistics and mathematics involved. He has studied the historical gambling systems of nearly every popular casino game played today, and has written strategy books for several of them including blackjack, slot machines, craps, and roulette. Jeff has been a daily contributor to the Silver Oak Casino blog since the beginning of 2009.