While it is commonly believed that roulette was “invented” in France in the 17th century, many game variations have sprung up in the intervening 300 years or so. While arguably all roulette is French, the term French Roulette in today’s casino world describes a specific rule set played on a single zero European roulette wheel.
We will discuss that game at length and why it is so sought after. We will also examine why French Roulette can be so hard to find in land-based US casinos and its reemergence in the legal online casino industry.
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How is French Roulette Played?
French Roulette games are similar to American roulette, yet many things differ. First, the French Roulette version is played on a single zero European Roulette wheel head, which has 37 number pockets, alternating red and black with a single green zero.
However, these numbers are not in order; they are also in a different order than on an American roulette wheel.
Bets are placed along a roulette layout very similar to the one used on an American roulette table, though sometimes it is labeled in both French and English, and frequently, the dozens bet is towards the bottom of the wheel instead of along the left-hand side as on an American layout.
You will also notice a racetrack on a French Roulette table, which is a ring with all the numbers and then bets listed along the inside. This is referred to as the champ de courses and is used by the dealer to place “announced” or call bets.
The dealer will spin the ball clockwise while the wheel head rotates counterclockwise. The number is marked once the ball spills from the track into a pocket, and all bets are paid.
Because there are only 37 numbers, and the game pays the same as American roulette with its 38 numbers, the house edge on European Roulette is noticeably lower at 2.7%. With some variation rules, French roulette house edge can go as low as 1.35% on outside even money bets.
Other Roulette Variations
Special Rules of French Roulette
The most crucial rule variation in French Roulette is a surrender. (No jokes, please!) When zero is marked, the two different French variations either allow you to give up half your bet or place it in prison, meaning it can’t be taken down and will need to win again to be released.
La Partage Rule
The more common of the two French roulette variants, La Partage means to share. In this case, if the zero is rolled, your even money bet on the outside is divided in two, and the house takes half and returns to you the other half.
This does not apply to bets other than even/odd, red/black, or high/low. This means that the RTP (return to player) on French Roulette is an excellent 98.65%
En Prison Rule
En Prison rule is a version of the French roulette game where the player has the option when zero spins to either take the La Partage and lose half their bet on even money outside bets, or the bet is played again and either won or lost but not taken down.
In most versions, a second zero is considered a loss, but in rare French roulette rule sets, a second zero only means that the wager remains En Prison until either won or lost.
French Roulette Odds
French roulette offers the lowest house edge of any roulette game. This is why it is so in demand, and it can be challenging to find in a land-based casino here in the US but has found a new home in all your favorite online casino apps.
Land-based casinos face high labor and other costs and limited occupancy on any roulette table. But these issues aren’t a factor online, so French Roulette online, especially the live dealer version of the French roulette game, has proven extremely popular.
American Roulette 2 zeros 38 Numbers House edge of 5.26%
European Roulette 1 zero 37 Numbers House Edge of 2.7%
French Roulette 1 zero 37 numbers House edge as low as 1.35%
|Bet Type||Bet Odds|
|Red or Black||1-1|
|Even or Odd||1-1|
|Low or High||1-1|
Bets in French Roulette
All the bets you’re accustomed to in American roulette are available in French roulette and at a reduced house edge. There are many more exciting bets on the French roulette table, many centered around numbers on certain sections of the wheel head. The bets in French Roulette are divided into three basic categories.
The inside bets are very similar to what we find in American Roulette. We have the straight-up bet, which covers one number and pays 35 to 1. We have the split bet between two numbers, covering both that pays 17 to 1, and we have the corner bet that is placed where four numbers meet, covering all four that pays 8x.
Also considered inside bets are the street or line bet, which covers a row of three numbers and pays 11 to 1, and the double street or avenue bet, which covers two rows of numbers at 5 to 1.
A bet sometimes seen when you play French roulette online or very rarely in land-based French roulette games is the Complete Bet. This is simply betting a single number to the maximum betting limits the casino allows in every possible way. So you are maxed out on the straight bet, the corner bets, the split bets, the street bets, and even the outside bets.
As we’ve mentioned repeatedly, one less zero and only 37 numbers on the wheel mean that these inside bets only have a 2.7% house edge vs the 5.24 % advantage on the double zero wheel.
Also note that if you are an inside player on a French roulette game, your odds remain at 2.7%, not the 1.35% that even money bets on a French table can receive.
We have two types of outside bets. The even money bets are red/black, even/odd, and 1-18/18-36. These are the bets that, due to La Partage rules on a French roulette wheel, can have an RTP of 98.65%.
The other outside bets we can place are the columns or the douzaine (dozens ) bet. Each of these bets pays 2 to 1. Since they are not an even money bet, they are unaffected by La Partage or En Prison, so they have an RTP of 97.3%
Announced bets, or call bets, are an exciting twist on betting sections of the wheel. The French have made it relatively easy to bet all the numbers in a particular wheel section with one call bet. You’ll find the call bets on the French roulette wheel in the racetrack area near the dealer.
The Zero Game (Jue Zero): will get you six numbers on either side of the the green single zero number and includes the zero.
Neighbors of Zero (Voisin du Zero): A bit more figurative than literal as this bet covers almost half the wheel. It’s the single zero-wheel section from 22 through 25, which is a total of 17 numbers. In some sort of French defiance to the natural order, that is nine numbers on one side of the zero and only seven on the other. Absurdite indeed! Because this announced bet is placed using mainly splits, it requires nine chips.
Cylinders (Le Tiers Du Cylindre): Here, we have a bet that covers the 12 numbers opposite the zero. Again, because it is placed with split bets, it requires just six units. It covers the numbers from 33 to 27 along the wheel head.
The Orphans (Orphelins): The leftover numbers that should have been included in our previous bets. That’s eight if you weren’t following along. But, of course, there are not eight consecutive numbers along the wheel head. That would be too logical.
It covers the 6, 34, and 17 on one side of the wheel head and then the 9, 31, 14, 20, and 1 about a third of the wheel head further along. This bet can be placed for either eight units with each chip straight up on a number or as a five-unit bet, where the number one is placed straight up, and the other numbers are placed using split bets.
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Other Variations on Roulette
While the European roulette game has the same odds on all but the even money bets, it lacks the fun and excitement of the announced bets and the massive difference in house edge when betting outside bets that fall under the La Partage rule.
American roulette and its even more hideous cousin, Sands Roulette, which, believe it or not, has three green zeros and a stupifying 7.69% house advantage, seem almost unplayable after seeing the odds in French roulette. Hopefully, as more states legalize online roulette, gamblers will get to see the difference and force some of these land-based casinos to quit being greedy.
French Roulette Conclusions
Playing French roulette online has exploded in popularity since the house advantage on even money bets can be as low as 1.35%. This is up to 70% less than the house advantage in American roulette, which means you can play longer and have more winning sessions. The French Roulette games also offer several different call bets that the younger demographic found online seems to value.
With the advent of live dealer roulette games and the strong preference for French roulette rules, a whole new generation of players will grow up placing bets on Tiers Du Cylindre and exclaiming En prison.
French Roulette FAQs
We know wrapping your head around how to play French roulette can seem a little daunting initially, so here are some answers to frequently asked questions about French roulette rules.
A French roulette table is easily told apart from its European and American counterparts. Most notably, by the racetrack or announced bets area of the betting layout. But also because most of the writing will be either in French or English and French.
A French roulette table uses a European roulette wheel head; it will have 37 numbers, a single green zero, and the numbers 1-36 alternating in red and black along the wheel.
There are several key differences between French and European roulette. While both use the same single zero roulette wheel, when playing French roulette, you will notice the addition of several different bets that are not found in the European version of the game, along with several crucial changes regarding even money wagers.
Announced Bets, or Called bets, are placed along the racetrack, which is a diagram of the wheel, and then some bets are placed across it. These bets generally involve betting numbers next to each other on the wheel head. Voisins du zero, or neighbors of zero, covers 17 numbers on either side of the green single zero on the wheel head. The orphans or Orphelins cover two sets of numbers across from each other on the roulette wheel. It is easiest to think of these as straight-up inside bets.The La Partage rule when playing French roulette allows you to lose only half your bet on even money bets, and its cousin, the En Prison rule, will enable you to keep your outside bets that pay even money until the next spin but not take it back.
Like most roulette games, French roulette is about luck. The only way to overcome the house advantage is to find a roulette wheel that is defective in some way. While not unheard of, these “biased” wheels are much harder to find today.
But the reason so many people wish to play on French roulette tables is because it has the lowest house advantage of any of the roulette games. If you’re to have any chance of winning, even in the short term, it’s best to find the roulette variation with the best payout odds.
Many gamblers attempt to use strategies like the Martingale or Labouchere to beat the Roulette wheel, and these strategies work best when you play French roulette because of the low house edge on the even money bets that these types of roulette systems seek to exploit.
But all of these systems have flaws; at the end of the day, the house will retain its edge. The best way to counter that is by finding the games with the highest RTP and using careful money management and bankroll maintenance.
Unless you live in France, Monte Carlo, or Switzerland, it’s easiest to play French Roulette online. French and European roulette can easily be found at any major online casino. You can also play French roulette online in demo mode to better understand the game and all its bets before you decide to wager real money.