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The 13 Best Roulette Variations

The Best Roulette Variations

At its core, roulette is a simple game.The roulette wheel has 37 or 38 numbers, and you bet on which number / section you think the ball will stop on.

But over the years, casino operators have found ways to put fresh twists on roulette through multiple variations. No longer are you forced to play the same version of roulette session after session.

Below, I’ve compiled a list of the 13 best roulette variations, which are ranked according to their house edge, longevity, and whether they add new elements to the game.

French Roulette

How to Play French Roulette

The first mention of roulette was described by Jaques Lablee in his 1796 work La Roulette, ou le Jour, where he discussed seeing roulette at Paris’ Palais Royal casino.

That being said, French roulette bears the name of the country where casino roulette was born. The other part of the name comes from how France and their southern neighbor Monte Carlo are among the few places that offer this game.

French roulette is played on a European roulette wheel, which has 37 numbers and a single zero.

What defines French roulette is that many versions have a rule called la partage, which means “the sharing.” This is an appropriate meaning, considering that la partage pays back half on losing even money bets when the ball lands on zero.

Other French roulette games have a rule called en prison, where your even money bet is held in prison for a spin when the ball lands on zero.

Advantages of French Roulette

French roulette has the lowest house edge of any game at 1.35%. And while this may not be as low as baccarat at 1.06%, it’s still better than the vast majority of casino games.

The reason for the low house edge is because of the la partage and en prison rules. The former sees you get half of your money back when the ball lands on zero, while the latter gives you an extra chance to win if the ball stops on zero.

Drawbacks to French Roulette

The main problem with French roulette is that it’s highly rare outside of France and Monte Carlo. Casinos know that they can still attract players to roulette with higher house edges, so they see little incentive to lessen their advantage.

For the average player, the only realistic place to find French roulette is at online casinos.

The other drawback is that you have to make even money bets like high / low, odd / even, and red / black to take advantage of la partage and en prison. These rules don’t account for anything beyond even money wagers, which limits your betting selection.

Nevertheless, most players are willing to sacrifice betting variety in pursuit of the 1.35% house edge.

European Roulette

How to Play European Roulette

Throughout the late 1700s and early 1800s, European casinos featured roulette wheels with both a zero and double zero, which is ironic because this is now known as American roulette.

The game didn’t change until 1843, when brothers François and Louis Blanc introduced a roulette wheel with a single zero in Bad Homburg, Germany.

Known as European roulette today, it quickly gained popularity in Germany, and later in Monte Carlo when the Blanc brothers moved their casino.

The reason why is because the European roulette wheel has 37, and the single zero is the only house friendly pocket. Contrast this to American roulette, which has single and double zero pockets.

Given that the single zero is the only house friendly number on real money bets, European roulette gives you a better chance to win than the double zero wheel.

Advantages of European Roulette

European roulette only has a 2.70% house edge, which is almost twice as good as American roulette’s 5.26% house advantage.

A simple look at the math shows why European roulette is the better game. Dividing the lone house friendly number in European roulette by the 37 numbers (1 / 37), you can see that the house edge is 2.70%.

The same method can be used with double zero roulette (2 / 38) to determine that it has a less attractive 5.26% house advantage.

Besides a relatively low house edge, European roulette is also easier to find than the French version. Every online casino with table games offers European roulette, while you’ll also find this game in many land based European casinos too.

Drawbacks to European Roulette

The lone downside to European roulette is the fact that it’s not French roulette. While a 2.70% house edge is solid, it doesn’t compare to the 1.35% house advantage that comes through the la partage rule.

Furthermore, European roulette ranks behind a few other table casino games in terms of house edge. Baccarat, craps at 1.36%, Pai Gow poker at 1.46%, and blackjack at 0.5% to 2.0%, all give you better long term chances to win.

But on the other hand, you don’t have to use any complex strategy in European roulette. Every bet has a 2.70% house edge, meaning any beginner can use optimal strategy.

Live Dealer Roulette

How to Play Live Dealer Roulette

While online roulette gives you a convenient way to play this casino classic, it doesn’t offer any social aspects.

This is where live dealer roulette, a.k.a. multiplayer roulette, comes into play because it gives you the convenience of online roulette combined with the social atmosphere of land based casinos.

You sit at a cyber table with multiple other players while action is streamed to you directly from a land based casino.

Live dealer roulette gives you the opportunity to chat with the dealer and fellow players as you make your bets.

Advantages of Live Dealer Roulette

Simply put, you won’t come any closer to a land based casino from your living room than multiplayer roulette. You can joke with dealers, chat with others about how the game is going, and cheer together.

Live dealer roulette also lets you choose your table based on the dealer. Given that there are a number of attractive female and male dealers, you can factor looks into picking your table.

Another great thing about multiplier roulette is that the stakes are far lower than land based casino tables. The online industry standard is a $1 minimum bet, while we’ve seen games with as little as $0.10 stakes.

One more advantage is that most live dealer games are played on a European roulette wheel, which offers a reasonable 2.70% house edge. We’ve seen some multiplayer games with French roulette rules, which gives you an even better chance to win.

Drawbacks to Live Dealer Roulette

Unlike any other version of online roulette, you can’t play live dealer games for free at most casinos.

This is understandable when considering that it’s more costly to have human dealers run the games, versus having software do it. But still, you have to waste time searching if you want to find a casino that lets you try live dealer roulette for free.

A minor drawback is that the streaming will give you more problems than normal internet roulette software. This isn’t to say that you’ll have constant problems, but just be aware of the issue.

Marvel Roulette

How to Play Marvel Roulette

Playtech has been making licensed Marvel Comics slot machines for years. And they’ve combined their Marvel slots with this roulette game.

Marvel Roulette plays on a standard European wheel, but the twist is that an extra Marvel Bonus space is added.

To qualify for the bonus, you must place chips on the Marvel Bonus space on the board. If the ball lands on this space, you’re taken to a 3 reel slot machine to perform three spins in hopes of lining up three Marvel Comics characters.

You can also randomly trigger the Marvel Jackpot round, where you choose one of four spaces to win the Power, Extra Power, Super Power, or Ultimate Power Jackpot.

Seeded at $100,000, the Ultimate Power Jackpot has exceeded $1 million in the past.

Advantages of Marvel Roulette

While there are several alternative roulette games, this is by far the best that I’ve played.

First off, this game contains a bonus round that sees you spin the slots reels. It’s also great that you can randomly trigger a progressive jackpot round.

Add in the Marvel Comics characters on the sides of the screen, and this is different than any roulette game available.

Drawbacks to Marvel Roulette

One big problem is that you have to place a separate bet just to qualify for the bonus round. Even if you place the $1 minimum on the Marvel Bonus space, you’ll lose this dollar quite often because you only have a 1 in 38 chance of triggering the bonus.

The only other problem I can see is if you’re not a fan of comic book characters and / or you just want to play a regular roulette game.

Pinball Roulette

How to Play Pinball Roulette

Created by 888games, this variation uses a pinball machine instead of a wheel to determine your results.

You start by selecting your bet(s) on a traditional roulette board. Once you’ve made your selection(s), click Bet to go to the pinball game.

This looks just like a regular pinball machine, with a pump, small pegs, and bumpers. Once the pump shoots the ball into play, it will trickle down into once of the slots at the bottom of the screen.

Each slot represents a number on the European roulette wheel / board, and wins are determined by where the ball lands.

Advantages of Pinball Roulette

If you’re a pinball enthusiast or just somebody who enjoys alternative roulette games, then it’s definitely worth trying Pinball Roulette.

Like Marvel Roulette, this is a totally different gaming experience that keeps the classic version of roulette from getting stale.

Drawbacks to Pinball Roulette

Given the nature of pinball and how many pegs are in this game, Pinball Roulette takes longer to play than the average online roulette variation. Granted, you won’t be waiting on results forever, but you might become bored at some point.

The only other potential downside is if you don’t care for pinball.

Rapid Roulette

How to Play Rapid Roulette

Some casino visitors avoid roulette and other table games because it can be an intimidating environment for beginners. But Rapid Roulette offers an easy transition from machines to table games.

This game features a circle of electronic roulette terminals surrounding a dealer and regular roulette table.

Players make their bets via the terminal, which features a roulette board along with chip denominations. If you’ve ever played online roulette, this won’t require any adjustment because you simply place the chips in the appropriate betting spaces.

True to its name, Rapid Roulette features a time limit bar that only gives you 5 seconds to place your bet(s). Once the time limit is reached, the dealer spins the wheel to determine the winning number.

A pop up screen will appear on your terminal to show a close up view of the wheel and winning number.

Advantages of Rapid Roulette

As mentioned above, Rapid Roulette combines the relaxed atmosphere of online roulette with the atmosphere of land based casino roulette. Think of this as the online live dealer version – only you’re actually in the casino.

Another benefit of Rapid Roulette is that it eliminates the hassle associated with roulette boards. Rather than having to place your bets on the board alongside other players, the electronic terminals give you a cleaner way to do this.

If you’re into trend betting, where you use previous results to determine future wagers, then you’ll appreciate how Rapid Roulette offers previous results onscreen.

One more benefit is how quickly Rapid Roulette keeps the game moving along. If you hate the lulls associated with regular roulette tables, then this game’s faster pace will suit you well.

Drawbacks to Rapid Roulette

Part of the reason why people visit casinos in the first place is the social atmosphere. Rapid Roulette takes away from this because you’re not playing alongside others, but rather sitting at your own electronic terminal.

One more drawback is that you only have 5 seconds to make decisions. This is fine when you make the same bet over and over again, but it’s nerve wracking when you need a little extra time to choose new sections / numbers.

Airball Roulette

How to Play Airball Roulette

This is another electronic version of roulette that’s features in land based casinos. The difference between Rapid Roulette and Airball Roulette is that the latter doesn’t have a human dealer or regular table.

Instead, Airball Roulette terminals have their own wheel, which is encased in a plastic dome. When you perform a spin using the electronic terminal, the ball is propelled onto the wheel by air.

All other rules are the same as Rapid Roulette and standard roulette games.

Advantages of Airball Roulette

This is the perfect roulette game for those who like the solitude of slot machines and video poker, yet want to try something new.

Airball Roulette doesn’t involve any dealer or fellow players, meaning you don’t have to follow any etiquette rules.

In comparison to Rapid Roulette, Airball Roulette has the added benefit of letting you play at your own pace.

One more perk is that many Airball machines employ a European wheel because these games are cheaper to run than standard tables.

Drawbacks to Airball Roulette

In terms of human interaction, Airball Roulette is even worse than Rapid Roulette due to the absence of a dealer. This isn’t a game for people who visit casinos for the social aspect.

Another downside is that there’s no jackpot involved, which is what many machine players enjoy about slots and video poker.

Multi Wheel Roulette

How to Play Multi Wheel Roulette

Another game from Playtech, Multi Wheel Roulette is exactly as it sounds in that there are multiple wheels spinning at the same time.

You can choose to play up to eight wheels, which requires separate bets for each wheel. The upside is that your numbers / sections have a great chance of winning on one or more of the wheels you choose.

As for betting, you only have to worry about placing your chips on one board, rather than a separate board for each wheel.

But note that whatever bets you place will be multiplied by the number of wheels you’ve chosen.

Here’s an example: you make a $1 red / black bet and choose eight wheels. Your bet will now be $8.

Advantages of Multi Wheel Roulette

Those who like casino games with action will love this game because there’s nothing like having eight wheels spinning at once.

This game is less confusing than it seems because the pop up views give you clear indications of what numbers win on each wheel.

Even when you’re playing eight wheels, you can quickly scan the pop up screens to see how many times your bet(s) won.

Drawbacks to Multi Wheel Roulette

Even when playing low stakes, multi wheel roulette has the potential to quickly drain your bankroll. As mentioned before, a dollar bet on eight wheels turns into $8 per turn.

Of course, you have the option to play fewer wheels. But with many online casinos requiring a $1 minimum bet, you’re still putting more money at risk in a single turn.

Springo Roulette

How to Play Springo Roulette

Developed by Microgaming, Springo is a combination of bingo and roulette.

Rather than featuring numbers, the wheel has three alternating colors going around the wheel in blue, red, and yellow. You’ll also see one green pocket, which is a house friendly slot.

Another unique aspect of Springo is that it doesn’t feature a spinning ball. Instead, an air machine under the wheel mixes balls up, then one ball shoots out of a clear tube and onto one of the spaces.

Your betting options include: wagering on ball numbers between 1 and 10, the winning color, if the ball number will be odd / even, and if the ball will be numbered 1 5 or 6 10.

Advantages of Springo Roulette

If you think that mini roulette is interesting, then you’ll really like how much Springo changes the traditional roulette format.

Not only is the wheel multi colored, but results are determined by a bingo air machine in the center of the wheel.

Drawbacks to Springo Roulette

Roulette purists won’t appreciate how much this game varies from standard bingo. Plus, if you already have the odds down for normal roulette bets, you won’t like having to relearn them in this game.

One more drawback is that bingo isn’t the most popular game these days, so many players won’t see this bingo / roulette hybrid as a winning combination.

American Roulette

How to Play American Roulette

Like the name suggests, American roulette wheels are mainly found in American casinos.

The American roulette wheel has 38 numbers, including a zero and double zero, which always favor the house on even money bets.

As covered in the European roulette section, American roulette has a 5.26% house edge.

You can find exceptions, though, including American wheels with the la partage rule in effect. In this case, the house edge drops to 2.63%, which is even better than European roulette.

Advantages of American Roulette

The main advantage of American roulette is convenience. If you’re in the United States and don’t care about hunting for the lowest house edge, American roulette is always available.

Another perk is that the high house edge is countered by better comps. You’ll still lose more money on the American wheel over time, but at least you get more comps to ease the losses.

Drawbacks to American Roulette

The house edge is almost double that of European roulette, and nearly four times higher than French roulette. If you have the option to play one of the latter two games, do it.

Roulette Royale

How to Play Roulette Royale

Microgaming’s Roulette Royale is played on a European wheel, with the twist being that it also offers a progressive jackpot. The progressive jackpot is seeded at $60,000, and it was hit once for $440,353.

In order to win the progressive jackpot, the same number needs to win 5 times in a row, regardless of whether or not you bet on it.

Given that you only have 1 in 1,874,161 odds of hitting the jackpot, the chances of winning are very low. Luckily, you can also win these payouts:

  • $15 for the same number twice in a row.
  • $200 for the same number three times in a row.
  • $3,000 for the same number four times in a row.

You’re required to make a $1 side bet along with your regular wager to qualify for the progressive jackpot and side payouts.

Advantages of Roulette Royale

Casinos and game developers have found that they can spice up any classic game by adding a progressive jackpot to the mix.

Case in point, Roulette Royale offers an additional excitement since you have an opportunity to win a jackpot along with large side payouts.

Given that a player won $440,353 through Roulette Royale, the prospect of playing for life changing money is thrilling.

Drawbacks to Roulette Royale

Roulette Royale is a sucker bet.

In the game’s first seven years of existence, the progressive jackpot has only been hit once. It’s not hard to see why either when considering the astronomical odds against seeing the same number spun 5 times in a row.

You could argue that the side payouts soften the terrible odds of winning the jackpot. But even the $15 payout is hard to win because the odds of the same number coming up twice in a row are only 1 in 1,444.

It’s nice that you can still make even money bets to help win some of the money back that you lose through side bets. But the side bet itself is an absolute throwaway, and you have better chances of winning on a slot machine.

Mini Roulette

How to Play Mini Roulette

While the European and American wheels are very close in their quantity of numbers, 37 vs. 38, mini roulette offers a totally different look with its 13 numbers.

The mini roulette wheel features a single zero along with numbers 1 to 12.

While the bets are the same, you’re dealing with a smaller wheel, betting board, and overall table.

Advantages of Mini Roulette

Anybody who’s played enough European and / or American roulette will jump at the chance to try the same game packaged in a mini version.

It’s hard to resist the mini roulette table when you see how cute it looks in comparison to its bigger European and American counterparts.

Drawbacks to Mini Roulette

Mini roulette is the absolute worst roulette game to play in terms of house edge. On a table with no la partage rule, you’ll be facing a 7.69% house edge, which puts mini roulette on the same level as many craps and sic bo prop bets.

If you really want to try mini roulette because of the way it looks, limit your play for 15 to 20 minutes and make the minimum bets.

The best case scenario is mini roulette with the la partage rule, which lowers the house edge to 3.85%. This is better than American roulette, but still not close enough to the European wheel.

California Roulette

How to Play California Roulette

By California law, only card and skill based forms of gambling are allowed in the state. But in 2004, California legalized their own version of roulette, which has different rules that what you’ll normally see in land based casinos.

Instead of a wheel with numbered pockets, California roulette features 38 numbered cards, with a zero and double zero. This is essentially American roulette with cards on the wheel.

The dealer spins the wheel like normal, and when the ball stops on the winning card, the dealer presents it to players.

Cache Creek casino in northern California has a slightly different version where, instead of numbered cards, it features alternating red and black cards.

The dealer takes cards from a shoe and puts them face down on the table in black and red spaces. When the ball stops on a black or red card, the card in the corresponding space is flipped over to determine the winning number.

Advantages of California Roulette

One benefit of California roulette is that it’s unique from any other roulette variation.

Granted, the cards are only used to get around state gambling standards. But it’s still fun playing a version where cards are used in place of numbered slots.

Drawbacks to California Roulette

The biggest problem with California roulette is that it’s exclusive to one state. If you don’t live anywhere on the American west coast, and you have no plans to vacation there, then you can’t play this game.

Another drawback is that most California roulette games operate on American wheels. Even with the novelty effect of cards being used, dealing with a 5.26% house edge is rough.

Conclusion

While roulette has been around for over two centuries, it continues to be relevant in casinos. And a big reason why is due to the inventive variations that casinos and online software developers have created in recent years.

For my take, nothing beats finding a French or European roulette game because their house edges give you a realistic chance to win.

But when I get bored with these classics, Rapid and Airball Roulette make for interesting land based alternatives.

If you want to venture really far away from regular roulette, Springo, Marvel, and Pinball Roulette offer unique formats.

That being said, I encourage you to branch out and try some of these roulette games if you haven’t done so already.