The Roulette Wheels

As one visits casinos located at different spots across the globe, he/she would undoubtedly encounter a variety of wheels used for the game of roulette. But what exactly is the wheel? Basically, it is comprised by two major parts – an outer and an inner section. The outer section is known as a bowl and represents the circular track where the ball spins. The inner section, which rotates, is known as a wheelhead. It contains the numbered pockets where the ball lands and eventually stops. Now, let us take our time and have a glance at the basic features of the most popular wheel types.

The French Wheel

We shall begin with the wheel, which is widespread in continental Europe, also known as the French wheel. The wheelhead consists of 37 numbered ball pockets, which are alternately colored in red and black. What is peculiar about this wheel type is that alongside the numbers from 1 to 36, there is one zero pocket as well. That is the reason why the French wheel is also known as a single-zero wheel. Additionally, the sequence of numbers on the wheelhead is one of its kind and is often called the French number sequence. The betting layout uses French terminology. Players can use regular casino chips in order to place their bets on the layout.

Unlike the American wheel type, no double zero is to be found on the French wheel. This feature enables gamblers to confront a 2.7% house advantage for any inside bet. What is more, thanks to the ”en prison” rule players can place even-money outside bets against a 1.37% advantage for the house.

Illustration of French roulette and betting layout

The American Wheel

The roulette wheel, which can be found in casinos in the United States and Canada, the Bahamas and the Caribbean Islands as well as in some regions in Asia, is known as the American wheel. Its wheelhead consists of 38 numbered ball pockets, which are alternately colored in red and black. What is specific about this wheel is that alongside the numbers from 1 to 36, there is one zero and one double zero. That is the reason why the American wheel is also known as a double-zero wheel.

The sequence of numbers on the wheelhead completely differs from that on the French wheel, thus, it is known as the American number sequence. Another feature is that the betting layout uses English terminology. Unlike the case with the French wheel, here players can place their bets using non-value colored roulette chips. This way bets by different players can be distinguished.

The American wheel enables gamblers to confront a 5.26% house advantage for almost any bets or bet combinations placed. We said almost any bets, because there is an exception. The surrender rule, which is valid in Atlantic city only, enables gamblers to place even-money outside bets against a 2.63% advantage for the house. This rule is in fact the same as the ”le partage” rule, with the latter being used in the United Kingdom.

Illustration of American roulette and betting layout

The Hybrid Wheel

There is another type of roulette wheel, which is in fact the only legitimate wheel used in the United Kingdom. It represents an American type of wheel having only a single zero. Due to the fact that both French (only a single-zero) and American (betting layout in English) features are present on this wheel, it is often called a hybrid. Casino practice in other regions of the globe is also familiar with the hybrid wheel type.

A number of variations of this wheel are to be encountered worldwide. One of them is that the sequence of numbers on the wheelhead can be either of French or of American type. Wheels, which use the American number sequence, may, in some cases, have the single zero located between the numbers 1 and 27. That is the spot, which the double zero should inhabit in the original American version. In other cases, the single zero may be located between the numbers 2 and 28.

In the United Kingdom some roulette wheels may use the French number sequence and have the single zero located between 26 and 32. Regardless of what variation of a wheel we may encounter, if there is a single zero only and a betting layout in English, it will be enough to fit the definition of a ”hybrid”.

As the hybrid wheel comes with 37 numbered ball pockets and lacks a double zero, gamblers are able to place inside bets against a 2.7% advantage for the house, or exactly the same as the case with the French wheel. The ”le partage” rule, which we already mentioned above, lowers the advantage of the house to 1.35%, when even-money outside bets are placed.

Whenever we come across a single-zero wheel at casinos in the United States, we can almost always refer to it as a hybrid. However, we should note that neither the surrender, nor the ”le partage” rule is applied to single-zero wheels, not even in Atlantic city.

Now that we have explained the major differences between various types of roulette wheels, it is time we discussed how the game itself is played.

Illustration of European roulette and betting layout

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