For roughly 400 years and counting, gamblers the world over have savored the sweet sweat that can only be created by roulette’s rotating wheel and bouncing ball.
Other casino games like blackjack and video poker might involve more skill, and the slots surely offer a much larger potential jackpot, but for my money anyway, roulette is the quintessential gambler’s game.
Whether you play at an ornate table housed in a brick and mortar gambling hall – or on the internet via one of the top-rated online casinos – the simple appeal of roulette is unmistakable. No complex strategy charts or tough decisions to face here, just a guess and a little hope that Lady Luck is smiling your way.
But First… An Intro into the Game of Roulette
Games of pure chance like roulette are inherently random, which means skillful players can’t play any better than the baseline, you can still give yourself a leg up by practicing sound game selection. Savvy roulette players know that the game played today in modern casinos has been watered down over time, so they search far and wide for wheels that offer an Old World experience.
When the French originally conceived of roulette, the game featured the same alternating red and black spaces you recognize today. But back in the 17th century, roulette players only had 24 or 28 numbers to choose from, along with a single green “0” space that provided the house its inherent edge on all even money (Red or Black, Odd or Even, Low or High) wagers.
Eventually though, a shrewd casino operator realized that more numbers on the wheel equals less chance to win from the player’s perspective. They kept expanding until the 1-36 number alignment used today was born.
Even then, the traditional version of French roulette was extremely favorable in terms of the odds against. French roulette games use a rule known as “La Partage” – which is French for “The Divide” – to create a low house edge of 1.35 percent.
Just in case you’re hearing about the La Partage rule for the first time, here’s how it works…
After placing an even money wager on a French roulette wheel, players will watch the ball find the dreaded green “0” space on 1 in every 37 spins. But with La Partage in effect, your $10 bet on Red / Black, Odd / Even, or Low / High wouldn’t be claimed entirely by the casino. Instead, it would be divided into even $5 halves, with you collecting one half back as a rebate, and the casino scooping the other half for itself.
Obviously, only losing half of your even money bet when the “0” hits is a godsend for gamblers. Under this simple rule, the house edge on French roulette wheels is very reasonable at just 1.35 percent.
Good things for the player tend not to last in modern casinos though, and at some point La Partage on the French wheel became a rare sight in Sin City. When you see a single-zero wheel that doesn’t offer La Partage, the game is considered to be European roulette and it carries a house edge of 2.70 percent – or exactly double the rate offered by La Partage games.
Even worse, the glorified accountants who run corporate casinos nowadays had another brainstorm that directly affects the player’s bottom line – double-zero wheels.
By doing nothing more than adding another green “00” space to the wheel – thus downgrading your odds on even money bets from 1 in 37 to 1 in 38 – the American roulette wheel swells your house edge to 5.26 percent.
That’s nearly four times worse than La Partage roulette wheels, a fact which essentially turns these various setups into completely different gambling experiences.
And don’t even get me started on the absurd Triple Zero Roulette variant rolled out recently by a few shameless casinos on The Strip.
Speaking of The Strip, the world’s gambling capital isn’t exactly known for taking it easy on players. And the scourge of Triple Zero wheels and their 7.69 percent house edge aside, roulette on The Strip is largely made up of American double-zero wheels.
Unless you know where to look, it can be quite difficult to find a European single-zero wheel on Las Vegas Boulevard, while French wheels offering La Partage protection are even more scarce.
Fortunately, you will know where to look going forward, thanks to this list of the six best places to play roulette when you’re visiting the Las Vegas Strip.
1 – MGM Grand
When you walk into the lion’s den at MGM Grand – and I do mean that literally thanks to the iconic “Roaring Lion” entrance way – you’ll find 16 roulette tables waiting.
The best of the bunch are two French tables featuring the La Partage rule for a house edge of 1.35 percent. In exchange for those friendly odds, players must meet the $25 minimum bet on even money “outside” wagers. That’s a steep price to pay for many recreational gamblers, but it’s the standard for French roulette on The Strip.
If you don’t want to bet $25 per spin, you’ll also find 11 of the American double-zero tables which use a $10 minimum, and three more with a low $3 entry point.
2 – ARIA Resort & Casino
Everything about the ARIA screams modern luxury, from the artistic interior design to the impeccable service.
That extends to the roulette tables too, where a single French wheel can be played for $50 minimum bets.
Lower-stakes players have 11 double-zero American tables on hand at the $15 limit, and one more with a $5 starting wager.
3 – Mandalay Bay
Roulette at the Mandalay Bay is broken down similarly, which makes sense as it shares MGM Resorts as a parent company alongside MGM Grand and the ARIA.
La Partage players will be happy to find a pair of French wheels spinning for $50 limits, while nine other double-zero American tables can be played for a $10 minimum.
And don’t forget about the $3 limit American wheel, which is perfect for casual players looking to see if their number comes in on the cheap.
4 – The Cromwell Hotel & Casino
Famously home to the best craps tables in all of Las Vegas, the newly renovated Cromwell is a sharp gambler’s paradise.
You won’t find La Partage in effect here, but a European single-zero wheel without the rule can be played for a $25 minimum. American double-zero wheels are also found spinning at the $2 and $10 price points.
5 – Flamingo Las Vegas
The neon pink environs of the Flamingo made the cut for one simple reason – $1 limit roulette.
The wheel is obviously of the double-zero variety, but that’s OK when you get to spin for the lowest limits found on The Strip.
And if you prefer to play a bit higher, look for 10 tables that use a $10 minimum wager.
6 – Cosmopolitan
Roulette players who don’t like waiting for crowded tables to open up will love the Cosmopolitan, home to 13 different wheels spinning around the clock.
A dozen of the games here are $10 minimum double-zero affairs, while low-stakes shot-takers can fire away at a lone $3 table.
If the casinos on The Strip could add a fourth zero to the wheel and get away with it, they would without thinking twice. And who knows? That cursed development might just happen down the road. For now though, sharp roulette players who want to give themselves the best possible odds still have a few safe havens where French wheels, La Partage, and other player perks await.