Online Roulette Variants

Roulette variants let gamblers explore the different options available to them when they’re playing the game either in a casino or at a gambling website. With each of these options, the odds and potential payback can slightly change. As a result, it’s a good idea to understand how these online roulette variants work and whether or not they’re a good idea for you as a gambler.

Roulette Neon LightsPlaying roulette online for money makes for an exciting and potentially lucrative simulation of the famous wheel-spinning game found in casinos. Novice players might not realize how the basic game can be altered in slight but meaningful ways. When you decide to play online roulette, you should make sure that you find the game that suits you best.

In the following article, we’ll help you out in that regard by telling you all about the different online roulette variants available to you. We’ll talk about how the basic game works, then we’ll go into all the ways that the game can be changed up. Finally, we’ll answer some important questions about online roulette variants.

Basic Online Roulette Action

Before you can understand online roulette variants, you have to understand how the basic game works. You have the opportunity to place bets on the spaces that are represented by the simulated spinning wheel. If the ball inside the wheel lands in one of the spaces that you’ve covered with your bets, you win the bet.

No matter what kind of roulette you’re playing, your odds rise and your payback diminishes as you cover more numbers with your bets. Here is a look at how that plays out in terms of types of bets and the payback attached to them:

  • Single number (straight-up): 35 to 1
  • Two numbers (split): 17 to 1
  • Three numbers (street): 11 to 1
  • Four numbers (corner): 8 to 1
  • Five numbers (basket, only available in American roulette): 6 to 1
  • Six numbers (six line): 5 to 1
  • 12 numbers (columns, dozen): 2 to 1
  • 18 numbers (odd, even, red, black, 1 to 18, 19 to 36): 1 to 1

These are the basics for just about all major forms of roulette. Now, let’s take a look at the differences in roulette variants.

European Roulette

In European Roulette, there are 37 spaces on the wheel (and on the betting board):

  • 18 red
  • 18 black
  • 1 green

The 18 red and 18 black spaces combine to comprise the numbers 1 through 36. Meanwhile, the green space is a zero.

The green space is known as a house space because the house will win all even-money bets if the ball lands there. There is no way for a player to cover a house space with an even-money bet. They would have to make a separate straight bet on the zero if they wanted to do that.

American Roulette

In American roulette, there are 38 spaces:

  • 18 red
  • 18 black
  • 2 green

The green spaces are represented by a zero and a double-zero. In other words, there are two house spaces in American-style online roulette. And you can probably tell why that’s problematic for players.

First of all, the chances of the ball landing on any given number are 1 in 38 instead of 1 in 37, which means worse odds that you can cover the winning spin. In addition, there are two green spaces where, if the ball lands there, any even-money bets will be lost by the players.

Basically, you have better odds of winning on a given spin of European-style online roulette than you do with its American counterpart.

In addition, there is a bet in American-style online roulette called the basket that allows you to bet on five spaces at once: 0, 00, 1, 2, and 3. This bet is not a good one for players, since its expected payback percentage lags behind all other bets available to you. As a result, you shouldn’t bet the basket unless you want to hurt your payback potential.

Roulette Payback Percentage and House Edge

When you’re playing online roulette for a short session, your results will be highly influenced by luck. For example, after 10 spins each of an American and European Roulette game, you might have a bigger bankroll in the American-style game. That just means that you were lucky enough in those spins to overcome the lesser odds that the American online roulette game provides.

Yet, over time, that luck will even out. The percentages and payback will determine the outcome of your play far more accurately the more you play online roulette. That’s when the payback percentage and house edge start to materialize.

American and European Roulette Wheels

European Roulette, without any rule changes (which will talk about in a moment) to change the standard format, offers players a payback percentage of roughly 97.3%. The house edge, which is gathered by subtracting the payback percentage from 100%, is 2.7%. In other words, a representative session of $1,000 gambled on online roulette with European rules would result in the player’s bankroll having $973 left after a $27 loss.

In American-style online roulette, the payback percentage falls to 94.7%, with a house edge of around 5.3%. That is a byproduct of the inclusion of the extra space on the wheel.

While payback percentage shouldn’t be the be-all and end-all of your decision-making process for online roulette, you should consider it if you’re going to play regularly. Over a long period of time, your bankroll will take much more of a hit when playing American-style instead of European style.

Rules Changes in Roulette Variants

All things being equal, European Roulette is a better option than American roulette when you’re playing online. But there are a few rules that can be added that can balance out that equation somewhat.

These rules both involve what happens when you have made an even-money bet and the ball lands on one of the green “zero” spaces. In most standard online roulette games, it would mean that you would automatically lose that bet. That’s why the green spaces are known as “house spaces.”

But the rules we’re about to discuss allow you to mitigate some of the damage from a spin landing in the green. Take a look at these rules and see how they affect gameplay for online roulette.

Online Roulette Surrender or La Partage

This rule is the same, but it goes by two different names: surrender in American-style online roulette and la partage in the European format. And it basically allows you to avoid taking the full hit when you’ve made an even-money bet and the ball lands on a green space.

In online roulette games where this rule is allowed, you would only lose half of your bet in this scenario.

For example, if you bet 100 units and this occurred, you would only lose 50 of these units. The other 50 would be returned to you.

In the case of surrender or la partage, you are guaranteed to not lose all of your bet, which is a consolation. It might not seem like much, but it will eventually help your payback percentage in the long run. As a result, online roulette variants with this rule in a place should be chosen if you have the opportunity.

Imprisonment or En Prison

This is a different way to salvage something if you’ve made that even-money bet and the ball lands in the green. Unfortunately, it’s rare to find an American-style online roulette game that includes this rule. That’s just another feather in the cap of the European-style game.

The benefit of imprisonment is that it gives you the chance to salvage all of your bet, not just the half with surrender. When this is rule is in place, you’ve made an even-money bet, and the ball lands on the green zero, your bet is “in prison.” It is not lost, instead, it stays on the board for the next spin.

If the next spin comes up and the space is covered by the imprisoned bet, you receive the entirety of your bet back. However, if the spin comes up and the number isn’t covered, you then lose the bet for good.

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Keep in mind that the imprisoned bet is returned to you if that second spin goes your way, but it’s not the same as winning the bet. When you win a 100-unit even-money bet, for example, you get the 100-unit bet back plus 100 units in profit.

In the case of an imprisoned bet, you would only get the 100 units back without the profit. But this is still preferable to losing the bet entirely, which is what would have happened if the imprisonment rule wasn’t in place.

Surrender, Imprisonment, and Payback

How do these rules affect the payback that we mentioned above? Take a look.

Style/RTP Without surrender or imprisonment With surrender or imprisonment
European 97.3% 98.6%
American 94.7% 97.2%

Keep in mind also that you might be able to find some European-style games where both la partage and en prison options are available. But you have to understand that it is an either/or situation.

When both are in play and the ball lands on the green space with an even-money bet in place, you have the choice of either taking the surrender and losing half your bet or putting the bet in prison in an attempt to salvage all of it. You can’t benefit from both rules at once.

In any case, the chart shows that online roulette variants with these rules are good ones for players. If you can find one at a top gambling website, you should take advantage of it.

Different Online Roulette Types FAQ

  • How Serious Should I Be About Finding an Online Roulette Variant With the Best Payback?

    It depends how often you’re going to be playing the game. Casual players don’t have to worry about statistics like payback percentage or house edge too much. They just won’t be playing the game often enough for those metrics to take hold.

    But if you want to play online roulette often, you should choose the variant with the best potential payback. If you can find one with a low house edge, you might be able to make up the expected losses in real money gambling website rewards.

  • Do I Have To Understand the Rules If I’m Going To Play a Different Online Roulette Variant?

    Not necessarily. The game’s software will take care of everything once you make your bets and start your digital spin of the wheel. It will calculate any winnings you’ve earned and automatically enact any special rules attached to the game.

    That said, knowing what you’re doing will help you make better choices when you play. And better choices will usually lead to getting better returns. But it also wouldn’t hurt to make the effort to understand the intricacies of the online roulette variant you’ve chosen.

  • Should I Use a Different Strategy for Each Different Online Roulette Variant I Play?

    There really isn’t a strategy that will help your overall payback in online roulette, no matter what version you play. You can’t predict where the ball is going to land in any way, so there’s no strategy for choosing your numbers. And no matter how you choose to bet, your odds and potential payback will always be the same.