Everything You Need To Know About The Roulette Wheel

Roulette, originating in 19th-century France, has evolved into a global sensation - and it is quite easily one of the most popular casino games in the world. The fact that it is purely a game of chance is one of its major appeals - and the fact that you can select from a range of bets makes it the popular game it is.

However, what really makes it such a legendary game is that iconic roulette wheel. Here, we will look at the roulette wheel, the different versions, why it’s designed the way it is, the roulette wheel numbers, and which is the best roulette wheel of all.

What Is The Roulette Wheel?

The roulette wheel is the iconic centrepiece of the game of roulette. It consists of a large numbered wheel with alternating red and black pockets - each pocket numbered from 0 to 36. The numbers aren’t arranged sequentially, but that’s not to say they are random either - in fact, they follow a specific pattern that has been designed to create an equal distribution of high/low, even and odd numbers.

The European version of the roulette wheel includes one single green 0 pocket, while the American version has an extra green pocket with a double zero and the green single zero - which increases the house edge.

When playing roulette, you simply need to place a bet on where you think the ball will land on the roulette wheel. The wheel is then set into motion, and a small ball is released in the opposite direction of the wheel's spin. As the wheel slows down, the ball will eventually drop into one of the numbered pockets. Whether you win or lose is determined by the number and colour of the pocket where the ball eventually lands.

Essentially, the roulette wheel is designed to make sure that it is a game of pure chance - as there is no skill involved in predicting where the ball will land, and there are no ways you can improve your chance of picking the right number (apart from simply betting on more numbers, of course). You can place various types of bets - each offering different odds and payouts based on how likely the outcome is.

Different Versions of the Roulette Wheel

Roulette has several variations- the main differences among them are the layout of the wheel and the associated rules. The three most popular versions are the American, European, and French roulette wheels.

The European Roulette Wheel

The European roulette wheel is the original and most common version - containing 37 roulette numbers, from 0 to 36.

The wheel has one single green 0 pocket.

With the single zero wheel, the house edge in European roulette is lower than the American version, making it a favourite with players - it is approximately 2.70%.

Visual of how the European wheel appears

The American Roulette Wheel

The American roulette wheel is more popular in the United States (unsurprisingly) and some other regions. This roulette game features 38 roulette numbers - from 00 to 36.

Unlike the European wheel, the American wheel has two green pockets - the 0 and the 00 pockets, which means less favourable odds for players.

The house edge in American Roulette is almost double European Roulette at 5.26% - meaning there are slightly lower odds of winning.

Visual of how the American wheel appear

French Roulette Wheel

French roulette uses the same wheel as European roulette - so it also has 37 pockets.

However, the main difference between European and French Roulette lies in the rules and the French roulette table rather than the roulette numbers on the wheel.

The La Partage rule in French roulette means that if you place an even-money bet (such as red/black or odd/even bet) and the ball lands in the green 0 pocket, you will only lose half of your bet instead of the entire amount. This rule reduces the house edge even more - making it one of the most player-friendly roulette games.

Adding rules can affect the house edge and player odds overall, but the roulette wheel has little difference here.

Unsurprisingly, European and French roulette wheels are the most popular with players because they have a lower house edge.

The Background Behind the Roulette Wheel Layout

As mentioned earlier, the design of the wheel is not by chance - in fact, it follows a specific pattern that has been carefully designed to achieve balance and fairness whilst still maintaining the element of chance that defines it.

So, with that being said, here are some aspects of the roulette wheel design:

Alternating Colours: The red and black roulette numbers alternate around the wheel - except for the green 0 pocket (and the 00 in American roulette). This alternation doesn’t just look good, but it’s also for practical purposes - as it makes it easier to distinguish between different bets and simply makes the game more visually interesting.

Distribution of Roulette Numbers: You may have noticed, but numbers aren’t in sequential order. However, neither are they distributed in a random order. In fact, they have been strategically arranged to create a balanced outcome. This distribution helps to ensure that there is no particular section of the wheel that is more likely to yield a winning number than another - i.e. no half with high numbers and no half with low numbers.

House Edge - The Green Pockets: The house edge in roulette is determined mainly by the presence of one or two green 0 (and 00) pockets. It is the addition of these pockets that provides the casino with an advantage over players - as any bets placed on red/black, odd/even or even high/low lose when the ball lands in the 0 or 00 pocket. That’s why the number of green pockets and their wheel placement generally determines the house edge for each roulette variation.

Overall, the roulette wheel's design is a mixture of art and mathematics that has been carefully created to make the game look good - and make sure that, in the end, it is always the casino that has the advantage.

How Many Numbers Can Be Found on a Roulette Wheel?

Well, how many numbers on the roulette wheel depends on the game you’re playing - a standard roulette wheel contains either 37 or 38 numbers:

European Roulette Wheel Numbers: This version has 37 numbers, including the numbers 1 through 36 and a single 0 pocket. The numbers are coloured either red or black, apart from the 0, which is green.

American Roulette Wheel Numbers: American roulette wheels have 38 numbers - again, including the numbers 1 through 36, a single 0 pocket, plus an extra 00 pocket. The 0 and 00 are green, while the rest of the roulette numbers are red or black.

These numbers are strategically placed around the wheel to create a balanced game - but give the casino its edge. You then place your bet on specific numbers or various combinations of numbers and hope you predict it correctly.

Despite the roulette wheel numbers and house edge being different, the payout for even money bets and a straight-up bet remains the same.

The Best Roulette Wheel

So, which is the best roulette wheel? Well, really it depends on your preferences and objectives, as each version offers a completely different experience.

Understandably, many players consider European roulette the best option as it has a lower house edge compared to American roulette - making it a more favourable choice if your main focus is on giving yourself better odds of winning.

However, French roulette is similar to European roulette - but because it includes the ‘La Partage’ rule, it reduces the house edge even more. As such, French roulette is often preferred by some players who are looking for the best odds. as well as different rules.

Finally, we have American roulette - which tends to have a higher house edge - and because of this, it is generally the least preferred version of the game. Sure, it may well offer great gameplay, but the increased house edge makes it less attractive to many.

Ultimately, the best roulette wheel depends on your tastes and priorities. If you are looking for better odds, European or French roulette is the way to go. However, if you aren’t bothered by slightly lower odds, American roulette can still be a great choice.

Roulette Wheels Online

Online roulette wheels work in a very similar way to their physical land-based counterparts. These, too, are designed to offer fair and random outcomes. The main difference is that instead of a dealer physically spinning the roulette wheel and releasing the ball, online roulette games use a Random Number Generator (RNG) to determine the winning number and colour, making sure that every single spin is independent of the last one.

Visually, the main difference between a physical and online roulette wheel is purely the fact that they are digital. Instead of a physical wheel, you see a virtual representation of a wheel on your screen. The advantage of this is that it allows for a wider range of game variations and features.

Are they as fair? Well, yes. Because reputable online casinos use certified RNGs so you can enjoy the same level of randomness and unpredictability as a physical roulette wheel.

That covers everything there is about the roulette wheel, how many numbers on a roulette wheel, how it works - and which is the right choice for you as a player.

Take Time to Think | BeGambleAware.org | 18+

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