House EdgeHouse edge is hugely important in any casino game, as it basically tells you how much the game is weighted in the casino’s favour, so the smaller it is the more chance you have of walking away with some money. In theory at least.

Volatility and luck all come into play here as well, but at the end of the day the house edge is there to ensure the casino makes a profit over the long term. You can think of it as the fee they charge for providing the service in the first place, after all, a casino is a business not a charity, so for every person that walks away a winner there will be a number of losers who have paid for it.

There are actually different house edges for the different variations of roulette, and if there are any associated side bets they will have their own house edge as well, but for regular bets on the table the edge is almost always the same.

Where Does the House Edge Come From?

People Playing RouletteIn roulette, the game is set up so that the house has a slight advantage over the player. This is built into the game in two ways; firstly the addition of the zero gives all even money bets a little under 50% chance of winning, and secondly the payouts for all bets are set a little lower than they would be if the game was to be evenly balanced.

The house edge is essentially the difference between the mathematical probability of a bet winning and the actual payout for that bet.

For example, there are 37 numbers on a European roulette table including the zero, but a straight up bet pays out at 35:1, so the player gets their stake back, plus 35 further betting units. That’s 36 betting units, one less than there are numbers on the board. The probability of winning a straight up bet is 1 in 37, but the payout is only 35:1.

Looking at the even money bets it is the same story. You have a 48.65% chance of winning an even money because of 18 of the 37 numbers on the board are black or red, high or low, etc. But by rights an even money bet should have a 50% chance of winning given that the payout is 1:1. This is where the zero comes in. It is not included in even money bets like black or red, odd or even etc, and so it provides the house with its’ edge.

All the other bets on the board are weighted in the same way.

There is nothing wrong with the casino doing this. Ok, the game is not technically ‘fair’ but if it was the casino wouldn’t make a penny because for everyone who lost there would be a winner, so there would be nothing left for them to take as profit. A business with no profit is no business at all so there would be no casinos.

The House Edge in Roulette

There are three main versions of roulette.

Here they are with their house edges:

  • European Roulette – 2.70%
  • French Roulette – 2.70% or 1.35%
  • American Roulette – 5.26%

We can now look at these edges in a bit more detail.

European Roulette

European roulette is nice and easy to understand because no matter what bet you make the house edge will always be the same:

Bet Type Payout Probability House Edge
Straight Up 35:1 2.70% 2.70%
Split 17:1 5.41% 2.70%
Street 11:1 8.11% 2.70%
Corner 8:1 10.81% 2.70%
Line 5:1 16.2% 2.70%
Column 2:1 32.4% 2.70%
Red/Black 1:1 48.64% 2.70%
Odd/Even 1:1 48.64% 2.70%
High/Low 1:1 48.64% 2.70%

Now let’s have a look at the French version of the game.

French Roulette

By French roulette we mean games that include the La Partage and En Prison ruleswhich affect even money bets. With these rules in play, any even money bet that loses due to the ball landing on zero will either have half of the stake returned to the player (La Partage) or have the bet held in place and carried over to the next spin (En Prison), with the full stake being returned if that second spin is a winner.

This cuts the house edge for those bets in half, which is why you will either be facing an edge of 2.70% or 1.35% – it depends on the bet you make and the outcome.

Bet Type Payout Probability House Edge
Straight Up 35:1 2.70% 2.70%
Split 17:1 5.41% 2.70%
Street 11:1 8.11% 2.70%
Corner 8:1 10.81% 2.70%
Line 5:1 16.2% 2.70%
Column 2:1 32.4% 2.70%
Red/Black 1:1 48.64% 2.70%/1.35%
Odd/Even 1:1 48.64% 2.70%/1.35%
High/Low 1:1 48.64% 2.70%/1.35%

Finally, we can consider American roulette.

American Roulette

As you can hopefully already appreciate, this is the worst value version of the game. This is because the wheel holds a double zero as well as a single zero, and as we have learned the zero is what gives the house it’s edge. With two zeros then the house edge almost doubles, and it also creates a further even worse value bet: the sucker bet.

This is a bet placed on the 0, 00, 1, 2, and 3 – a line bet where only 5 numbers are covered instead of the usual 6. The house edge here is a massive 7.89%.

Bet Type Payout Probability House Edge
Straight Up 35:1 2.63% 5.26%
Split 17:1 5.26% 5.26%
Street 11:1 7.89% 5.26%
Corner 8:1 10.53% 5.26%
5 Line 6:1 13.16% 7.89%
Line 5:1 15.79% 5.26%
Column 2:1 31.58% 5.26%
Red/Black 1:1 46.37% 5.26%
Odd/Even 1:1 46.37% 5.26%
High/Low 1:1 46.37% 5.26%

Ideally then, based on house edge alone, you would be looking to play French roulette to gain the benefit of the La Partage and En Prison rules on the even money outside bets, and you would avoid American roulette as it is weighted much more heavily in the casino’s favour.

Roulette Side Bets

Key Bet Roulette LogoWe have so far only dealt with the regular setup of each roulette version, but if you play online you can find many weird and wonderful variations with extra features to contend with, and these can have an impact on the house edge.

For example, some games add a multiplier to proceedings, although you often have to place a bet on a special extra pocket to qualify for it. This is the same as placing a straight up bet except you have the chance to win much more than the usual 35:1. However, the rub is that you can also win less, so it’s a risk on an already difficult bet to win.

Key Bet Roulette is one game that does this, offering up to 100x your stake if the stars align, but the overall house edge jumps to 4.66% so the opportunity doesn’t come cheap.

Superman Roulette LogoJackpots are another common addition, and usually have to be accessed by placing a qualifying bet, although not always. Superman roulette allows the player to choose whether or not to opt for the jackpot, and charges 1% extra on all bets to be involved. It also contains a separate bonus round in a similar way to Key Bet roulette where the edge is affected.

That isn’t always the case though. Roulette X2 actually gives the player an extra incentive to play which only decreases the house edge. There is an additional dice game after a winning spin that could double your payout which boosts the RTP to a maximum 97.74%, thus dropping the house edge to 2.26% – an extra 0.44% to the player.

House Edge Questions Answered

Can I Beat the House Edge With a Roulette Strategy?

There is nothing you can do to change the house edge in roulette. There is no optimal strategy like there is in blackjack or other games, each spin of the wheel is based purely on chance.

The best thing you can do is find a version of the game that is designed to give as much advantage to the player as possible.

Why do Some Roulette Games Have a Different House Edge?

Aside from European, French, and American, there are some versions of online roulette that have been adjusted to incorporate extra features, and these may have a different house edge to balance out this new factor.

A lot of the time the game will be weighted by slightly adjusting the payout for certain bets, but the player has the benefit of whatever the extra feature might be. Whether or not you think the trade off is worth it is up to you.

Which Version of Roulette has the Best House Edge?

French roulette just edges it because of the La Partage and En Prison rules, but there are a couple of online games based on the European version of the game which are better than average as well.

Betfair Bonus roulette is one of these as it comes with a bonus round that triggers when the ball lands on zero, and you don’t even need to have a bet on zero to qualify. If you can find something like this with an RTP of above 97.30% (which means house edge of 2.70%) then you are onto a winner.