Many casual roulette players fail to make a distinction between the game’s European and French varieties. The two play on single-zero wheels and share a common structure. However, there are certain subtleties in terms of layout and rules that differentiate French roulette from its European cousin.
French tables offer more betting opportunities and deliver a higher return to players. If you are looking to learn more about the predecessor of all roulette variations, we applaud you for your excellent choice. This is easily the most rewarding variant of the wheel-based game.
Here you will be able to find handy information about the French table layout, the game’s basic and special bets, and the rules that cut the house edge in half. We also brief you on some of the terms and croupier calls you are likely to hear when playing the French tables.
Table Design and Wheel Layout
French roulette uses a wheel with a total of 37 divisions that contain numbers 1 to 36, with 18 black and 18 red pockets that alternate along with a single-zero pocket colored in green. The numbers on the wheel are dispersed and do not appear in the same order as they do on the betting layout.
The sequencing of the numbers on French wheels coincides with that on European ones. It runs clockwise as follows: 0, 32, 15, 19, 4, 21, 2, 25, 17, 34, 6, 27, 13, 36, 11, 30, 8, 23, 10, 5, 24, 16, 33, 1, 20, 14, 31, 9, 22, 18, 29, 7, 28, 12, 35, 3, 26. There 18 red/odd/low numbers and 18 black/even/high numbers as is the case on all roulette wheels.
If you take some time to scrutinize how these numbers are ordered around the wheelhead, you will discern they are placed in such a way so that red, black, odd, even, high, and low numbers are evenly dispersed.
The purpose of this is to preserve the randomness of the game and prevent sharp-eyed players from predicting the outcomes. You can read in more detail about the discernible patterns on the single-zero wheel in our article on the number sequences in European and American roulette. Similarly to the European wheels, the numbers on the French wheel are facing inward toward its center.View more...
Brief Run-Through of the Main Bets in French Roulette
French roulette shares the same rules as all other variants of the game. The goal is to predict where the ball will drop when it loses momentum. The croupier spins the wheel in one direction and tosses the ball in the opposite direction. A marker is placed on the winning number. It remains there until all bets are settled and a new round of play can begin.
The main bets available in French roulette largely coincide with those in the European and American varieties. They are divided into main groups, inside and outside bets. These are briefly explained below. We recommend you to refer to our article on roulette bet types for further information.
Inside bets are made on the inner section of the layout where all roulette numbers are listed. You pick either a single number or a combination of two to six numbers.
- En Plein (straight up) – you are betting on one of the 37 numbers (0 to 36). It pays 35 to 1.
- Cheval (split) – the player picks two adjacent numbers on the layout (eg. 6, 9). It pays 17 to 1.
- Transversal (street) – a bet on three consecutive numbers on the same row (eg. 4, 5, 6). The payout is 11 to 1.
- Carre (corner) – a bet on four numbers with a common corner on the layout (eg. 14, 15, 17, 18). The payout is 8 to 1.
- Sixain (double street) – a bet on two rows for a total of six consecutive numbers (eg. 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21). It pays 5 to 1.
Outside bets are extremely popular among French roulette rookies, mainly due to their simplicity and higher odds of winning. The chips for outside bets are posted outside the main betting area with the numbers. The group comprises bets on the numbers’ characteristics, the dozens, and the columns.
- Douzaine (dozen bets) – the player picks one of the three dozens, Premier Douzaine or 12P (1 through 12), Moyenne Douzaine or 12M (13 through 24) or Derniere Douzaine or 12D (25 through 36). The zero is not included in any of the dozens. The bet pays 2 to 1.
- Colonne (column bets) – you choose one of the three columns of non-consecutive numbers for a payout of 2 to 1.
- Rouge et Noir (red or black) – the player is betting that the ball will land on their selected color. All bets on red or black lose when the ball lands on zero. If you win, the dealer pays you at even odds (1 to 1).
- Pair et Impair (even or odd) – the player picks numbers on the basis of parity. If any number of the selected parity hits, the player wins even money. You lose if zero hits or if the ball lands on a number with the opposite parity to the one you have chosen.
- Passe et Manque (high or low) – a bet on low (1 to 18) or high numbers (19 to 36). The payout is 1 to 1. It loses after a spin of the single zero.
The “French” Bets
Once you gain enough experience with the main bets in French roulette, you can start incorporating more advanced wagers into your gameplay. Seasoned roulette players know them as call or announced bets. Others refer to them as the “French” bets.
Instead of betting on the numbers the way they appear on the layout, you stake money on groups of numbers as they appear on the wheel. These bets usually require you to spread your betting action with multiple chips to cover all numbers from a wheel section on the layout. Here are the four most popular call bets explained in brief:
- Tiers du Cylinder (One-third of the Wheel) includes all numbers sitting on the opposite side of the single zero, namely numbers 27 through 33. This is a six-chip bet placed on the splits of the included numbers. It pays 17 to 1.
- Voisins du Zero (Neighbors of Zero) covers a group of 17 numbers that surround the zero, i.e. 22 through 25. The bet requires nine chips posted on five splits, one corner, and the 0, 2, and 3. The payout varies depending on what bet you win with.
- Les Orphelins (the Orphans) features 8 numbers positioned in the two smaller wheel sections between the Voisins and the Tiers. It is placed as four splits and one straight up bet. You win 17 to 1 with a split and 35 to 1 with the straight bet.
- Jeu Zero (Zero Game) is a miniature of the Voisins bet. It comprises two numbers to the right of the zero (32 and 15), the four numbers on its left (26, 3, 35, and 12), and the zero itself. It is posted as three splits and a straight up bet on number 26.
- Finales (Finals) are bets made on all the numbers that end in the same digit (eg. 4, 14, 24, 34 and 9, 19, 29). The player needs either four or three chips to make this wager. There are two types in this category. With Finales en Plein, you post the chips straight up on individual numbers. With Finales en Cheval, the chips are posted on splits of numbers like 1/4, 11/14, 21/24, and 31/34. This bet is not made on a wheel segment.
The “French” Rules – A Second Chance for Even-Money Bettors
One of the biggest differences between French and European roulette is that the former gives even-odds bettors a second chance when the ball settles in the green pocket. Ordinarily, bets on color, parity, and range lose when the ball ends up on the single zero. This is not the case at the French tables where two exclusive rules are in place – La Partage and En Prison.
En Prison rule
Under the En Prison rule (literary “in prison” from French), even-money bets remain on the layout instead of immediately losing after a spin of the single zero. The dealer puts a marker on top of the losing bet to indicate the chips are en prison. If the bet wins on the next spin of the wheel, the “imprisoned” stakes of the players are returned in full.
La Partage rule
The La Partage (“sharing” in French) rule is more commonly applied. Even-money wagers that lose to the zero are split into two halves. One half is returned to the player while the remaining half is collected by the dealer. This rule applies in some online variations of European roulette as well.
How French Roulette Measures against Its European and American Cousins
Many experienced roulette players gravitate toward French tables. This preference is no coincidence. The French version offers the best conditions from the player's perspective. It has the lowest house edge of all available roulette variations.
There are two main reasons for this reduction in the house take, starting with the fact the game is played on a wheel with a single zero. This alone sets the house advantage at 2.70%, the same percentage casinos collect from their European roulette tables in the long term.
In contrast, the roulette wheels in US-based casinos feature two green pockets, 0 and 00. They play with 38 numbers instead of 37 as is the case in European and French roulette. The addition of the double zero is disadvantageous for all players, regardless of what bets they make.
Smart players prefer French roulette because of the La Partage and En Prison rules. When in place, they cut the house advantage at single-zero tables in half, from 2.70% to 1.35%. It is irrelevant which of the two rules is in place. Both are equally beneficial to the player. It is obvious that French roulette is the best of the three roulette variations.
It reduces one's chances of winning with the inside bets because there is one extra pocket that can potentially cause a loss. Your chances decrease but you are still paid at standard roulette odds when you win. You get 35 units per every unit you wager straight up despite the fact the actual odds of winning with a single number are 37 to 1 on double-zero wheels.
The probability of winning with even-money, column, and dozen bets also drops in American roulette. The payouts remain the same. For example, with a column bet you have 12 winning numbers and 26 losing ones for a total of 38 pockets. The house pays at odds of 2 to 1.
The discrepancy between casino payouts and true odds sets the house edge in American roulette at -1 x (26/38) + 2 x (12/38) = -0.0526 x 100 = -5.26%. This example was for the column bet but the percentage is the same for all wagers made on double-zero wheels, except for the five-number bet.
The Language of French Roulette
There is no need to exceed in the French language to play this variation of the game online. The interface of most online French roulette variants is available in English, so you will experience no difficulties there.
If you plan on visiting a French landbased casino, however, it would be wise to familiarize yourself with some of the French phrases and dealer calls you are bound to hear at the roulette tables. We have compiled a short list to get you started.
Rien ne va plus
This croupier call translates as “No more bets” and indicates wagers are no longer accepted on the current spin.
Faites vos jeux
The phrase means “Place your bets please” in French. It marks the beginning of a new round of play.
Rien ne va
The croupier announces “Nothing goes” to declare the spin is not valid, usually because the ball has bounced off the spinning wheel, failing to produce a valid outcome.
Les jeux sont faits
This one translates as “Bets are made” and marks the launch of the ball on the spinning wheel.
Zero et les deux voisins
The phrase means “Zero and the two neighbors”. It refers to a specific neighbor bet that includes the zero and the two numbers on its left and right side, 3, 26, 32, and 15.
The kitty in which patrons at the French tables put the tips for the croupiers.
The rake the dealer collects chips with off the felt.
The word means “token” in French but refers to chips in the context of gambling.