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.
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.
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.