Beware single-zero video roulette games at land-based casinos.
A person’s knowledge of roulette variants will vary based on their location, means of access, and overall experience with the games. A novitiate residing in America might think double-zero roulette is the only thing available. Likewise, a British newbie may only be familiar with single-zero roulette. While these are the most basic of differentials, there’s a lot more that separates variations of the game.
There are traditional roulette tables and wheels that you can play on at most land-based casinos. There are online roulette games, built into computer software programs that mimic the roulette table’s wheel and ball, delivering the same randomness you’d experience on a live wheel game. Then there are video-based, single-zero roulette machines that may seem like a perfect meld of the two, but they rarely are.
Single-Zero Roulette, Live and Online
Single-zero games are what many players refer to as European Roulette. French Roulette is also based on the single-zero format, but offers more group-number betting options. Otherwise, all single-zero roulette tables, live and online, are essentially the same.
Live or online, they both have a 37-spot wheel numbered 0-36. They both use a single ball that spins around and falls into a slot on the wheel, determining the winning number. More importantly, they both have the exact same betting diagram and pay table.
Walk up to any European Roulette table at a live casino, and the payout for a single number selection should be 35-to-1, equal to a 2.7% house edge. Log into any online casino, choose to play European Roulette, and all wagers (except first 5) will have the same 2.7% house edge.
2.7% may seem high compared to a blackjack game, where perfect strategy can deliver as low as 0.27% house edge, but in the realm of roulette, it’s far better than the traditional 5.26% edge on double-zero (American) roulette. That’s why these games are so preferred by player’s who know better. And why some can end up getting duped into playing video-based single-zero roulette machines—because they don’t know better.
Single-Zero Video Roulette Games
Throwing the word “video” into the equation can change everything. A video roulette game is one that’s found in a live casino setting, but played on an automated machine. These are the ones you need to be aware of, and most likely, steer clear of. They are usually placed in land-based casinos where European Roulette is not provided as a live dealer table game—often by regulatory design.
Although these games may look and feel like the usual single-zero games we play live and online, the video version tends to offer a slightly varied pay table. That slight deviation makes a huge difference in payout potential.
As I said above, the house edge on European Roulette should be 2.70% on almost every available bet, ranging from odds/evens and high/low, to dozens, to single number selections. But that’s not always the case…
Before you play any single-zero video roulette games, make sure to investigate the pay table thoroughly. Check the payout for a single-number bet, as this is where deviation is most evident. It should pay “35-to-1”. If it says “35-for-1”, or anything less than “35”, you’re not getting the best roulette odds.
The difference between “to” and “for” in the pay table is more significant than you might think. When the payout is 35 “to” 1, you will get 35x your bet, plus your original bet returned. If it’s 35 “for” 1, the casino keeps the original bet, so 35x your bet is all you get back. Some of these single-zero roulette machines are so bad, they’ll pay “33-for-1” on a single number bet, boosting the house edge to an abysmal 10.8%. Ouch!