Understanding roulette house edge

Casino (or the House) has a considerable advantage over the roulette players known as the roulette house edge (also known as house average, house advantage or expected value). It is actually seen as the mathematical difference between the player's true odds (in roulette these are 36 to 1 for hitting a particular number in both European and American roulette odds) and the actual payouts for the winning bet. This difference is actually what brings the profit to the casino. Even if the player wins, in the long term he or she still loses to a casino.

Roulette house edge in European and American roulette

The house gains its roulette house edge due to the presence of the zero pocket on the roulette wheel. Not only does the presence of zero reduce the player's chances to actually win the bet, but also lets the casino win in the long term, even though the player actually loses only several dollars in a single spin.

Zero pocket is what makes the greatest difference between the European and American roulette:

  • The wheel in American roulette has two pockets for a zero. This gives to a casino an increased house edge of 5.26%. In general, the player has 1/38 chances to win and 37/38 chances to lose. The American roulette house edge is thus calculated this way:
    (-1 x 37 divided by 38) + (35 x 1 divided by 38) = -0.0526 which is 5.26%.
  • European roulette wheel has a single pocket for a zero. This reduces the house edge to 2.63%. The formula for calculating European roulette house edge is (-1 x 36 divided by 37) + (35 x 1 divided by 37) = -0.0270 (this is 2.7% house edge). That's why one of the tips for roulette is to always look for European wheel and avoid playing American roulette.

One shouldn't confuse the house edge with the hold. The hold is basically seen as the amount of money the player actually loses.

How to reduce the roulette house edge

It is important to understand how the roulette house edge works before you actually begin to play roulette with real money. It is notable that the house edge is most vivid when you win, not when you lose at the roulette table.

For instance, you may place your $1 bets on a single number. You'd have to bet $37 in total to cover all numbers on the European roulette layout. Your true odds at roulettewill be 36 to 1, but if you win, you actually get paid at 35 to 1, meaning that the house doesn't take your true odds into consideration. In fact, you will get $35 and lose $2.

There are ways that may help the player reduce the roulette house edge:

  1. First of all, as it was mentioned, it is best to play European roulette rather than American as far as it offers lower house edge.
  2. One may search for tables introducing favorable La Partage rule and En Prison rule. These allow reducing the roulette house edge to about 1.35%.
  3. It is also possible to play No Zero roulette - one of classical roulette variations having a zero house edge as its wheel has no zero pockets.


European roulette
American roulette
No Zero roulette
Roulette Royale