When you take a tradition to another continent it will often evaluate to something completely different or at least find some major adjustments. You will probably not realize that when you play American Roulette, you play the common European variant of the nineteenth century as far as we know the history of this game. The difference between the European and American system is in the zero numbers. On the old continent we only have one zero between the pockets and in the American way we find two of them, marked as 0 and 00. This one is better for the casinos because it increases there edge from 2.70% to 5,26% and when you are responsible for the accountancy of a particular casino you will be happy with that. As already described in the chapter ‘Play European Roulette’ there was only the American system valid in the past centuries until in 1843 the present European way was introduced in a casino in the German town of Homburg. When people were able to play American Roulette in the United States it was in Las Vegas, where the first casinos in the new world were rising. This system is kept in circulation till today, while anywhere else in the world the European system was embraced.
To play American Roulette you must therefore keep in mind that your chances to win are less than in a European casino. In brick and mortar casino that is, because online it does not matter, because many online casino half their profits when the zero numbers are involved, just because they want to compete with the land based casinos and they can do that because there cost is of course much lower than the real casinos. The present systems were in place in the 19th century but before that time there were strange variants. There were wheels in America with 28 numbers, the single zero, the double zero and an American Eagle, traditional symbol of liberty. You can imagine that this wheel was really profitable for the house. If you read this and remember that such a wheel is on your loft, be aware then that it will be worth tens of thousands of dollars when it is still in a good shape, though it will not be used anymore in casinos to play American Roulette.
The wheels that were used in casinos were not always completely random and that fed the rumors that you could cheat with them (or be cheated of course). Apart from some small deviations there were magnetic items that could be placed under the wheels. There are great stories about it, but probably most of the wheels were functioning very good with no problems at all. The game and the wheel to play Roulette were introduced by French immigrants and from New Orleans introduced on casino boats on the river Mississippi and from there it concurred the United States. It went not so smoothly as in Europe, where the casino in Monte Carlo was seen as a standard for later casinos, but gambling was in the States found in small places that we now call gambling dens. Just when we thought that you could play American Roulette only in the present way and could never be renewed again, we got aware of a variant called Californian Roulette. Some lawmakers in this state thought in 2004 that there was a better way to point out the numbers, not just through numbers in pockets but through cards. To confuse us all there are at least two different systems, one through cards in a wheel, numbered from 1 to 36 with a 0 and a 00 adjusted (so what’s the difference?) and another system with no numbers, but with two rectangles on the table, one black and one red. The dealer takes two cards out of a shoe and puts them in the two rectangles on the table. As soon as the wheel stops and the color is known, the dealer reveals the card on the table. In what way this system is better or safer than the existing system to play American Roulette is not quite clear, but maybe we will learn in time how this made the world a better place.
When you play American Roulette you will see that the wheel contains two green pockets, one with the number 0 and one with the number 00. But that’s not the only difference, for the sequence of the numbers is also different. That does not make any difference for your chances as a player, but it is just something to be remarked. On the average the casino will at least win 5,26% of the bets of those who play American Roulette but in reality it is far more. Thanks to the Casino Control Commission in Atlantic City, New Jersey (the second city of casino importance after Las Vegas), we have some figures to share. It’s by those reports that we learn that the total win/hold for casinos is varying between 21-30% and that is a lot more than the house edge of 5.26%. It is happening not due to dirty tricks by the casino but because a number of punters put all their money at stake just to lose it at the end. The house edge of 5.26% would be reached if anybody would play American Roulette with the same intention and with the minimum of risks, so never put all chips at stake and always betting on red or black or on even or odd numbers. But of course that would not make the game very exciting, so that’s why it is not happening. Good for the casinos, you have to admit! It is impossible to covert a game of chance into a profitable enterprise. Yet there are a number of stories where gamblers in the past were looking for rigged wheels, just to bet opposite the largest bets on the table. Other stories describe attempts of students to influence the outcome with computers hidden in their shoes, but at the end they all failed or were unmasked otherwise. To play American Roulette you better accept the settles rules of the game and enjoy the fun of the game as it is.