Roulette is truly a remarkable game in terms of history. First entering Parisian casinos in 1796, roulette still has a fair amount of popularity today.
According to 2016 data from the UNLV Center for Gaming Research, roulette comprised 9.51% of all table game play on the Vegas Strip. This was up nearly 1% from 2015 figures (8.58%).
But while roulette is popular, I think that it sucks and retains most of its popularity because of history/nostalgia.
In this post, I’ll cover all of the reasons why I don’t like roulette, along with what casino games you should play instead.
Many Land-Based Casinos Feature the American Wheel
The basic premise of roulette hasn’t changed in hundreds of years. Players are still betting on which number, section, or color that a ball will land on.
But roulette does have variations that differ based on certain rules and how many numbers are on the wheel. These games include the following.
- 38 numbers
- House-friendly single zero and double zero
- 5.26% house edge
- 37 numbers
- House-friendly single zero
- 2.70% house edge
- 37 numbers
- House-friendly single zero
- La partage rule – You receive half your money back when the ball lands on zero
- 1.35% house edge
Based on the house edges alone, you’re better off playing European or French Roulette. Unfortunately, it’s hard to find either of these games in North American casinos.
Instead, what you’re left with is a bunch of American wheels throughout US and Canadian casinos. This means that you’re facing the worst-possible house advantage in the game.
American Roulette is actually one of the worst bets in all of gambling. Check the list below to see where it ranks among other popular casino games.
- Video poker = 0.46% house edge (9/6 Jacks or Better)
- Blackjack = 0.5% to 2.0% (varies based on table rules)
- Baccarat = 1.06% (banker bet)
- French Roulette = 1.35%
- Craps = 1.36% (lower with odds bets)
- European Roulette = 2.70%
- Let It Ride = 3.51%
- Caribbean Stud = 5.22%
- American Roulette = 5.26%
- Big Six = 11.11%
- Keno = 10% to 40% (depending on payouts)
Outside of keno and Big Six, American Roulette is worse than the vast majority of casino games. If your main goal is to win money, then you want to stay clear of roulette in brick-and-mortar casinos.
French Roulette Is Really Hard to Find
Obviously, French Roulette is the best game to play in terms of house edge.
French Roulette is not only played on a European wheel but has the added bonus of including the la partage rule. Considering that you get half back on losing even-money bets that land on zero, this cuts the regular European Roulette edge in half.
The only problem is that French Roulette is rare across the casino gambling world. Most casinos don’t like this game because of its 1.35% house edge and the slower game pace.
Of course, Mini-Baccarat has an even lower house edge than French Roulette, at 1.06%. But the difference is that many baccarat tables see an average of 150 hands per hour, while French Roulette only sees 50 spins an hour.
Given that casinos don’t make as much money with this game, they rarely offer the French variation. The best place to find French Roulette is in European countries like France, Germany, and Monaco (Monte Carlo).
Some Las Vegas casinos offer the French variation, but these are few and far between.
You might think that it’d be easy to find French Roulette at online casinos. After all, internet casinos can offer low house edge games at a cheaper rate than land-based establishments.
But most online gaming providers only offer European or American Roulette. The only two internet gaming providers that I know of with French Roulette include Microgaming and RealTime Gaming (RTG).
If you’re not playing at a casino supplied by either of these two companies, then you’ll have a difficult time finding online French Roulette.
Online Casinos Require $3 Bets
You can play most online casino table games for a $1 minimum bet. But online roulette differs by featuring a $3 minimum bet at most casinos.
This means that in addition to rarely finding the best game online, you’re also going to face a higher bet size.
Some players don’t mind wagering $3 or more per spin. But if you’re a low roller who likes sticking to $1 minimums, then you won’t appreciate internet roulette.
Compare this to online baccarat and blackjack, where you’re dealing with around a 1% house edge (or lower) and dollar minimum wagers.
I’m not sure why online casinos feel the need to charge a $3 wager for roulette. Perhaps it’s because the virtual roulette wheel takes longer to spin than the time required for a software-dealt baccarat or blackjack hand.
But the time difference isn’t so great that casinos should require a bet that’s 3x higher.
Maybe fewer people play online roulette than some of the other table games? But considering that roulette is one of the most popular land-based table games, I can’t see it being unpopular at internet casinos.
My overall conclusion is that there’s no real reason to jack up the minimum bet for online roulette games. This is especially the case when considering that the 2.70% European Roulette house edge isn’t anything special in online gambling.