Roulette is a highly popular casino table game involving a wheel with numbered pockets, a ball, and a betting table. The croupier throws a ball onto the spinning wheel and players bet on which number they think the ball will land on. The number of numbered pockets on the roulette wheel is very important as it affects the probability of winning.
The numbers on a roulette wheel actually vary depending on the game variant being played. While the European roulette wheel has 37 numbers, the American wheel has 38 numbers, and some variants have 39 numbers.
The roulette wheel
The wheel used in roulette is split into segments, much like a dartboard. These segments are called pockets. Each of the pockets is alternately colored red and black, with an equal amount of numbers in the black pockets, as there are in the red pockets (18 in each). A single green pocket is labeled 0. Depending on the variant, the wheel may have a second green pocket labeled 00, and sometimes a third labeled 000.
Players should understand that the inclusion of a 0 (and even more so a 00 and 000), is what provides the house edge in roulette. That’s because if players make black/red, odd/even, and low/high bets, as well as most of the medium-odds bets, landing on the green 0, 00, and 000 pockets counts as a loss.
Why do I need to know about the numbers?
Understanding how many numbers are on the roulette wheel can help you decide how to wager. Remember, the more numbered pockets there are, the higher the odds are for predicting the exact single number that the ball will land on.
So for American roulette, with 38 numbered pockets, the chance of predicting the correct single number is 1 in 38, rather than the 1 in 37 chance offered by the European roulette wheel. That’s because there are more 0s in play, giving the house a higher edge.
Types of roulette wheel
There are two main types of roulette wheel: European and American. Each one has pockets numbered from 1 to 36. The difference lies in the number of green 0 pockets.
The numbers on a roulette wheel appear in what looks like a random order, but it’s actually the same order on every roulette wheel of that variety. That means all European wheels have the same order, as do all American ones, but the order is not the same.
The European roulette wheel
This is the wheel you have most probably already seen. It is the original roulette layout that emerged from Italy in the 18th century. The European roulette wheel is the most common, both at online casinos and even at land-based casinos in most of the world. It is unsurprisingly more common in European casinos. The house edge of a European roulette game is 2.7%.
The American roulette wheel
A later evolution of the game is American roulette. This version is much more common in the casinos of Las Vegas, although not online, where European roulette is more popular, even in the US. This wheel differs only from a European wheel by having one more pocket. The American wheel still has the numbers 1-36 as well as 0, but it also has a 00 pocket. This extra space gives the casino a bigger house edge, typically of 5.26% as the 00 is also not part of most (non-single) bets.
The French roulette wheel
A French roulette wheel actually has the same numbers as a European wheel. That means it has the numbers 1-36, as well as a 0 space. What makes French roulette different is that the wagering table is laid out differently. It has the same basic bet types but allows for extra rules like En prison and La partage .
The ‘Sands’ roulette wheel
A rare variant of this game is Sands Roulette. In this version of roulette, there are 39 pockets, with an additional pocket for 000. You will still find the numbers 1-36, but also 0, 00, and 000. The house edge is therefore even higher at more than 7%. However, players can make lower-value bets.
The order of the numbers
Each segment of the wheel contains one number. But, contrary to assumed belief, they are not in numerical order. Although you may occasionally find a different order, it pretty much remains the same at every casino. The order on a European or French wheel is the same, but the order for an American roulette wheel is different. A Sands roulette wheel also has a different order.
It’s not uncommon for new players to wonder how many numbers there are on a roulette wheel and betting table. The answer to that question is that it varies from 37 to 39, depending on the roulette variant being played.