French Roulette tends to be the wager of choice among true roulette connoisseurs. This is because, with one less pocket (and, consequently, one less zero), its total house advantage is half that of American Roulette, 2.7 percent. Moreover, most French Roulette tables offer “En Prison,” a rule similar to Surrender. It shrinks the casino’s advantage even further to a mere 1.35 percent by giving any player who loses an even-money bet due to the ball landing in the zero pocket the option of either giving up half his bet or having the whole bet held over for the next spin; if he wins the next spin, the full bet is returned to him with no additional winnings, and if he loses, the full bet is lost.
That being said, the French Roulette wheel does have its tricky points. For one thing, its designers, the Blancs, were a million times the mathematicians the American wheel’s inventors were, and as a result, the standard French wheel has no contiguous number spans covered by a handful of choice propositions. In fact, the whole French number sequence is enough to baffle anyone who wants to memorize the wheel.
As you can see from the graphics above, the French layout looks very different from its American cousin, with several outside propositions on both sides of the mat and every nook and cranny packed with French terminology. We don’t expect you to parlez-vous, but if you could, you’d discover that every one of French Roulette’s regular betting options is exactly the same as those on an American table. The only exceptions are that American Roulette has the two special street bets we mentioned before, and French Roulette occasionally allows for a split dozens bet:
Where French Roulette really differs from American Roulette is in the bets that don’t exist on the layout. There are actually several of these known as “call bets,” which can only be made if a player sets the appropriate amount of chips on the table and asks the croupier to place the bets for him. They essentially make up for the loss of those contiguous inside bets we’ve been talking about. But unlike the contiguous bets on an American layout they require you to bet on each individual number in the sequence. Naturally, this is better for the house because the player’s “exposure” (or the amount wagered in proportion to the number of pockets covered) is at its maximum, resulting in a lower real payoff.
Often, the call-bet layout is close to the croupier, either on the wheel or near it. Sometimes, though, there is no special layout and the croupier simply places a player’s call bets on the regular layout.