Lack of Popularity of French RouletteBy: Adam Richards, Thursday January 20th 2011
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Popularity or unpopularity depends on which side one is looking from. French Roulette is popular among online casino players but is not popular among online casino operators. Therefore many leading online casinos do not offer French Roulette in its portfolio of games, whereas American Roulette and European Roulette are offered by all. Even those online casino operators that offer French Roulette, offer it as a single game. On the other hand they offer many more variants of American and European Roulette. An understanding of house edges and average returns is required to explain this.
Roulette players know that these three variants of roulette offer different house edges. The house edge is the percent of each wager that the casino expects to retain in the long run. Therefore the higher the house edge, the more advantageous it is for the online casino. American Roulette has a house edge of 5.26%. European Roulette has a house edge of 2.70%. French roulette has a house edge of 1.35% on even money bets and 2.70% on all other bets. Now the argument is that online casino operators feel that a house edge of 1.35% is too low for them to cover their costs so they do not offer French Roulette.
Where this argument apparently runs into a problem is that all online casinos offer several variants of blackjack and video poker where the house edge is substantially less than 1%. Therefore, why is there a problem with French Roulette? The reason lies in the nature of roulette and blackjack games. Video poker games are identical to blackjack games to the extent of the following discussion. Roulette is a game of luck alone. Any person wagering on any even money bet in French Roulette will get an average return of 98.65% (100% less the house edge for the bet) in the long run. In the long run the online casino will never make more than $1.35 for every $100 wagered on any even money bet in French Roulette.
Blackjack is a game that involves both luck and skill. Suppose a particular blackjack variant has a house edge of 0.5%. If a player wagers with perfect skill, then because of the luck factor he will get an average return of 99.5% in the long run. The crucial factor is that only a small percent of the players wager with perfect skill. As the level of skill of a player falls, so does his average return in the long run. Rank bad blackjack players can end up with a return of less than 90%. Data on the average return to blackjack players is not available in the public domain. Some online casinos do publish information on average return but club blackjack with other table games. But average returns of video poker games are reported separately as around 97%. One can assume that the same applies to blackjack in the absence of any other information. Therefore though the house edge of blackjack and video poker games is less than 1% under perfect play conditions, online casinos earn $3 on these games for every $100 wagered. It is for this reason French Roulette is not popular with online casino operators even though ideally it has a higher house edge than blackjack.
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