Which is better for players, European or American blackjack? How about roulette? These are important questions for players to know the answers to. In general, where there are regional differences in rules of games between America and Europe, these rule differences are minor. But that doesn’t make them unimportant – these nuances can vastly alter which strategies are best, so it is of the utmost importance that players learn the differences.
American vs European Blackjack
The rule: number of decks. European blackjack rules use two standard decks to form the shoe. In American blackjack, they use between six and eight standard decks. The greater the number of decks used in the shoe, the higher the house edge, so players of American blackjack are at a distinct disadvantage. Card counting is also much more challenging in American blackjack because of the increased number of decks.
The rule: hole cards. In American blackjack rules, the dealer is dealt both a face-up card and a face-down card. The face-down card is a “hole” card. The dealer can only check the value of this card immediately if blackjack is a possibility – in other words, only if the face-up card is an ace. If the dealer has blackjack at this point, they win – all players bets are collected without them ever having a card. In European blackjack, there is no hole card. Dealers receive their second card only after the players’ hands are complete, so there is no chance of instant blackjack.
The rule: splitting. In European blackjack, players can split their hand only once, and only with 10-valued cards. In American blackjack, players can split their hand up to three times, and they can split cards of any value so long as they are a pair.
The rule: doubling down. Doubling down is when you double your initial wager because you are confident your hand will beat the dealer’s hand. In American blackjack, players can double down whatever their hand totals may be. In European blackjack, players can only double down on cards with a value of either 9, 10, or 11. Also, in European blackjack, players cannot double down after splitting, whereas they can under American rules.
The rule: surrender. In American blackjack, a player can choose to take a late surrender after their initial cards have been dealt. These players lose half of their original wager, instead of their entire stake, making it a good option in situations where a player is highly unlikely to be able to win. In European blackjack, there is no surrender rule.
Which Is Best?
American blackjack rules enable (and indeed, encourage) a more aggressive play style – particularly regarding splitting and doubling down. European blackjack, on the other hand, tends to reward a more cautious play style with conservative use of splitting and doubling down.
The use of fewer decks in the shoe means players of European blackjack have better odds against the house and can count cards more easily, which is a definite benefit to them, but American rules are typically more flexible and player-friendly, and often offer more opportunities to increase winnings. Which is best is a matter of personal preference, as both rulesets can be used to a player’s strategic advantage.
American vs European Roulette
There is no difference in rules between a standard game of American roulette and a standard game of European roulette. The difference between the two games is in the wheels. Firstly, the numbers are in a different order, a benign change which makes no practical difference to odds. Secondly, and more notably, the American wheel has an extra pocket: the double zero. American wheels, therefore, have 38 pockets, while European wheels have 37.
This small change in the number of pockets makes a significant difference in odds. The payout for either game is 35 to 1, but your odds of winning in European roulette are 37 to 1, instead of 38 as in American roulette. The house edge in European roulette is 2.7% but is nearly double that at 5.26% for American roulette. The house edge is in both cases designed to gradually erode the bankroll of its players, but the simple truth is it’ll do so much faster in American roulette, and you’ll have fewer chances of winning.
Unless you are using a system that can predict the outcome of a spin – or cheating, in other words – European roulette wheels are undeniably the better options for players. They offer better odds on every possible spin and have no downsides in comparison to the American roulette wheels.