Classic roulette is generally available in three distinct variants – American, European, and French. Some modern variations of the game steer away from these established norms, but we’ll stick to the three classic options.
French Roulette is functionally very similar to European roulette, except that it also includes two special rules called La Partage and En Prison. Note that a single table can only use La Partage or En Prison, but never both. We’ll get into that later.
The majority of live casino roulette games are either American or European. We have discussed the differences between the two extensively. The gist is simple – American roulette wheels have two green Zero pockets while European ones only have a single Zero. This makes the latter objectively better for players.
Similarly, live French roulette tables have only a single Zero. This means that the baseline RTP of most available bets is 97.30%, with a 2.70% house edge across the board. You can find out more about how RTP in roulette works in our tutorial for the game.
However, thanks to the two rules we just mentioned, even-money bets in French Roulette have a house edge of just 1.35%, which is half that of other bets.
So what are these French roulette rules and how do they work?
La Partage in Roulette Explained
La Partage is a relatively common rule found in French roulette. It means that you get half of your stake back if you lose an even-money bet due to the ball landing on Zero.
To elaborate, even-money bets in roulette are two-sided wagers with a 1:1 payout. In other words, this rule only applies to bets like Red, Black, Odd, Even, Low, and High. If you need to freshen up your knowledge of bets in roulette and how they work, check out this article.
Anyway, if you place such a bet and the ball lands in the green Zero pocket, you get half your stake back. As you may know, the house edge in roulette exists purely because of that green Zero. That’s why the house edge of even money bets in French roulette is halved (and it’s also why the house edge of American roulette is doubled.)
En Prison in Roulette Explained
Alternatively, a French roulette table may use the En Prison rule instead of the La Partage rule. It’s comparatively more complicated, but it essentially achieves the same thing as La Partage.
En Prison is a rule in some French roulette tables that kicks in if you bet on an even-money bet and the result of the spin is a Zero. In this scenario, your stake is ‘frozen’ – you haven’t won or lost the bet yet, but you can’t take your buy-in back. Instead, the croupier spins the wheel again to determine the outcome of your wager.
This second spin can either win or lose, as usual. Essentially, you get a ‘do-over’ if your even money bet loses to a Zero.
Again, even money bets in roulette include Red, Black, Even, Odd, Low, and High. Only these bets are affected by the En Prison rule. All other types of bets work as they usually would in European roulette.
If this re-spin also hits a Zero, different casinos handle things in different ways. Some casinos consider the bet won, others consider it lost, while some simply do another En Prison until they hit a different number. Lastly, some tables will simply pay half your stake back like with La Partage.
Which is Better – En Prison or La Partage?
Since a single table can only use one rule the other, the question of which is better naturally arises.
Both La Partage and En Prison increase the RTP of even money bets in French roulette to 98.65%. They are equal in that regard.
There’s an easy explanation, too. En Prison gives you a 50/50 shot at winning your money back, while La Partage simply gives you back half. Statistically speaking, both of these rules are equally good. In terms of expected value, both solutions are identical. If you want to know more about how that works, check out our guide to expected value in gambling.
Theoretically, if a casino had a rule in place that considers a double zero result in En Prison a won bet, it would have slightly higher RTP. However, this is both extremely rare and almost insignificant, so you shouldn’t worry too much about it.