Roulette wheel on zero

What are the En Prison & La Partage Rules in Roulette?

Roulette wheel on zeroThere are some genuinely quite simple to understand games in a casino. Blackjack is probably the best example, given that it involves trying to get as close to 21 as possible without going over that figure, whilst also trying to get a higher total than the dealer. Roulette is another relatively simple game, with punters choosing which number on the board they want to bet on before seeing where the ball lands once it has been spun. That being said, it is a game that can have some added complication to it, depending on which game you play and what bet you place.

You could opt to put your chips between two numbers, for example, thereby offering yourself more chance of victory but less chance of a large payout. One of the variations of roulette that adds a wealth of complication to proceedings is that of French roulette, which offers players the chance to choose either La Partage or En Prison rules, depending on which is on offer. In essence, you’re being given a second chance when the ball lands on zero, which reduces the House Edge, helping to explain why French roulette isn’t offered by a lot of casinos.

La Partage Explained

Roulette bets

Literally translating into ‘the divide’, La Partage rules are only ever on offer to even money bets. That is to say, if you bet on a specific number, for example, then you won’t be able to take advantage of La Partage if it’s offered in your casino of choice. Instead, it is only for bets on Red or Black, Odd or Even or 1-18 / 19-36, sometimes referred to as Low or High. If you’ve bet on one of those and the ball lands in the zero slot at the end of its spin then it is possible that you’ll be able to take advantage of La Partage.

Half of Your Stake Returned

In short, this rule says that you will get half of your stake returned to you. Given the fact that the zero is the manner in which the House gets its Edge, this is a hugely generous rule that you should definitely take advantage of. In fact, such is the extent to which the House Edge takes a beating when La Partage is in play, it reduces from 2.7% to 1.35% when you’re playing standard roulette with one zero. It isn’t hard to see, therefore, why it is that most casinos tend to avoid having French roulette tables on offer.

House Edge Reduced

In many Atlantic City casinos, La Partage rules mean that you’ll get half of your stake back when the ball lands in either the slot for zero or the double zero space on American roulette tables. This sees the House Edge move from 5.26% to 2.63%, which is a hell of a hit on the casino’s built-in Edge. The key things to remember, though, are that the rule only comes into play in instances where the ball lands on zero (or double zero when offered on American roulette tables) and only if you’ve bet on an Even money option.

La Partage Example

Imagine a scenario in which you’ve placed a £20 bet on Red in a casino offering La Partage rules on its French roulette table. The ball spins and you know that one of the following things will happen:

It lands on Red, meaning you win £20 and get your £20 stake back
It lands on Black, meaning you lose your £20 stake
It lands on zero, meaning you get £10 back

That is the simplistic explanation of how La Partage rules work.

En Prison Explained

Roulette money

There is a twist to the La Partage rules, known as En Prison. Sometimes En Prison rules are offered as an alternative to La Partage and sometimes they’re offered instead of La Partage. Regardless, they are part of the same family but work slightly differently. It is helpful to know how En Prison rules work, in case you’re in a casino where they are the only ones that are offered to you when playing French roulette. As with La Partage, En Prison rules are only available on even money bets when the ball lands in zero.

Stake Put ‘in Prison’ by Dealer

Instead of you getting half of your stake back, En Prison, which translates as ‘in prison’, sees your stake put ‘in prison’ by the dealer. You can’t take it back, but they can’t take it either. Instead, it remains in play for another spin. If your bet is a winning one on the next spin then you’ll get it returned to you in full, whilst if it is a losing bet then you will lose your stake in its entirety. Obviously, you don’t get any winnings if it is the thing that you bet on originally, but getting your stake back in its entirety is better than nothing.

If you have chosen to put your stake ‘En Prison’ then this is usually indicated by the dealer putting some sort of marker on top of it. One thing that will differ from venue to venue depending on House Rules is what happens if the ball lands on zero again on the next spin. Some casinos will say that that is a win for them, much as it would be if you’d bet on Red and it landed on Black. Others will say that your stake remains En Prison for one more spin, with the next result being the all important one. Some, meanwhile, will ‘double imprison’ your stake.

En Prison Example

That is to say, you’ve bet £20 on Red and the ball has landed on zero. Your stake is placed En Prison, but the second spin sees the ball land on zero again. Your stake is now En Prison twice, so you’ll need the ball to land on Red two times in order to free your stake. In the unlikely event that the ball lands on zero, say, five times in succession, your stake will be En Prison five times and you’ll need five Reds in a row to free it in its entirety. For many, En Prison is a slightly more fun version of the La Partage rules.

Which One Is Better?

Though we know that La Partage rules, whether in their original form or En Prison, make things better for you in terms of the House Edge, the obvious question is which of the two options is better if you’re offered both. The answer is that La Partage is the better of the two, simply because it gives you half of your stake back in casinos where it is on offer. It also allows you to choose for yourself whether to play En Prison rules, given that you could choose to play half of your stake again on the same colour on the next spin.

This would mean that a win would see you double your stake, resulting in your getting your original stake back in full. A loss, meanwhile, would see you lose your stake in its entirety. That is how En Prison works, so you would be recreating it on your own terms. Alternatively, you could keep hold of your half stake and be happy enough to have at least got some of your money back. That is what makes La Partage better, the fact that it gives you options to approach the next spin how you want to rather than how the casino tells you to.

House Edge with La Partage & En Prison Compared

This advantage is reflected in the House Edge of the two options, which is as follows:

House Edge with La Partage: 1.35%
House Edge with En Prison: 1.38%

Obviously we’re talking extremely small margins here, but considering that any option that reduces the House Edge is a good thing, La Partage wins. Of course, most sensible people will realise that both options are better than the House Edge in traditional roulette, which is why you should always play French roulette if given the option. The important thing is to remember that the La Partage and En Prison rules only come into place on bets on even money options. Do not place a bet on a single number and then expect half your stake back.

Ordering Roulette Varieties

As a rule of thumb, therefore, here is the order in which you should play the main versions of roulette offered in casinos:

French Roulette with La Partage Rules
French Roulette with En Prison Rules
European Roulette
American Roulette
Triple Zero Roulette

In truth, triple zero roulette should be so far down so as to be on another page, yet the low table limits in the likes of Las Vegas mean that some people will always look to play it. If you can avoid the temptation, do so.

Author: Neil Garza