Since the very beginning of this widely-spread game of chance, people loved it more and more throughout the centuries. After all this time, the popularity has only been rising, and if you ever wondered where and when did it all begin, keep reading.
What Exactly Is Roulette?
The word roulette originates from the French language, and we can quite literally translate it as “small wheel.” Roulette represents a casino game in which the participants have the option to choose their bets and place them on different groups of numbers, a single number, red or black colors, small (1 to 18) or high (19 to 36) numbers, as well as odd and even numbers.
Just like the dealer at the cards game table, roulette has its own croupier to spin the roulette wheel. Croupier will spin the wheel in one direction, while throwing the little ball in the opposite direction, in order to determine the winning color and number. The ball spins on the outer wheel edge until it slows down and passes through the deflectors area, ultimately landing onto the wheel. The ball will eventually end up in one of the 37 or 38 wheel pockets, each of them being of different numbers and colors.
The number of wheel pockets varies. In French and European roulette there is just one zero, meaning 37 pockets in total, whereas in American roulette we have two zero, making the total number of pockets 38.
Roulette History 101
Many people and historians believe that Blaise Pascal was the father of roulette, creating a primitive version of this casino classic back in the 17th century. However, his initial intentions were not to create a game of chance. Instead, he was trying to build a perpetual motion machine, but fate had other plans; like many other things in history.
The very mechanism of roulette is in some essence a mixture of Biribi (an Italian game) and the gaming wheel which was invented in 1720. Anyway, the first actual game of roulette, similar to the ones we have today, was released for the first time in 18th century France.
Ever since the roulette premiere, sometime between the 1790s and early 1800s in Paris, people had been in love with the simplicity and the thrills this game of fortune had to offer. We found the most detailed description of this game in a French novel called “La Roulette, ou le Jour,” written by Jacques Lablee. He was the first to describe the house pockets, the layout, and the overall rules and gameplay of roulette.
His book was released in 1801. We mentioned Jacques’ version of the book because it was a more popular version, even though in 1758 we find mentions of roulette being banned in New France, Quebec.
Now, let’s share a word or two about the roulette table and the wheel itself, in their early stages. Namely, back in the 1790s, in Paris, a single zero was painted red, and a double zero black. In order to avoid any confusions, casino operators had chosen the green color specifically for the zeros, and by the 1800s, this was a mandatory rule concerning the roulette layout.
Evolution of Roulette in Europe
As the game evolved, so did some new, more popular, and practical solutions regarding some early game issues. That is why, in 1843, Bad Homburg—a German casino spa town—launched the single zero roulette-styled wheel so they can be competition to the more traditional casinos which offered the standard wheel that contained double and single house pockets.
Now, the Western version of roulette, specifically the American casino wheel, has numbers from one to 38 with a double and a single zero; with the addition of an American Eagle. This stood as a symbol of America’s desire for freedom and liberty, and represents the house edge, as one form of house advantage.
But, this practice didn’t last for long. Soon enough, it vanished and was replaced with the wheel that featured just numbered slots. Either way, since the roulette premiere in America, it immediately became one of the most popular casino games.
Hoyle stated that the single and the double zero, and the Eagle were never bars; nevertheless, if the ball landed on either of these three, the banker would sweep every chip from the roulette table.
By the 19th century, roulette was the game to play across the US and Europe, finally reaching the top of its popularity.
In the 1860s, the German government banned gambling, and this action made Louis Blanc and his family move to the very last casino operation which was legal in the whole of Europe — Monte Carlo. It didn’t take long for this family to establish an indisputable gambling Mecca of Europe.
It was precisely in Monte Carlo that roulette with a single zero wheel made its premiere. As time went by, this layout was growing in popularity; except for the United States which never adopted a single one, and instead kept the double zero one as the dominant variant.
The United States and Roulette
Even though roulette originated in the Old Continent, American gamblers welcomed the game with open arms. The double zero roulette wheel had progressed through Mississippi to New Orleans, and from there on, more and more to the west.
Because of the constant cheating of both gamblers and operators (putting the wheel on the table top in order to stop any hidden device in either wheel or the table), as an addition, the layout of the betting was significantly simplified.
All of these modifications ultimately created the American roulette-style game. This game was evolving in the gambling dens all across the New World, while the original French game evolved into the European roulette in Monte Carlo.
During the early 20th century, the only two gambling towns in the entire world were Monte Carlo in Europe and Las Vegas in the United States. The main difference between these two roulette variants was in the number of zeros in the wheel, while the gameplay itself stayed pretty much the same.
The 1970s were the era of casinos big bloom across the globe. By the 2000s, almost every casino hosted roulette in their gambling games offer.
Roulette and the Modern Era
The wheel with the double zero remained in the United States, South America, the Caribbean, and Canada, while a single zero wheel dominated the rest of the world.
The Venetian Casino and Resort in Las Vegas took a leap of faith when they presented the triple zero wheel in 2016. This wheel can be found in several other Vegas casinos, but we’ll have to give it some more time in order to estimate whether this idea was a successful one.
The total sum of numbers in a roulette wheel is 666, which is the “number of the Beast.” Legends and myths surrounding the famous Blanc family claim that Francois Blanc made a pact with the devil to receive all the secrets of roulette.
Nowadays, you don’t have to go to a land-based casino in order to play. Online roulette is available in 99% of casino websites. If you never played it before, you can find some demo modes free of charge before you ultimately go to a casino.
Either way, should you choose to try your luck in this game, you first need to learn the rules, which are fairly simple. Playing just one or two betting rounds in these free demo versions can get you started. After you’re done practicing, you can go to a land-based casino, or play online, for real money.