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The History of Roulette

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One of the most popular and probably the most famous casino games available today, the roulette history dates way back to the 18th century and France. This particular game picked up a couple of different variants along the way through Europe and the USA, although throughout the roulette history it has maintained most of its simple rules. A betting mans game based completely on chance and probability, how could this make it to being the most played of all the casino games today? What changes were made during the life of the game of roulette, find out as we delve into the complete Roulette History.

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Roulette, the well known casino and online gambling game, which takes its name from the French for “little wheel”, emerged as a popular gambling activity in 18th century France. The game is thought to have been played in a similar the form to the one we are all know and love since 1796. This date is owed to one of the first descriptions of the game of Roulette, which was found in French novel La Roulette, ou le Jour by Jaques Lablee. Within the story there is a description of a roulette wheel at the Palais Royal in Paris in 1796. The description also features house pockets: "There are exactly two slots reserved for the bank, whence it derives its sole mathematical advantage," and also proceeds to describe the layout of the table with, "...two betting spaces containing the bank's two numbers, zero and double zero.” An even earlier reference to the game of roulette was published in a document of regulations pertaining to French Québec in 1758, which outlawed the gambling games such as dice, hoca, faro, and roulette.

Roulette is a game of chance found in casinos around the world. Its name stems from the French expression for “small wheel”. The players at a Roulette table lay their wagers on either a single number or array of numbers, on black or red pockets, or even or odd numbers. The game starts when the dealer spins the wheel clockwise and the ball counterclockwise in the angled round path circling the wheel. If the ball falls in a pocket that matches the players’ bet, he wins. The European-style Roulette wheel has thirty-seven slots, whilst the American-style wheel has thirty-eight slots.

Roulette in the 18th and 19th century

It is believed that roulette history dates back to the 18th century and a man named Blaise Pascal. This was an incredibly primitive form of the game and it wasn’t until it was combined with similar games that we arrived at the first ever version recorded oin roulette history. The roulette wheel is said to have come from a variety of games from that time era such as Roly-Poly, Ace of hearts, Reiner, Hoca and Biribi, the last two being from an Italian origin. Roulette history was made in Paris in 1796 when the first version of the game was introduced and comprised of two slots called ‘bank slots’ these were the numbers zero and double zero. Unlike today these were originally coloured red and black and it wasn’t until 1800 that they were changed to the customary green to avoid confusion. The roulette history had started also in parts of America where they also had two slots for the zero and double zero but also an extra slot for an eagle (the symbol for American liberty). This is where the American casinos gained their extra house edge. The original board also only consisted of the numbers 1 to 28, unlike the 36 numbers we see today.

The “single 0" style roulette wheel was subsequently introduced in 1843 by French brothers François and Louis Blanc as a move to compete with Casinos that still offered the old wheel and double zero house pockets.

Some varieties of the earliest roulette tables feature numbers 1 to 28, both a single and double 0 and the image of an American eagle. The 1886 Hoyle gambling book has the following to say about this early roulette variation: "the single 0, the double 0, and eagle are never bars; but when the ball falls into either of them, the banker sweeps every thing upon the table, except what may happen to be bet on either one of them, when he pays twenty-seven for one, which is the amount paid for all sums bet upon any single figure."

By the nineteenth century the game of roulette had successfully spread all over the United States and Europe, and became the biggest, most well-known and most popular gambling casino game.

Following on from the lead of other European nations, Germany made casino gambling illegal in 1860, at which point casinos began to open in the last location in Europe that permitted gambling, Monte Carlo. The area quickly became the gambling Promised Land for the super-rich of Europe and America. Monte Carlo was also where the now standard “single 0” roulette wheel was established, becoming the ever-popular and iconic casino gambling game played all over the world today. America and the Caribbean are the only places where “double 0” roulette has persisted as the main roulette game.

The United States was also where the game of roulette took another step forward towards its current incarnation. Because of wide-spread cheating the wheel was put on top of the table to prevent devices being hidden in the table or wheel, and the betting layout was simplified. This move was the point at which the old French roulette game evolved into the American one. The American game was known for it the rough and ready frontier establishments it found itself in, whereas its forbear, the French game was associated with the refinement and money of the Monte Carlo jet set. It was, however the American roulette game, with its simplified betting and fast paced action, using either a “single” or “double 0” wheel, that most people call to mind now when they picture the game of roulette. Today, with thousands of casinos around the globe the French “single 0” roulette wheel is found throughout the world whereas the American “double 0” game roulette wheel predominates in the United States, the South American continent and the Caribbean.

According to roulette history, the game in Europe had started to become one of the most popular casino games available and quickly spread into Germany. In the late 1800’s many gambling halls and casinos across Europe were being shut down and in the 1860’s Germany abolished all gambling. At this time the Blanca family made roulette history by moving to Monte Carlo, at the time one of the only places still allowing gambling, and inventing the single zero wheel. This is known today as European Roulette which quickly spread to the remaining casinos all around the world, except in the United States where they had kept the ‘Double Zero’ table. This table and game began on the rivers of Mississippi working its way up into the heart of America nad into their top casino. One change during this time in Roulette History was that the wheel was first placed on top of the table, rather than sunken in it. This was to prevent people from cheating or using any such devices that may give them an extra edge over the house. Roulette History also shows us that the American table had a very simple betting structure and layout that was quickly adopted by the European game and so emerged the two games we have today. The American Roulette was born with two slots, one for zero and one for double zero. Also the European Roulette was born with a single slot for zero and also adopting the American style betting surface.

Roulette today

Roulette had a pretty difficult start to the century as many governments where clamping down on gambling and closing many of the casinos. The only really big casinos still going were in Las Vegas and Monte Carlo. Las Vegas sporting their American Roulette and Monte Carlo the European version. These laws took decades before they were in some places relaxed and it wasn’t until 1970 that casinos were once again allowed to flourish and as they did, so did the game of Roulette. Casinos began to spring up everywhere across the world an the game of Roulette became fiercely popular. By the turn of the millennium there were several hundred casinos sporting the game. The American style Roulette remained dominant in the US and was also used in South America and the Caribbean. In some top casinos in America they also have the European Roulette tables. The single zero game or European Roulette became predominant everywhere else around the world.

With all casino games people over time have tried their luck at cheating the system and gaining unfair advantages and they have become part of the roulette history. In 1873 an Englishman named Joseph Jaggers made what was known as a biased roulette wheel exploit. Himself an six other men studied the wheels at the Monte Carlo Casino and found one of them to be biased (the ball would land more often on some areas of the wheel than others). Using this information they were able to take advantage and won over $325,000 which was a huge amount of money back then. Again at the Monte Carlo casino, this time in 1891, another Englishman by the name of Charles Wells, ‘Broke the bank’ at every table he sat. The term ‘Broke the bank’ means that all the possible money at that table was won and they would then cover it with a black cloth until the chips were replenished. There followed a song about him called ‘The man that broke the bank at Monte Carlo’. In 2004 a Londoner named Ashley Revel sold everything he owned from house to the shirt on his back and went to the Plaza Hotel in Las Vegas. This event was closely followed by the media and was screened live around the world. He walked into the casino with $135,300 and put it all on red. The number 7 came up and he won $270,600.

So where now for this great casino game? Well with the introduction of online casinos the game is now played worldwide on thousands of websites. It is even played on television. This is probably easier to do than actually visiting the casino itself as its easier to bet and the results are calculated so much quicker. We also now have Live Roulette where you get a live feed from a real casino of the spins that are taking place and you bet on a virtual table. This adds a feeling of being at the casino without leaving the house and also gives you the peace of mind that the results you sre getting are actual live spins that a random number generator couldn’t do. Playing Roulette online could not be easier to learn so get yourself to our rules page and strategy guides to learn the ropes then maybe you could make your own piece of roulette history.

The game of American Roulette game typically uses a double-zero wheel. This variety of the game strays from the conventional French style and is a very easy version. Pockets on the roulette wheel are numbered one through thirty-six, with the two green pockets labeled “0″ and “00″. Roulette games have set amounts for the lowest and highest bets permissible. Players make ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ bets on their chosen numbers. Payouts for each scenario are based on its odds. For “inside” bets, the dealer may use a variety of colored chips to differentiate between the players.

A Roulette table’s cloth that displays the bets is called a “layout”. French-style roulette tables have one zero and American-style “layouts” have zero (“0″) and double zero (“00″). On American Roulette tables, the wheel is located at the end of the table, while the French tables station the wheel in the middle of the table with “layouts” on the sides. This style of “layout” is seldom seen away from Monte Carlo. Roulette bets come in a variety of classes. Straight, Split, Street, Corner, Six Line and Trio bets are all of the major “inside” bets (bets placed “inside” the layout grid). “Outside” bets (bets placed “outside” the grid) have better odds to win, as do the “dozens” and “columns” bets.

At first, the set-up the early gambling houses used was to put the odds at 27:1. In recent years, the casinos have set the odds at 34:1 or 35:1. The money that each player loses over the long run is called the “house advantage” or “house edge”. The green slots on the roulette table symbolize this advantage. Players can bet a fixed amount during play or can bet various amounts in different spots on the layout. However, some casinos may have different betting rules.

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