The classic casino game roulette has been around since the 17th Century, and it remains relatively unchanged to this day. The roulette wheel is one of the most iconic symbols of the casino industry, and there are millions of players around the world today thanks to its relative simplicity and thrill.
However, we bet there are some things you didn’t know about the red and black numbers game. For example, the name roulette is French and means ‘little wheel’. You might know that Americans and Europeans have different versions of the game – but did you know that it is a little easier to win on European roulette?
We have picked out five cool facts about the wheel-based game so you can learn a little more about it – and so you can impress your friends and family with your knowledge!
1. Runs are unlikely, but not impossible
Some players believe that if the wheel favors one color or number for a while, the streak is sure to continue; others look for patterns in the hope they will break soon. In reality, each spin of the wheel is as random as the last and the number called previously has no impact on the next.
Don’t fall for the gambler’s fallacy.
That said, the odds of a streak run incredibly high and it is unlikely you’ll see a run of 20 reds or get a 7 ten times in a row.
When it does happen, it can raise concerns of wheel imbalance or some form of cheating by the croupier. A Las Vegas casino wheel was said to have hit 19 seven times in a row during one 2012 session, sparking an investigation – which found no signs of foul play. Another casino is said to have recorded 36 straight reds – it can happen.
2. American roulette is slightly harder to win at
European wheels just have the single zero. But do you know why there is this difference?
If the roulette wheel just had the numbers 1-36, there would be an even chance of selecting red/black bets for a win. Over time, players would break even against the house and there would be no profit in the game. Operators need to make money from their game, and so the zero was added. This zero means there is a slight chance (1 in 37) that a number will be neither red or black – and this slight margin is the house’s profit.
American casino operators have hit upon a very simple way to make their game more profitable – they added another variable to the wheel. The double zero functions just the same as the zero, and it doubles the house edge to 5.26%.
So if you have a choice – pick European roulette.
3. The numbers on a roulette wheel add up to 666
Count them up if you don’t believe us. Roulette wheels are numbered from 1 to 36, and this totals 666. Whether you use an American roulette wheel (includes 00 and 0) or a European one (just 0), you still come up with the ‘Number of the Beast’.
Is this intentional? Probably not. However, the game has been nicknamed ‘the Devil’s Wheel’ because of it, and gambling is often seen as a pastime for sinners. The number 666 has been linked with demonic and Satanic activities for centuries, so the coincidence has led many to conclude that gaming is the work of Beelzebub himself.
4. Californians play roulette with cards
Not all jurisdictions allow roulette. California law prohibits all games of chance except those that involve cards. However, if you enter a casino in California, you might well see tables offering ‘roulette’. This is because casino operators have found a clever way to skirt the law.
California Roulette is basically exactly the same as roulette, but it replaces the wheel with a deck of special cards. There are 38 – the wheel numbers plus 0 and 00 – and each is colored according to a standard roulette wheel. Using a card machine, numbers can be ‘dealt’ at random and players can bet on the numbers and colors just as they would in a normal roulette game.
California Roulette has a few quirks, such as borrowing the en prison and la partage rules from the French version of the game. Players also have split and take-back options on placed bets in some situations. However, the betting grid is the same and players can put down the same combination bets.
5. That ‘foolproof’ Martingale system WILL catch you out
You might have heard that there is a foolproof system which guarantees roulette wins – and there kind of is, but you won’t win with it.
In theory, when you apply it to roulette’s red and black or odd and even options, you can eventually win back any losses and keep your stack increasing.
Sounds great – so there must be a catch, right? This system requires you to double your bet after each loss – and if you get several losses in a row, you’re going to need a pretty large payroll to cover it. Unfortunately, real play doesn’t have the option of infinite doubling. Pretty soon, you’ll reach the end of your funds – or hit the table’s bet cap – before you can get that next win. When this happens, you’ve lost everything.
In truth, there is no way to fully reduce the house edge and guarantee your win. However, you never know when your luck will come in and you’ll get that big win. That’s what makes roulette such an exciting game, and why it remains so popular after almost 300 years.
Playing roulette from home
Roulette was the preserve of the land-based casino, but of course the internet has changed all that.
So yes, you can play electronic version of the game, which have exactly the same probability as the real thing. But if you want that live experience, then many online casinos offer a live dealer version – with a croupier spinning a real wheel, beamed straight to your device.
The real and virtual worlds are blurred even more now with innovations such as Genting’s live roulette beamed back straight from one of its land-based casinos – so you can take a seat at the table with players live in the casino.
Find out how more on how to play roulette, and where best to play online in our comprehensive guide.
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