What is Roulette?

Roulette is one of the world’s most popular casino table games. It is a game which involves a ball being spun around a wheel containing numbers from zero to 36 which are coloured either black or red. Players can place bets on the table cloth, known as the layout, using chips. Winning selections are determined by the number, type of number (odd or even), colour and position of the number on the layout.

Winning bets in roulette are determined by which number pocket the roulette ball comes to rest in. A croupier spins the roulette wheel in one direction, and then sends the ball in the opposite direction on the ball track located around the wheel’s circumference. Once the ball loses its momentum, it bounces momentarily and then lands to rest into one of the numbered pockets. This is the winning number.

In theory, the game of roulette is amazingly balanced, and the logic of the roulette wheel layout is skillfully designed to accomplish specific conditions using a strategic balance of numbers; high and low, red and black, odd and even.

Roulette Explained

Roulette translates literally as ‘little wheel.’ The roulette wheel is made up of 37 numbers from 0 to 36 with correct numbers paid out at odds of 35 to 1. A single zero is featured on European Roulette tables to leverage the odds in favour of the house, however American Roulette tables also include an additional ’00’ to further add to the house bias.

Invention of the Roulette Wheel

While the exact origin of Roulette is debatable, historians on the subject agree that it was the French scientist and mathematician Blaise Pascal from the 17th century, who was consumed with the idea of inventing a perpetual motion machine, and despite the fact that he failed, the Roulette wheel rose from the heap as a by-product of his obsession.

Early History of Roulette

In the early 1700s, English aristocrats were known to use a spinning wheel and ball as gaming devices while playing a game of chance called Roly-Poly. The earliest accounts mentioning the game of Roulette are recorded in legal documents during the reign of George II in 1745, when Roulette or Roly-Poly was banned in England. This recorded evidence implies that the two games are one in the same.
Historians have concluded that Roulette most likely came from France in the early 1700s, when it was introduced in England as the game of Roly-Poly.

A notorious gambler named Richard ‘Beau’ Nash, who is best remembered as the Master of Ceremonies in the resort town of Bath, in Somerset, England, introduced a simplified version of Roulette with a game called Even-Odd to evade the gambling laws.

The game of Roulette, or Roly-Poly, disappeared during the early 1800s, having been effectively replaced by the game of Even-Odd, however in the late 18th century Roulette made a comeback in France when Prince Charles of Monaco III brought gambling to Monte Carlo to alleviate economic problems in the area.

Roulette, Blanc Brothers, and Monte Carlo

In 1842, while gambling remained illegal in most of France, two clever Frenchmen, Francois and Louis Blanc, came up with the single 0 Roulette game. The addition of the 0 lowered the house edge to 2.70%, from the previous 5.26%.

The single 0 Roulette game gained notoriety when the Blanc brothers took their idea and introduced it in Hamburg, Germany. This lower odds version became very popular, and quickly replaced the higher odds version.

A few years later, with his kingdom facing some financial trouble, Prince Charles of Monaco III extended an invitation to the Blanc brothers to visit Monte Carlo, and Louis Blanc accepted the invitation, going to Monte Carlo as the fore-runner of what is remembered today as the first modern casino.

French Aristocracy and Roulette

The game of Roulette was reintroduced to rich members of European society at a Monte Carlo casino resort built by the Blanc brothers in 1863. The Roulette wheel generated a great deal of income and soon became an iconic symbol for the culture of upscale gambling in Monte Carlo. Because gambling remained illegal in France, Monte Carlo became even more desirable.

With the help of persuasion by the Blanc brothers, the French authorities built a highway to Monte Carlo and extended the railway to Nice, which eventually spread the game of Roulette outside the French borders by introducing casinos to the rest of the world.

Roulette in the 20th Century

At the turn of the century, and during the first part of the 20th century, Roulette became very popular, especially in France and America. It wasn’t until World War II, when American soldiers traveled outside the borders of the United States, and became exposed to the betting cultures of other countries, that Americans lost interest in the game of Roulette. When Americans began to realize the potential of beating the house playing Blackjack and Craps, these two games became more popular than Roulette in America.

Roulette Today

Players can choose to bet on any number included on the wheel, including the zero or double zero, as well as whether the number is red or black, or odd or even. Multiple numbers and betting combinations can be placed by a single player, for instance it’s common to see players wagering on an entire column, such as multiples of three paid at two to one. Bets can also be placed on which dozen the winning number falls into including one to 12, 13 to 24, and 25 to 36, as well as whether the number will be low (1-18) or high (19-36).

The game of roulette has produced some of the most thrilling casino stories of all time. As recently as 2004, Ashley Revell from England sold everything he owned aside from the clothes he was wearing and flew to Las Vegas in order to stake his entire net worth on a spin of the roulette wheel. He placed a total of $135,500 on red in an effort to double his money. After an agonising wait, the ball came to rest on red 7, leaving him with a cool $271,000.

Online Roulette

The advent of online gaming has opened up a new form of gambling to players from around the world, allowing them to play both American and European versions of Roulette from the comforts of home, or on the go from hand-held mobile devices, no matter what country or continent they are based.

An obvious difference of playing Roulette at a land-based casino and an online casino is the noisy atmosphere of the land-based casino environment that can become distracting to many players. If you are the type of player that prefers playing solo, without having to worry about the confusion caused by distractions while placing bets and calculating odds, you will enjoy playing online Roulette, which is fully automated so you don’t have to keep track of the croupier or the sweeping of chips like you would when playing in a land-based casino.

Online Roulette uses the technology of the random number generator, therefore the spinning wheel and landing ball are completely random, whereas in a land-based casino there is an addition of pegs being placed, along with wheel obstructions, to further ensure the ball is knocked around a great deal before settling on a number. This is an aspect missing in online Roulette, but if you select a reputable site that uses certified gaming software from an established provider, there is no need to worry about trusting the game results.

Another excellent feature of playing Roulette at an online casino, is the bonus offerings, which are not a usual aspect of a land-based casino. Bonuses often encourage you to join a particular online casino so you can double your intended bankroll for playing Roulette. With the right combination of a good bonus and good luck, you just might gain an advantage over the house.

After being sidelined for decades, Roulette is enjoying popularity among players around the world once again.

We recommend you head over to our Roulette guide to find the best casinos for Online Roulette games.