Along with blackjack and slots, roulette is one of the top three most popular casino games in America. It’s centuries old, yet its timeless appeal continues to be discovered by new generations of gamers, whether it’s the old-fashioned version in a land-based casino or the latest mobile variations of online roulette. Knowing the history of roulette can only enrich your gaming experience, so keep on reading for some fascinating roulette facts.
Invented by Accident
The history of roulette began in 1655 when Blaise Pascal, the famous French physicist, inventor, and mathematician, tried to invent a perpetual motion machine, which is a machine designed to operate without drawing on any external source of energy. He didn’t succeed, but the wheel he accidentally invented gave rise to one of the most popular casino games of all time.
The history of roulette continues into 18th century England, where a game called “EO” (short for even/odd) was played on a roulette-type gaming wheel with 20 sections marked “even,” 20 sections marked “odd,” and a section for the house.
The first recorded mention of the modern game is in a French novel called “La Roulette,” by Jacques Lablee, who describes a modern roulette wheel with 36 alternating red and black numbered pockets and two house pockets, a zero, and a double zero.
European & American Roulette
Today, there are two primary versions of roulette: European and American. The first European wheel appeared in 1842 when Francois and Lois Blanc designed a roulette wheel with a single zero pocket specifically for King Charles III of Monaco, who was in serious need of cash. Word spread that this roulette wheel had a lower house edge (2.70%) than wheels with two pockets (5.26%), and gamblers flocked to the king’s casino in Monte Carlo. The single-zero wheel soon became standard in casinos across Europe.
So why do American roulette wheels have two zero pockets? The reason is that the game traveled across the pond and (along with poker) up the Mississippi from New Orleans, long before the Blancs devised their wheel. Casino owners didn’t have to compete over house edge, so they stuck with the original wheel.
En Prison & La Partage
The roulette variant with the lowest house edge is French roulette. This game has the special “En Prison” rule when played on a European wheel. If you place an even-money bet (red/black, odd/even, 1–18/19–36) and the ball lands on zero, your bet stays “in prison” and is carried over to the next spin. There is a house edge of 1.35% on even-money bets.
A variant of En Prison is the “La Partage” rule, according to which you get half your stake back if you place an even-money bet and the ball settles on zero. La Partage takes the house edge down to 1.3%. This is close to blackjack odds and is one of the reasons why roulette is popular.
Speaking of even-money bets, the biggest even-money win of all time was by Ashley Revell from the U.K. In 2004, he bet his life savings of $135,300 on red at the Plaza in Las Vegas and walked away with over $270,000. If the ball had landed on zero and the La Partage rule was in effect, he’d have lost only $67,650.
Roulette Fun Facts About Numbers
Did you know that roulette used to be known as “the Devil’s Game?” That’s because if you add up all the numbers on the wheel, you get a total of 666 — also known in the Book of Revelations as the number of the beast.
Another fun fact about roulette is that the number bettors (especially novices) most frequently choose is 17. That’s because it’s centrally located on the roulette table, so your eyes are drawn to it.
The record for hitting the same number consecutively is held by a player from the Rio Casino in Las Vegas, where number 19 came up 7 times in a row. The chances of that happening are 1 in 3 billion.
Roulette’s Biggest Winners
The roulette numbers that players tend to be most interested in are winning numbers. After all, roulette is a game of chance that rewards winning bets with payouts of up to 17 times the stake.
One of the first big roulette winners was Charles Wells, known as “the man who broke the bank at Monte Carlo.” He did this by winning 23 out of 30 spins in 1891, earning a cool 2 million francs and causing the casino to run out of money.
Fast forward to 2008, and billionaire entrepreneur Mike Ashley wins more than $1.3 million from betting on the number 17 in European roulette at a casino in London.
But to date, the biggest winner in roulette has been Brazilian businessman Pedro Grendene Bartelle. In 2017, he raked in $3.5 million at the Hotel Conrad in Punta del Este in Uruguay when he bet $35,000 straight up on number 32.
There Are No Patterns in Roulette
Many players refuse to accept that roulette is purely a game of chance. The outcome of each spin is totally random, so it’s impossible to come up with a foolproof winning strategy. The opposite belief — that there’s some kind of pattern in the game — is called “the gambler’s fallacy.”
The best example of this occurred at the Monte Carlo Casino on August 18, 1913, when the ball landed on black 26 times in a row. The likelihood of this happening is 1 in 66.6 million. Gamblers bet and lost millions betting against black at various points in the sequence because they argued it was red’s turn.
Roulette has a collection of rules that players are expected to follow at the gaming table. For example, it’s considered good etiquette to buy and cash your chips between spins to avoid interrupting the game. Also, you should eat away from the table and place your chips carefully, not throw them down. Put your money on the table and don’t hand it directly to the dealer. When the dealer says “no more bets,” your bet is final.
Live Online Roulette Innovations
One of the cool facts about online casinos is that you can play roulette live. In fact, some of the biggest innovations in roulette have come from the live casino gaming scene. In Lightning Roulette, for instance, random multipliers are randomly assigned to the numbers, awarding up to 500 times the stake for winning straight-up bets.
In double-ball roulette, the dealer uses a special device to spin two balls around the wheel at the same time. As you can imagine, this shakes up the outcomes considerably. Of course, there are also live casino versions of European, American, and French roulette. All of these games are streamed live from state-of-the-art casino studios. Players join via a mobile-friendly gaming interface, and any number of players can participate in these games at the same time.
Play Roulette Online at Borgata
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