Online Roulette: The History of Roulette

Roulette is one of the most popular games played in off and online casinos. With the continuous rise of new online casinos everyone can play (live) roulette anywhere from behind their computer, laptop, tablet or mobile phone. There is no need to go to an offline casino like in the past. You can win (or lose) big in an online casino as well. In this series we will explain more about the game of roulette, the history of roulette, the types of roulette, the different bets, how to play roulette, understanding the odds and strategies for playing. In the first part we will start with: What is Roulette? The Different Types of Roulette and Why Play Roulette?

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What is Roulette?

There are several versions of the game including French, American, English and rapid roulette. All the games have the same basic principle of predicting the winning number but the equipment used to play them varies. The aim is to determine where a ball will land after it has been spun around the wheel. A rotating wheel is used that is divided into numbered compartments. The wheel is positioned to one end of a table. The table is marked with a betting layout. Players try to predict which compartment a small ball will land in after it has been spun around the casing of the wheel by a dealer. The O players make bets on the layout that correspond to their CO prediction of the winning number. If their bets are successful they are paid winnings at set odds.

The wheel is pivoted on a central spindle and rotates. It is housed in a stationary casing. The numbers 0 to 36 are arranged in compartments around the wheel. Each number is coloured. Zero is green and the other numbers are either red or black. Some wheels incorporate one 0; others have an additional number called double zero.

The game is operated by a dealer who spins the ball around the casing. It is spun in the opposite direction to that in which the wheel is turning. As the ball loses momentum it slows down and eventually drops into one of the numbered slots. Players bet on which number the ball will land in. Bets are made by placing gaming chips on the layout that is marked with the numbers. A wide choice of different bets can be made including individual numbers and groups of up to 18 numbers. Bets made on the winning number are paid by the dealer at set odds.
To increase the randomness of the winning number, there are diamond-shaped bars set at intervals around the casing. They are arranged alternately, horizontally and vertically. If the bail hits one of the bars as it drops, it will be deflected off at a different angle. The dealer also varies the speed of the ball with different spins.

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The History of Roulette

Gambling games using spinning wheels have been played for thousands of years. Some of the earliest games using spinning wheels date back to Ancient Rome and Greece. Roman soldiers would mark sections on a chariot wheel, spin it and bet on where it would stop. In Ancient Greece, the same principle was applied to shields that were marked with sections and spun on spears. The horizontal spinning wheel that forms the basic equipment for game of roulette is thought to have been invented by French mathematician, Blaise Pascal, in the 17th century. He was experimenting with perpetual motion devices. The wheel is thought to have been a result of these experiments. Roulette wheels are mounted on a spindle and, much like flywheels, a small push on the wheel is enough to keep the wheel spinning for a considerable length of time. Games that resemble roulette emerged in England in the 18th century. In 1720 a game called roly-poly was invented. It was played with a ball that was spun round a horizontal rotating wheel. It became extremely popular and was played in taverns and gaming houses. In 1739 and 1740 gaming acts were passed banning the game. To get round the ban a simplified version of the game was invented called even odd. Alternate sections of the wheel were marked with ‘E’ and ‘O’ respectively. Players would bet on whether E or O would be spun. By 1745 the game of even odd was also banned.

Different Types of Roulette

Double-zero Roulette

Double-zero roulette is a version of roulette that incorporates two zeros. It first emerged during the 18th century in France. Roulette is French word meaning small wheel. It was probably based on a French street game that was played on a board with 36 numbers. The numbers were marked on lots that were placed in a bag. One of the lots would be drawn from the bag to determine the winning number. The wheel most likely replaced the lots with the betting layout being retained. By 1796 double-zero roulette wheels had been introduced to Paris. They resembled modern double-zero wheels with the numbers 1 to 36, a 0 and a double-zero. The color of the zeros differed, instead of green, 0 was coloured red and the double zero was coloured black. The rules regarding the outcome of outside bets also varied. Bets on red lost if 0 was spun and bets on black lost if double zero was spun.

Later, the zeros were changed to the colour green. The rules concerning the outcome of outside bets when 0 is spun were also amended. The betting layout also differed from the modern one. It resembled a French roulette betting layout with the outside bets on either side of the numbers. Later, the more compact modern layouts emerged with the outside bets on one side only. These double-zero wheels were taken to the United States by settlers in the 19th century. Casinos opened in New Orleans and along the Mississippi River. Gambling spread to the west as settlers moved there with wagon trains. When gold was discovered in California in 1848, gambling flourished in the prospecting camps. San Francisco, which became a huge tented city, had over 1000 gambling houses where gold was the currency. Roulette was one of the most popular games. Lack of legislation controlling the games resulted in some unscrupulous operators introducing wheels with 31 pockets, which featured the numbers 1 to 28, 0, double zero and an eagle. Payout odds for a winning number were just 26/1, giving the operators a massive 12.9 per cent house advantage compared with 5.26 per cent on a regular double-zero wheel. Nowadays double-zero wheels are used on American roulette played in the United States.

Single-zero Roulette (French roulette)

Frenchmen Francois and Louis Blanc invented roulette with a single 0 in 1842. They removed the double zero from the wheel and haphazardly rearranged the numbers 1 to 36. Despite removing one of the pockets, they kept the payout odds for a winning number at 35/1. This cut the house advantage to just 2.7 per cent, which proved extremely popular with gamblers. Since gambling had been made illegal in France in 1837, they introduced the game to Bad-Homburg in Germany. It was a great success. When gaming was outlawed in Germany, Francois and his son Camille brought the game to Monte Carlo.

In 1857 Prince Charles III of Monaco decided to introduce gambling to the principality to boost its finances. Gambling had just been outlawed in Germany. This prompted Louis Blanc to bring his game of single-zero roulette to Monte Carlo. Monte Carlo had the monopoly on roulette until 1933.

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English Roulette

English roulette is a version of roulette that uses a single-zero wheel and a smaller betting layout – similar to the size of an American roulette layout. To confuse matters, English roulette is often called American roulette. You may also hear it called single-zero American roulette. It is played mostly in the UK and on continental Europe. English roulette has evolved from combining some elements of French roulette with American roulette. French roulette using the single-zero wheel was introduced to England in the 1960s. French roulette needs two or three dealers. In contrast, American roulette can be operated by just one dealer and is a much faster game than French roulette. To increase profits, casinos started replacing the French roulette tables with English roulette. The betting layout was modified so that it could be used with the single-zero wheel. English roulette also uses the French names for most of the bets. A straight up (a bet on a single number) for example is called an ‘en plein’ (pronounced ‘on plan’) and a split (a bet on two numbers) is a ‘cheval’ (pronounced ‘shevale’). English roulette has led to the decline of French roulette.

Aussie Roulette and Rapid Roulette

In 2000 a new form of roulette was introduced called rapid roulette. It was based on Aussie roulette, which is a slot machine version of the game that was played in Australian casinos. Aussie roulette was not particularly popular with traditional roulette players because they preferred the human factor of having a dealer spin the ball. In 1999 Crown Casino Australia and Stargames started to develop a semi-automated version of roulette that would combine both elements of traditional and Aussie roulette. This hybrid was called rapid roulette. Rapid roulette uses a traditional roulette wheel and dealer to generate the winning numbers. Versions using the single-zero wheel and the double-zero wheel exist. The dealer also handles the buy-ins.

The baize betting layout was replaced with computer terminals that are arranged around the roulette table so that the players can see the ball being spun. The new game allows bets to be placed without the pushing and shoving associated with traditional roulette. It also allows for varied stakes. Rapid roulette has soared in popularity and is now played in casinos around the world.

Why Play Roulette?

Roulette has a low house advantage compared with other games. On a single-zero wheel, the house advantage is 2.7 per cent. Blackjack, in contrast, has a house advantage of 5.6 per cent – double that on roulette as the casinos takes a bigger profit on blackjack. The high payout odds for a winning number on roulette make it possible to accumulate winnings quickly. A winning number pays odds of 35/1 whereas blackjack only pays 2/1. By rebetting the winnings on roulette it is possible to win over €1000 in just two spins of a roulette wheel.

The 5 Best Online Live Roulette Casinos

Interested in playing online (live) roulette, please visit our online casino page or play at one of the 5 selected casinos below for the best online (live) roulette.

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