THE HISTORY OF ROULETTE
Roulette is one of the oldest yet most popular casino games, and it was first created by Blaise Pascal in 17th century France. It’s little surprise, therefore, that roulette translates to ‘little wheel’ in English. Here we will take a look at where the game began, its predecessors and how it has evolved over the years into the multi-million-pound industry it is today.
From ancient civilizations…
Some believe that roulette started out as a different game in ancient China. The game involved arranging 37 animal figures into a magic square, with the numbers totaling 666. The game was discovered by Dominican monks who then brought the game over to Europe, where it was adapted slightly. Instead of a square board, a circle was used and an extra space for a zero was added. Rather strangely, the numbers on a modern roulette wheel also add up to 666.
Soldiers in ancient Rome did not have a fun life. There’s no doubt that morale would be low on the battlefield with comrades being wounded or worse. To combat this, games were introduced – and many of those included spinning items such as shields or chariot wheels. Similarly, games were played whilst the ancient Greeks were in battle.
One example of this, similar to roulette, involved soldiers drawing symbols on the inside of their shields, putting them face down and placing an arrow next to the shield. They would then spin the shield and bet on which symbol would stop on the arrow. …
to 17th century France…
Pascal was a French mathematician and physicist, so it’s no surprise he created his own version of the wheel. However, he wasn’t attempting to create a casino game, but instead, was looking to invent a perpetual motion machine. The roulette we play today was heavily influenced by two other games, popular around this time: ‘Roly Poly’ and ‘Even-Odd’.
Even-Odd was a game played with a wheel and a ball, but instead of numbers, the pockets were marked with ‘E’ or ‘O’ for ‘even’ or ‘odd’.
…to the rest of Europe and the USA…
It was courtesy of two Frenchmen that the game we play and love today only has the one zero on the wheel. Prior to that, there were two zeros: one red zero and a black double zero, which gave the house a bigger edge, should the player land a zero. Francois and Lois Blanc designed the wheel specifically for King Charles III of Monaco, who then built a casino and brought roulette to the masses.
Roulette was then introduced to the Americans by European settlers in the 19th century. The earliest version of the roulette wheel included 28 numbers, plus a zero, double zero and an eagle symbol. The eagle was an extra house edge. This version then gave way to the European wheel; however, the Americans weren’t happy with the house odds and adopted the double zero version. This particular wheel is still played throughout the USA, Canada, South America, and the Caribbean.
…and online, with live roulette
Prior to the turn of the millennium, if you wanted to play one zero roulette, you needed to go to a casino in Europe and if you wanted to play double-zero roulette, you needed to cross the Atlantic. With online roulette, that all changed and you can now play either version at any time. There are also many advantages to playing online, including concentration and strategy, as well as games being fully automated.
One thing originally missing from the online versions was the atmosphere of a real casino and that’s when live roulette was introduced. The first live games used a webcam to stream games that were taking place, with the winning number determined by a real roulette table, as opposed to an electronic random number generator.
2006 saw the first dedicated live studios introduced and these saw significant advantages, including better-placed cameras so players had an optimal view of the game. Further advances saw players able to interact with the dealer, HD quality, numerous camera angles, and slow-motion replays.
Who knows how the future of roulette lies, but one thing is for sure – it will remain accessible, fun but ultimately, a game of luck.
Posted by Retro Kimmer at 2:32 PM
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