The invention of roulette is credited to seventeenth-century French mathematician Blaise Pascal, who happened upon the idea when investigating not games of chance, but perpetual motion. Modern roulette is similar, in many ways, to two contemporary gambling games of the day, known as ‘Roly Poly’ and ‘Even/Odd’. Of course time waits for no man, and nowadays you’re as likely to hear of someone inputting a promotional code genting, or having a big roulette win online, as you are in an offline bricks and mortar environment.
A recognisably modern roulette wheel – albeit with both a single and double zero – became popular in casinos throughout France and Monaco in the late eighteenth century. In the middle of the nineteenth century, the roulette wheel was overhauled by two French brothers, Louis and Francois Blanc, who removed the double zero pocket and, in so doing, created the modern French, or European, roulette table. Following the February Revolution in France in 1848, roulette was exported to the United States by French émigrés, but the European version was not well received by American administrators, who reintroduced the double zero pocket to create what henceforth became known as American roulette.
Did You Know?
‘Roulette’ is a diminutive meaning a small wheel, from the French word ‘rouelle’, meaning a wheel.
The first man to ‘break the bank’ at the Casino de Monte-Carlo or, in other words, to win more than the 100,000 francs set aside to cover liabilities on each roulette table, was a Yorkshireman named Joseph Jagger. In 1873, Jagger took advantage of a biased roulette wheel to win 2,000,000 francs, or the equivalent of £7.5 million by modern standards.
So-called ‘triple zero’ roulette – which, as the name suggests, features triple, double and single zero pockets – was first introduced, as ‘Sands Roulette’, at The Venetian, Las Vegas in 2016 and is, nowadays, offered by numerous casinos on the Las Vegas Strip.
Single zero roulette offers a house edge of 2.7%, double zero roulette offers a house edge of 5.26% and triple zero roulette offers a house edge of 7.69%. Even in the single zero version, a bet placed on, say, red or black, or odd or even, which pays even money, does not have a 50% chance of winning; the presence of the green single zero pocket reduces the chance of winning any such bet to 48.64%.