Roulette’s Historic Beginnings

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Image via Flickr by Hakan Dahlstrom


Just like gambling itself, Roulette has a rich and enticing history. From the way it came about to how it’s played today, Roulette is one of the most popular and well-known games in the casino world. Here is a little history lesson about this amazing game that comes with a huge fan-base and even bigger story.

Where it all Began

Like most games, there’s controversy over how Roulette came into being. The most commonly accepted theory is that a French scientist, Blaise Pascal, created Roulette while on his monastic retreat in 1655. It was first played in a Paris casino, where it was widely accepted by gamblers. The second theory is practically identical to the first, but instead of Blaise Pascal, it was a French monk who invented the game.

The third and final theory says that French Dominican monks modified an old Tibetan game where the object was to position 37 small animal statues into the magical number 666. The Tibetan game came from China, but the method of game-play was never recorded. The monks modified the game by transposing the 37 animal statues into numbers 0 through 36 and positioning them randomly on a spinning wheel.

Roulette’s Ancestors

Roulette is French for “small wheel,” pointing once again to French origin. There are, however, English ancestors with names such as “Roly Poly” and “Even-Odd.” Italy also has some evidence pointing to possible Roulette ancestors in games like “Biribi” and “Hoca.” While none of the games are exact replicas, they do have very similar objectives and rules.

Famous Players

In 1873, a gambler by the name of Joseph Jagger made Roulette history by hiring six clerks to record the outcomes from a Roulette wheel at Beaux Arts Casino in Monte Carlo. He discovered that one number came up more times than any other number and won $450,000 before the casino’s management caught on. Jagger is known as “The Man Who Broke the Bank in Monte Carlo,” a title made popular by the Fred Gilbert song. In 1891, gambler and con-man Charles Wells won over two million Francs and forced the wheel to close after he took all its money.

How its Played

The game itself is basically a spinning wheel on the inside of a big bowl. The dealer releases a small ball into the spinning wheel, and it rolls until it lands on number 0 through 38. Sometimes the numbers only go as high as 37 on Latin American and European wheels. Before the dealer releases the ball, gamblers place bets on the number they believe the ball will rest on by placing chips over a number on a mat or on different sets of numbers (even, odd, red, or black).

There’s no questioning the popularity of Roulette. It’s found in casinos everywhere and is always one of the busiest tables. While its origin is still under speculation, Roulette fared much better than its English and Italian ancestors. Even though it seems like a game of chance, there is definitely strategy involved. The rules are simple, and every spin is an exciting marvel for even the most seasoned gambler.

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