Roulette has been around for centuries, with the current game being played as early as the 1790s in Paris, France. Roulette tables spread throughout French casinos over the rest of that decade before exploding like a wildfire through the rest of Europe and the United States during the early bits of the 19th century. It’s at this time that roulette had officially solidified itself as the most popular and commonplace betting game to be featured in casinos, by a landslide.
After gambling was abolished across most of Europe, the Blanc family, who were pioneers in the game of roulette, moved their operations from Germany to Monte Carlo. There, they established a gambling mecca for Europe’s elite that continues to welcome millions of gamblers every year all the way up to this day.
When the game finally made its way to America, rampant cheating from both operators and players forced a number of preventative changes to the game, including placing the wheel on top of the table to prevent devices from being hidden anywhere inside. The betting layout was also simplified. And this is what led to the creation of the American-style roulette which we know today.
While the American-style roulette continued to develop in shady bars across the new territories via makeshift games, the French version matured with style and leisure alongside its larger-than-life host city of Monte Carlo located in the south of France on the Mediterranean Sea
The Different Types Of Roulette
Some of the differences between the American and European versions have been mentioned already, but here we’ll break down the different nuances of both games. We will also share the details of the specific French version, which is the oldest of all the roulette games.
When large numbers of French immigrants settled in Louisiana in the American south they did not forget to bring their favorite casino game with them. It was a match made in heaven, with the French roulette game arriving in New Orleans, which was the gambling capital of the USA at the time.
It was slow-going at first, however, as the game’s popularity was severely stunted by the meagre house profits roulette offered. Out of this was born the idea to add an extra zero (the double zero) to the game to give ‘the house’ better odds.
Though it does share several basic similarities with the French version, the American style differs in that the chances that ‘the house’ wins are much higher. Rather than just one zero, the American wheel adds a double zero. The numbers do have the colors you’re used to, but the sequence of the numbers is unique as well.
The most identifiable trait of the roulette game played in the USA is the fact that all players have their own color chip, a method that allows for much less fraud. It’s up to each player to inform the croupier of the values on the chips they’re playing with. There’s also just one croupier running the table, instead of the three you’d usually see in the French version, which means far fewer player commands can be accepted.
Because it’s much less susceptible to fraud, Europe also offers the American format of play in most of its casinos, though with a caveat that requires a French cylinder and the French ‘en prison’ rule.
In the real American style, however, you get the double-zero, but there is no ‘en prison’ rule. This style stipulates that all single chances are lost when the 0 or 00 comes up. This style of play makes it very favorable for the casino or ‘the house.’
The main difference between the European version of roulette and the American one is the United States’ addition of a second zero, the double zero. Because of this, statistically speaking you are much more likely to win playing on a European wheel with a single zero.
The European wheel has 37 numbers on it: 0 to 36. The croupier brings a small ball into the game by sending it in the opposite direction of the spinning wheel. The winning number is the one where the little ball lands, which decides who has been successful on their bets. The success of your bets depends on how and where they’ve been placed.
European roulette also offers more betting options, with the possibility to not only bet on one whole number, but also on colors, a series, or a block of numbers. The higher the risk of your bet, the higher the cash prize.
A straight bet on one number on the European wheel gives you a 1/37 (2.7%) chance at winning, while the American wheel would offer a 1/38 (2.65%) chance. It may seem like a negligible difference, but when you consider the 35x payout, that small boost in odds matters.
The addition of the extra zero allows the casinos running the American version to get 2/38 (5.26%) instead of 1/37 (2.7%) odds. That means that for every thousand bucks that’s gambled, $52.60 goes to ‘the house.’
Considered the ‘Queen of Casino Games,’ the original, French version of roulette is one of the oldest gamblings games still taking bets to this day. Exactly where the game of roulette first began is still a matter of much debate, however.
Some say it came from a cruel game that ancient Chinese soldiers played with their captives, while still others claim roulette came from Greco-Roman history. These historians liken roulette to a turning wheel, a sort of wheel of fortune-type game, that was the most popular way to gamble in Ancient Rome and Greece.
The more recent version of roulette we know today began in the 1800s when a French mathematician Blaise Pascal accidentally created the roulette wheel as he was attempting to create a wheel that would never stop turning.
He didn’t do what he set out to, but he created something else that lives on to this day thanks in large part to the Blanc brothers, who suggested the addition of the 0 to the wheel to make it more attractive for casinos to offer the game.
To play in this style, bettors will place their chips on a green playing field that has every number from 0 to 36 printed on it. Gamblers can put bets down only on single chances in this format. This means that bets can be placed on one outcome, such as whether it comes up red or black, odd or even, and high or low. The game is run under the watchful eye of the croupier, who has the honour of rolling the ball onto the roulette wheel to get the games started.
Though the winning chances are the same in both European and French-style roulette, you have fewer options to bet on with the French version. The playing field, or cloth, is also set up differently so that in the French style, you’re unable to see the neighbours game.