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Wheel of Fortune:
An Historical Journey through the Origins of Roulette

John Huxley roulette wheel
Image Credit : Pexels - Anna Shvets
Uncovering the History of Roulette

The history of the game or 'roulette' we know today has been veiled by mystery. The common opinion is that its foremost variant was devised in the 17th century by the French mathematician , Blaise Pascal. This machine is claimed to have been first thought of while he was busy constructing a machine that would churn forever.

Nonetheless, old records prove, undoubtedly, that a number of extinct societies had a variety of games that were quite similar to roulettes. This is the part where we explore some of the curiosities from the rich collections of human history.

The Alleged Chinese Influence

There were rumors that roulette was equal to the Chinese board game involved in the number arrangement of 37 animal figures in a magic square that totaled 666. According to some claims, Dominican monks that were interacting with Chinese societies found the game and later on brought it to Europe with some little changes.

Unfortunately, the specifics about the original Chinese game’s mechanism has been withheld from us. We often hear that the monks even changed the shape such that the square became a circle and added a special appointment for the number zero. But, the existence of single and double zero slots in early French roulette does not fit the narrative at all that conjectures an ancient Chinese origin of the game. However, people still are puzzled by the strange sum of 666 that is the sum of the numbers of the modern roulette wheel, which is some kind of cryptic mystery.

Passing Time in Ancient Rome

Soldiers’ life in Rome at those times were filled with many problems and risks. Besides the dangerous conditions of war, the soldiers’ main difficulty was that they had to observe their fellow-soldiers getting wounded and even killed on the battlefield. Necessarily, these tough events would have an impact on the psyche of the soldiers, as such, impair their functionality in the war.

With the objective of cheering up the spirits of the soldiers and instill more confidence, Roman Commanders allowed a flurry of activities such as participation in gambling games in their encampment. In this category, we find games that used spinning shields and chariot wheels, which actually feature the same mechanics as a roulette wheel.

The Gambling Pursuits of Ancient Greeks

Among all the tough duties of the battle, the Greek soldiers found various gambling pastimes to be a refuge from dangers. Yet, one match in particular embodied the basic principle of today's roulette. In this game, warriors carved marks inside the shield, placed it face-down on the ground and placed one arrow near it. Then they would spin the shield and finally bet on which symbol would be revealed in front of the arrow.

Although these games have something in common with some roulette aspects, the lack of detailed records precludes the full verification of the claims that the roulette originated as the Greek or Roman pastime.

The French Influence

The fact that this game is known by the same name in French assures people about its French origin. However, the game's design and mechanics bear the unmistakable influence of two similar games that enjoyed popularity in 17th-century Europe: These were called 'Roly Poly' and 'Even-Odd', respectively. In this case, both games were similar regarding the betting procedure on the outcome of the launch of a ball into a wheel, which gradually developed the present shape of roulette. As Blaise Pascal was considered as a well-known gambler, it seems to be a logical conclusion that his understanding of the games played in the past is what supported him in his development of the roulette wheel.

In the late 18th century, a stringent gambling regulation system was generated which had a direct impact on the way in which the gambling games were evolved across Europe and France specifically. Simultaneously, Prince Charles of Monaco with his finance problem, being skillful, looked at the gambling wellbeing and use it to remedy his woes. What began as this action resulted in the creation of many gambling places in Monaco including the appearance of hallmark roulette in them. Consequently, it became the highest patronized game during that time by the court and the nobility.

The roulettes frequented by high society members at these renowned gambling halls back then hardly differed from the kind of roulette we are familiar with today, with only slight variations in available bets. Unlike the contemporary roulette table, which has numbers from 1 to 36, with one green zero pocket and one double zero pocket, the traditional roulette wheel only featured red and black colors.

The Evolution of European Roulette

However, the lasting fondness people have for casino games is largely driven by the motivation of two imaginative men whose name was Louis and Francois Blanc. These ingenious concepts initiated the age of single zero pocket by eliminating the double zero compartment, which introduced the European Roulette as currently known.

The fact that there were legal restrictions on gambling in France at that time prompted the brothers to transfer to Hamburg, Germany, where they subsequently took their new adaptation of roulette on offer to the keenly supportive gambling crowd. That the feedback was generally positive came as no big surprise, and this created the ripples that transmitted the appeal of the game far beyond the region.

The vital part in this process was the game, which was changed into containing only one zero slot, and as a consequence the house edge was significantly lowered to 2,7%, which is contrary to the common 5.26% in the regular variation with the double zero. With rational arguments, statistical chances in players favor and elevated return-to-play percentages roulette of single zero made the game to become the choice of the players, thus replacing the other double zero counterpart.

Furthermore, they were requested by Prince Charles III of Monaco to do so, Francois and Louis known as father and son reestablished ( bom bong! ) the game to France that was then known to be the first casino in the whole world. Roulette also had an impressive 'main attraction' known as the Single zero game. Along with the construction of roulette, Monte Carlo Casino Resort was soon built. And this just engraved that Royal imprint on the evolution of roulette even deeper.

The Transatlantic Journey of Roulette

It was in the 18th century when the European settlers arrived at Louisiana, that roulette clinched its first seat for poker in the US soil. Nevertheless, on its way to the new destination, the game developed into a novelty fueled by difficulties. Dissatisfied with the house advantage of only 5.26%, casino operators aimed at increasing their advantage, which ended up decreasing players’ returns and tiring them. It this ultimately what led to the drop off of players.

Peculiarly but genuinely, the gambling community in the U.S. as a whole rejected the single zero roulette format and led to its departure from the conventional rules of the game. Unfortunately, the poor prospects for reform had the double zero of the emerging iteration gain ascendance, hence, the form of play that we know as the American Roulette today.

Although the risk of losing increased due to the higher house edge, Americans showed strong interest in roulette when it first came. As time passed, however, their taste leaned more towards such games where the house's edge fell, such as blackjack, which ultimately gave them a reduced interest in the game.

Embracing Online Roulette

In the last decade we have seen an immense rise in online casinos through which players easily choose to play their games from their homes. With new casino platforms like the virtual world has become populated with various forms of roulette and various functions. Thus, an average roulette player has a great number of games to choose from. Regardless of restrictions due to geographical proximity, individuals can enjoy American, European, and a host of other roulette options via online platforms. The benefits of participating in the game online in contrast to a brick and mortar casino are just worth noticing.

As far as the online mode goes, the players have a quiet opportunity to concentrate; here, they patiently follow their betting rules during gameplay and overcome the disturbances typical in the land-based casinos. What adds more to this, is that the online games are executed flawlessly with the help of automation that eliminates the need to always call up the croupier and take care of the chips. And if you choose to play live dealer online roulette, those two options are still available.

Talking about the matter of fairness and odds, the regulating boards pay a permanent attention to all the aspects of the game, so that all is done in its integrity. Stickers featuring a brief description of the game's content aims at allowing gamers to play in a harmless and secure environment. Furthermore, the game provides a chance for players to view and analyze general probability, various payouts and some other interesting details required for a better gaming experience.

The Resurgence of Roulette

After a slump during a period of general decline in casino slot, the game of roulette is slowly but steadily regaining its popularity. The accessibility provided by the online casinos gives players the privilege to choose their preferred game category without having to move from the comfort of their houses.

It is impossible to escape luck and certainty of success; however, watching the roulette wheel spin has the charm that is elementary and non-existent in many other casino games. It has been at the heart of civilizations since times immemorial. Be it the Romans or the Greeks; the fascination to win through the puzzles and the thrill of luck still remains unparalleled. While they unravel the details of the game, from recognizing the roulette wheel and the black and red table layout, the lasting fascinating appeal of the game becomes more evident.

Roulette is a game that is alive and kicking and now it can be enjoyed at online casinos as well which assures the games prominence at the modern gambling panorama.
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