Funny Pages From The History of Roulette

Roulette is the most iconic casino game, the very image of high-class gambling. It is present in every casino around the world, even if only as a gaming machine. It has its place in pop culture as well: roulette was featured in countless movies and TV shows, albeit mostly in the background or as a plot device.

Introduced in the 18th century, roulette is one of the casino games with the longest history – with quite a few pages that are fun to read.

Accidental Discovery

Roulette is said to be a combination of an Italian lottery-style game called Biribi, played in Italy, and various “wheel of fortune”-type games played across Europe at the time. But when it comes to the roulette wheel, things get a bit interesting – because its invention was an accident. Sort of.

You see, the roulette wheel has to spin for a long time – this makes the game more exciting and captivating for the players. Today, it uses precision bearings to run smoothly and stay unbiased.

Famed French mathematician Blaise Pascal was one of the many scientists looking for the Holy Grail of engineering, the perpetual motion machine. This is a device that can function indefinitely using only the energy initially introduced into the system. Pascal was trying to build one in the 17th century, and – of course – he failed. But in doing so, he created the mechanism of what was to become the modern-day roulette wheel.

The Devil’s Game

The original roulette wheel had 38 slots: 36 numbers and a single-zero, as well as a double-zero slot. These two were the “house wins all bets” slots. This wheel has a house edge of slightly over 5%. In the 19th century, when German resorts tried to attract guests from their French competition, Francois and Luis Blanc introduced a new and improved roulette wheel, one with a smaller house edge. It only had 37 slots and only a single-zero slot.

The Blancs introduced this new wheel at a Homburg casino and popularized it throughout Europe. As you might expect, the lower house edge did the trick, turning the Blancs’ single-zero roulette wheel into a huge success.

But their success came with the mandatory haters. So much so, that they were even accused of having sold their souls to the Devil in exchange for their game’s success. The proof? If you add all the numbers on the roulette wheel, 1 through 36, the result is… 666!!!!!

From France to America

There are currently two types of roulette played in the world: the American version (with both a single-zero and a double-zero on the wheel) and the European version, introduced by the Blancs in the 19th century. Surprising as it may sound, though, the American version is the original – even though it was invented in France.

In the late 19th century, a wave of restrictive gambling laws swept across Europe. This led to the closure of casinos in most countries, including France and Germany. But not in the principality of Monaco. Here, the Monte Carlo Casino remained one of the very few gambling outlets – and certainly the most famous. And who was in charge of running it? François Blanc, one of the above-mentioned Blanc brothers. As such, his version of roulette was played in the casino.

And what about the original French version? Well, it made it across the ocean and found a new home in New Orleans. From there, it spread across the United States thanks to the riverboats on the Mississippi River. Thus, the original French version became “American roulette”. And the version that spread from Monaco went down in history as “European roulette”.

Roulette’s journey from its accidental invention to a globally recognized symbol of gambling reflects its rich history and cultural impact. Toulette embodies both chance and strategy. Its legacy, marked by tales of innovation, controversy, and adaptation, continues to fascinate and entertain, securing its place in the annals of gambling history.

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