The game of roulette may have been invented by the 17th-century French mathematician Blaise Pascal, or by the Chinese, who taught the game to Dominican monks who later brought it to France. No matter its beginnings, by the late 18th century, roulette was being played in some of the casinos of Europe. Prince Charles III of Monaco, who developed the casino at Monte Carlo in his tiny principality during the 1860s, brought the game to his casino, where it was an almost immediate hit with the gamblers of his day.
The Roulette Wheel
Roulette, which is the French word for “small wheel,” is a game of chance in which players spin a horizontal wheel. The object is to bet on the particular red or black numbered compartment inside which a small ball will come to rest. The roulette wheel consists of a slightly convex solid wooden disk Around the rim of the wheel are metal partitions called “separators” or “frets.” There are 36 compartments or pockets between these partitions, painted alternately red and black. On European-style wheels, there is a green painted 37th compartment which has a 0. On American-style wheels, there are two green compartments called 0 and 00. The wheel spins effortlessly on a single ball bearing.
Playing the Game
A roulette table may have five, six, or seven sets of chips, one set for each player. Normally, all chips have the same value. When the winning number comes up, the winnings may be as much as 35 times the bet which is played on one, two, three, four, six, twelve, twenty-four numbers, or on single bets. These may be on red, black, even, odd, passe or manque. If the ball falls into the 0 compartment, the single bets lose half their value, unless the player opts to wait for the next throw, hoping to come up a winner.
In European roulette, there is only a single zero compartment. In American roulette, a double zero compartment is added, so the configuration of the table and the numbered sections of the wheel change. This version is generally faster than the European variety.