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Home / Roulette / History
An History of Roulette
Fanciful stories about the invention of Roulette include its invention by the 17th century French mathematician Blaise Pascal and first played in a casino in Paris, by a French monk to help break the monotony of monastery life, and by the Chinese, from whom it was transmitted to France by Dominican monks. Whatever its antecedents and origins, Roulette emerged only in the late 18th century as a glamorous attraction in the casinos of Europe, where it has long been associated with the gaming rooms at Monte-Carlo.

The Roulette wheel layout used in Europe and in America generally not the same. The Roulette wheels in Europe are numbered 1-36, and have a green zero section. The Roulette wheels in America, however, have a green zero and double zero, giving the American casinos twice the house edge. Things have improved however, in the mid 1800's, Roulette wheels in Europe had the double zero system, while those in America had even a triple zero.

Roulette history is hard to come by because the origin of Roulette is lost, and there was likely some form of a wheel based game going back almost as far as the origin of the wheel itself. There are stories that the game was invented in China and brought to Europe by traders who were trading with the Chinese.
Several early versions of a wheel and spinning ball were invented in the 17th and 18th centuries in Europe. The first games that we would recognize as modern Roulette were introduced in Paris casinos around the end of the 18th century. This game contained all of the features that we have today with the one exception, the single zero was colored red while the double zero was colored black. This led to some confusion for players and the color green was introduced for the zero and double zero to alleviate the confusion.

In the mid 19th century the single zero game was invented in France, this reduced the casino's edge thereby increasing the odds of the player. When gambling was outlawed in Germany the inventor of the single zero machine (Louis Blanc) accepted an invitation to go to Monaco to establish and operate a casino. The casino set the standards for Roulette in Europe, and Roulette remained exclusive to Monte Carlo until 1933. This led to the gambling and resort industry in Monaco as many of Europe's rich were attracted to the luxurious Monte Carlo casino.

The use of the double zero Roulette wheels survived in the United States and is sometimes called the "American Wheel". The introduction of the single zero wheel (with better odds for the player) resulted in the demise of the double zero wheels in Europe and has become known as the "French Wheel" in Roulette history.

In Europe (also Atlantic City in the U.S.) the Casino's offered another refinement to the game that increased the odds yet again for the player, the option of "En Prison" was offered. With the en prison option if the player has bet an even money bet (Even-Odd, Red-Black, 1-18 or 19-36) and zero or double zero is the next outcome the player has two options:
  1. The player can "imprison" the bet. This means the bet stays where it is and the next spin determines if the bet is lost or returned to the player.
  2. The player may surrender half of the bet.
Most people exercise the en prison option so don't be surprised if the croupier assumes that you will also, be sure to tell him/her if you would prefer to surrender half of your bet.

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