There are certain designs that are just so perfect that we take them for granted a little, and the roulette wheel is absolutely one of them. This iconic casino game has remained pretty much totally unchanged for more than a hundred years, so if there was ever a candidate for a design that really got it right, the roulette wheel might just be it. Here we’ll have a look at the history of the roulette wheel, as well as why the design works so well and its modern interpretations.
Blaise Pascal and the Beginning
The first-ever form of the roulette wheel is thought to have been devised almost accidentally by a French mathematician called Blaise Pascal. It was in the mid-17th century that Pascal was looking for a way to create a perpetual motion machine and, in doing so, stumbled across the mechanics for an early roulette wheel. Using these mechanics alongside some of the rules from a popular European game called Biribi, the first roulette wheel was born in the early 18th century. There have been some changes since then, but amazingly few. These are what they are…
La Roulette Ou La Jour
The first mention of the game of roulette being played present in any kind of documentation was on legalities in Quebec, where it stated that ‘dice, hoca, faro, and roulette’ were banned. However, the first mention of a roulette wheel working as we know it today is in a book called La Roulette Ou La Jour, written by Jaques Lablee. The book explains how a roulette wheel seen in the Palais Royal in Paris works. Notably, this roulette wheel featured two slots reserved for the bank, that are marked with a single zero and a double zero. Labelle explains that this gives the house an edge, as there is one more chance for the bank to win. So, it seems 1796 is the very first year when we can confidently say that roulette was being played with the double zero.
Single Zero and the Eagle
By 1843, roulette had grown enormously in popularity and was being played across most of Europe and even making its way to America. In Bad Homburg, Germany, Louis Blanc introduced a roulette wheel that featured a single zero, no double, so that his casino could compete with others by offering a smaller house edge.
However, across the pond in America, roulette wheels had taken a turn in the opposite direction to Louis Blanc’s. In American casinos, there were the numbers 1 – 28, plus a single zero, a double zero, and an American Eagle. The Eagle slot gave the house an even larger edge but did so in a way that was vaguely patriotic and so went largely unchecked. Despite this, the American Eagle vanished relatively quickly, leaving the single zero game, which we know as French roulette today, and the double zero games, which we know as American.
Modern Day Changes
So that was more or less it until the advent of the internet! It was at this point that game developers had to get smart and work out how they would emulate the randomness of the roulette wheel in a computer format. Thankfully, with the help of random number generators and clever graphics teams, they managed it perfectly. If you’re feeling as though you might want to spin the roulette wheel and see how it works then this guide to online casino table games gives you all of the information you need to know before playing in the online sphere. It works just the same as roulette at a table except you can play from anywhere with an internet connection and at any time of day.
Since the move to the online sphere, there have been few changes to the game of roulette, but there have been some record attempts of note. The trend for huge games in the past few years has seen the Casino du Liban in Lebanon create a roulette wheel with an almost nine-meter diameter, which they completed back in 2017. As well as this, Intan Pragi won the Guinness World Record for the hardest working croupier, spinning the roulette wheel 1,650 times in a single shift.