Gambling Guide: Roulette History and Fun Facts
The history of roulette is a fascinating one indeed, especially since its creation was a mere accident. But there are many more interesting facts surrounding the designated ‘Game of Kings‘ than its origins alone can relay.
We’ll take a brief but inquisitive look at roulette history, followed by a collection of fun facts you probably didn’t know about this immensely popular casino game.
History of Roulette
Roulette’s invention is credit to childhood genius Blaise Pascal, a French inventor, mathematician, physicist and philosopher. In 1642, at the age of 16, he built a mechanical calculator; one of the first two in existence. In his efforts to perfect the calculator, he sought to devise a perpetual motion machine. The end result was – much by accident – the invention of the roulette wheel.
Pascal realized he could use his unsuccessful perpetual motion machine for something else – gambling. Thus the first, primitive version of the casino game was born.
But Pascal was not a gambling man. Others took over the game’s evolution into the 18th century. Many historians believe the current form of roulette played today was, eventually, a mass amalgamation of antiquated games known as Ace of Hearts, E.O. (Even-Odds), Reiner and Roly Poly, as well as a few Italian board games, Hoca and Birbi, and possibly an even older French board game by the same name, Roulette.
The word “Roulette” is French, and means “little wheel”. The casino game, as we play it today, is known to have existed in Paris in 1796, at a casino named Palais Royale. Jaques Lable wrote of the game in great detail in his book La Roulette, ou le Jour, published in 1801.
One of the earliest documentations regarding the history of roulette appeared in 1758 when New France (now Quebec, Canada), scripted laws banning the games of “dice, hoca, faro and roulette”.
In 1843, French brothers François and Louis Blanc wanted their casino in Monte Carlo to be more competitive. They enhanced the game by increasing the number of slots on the wheel from 30 (0, 00 and 1-28) to 37 (0, plus 1-36).
Increasing the numbers and eliminating the Double Zero still gave the house an advantage, but it was low enough to attract many more players. Thus, the casino game we know today as European Roulette was born, and Monte Carlo became the gambling mecca of the 19th century.
Roulette History & Fun Facts
The Devil’s Game: Roulette isn’t just called the ‘Game of Kings‘, due to its original popularity with aristocrats and members of nobility. It’s also called ‘The Devil’s Game‘.
Legend has it, François Blanc made a deal with the Devil to devise the perfect roulette wheel. The only evidence to back this up is the fact that the total of all its numbers, 0-36, equals 666.
Beating the System: In 1873, an English engineer named Joseph Jagger visited the casino in Monte Carlo. He spent days there, secretly watching and recording all the numbers that hit on the roulette wheel. He compiled the data into statistics and was able to beat the casino for $400,000.
His uncanny fortune is told in the timeless song, The Man Who Broke The Bank In Monte Carlo, written by Fred Gilbert in the early 1890’s.
3 Billion To 1: In 2012 at the Rio Casino in Las Vegas, the roulette wheel defied all odds, landing on the number 19 seven times in a row. The chances of that happening are about 3,000,000,000 to 1.
The 19 actually hit 8 out of 9 spins. It hit 19 seven consecutive times, followed by a 15, then another 19. It also hit the number 20 on four of six spins immediately before that.
The incident was documented by professional poker player Jeff Romano who took a photograph and posted on his Twitter feed. The picture showed the casino game’s display screen, revealing the last 16 numbers to hit (see photo right).
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