As with many games, there are competing theories about the origin of roulette. Most popular, it was invented in 1655 by a French scientist named Blaise Pascal during his monastic retreat and was first played in a Parisian casino.
The second is very similar, except that a random French monk invented it to ease the monotony of simple monastic life.
A third theory is that French Dominican monks invented the roulette wheel, based on an ancient Tibetan game in which 37 animal figurines are arranged in a magic number square of 666. Tibetan games are said to have originated in China, but unfortunately, there are no records of how to play them. The monks created the game by swapping 37 figurines for the numbers 0 to 36 and arranging them randomly on the edge of the spinning wheel.
Of the three claims above, the third doesn’t have any evidence but is to the point, and the common theme is that the game was invented in a French monastery, and it seems reasonable to assume that this is based on fact.
The origin of roulette is mysterious. The most widely circulated claim is that the game’s first incarnation was created in the 17th century by the French mathematician and accomplished nerd Blaise Pascal, who was trying to develop a perpetual motion machine.
However, there is evidence that many ancient civilizations played a game similar to roulette. Let’s look at some strange cases from the world’s rich history.
Many believe that roulette is based on an ancient Chinese board game in which 37 animal figures are arranged in a magic square totaling 666. The game was discovered by Dominican monks who were deeply involved in all aspects of life in China, and then it was slightly modified by them and introduced to Europe.
Unfortunately, no one has been able to find accurate information on how the original Chinese game was played. The monks allegedly changed the layout, turning the square into a circle and adding a particular slot for the number zero. The problem with this story is that even the earliest French roulettes had zeros and double zeros – so the whole “ancient Chinese game” theory may not be accurate. However, the numbers on modern roulette wheels add up to 666 – which is pretty mysterious.
Being a soldier in ancient Rome wasn’t a particularly interesting or promising career. In addition to their short lives, they saw their friends and comrades wounded and killed in battle. This can be enough to lower soldiers’ morale and, thus, their effectiveness on the battlefield.
To counteract this, Roman commanders would have their soldiers have as much fun as possible—including gambling. Many of these games involve spinning shields or wheels, similar to roulette.
Also read: A beginner’s guide to Fugaso’s Magnify Man
Greek soldiers also had a fair amount of opportunity to enjoy the game without dodging arrows and javelins. Certain games are very similar to modern roulette. Soldiers draw symbols inside the shield and place it face down on the ground with an arrow next to it. They then spin the shield and bet which symbol would stay in front of the arrow.
Both soldier games can be linked to roulette, but there needs to be more evidence to support the claim that roulette was a Greek or Roman game.
Roulette undoubtedly originated in France, hence the name. However, the design and gameplay are influenced by two similar games popular in 17th-century Europe. They’re called “Roly Poly” and “Even-Odd,” and both involve spinning the wheel and betting on the spin’s outcome. Blaise Pascal was a famous gambler, so when he created his version of roulette, there’s no doubt he knew them.
Gambling was not very popular then, mainly because it was illegal in many European countries. However, strict gambling laws were introduced in the late 18th century, which revived gambling in France and the rest of Europe. Meanwhile, Prince Charles of Monaco had some money problems and had an idea to use the growing popularity of gambling to solve some of them. He opened several casinos in Monaco, where roulette played a prominent role. Therefore, the game was viral among nobles and royalty.
The roulette played at these casinos is pretty much the same as the one we play today—even the betting options are pretty much the same. Numbers from 1 to 36, one zero and one double zero, colors are red and black.
The roulette wheel consists of a wheel shown on the right that spins in a bowl around which the balls roll until the ball and the wheel eventually come to rest between 38 (or 37 on modern European/Latin American tables). A subdivision of the ball around the edge of the wheel. Before the ball is rolled, people bet on what number will come up by placing chips on the betting mat, with the exact position of the chip indicating the bet placed. Roulette is a game that originated in France, and English-speaking countries still use the French term for the betting area at the traditional table. However, most American tables use English words and slightly different cushion styles.
Today, the zero point is no longer red or black but a recognizable green.
In Latin America and Europe, roulette is the most popular casino game because roulette in Monte Carlo, Deauville, Sanremo, London, and elsewhere has only one zero, meaning Extraction is reasonable.
There are two variants of European Roulette. Those casinos that play the “En Prison” rules keep some of the old games – bets are imprisoned if the ball lands on zero, and only if your bets are equal, the outcome is determined on the next spin. If it lands on zero twice, the locked bet is lost. Alternatively, venues playing the “La partage” rule return half of the bet to the player if a zero comes up.
In Nortisribbean, roulette has a double zero, just like the original French game, and to make matters worse, if any zero appears, all bets (except straight bets on the chosen zero) are lost. This results in significantly lower odds for players, increasing the casino’s cuts over time. This is probably why roulette is the third most popular casino game in the region after craps and blackjack.