Roulette is arguably the most famous of all the casino games and it has been played since the 1700’s. The word roulette is a diminutive form of the French word for wheel, so a translation of roulette would be something in the line of “small wheel”. Before the advent of the modern roulette, the word was used for a French board game.

Playing roulette
A roulette player can bet her casino chips on a single number, a range of numbers, on whether the number will be odd or even, and on the colors red or black.

To determine the winning number, the croupier (also known as roulette dealer) will make the wheel spin in one direction before spinning a ball in the opposite direction. The circumference of the wheel has a circular track where the ball will spin until it loses enough momentum to fall down and eventually settle in one of the colored and numbered pockets on the wheel.

European and French roulette wheels have 37 pockets, while American roulette wheels have 38 pockets. European and French roulette wheels only use one zero, while American roulette wheels have one pocket for zero and another pocket for double zero.

Early history of the roulette

The roulette was invented in the 18th century by a Frenchman named Blaise Pascal. Pascal didn’t intend to create a casino game – he was working on a perpetual motion machine.

It is assumed that an early form av roulette was played in Palais Royal in the French capital in the late 1700’s, as a novel (“La Roulette, ou le Jour” by Jaques Lablee) published in 1801 describes a game of roulette taking place there in 1796. Pascal’s failed perpetual motion machine is believed to have been fused with elements from various English wheel games, such as Roly-Poly and Ace of Hearts. The Italian board games Hoca and Biribi also seem to have influenced the new game.

The 18th century roulette wheel featured a zero and a double zero, just like American roulette wheels do today. In 1843, François and Louis Blanc removed the double zero from their roulette wheel to attract customers from other casinos. The change caught on and European and French roulette wheels can still be recognized on their lack of 00.

The roulette numbers

The pockets of a roulette wheel are numbered from 1 to 36. European and French wheels also have a pocket for a zero, while American wheels have one pocket for a zero and another pocket for a double zero.

Each number is assigned a color. In the 1-10 and 20-27 ranges, odd numbers are red and even numbers are black. In the 11-19 and 28-36 ranges, odd numbers are black and even numbers are red. 0 and 00 are always green.

Single zero wheels (French or European) have their numbers placed in the following clockwise sequence: 0-32-15-19-4-21-2-25-17-34-6-27-13-36-11-30-8-23-10-5-24-16-33-1-20-14-31-9-22-18-29-7-28-12-35-3-26

Double zero wheels (American) instead have their numbers placed like this (clockwise sequence):

  • 0-28-9-26-30-11-7-20-32-17-5-22-34-15-3-24-36-13-1-00-27-10-25-29-12-8-19-31-18-6-21-33-16-4-23-35-14-2