So where does roulette come from? Who invented it and why is it called roulette? If you are looking for an answer to any of these questions, read on....
Roulette was first played in the 1700s in France. Taking influences from a number of other games widely played at the time, such as Roly-Poly in Britain, and Hoca and Biribi, in Italy, and a kind of proto-roulette played in France at that time.
A French work of fiction called "La Roulette, ou le Jour" by Jaques Lablee, features a roulette wheel in the Palais Royal which had 2 zero pockets (equivalent to a modern day American roulette wheel).
In the following century (the 19th) the popularity of roulette grew and grew- especially in the New World and Old Continent. The government of Germany banned gambling and games of chance played for money in the 1860s, which promoted the Blanc Family's casino in Monaco to the last legal casino in Europe- and of course the rich flocked to the tables like bees to honey. It was in Monaco that the European Roulette that is prevalent today came into its own. Sporting a wheel with only one zero pocket, it offfered better odds for the punters. Although roulette in the US is generally still played on wheels with 2 zeros, in Europes the one zero wheel has become the de facto roulette wheel of choice. The double zero is also used in South America, and the Caribbean, whereas the single zero wheel is the standard everywhere else.
The word Roulette, true to its roots, comes form the French for "small wheel". There are a few legends floating about on the subject of the game. Urban myths or fact? You decide.
Some say that the roulette wheel was originally invented by Blaise Pascal when he was trying to build a machine to demonstrate perpetual motion. He made a big wheel for his experiments which was seen by one of his colleagues who was fond of gambling. The rest, as they say, is history.
Another myth concerns Francois Blanc, the grandfather of casinos in Monaco. Some say that there is proof in the design of the wheel that he sold his soul to Satan in return for the secret of roulette. That's why the numbers on a roulette wheel add up to 666. There's only one problem with this myth- as we all know, all the roulette systems that promise untold riches from roulette are scams- so unless he sold his soul for a dodgy betting system, this story is probably a myth. But then I suppose he does represent the House, so there might be some truth in it.
These days pretty much every casino in the world has a roulette wheel. Roulette is popular because it is simple, exciting to play and fun to watch. And the game goes from strength to strength in the virtual world. Not only can you play online roulette on your pc, mobile phone, PDA, Blackberry, Sony PSP and ipod these days, but you have an even greater choice of roulette variants available including games with progressive side bets, where a jackpot builds and build across a network of casinos, waiting for someone to land the same number 3 times in a row, for example.