European Roulette History

Roulette School

The most popular casino game in the world, the one that is most synonymous with gambling and an elegant evening spend at the casino is a game that had a lengthy birthing process that span continents, countries and centuries.

Earlier Incarnations

There are historical accounts of wheels being used for gambling in ancient China, where soldiers used wheels to torture their captive enemies and wagered on the outcome of the torture. The Romans also used wheels for gambling games by taking a chariot wheel and marking it to create even sections and placing it on a pole so it would spin. They then stoke an arrow on the ground and spin the wheel above the arrow.

The Greek soldiers did something similar with their metal shields by marking ten spaces on the shield and marking a point on the ground under the shield. They will spin the shield and wager on which of the ten marked spaces it will stop.

Both the Roman and Greek military commanders encouraged their soldiers to play these gambling games as they believed that soldiers required good entertainment before and after battle as the gambling games were improving the soldiers’ morale which helped them fight with greater eagerness and dedication.

The French Roulette

Most gaming historians credit the famous French mathematician Blaise Pascal, whose contributions to philosophy and science in general and mathematics in particular far exceed his contribution to gambling, with the creation of the French roulette. Pascal was trying to invent a perpetual-motion device, which he failed to do, and the roulette was a by-product of it.

However there are some indications that roulette is actually a combination of two earlier games: the Hoca game that was popular in Italy and used a circular table with 40 cups on it. Three of the cups were marked as zero and players would bet on which cup the ball would land on. The other game is the E-O game that was popular in England. E-O stood for Even and Odd and was played on a circular table with 40 separate sections marked as either Even or Odd.

The addition of Zero

The French roulette was played using the numbers 1-36 for over a century until two French brothers, Francois and Louis Blanc added to it the zero back in 1842. This meant that the game was now being played on 37 numbers ranging from 0 to 36.

This change made the game more popular with casino owners as it increased the house edge. However by the time the change was implemented gambling was outlawed in France so Francois Blanc moved to Monte Carlo and opened there the first casino in the tiny country thus starting its journey into becoming the first gambling capital in the modern era. Roulette played a big part in making Monte Carlo a popular gambling destination for European royalty and rich industrialists.

European Roulette

The ‘En Prison’ and ‘La Partage’ rules that lowered the house edge were removed from the game and the table layout was changed. Also betting on ‘Finals’ (making a combined bet on all numbers ending with the same number like 5, 15, 25 and 35) were no longer available.

Another difference between European and French roulette is the table layout. The French table has a separate section for Announced bets (sometimes referred to as Call bets) and Neighboring bets.

European roulette is often used by Americans when referring to both the traditional French roulette and the European roulette and you can even find casinos that confuse between the two and call any single zero roulette game European roulette.

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