Perhaps one of the most well-played and well-loved game in any gambling establishment is no other than roulette. One can’t help but be enticed by its very simplistic rules and high chances of profitable pay out. The excitement one experiences while the roulette wheel spins is also nothing short of what we may call one-of-a-kind, and winning is just a bonus. Oh, how thrilling it is to see the wheel spin and hope it lands on the number you’ve betted on!
As many of us probably know, everyone’s favorite game of chance originated from the Old World a few centuries ago. It started out in the 18th century as a French mechanical invention that was converted into a gambling machine for which roulette was invented. It grew in popularity ever since, spreading like wildfire all over the continent and even to the New World, some hundreds of miles across the Atlantic. Roulette varied from region to region, but not a single variation is as distinct as the one created in the American continent.
European Roulette: The Default Game
In European – also known as French – roulette, a normal wheel has 37 numbered red and black pockets. Specifically, the pockets are numbered 1-37 and a single zero (0) which belongs to the house. These numbers follow no specific order and are often arranged in random. The rules in European roulette is basically the same as any of its derivatives – a gambler places his stakes until the croupier or dealer closes the betting process, the wheel is spun on or after the bets are placed, and the winning bet is then determined by the numbered pocket the ball falls into.
The Good Old American Roulette Game
Despite being just a derivative of the original European roulette game, American roulette is clearly different from its Old World counterparts. Instead of just 37 numbered pockets, its roulette wheel has 38. This is because aside from the single zero, the house has an additional reserved slot marked by a double zero (00). This set up gives the casino a 5.26% house advantage, which is comparably larger than that of European Roulette. This is one reason why some gamblers play the European version of the casino game instead, if they have to choose. The numbers 1-36 meanwhile are arranged in pairs opposite of each other.
The double zero betting space in American roulette is actually not originally American. It originated in Europe and is about as old as roulette itself, having been described in the late 18th century novel La Roulette, ou le Jour by Jacques Lablee – it is the single zero roulette that was a more recent invention, having gotten popular in the 1860s and spreading all over the world except in America. A unique element in the American version of roulette however, is the rather patriotic American Eagle slot, which also belongs to the house. These “Eagle wheels” have long since been phased out and is extremely rare at present, reportedly with only six copies at most. These variants are also treated as collectors’ items, and genuine antique Eagle wheels in good condition are known to sell at five figures in auction.
The American version of roulette has a few more characteristics that distinguish it from its European counterpart. For one, the wheel is placed at the far end of the table unlike that in European roulette, where the wheel is located right in the middle. The outside and inside bets are also simpler and more straightforward. Finally, the American version doesn’t have Europe’s en prison rule – that is, the gambler is given the chance to give up half of his stakes or leave it for the next round if the ball hits zero.
Why American Roulette Rules
The American Roulette was developed out efforts to combat rampant cheating of gamblers and dealers in US gambling dens. The table layout and rules are simplified to prevent people from hiding cheating devices in the table and the wheel. This pretty much resulted in all the changes mentioned in the previous paragraph.
The American style roulette is not exclusively played in the United States but also in Canada, South America and Caribbean countries. However, due to the emergence and popularity of the Internet, just about every gambler from any region in the world can now easily play American Roulette in online casinos. Ah, the wonders of modern technology.