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Ancient Chinese monks were the first to play the game of roulette

Goran Blazeski

Roulette is probably the most popular casino game. Its name originates from the French word which means little wheel. Based entirely on chance, it does not require any previous knowledge or special skills to play.

It is uncertain where roulette was first invented. Some historians claim that roulette originates from ancient China, where the wheel was made of stones decorated with drawn animals. The number 666 was placed in the middle of the wheel. The first to play this game were the Chinese monks who later passed it to the Dominican monks. In turn, these Dominican monks traded the game with other Europeans.

18th century wheel with gamblers. Photo Credit

18th century wheel with gamblers. Photo Credit

According to another theory, ancient Roman soldiers played gambling games based on a spinning shields similar to the roulette wheel. They played this games in order to entertain themselves and keep their morale up after difficult battles.

While there have been many stories about the early origins of roulette, all historians agree that it was Blaise Pascal who invented a primitive form of the roulette wheel in the 17th century. However, Pascal’s primary intention wasn’t to invent a gambling game.

Actually, he was trying to create a perpetual motion machine which would work continually on its own. Although he never succeeded at this, the process gave birth to one of the most popular casino games of all time. Ironically or perhaps prophetically, the sum of the numbers on a roulette wheel is 666, which is a number commonly associated with the Christian concept of the devil.

Blaise Pascal, the man who invented the primitive form of the roulette wheel in the 17th century.

Blaise Pascal, the man who invented the primitive form of the roulette wheel in the 17th century.

In 1801, the french writer Jaques Lablee published a novel in which he described in detail the present form of the roulette game. By this time, roulette spread throughout Europe and America.

 

Early American West Makeshift Game. Photo Credit

Early American West Makeshift Game. Photo Credit

French immigrants brought the game of roulette to Louisiana, but the casino operators in America didn’t like it because of the low house edge that it offered. The European roulette wheel consisted a single zero.

Casino operators in America added a double zero to the European wheel in order to improve odds in the house’s favor. Some casinos placed a picture of an American eagle in the place of the double zero, but soon, the tradition vanished and since then the wheel features only numbered slots.

French roulette. Photo Credit

French roulette. Photo Credit

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In the 19th century, roulette became the most popular gambling game in the casinos worldwide. Today, many casinos use roulette tables with two zero pockets, while some use tables with single zero which is more popular among the roulette players.