Following the bouncing ball.. Europe’s most popular game, roulette, must be played precisely to provide a chance of winning. Despite a hefty house edge, players can find games that will be more favorable, and by using simple betting systems, they can beat the game.

Roulette players are often the most studious of all gamblers. You’ll find them at the oblong roulette table hunched over a pad, carefully distributing their chips in a predetermined pattern only they understand. As the dealer spins the ball around the wheel, they stare at it as if their hopes and dreams can influence where the ball falls. When their bets are swept away, they turn again to the pad that only records where they’ve been, not where they’re going.

FRENCH TWIST

The roots of roulette can be traced back to prehistoric China and the French monks. In the 17th Century, a Frence scientist, Blaise Pascal, who invented the first calculator, introduced a primitive version of roulette.

It wasn’t until 1842 that Francois and Louis Blanc invented the single “O” roulette game. Ironically, the French brothers were forced to offer the game in Hamburg, Germany, since gambling was illegal in France at the time. The new game decimated the competition, which were offering an earlier version that featured higher odds. After Louis died, Francois was invited by the Prince of Monaco, Charles III, after whom Monte Carlo is named, to bring his game to the principality in southern France. Francois and his son Camille devedloped Monte Carlo into the world famous resort we know today.

When roulette came to the US in the early 1800’s, the Blanc’s improvements were removed, and a double “O” returned. For a while, in fact, slick American operators added a triple “OOO”, tripling the house edge and virtually ensuring that Americans would never warm to the game. The European game is today played in the great gambling palaces of Europe by tuxedoed men and elegant women in flowing gowns. It is especially popular with the ladies, who enjoy the glamor and relative simplicity of the game.

TODAY’S REVOLUTIONS

Europe’s most popular game never really caught on in the United States, perhaps because of the changes that the American casinos made to this glamorous game. While no longer having three zeros, with the extra “0”, American roulette carries one of the heaviest casino advantages in the house, thereby discouraging the popularity it enjoys in Europe. With 38 numbers, players have to overcome a 5.26 percent house edge because whenever 0 and 00 are hit, all bets lose. This is over five times worse than playing the mose favourable bets on the craps table, or utilizing blackjack basic strategy.

In Europe, roulette uses only 37 numbers – 36 numbers and one “0”. Even-money bets are placed “en prison” when 0 is hit. This is an option in which the player loses half the bet, or is permitted to let the bet remain in action, whith the results to be determined on the next spin. Because the European version utilizes the “en prison” rule and a single “0”, the house edge is a comfortable 1.35 percent. The only American jurisdiction that offers “en prison” is Atlantic City, but because casinos there use 0 and 00, the house edge is halved to 2.7 percent. “En prison”, or surrender, means that if the player has bets on the “outside” – odd/even/, high/low, black/red, the dozens or the columns bets – he only loses half his bet when 0 or 00 hits.

Nonetheless, roulette remains an exciting game, mainly because of the variety or bets available. The 38 numbers in the American game are grouped into colours, colums and sections. The layout looks complicated, but is actually rather simple, once a road map is provided. Because roulette originated in France, and most European croupiers recognize bets made in Frence, we’ll include the Frence translation.