Initially out for coming up with the world’s very first perpetuum mobile machine, French mathematician and innovator Blaise Pascal ended up creating what would later become the staple of every modern-day casino. The “Roulette” (little wheel, in translation) became so popular, one of the most iconic land-based venues in existence just had to have it among its collection of other gambling activities it offered at the time. Hence, Monaco’s Casino de Monte-Carlo was the first to house the highly controversial contraption.

We say “controversial” because some associate the Roulette’s origin story with a particular piece of mystical lore that says the co-creator of today’s Roulette (that features a single 0), François Blanc, actually sold his soul to the devil for the secrets of the game. The irrefutable proof: the sum of all numbers displayed on a European roulette equals 666 – alternatively referred to as “number of the beast”, as mentioned in religious writings. In reality, the first Roulette was designed as a combination of the Italian game Biribi and another rudimentary gaming wheel invented during 1720.

Original Roulette vs. Most Popular Variation

Over the decades, a lot of different roulette designs started to pop up. Some digital variants combine the original mechanics with features loaned from other successful games developed in the meantime (and not necessarily gambling games). A prime example of this would be the Pinball Roulette that merge the two in one thrilling casino game with multipliers on the side. Other designs took a stab at the shape of the wheel itself, turning it into a star, like in the “Lucky Star” roulette version. Some have incorporated multiple balls or wheels, and the list is only kicking off.

The most popular version, however, is the American Roulette with one very clear distinction: it features a 0 and a double 0 pocket, thus bringing both the total number of marked pockets up to 38 (as opposed to the standard 37) and the house edge to 5.26% (in contrast to the regular 2.7%). The American Roulette also brings the “imprisonment rule” to the table. The new rule dictates what could happen to a player’s chips if the ball lands on the 0 pocket after an even money bet is placed. Should this happen, the players have the option to collect half of the initial stake at round end or let the bet become “imprisoned” for the duration of the following round. If the ball lands on the player’s number next time around, the stake is released in full.

Much like the game it serves, the rule itself comes in a few different shapes and forms, but the three most common ones are:

1.       France – referring to bets staked on even chances lines, the players that initially bet on red or black receive the full bet amount back if the ball lands on a same color-based prediction during the round following the “imprisonment”;

2.       Berlin – where the imprisoned stakes can be moved from one number to another in between spins;

3.       Holland – if the ball lands on 0 twice in a row, the player needs to correctly predict the outcome of the next two consecutive rounds in order to release the full bet amount from “imprisonment”.

When “la partage” is employed, “imprisonment” no longer applies. Rather, the player receives half of the initial stake back, with the house keeping the other half. Players that want to pick up on the basics can find mini-roulette versions at online casinos that feature only 12 numbers and the notorious 0.

Another notable difference between the two is the significant gap in house edge that ultimately dictates the outcome of each round. While one could argue players can also influence the ever-shifting advantage back in their favor by using betting systems (the Paroli System in this case, that talks about doubling down on the stake with every new win), a 2.56% edge difference is still pretty significant. Put into perspective, it’s almost double the European Roulette’s house advantage (2.7%)

At the same time, thanks to new technologies and game mechanics, as previously stated, there are online versions that incorporate slot-like features from multipliers all the way to progressive jackpots. An overall strong suit of Roulette is also represented by the huge variety of bets one could place. Drifting away from the base bets, players can choose to play a range of special ones that take into account columns or dozens of numbers at a time. Lastly, there is a special bet available only for the European Roulette called “trio” that allows players to bet on two sets of combinations between 0,1,2 and 0,2,3.  

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