Roullete (French for “little wheel”) is the classic casino game in which a small ball is released in the opposite direction from a spinning cylinder and players bet on which red or black numbered compartment it will come to rest in when the wheel stops rotating. The wheel is surrounded by a table where bets are placed. The game is based on chance and has no element of skill. It has one of the smallest followings among American casino games and is overshadowed by slot machines, video poker, blackjack and craps. However, it is still a popular choice in Monte Carlo and other European casinos.
The roulette wheel was invented in the 17th century by Blaise Pascal, a French mathematician and philosopher. He was seeking a device to create a perpetual motion machine. In his version, the cylinder had two spinning plates with black and red numbers; when both spun simultaneously, they would cancel each other out. A second plate with a single zero was added later. The wheel was then used in gambling dens and eventually moved westward, reaching Europe. The game gained its present form around the time of Napoleon’s invasion of France, and it became a fixture in Parisian casinos.
Once a player has selected which chips to place, the dealer clears the table and pays any winners before beginning play for the next round. The croupier will then spin the wheel and throw the ball. The ball will stop in one of the compartments; if it falls into a number, the player winning that bet will collect the prize money. The player may also choose to bet on certain groupings of numbers, such as high or low, odd or even, or the first, second or third dozen. These bets are known as ‘outside bets’ and pay less than the individual number bets.
While there are many systems for playing and supposedly winning at roulette, they are usually impossible to use in the long run, as the game’s built-in house edge remains unchanged. According to author Frank Scoblete, the best advice for roulette players is to avoid making ‘bad bets’ and to always know when it’s time to walk away.