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Roulette: The Game People Love

Roulette: The Game People Love

Generally, dice games, like Roulette, embody trivial structures and involve only simple probabilities and negative expectations. Their outcomes depend entirely upon chance and cannot therefore be influenced by the decisions of the players.

Roulette is the oldest casino game still in operation and, to many, the most glamorous. Its invention has been attributed to Pascal, to the ancient Chinese, to a French monk, and to an Italian mathematician imprecisely referred to as Don Pasquale, who posed the question of the probabilities of selecting numbers from a set of 36 (to the children of a family where he was employed as a tutor). In any event, the game was introduced into Paris in the year 1765 by Gabriel de Sartine, a police lieutenant, who had been searching for a new game that would not be readily fall prey to the tricks of the countless sharpers then abounding in Paris. Its popularity was immediate and overwhelming. It became the most widely played game at the Monte Carlo casino when it was inaugurated in 1863. It proved to be a particular favorite of the upper classes. The men who “broke the bank” at Monte Carlo almost inevitably performed that feat at Roulette.

The arrangement of the numbers 1 through 36 plus 0 and 00 is not selected at random, but represents an attempt to alternate high-low and odd-even numbers as well as red-black colors. A ball is spun in a direction counter to that of the wheel’s motion. The winning number is that compartment in which the ball comes to rest. Thirteen types of wagers are offered by the Roulette layout. The split or à cheval bet is affected by placing the wager on any line separating any two numbers. To bet on three numbers, the stake is placed on the side line of the layout- only three consecutive numbers are permitted. For a bet on four numbers, the stake is placed on the intersection of the lines between any four numbers according to the arrangement of the layout. The five-number bet is available only for the numbers 1, 2, 3, 0, 00. For six numbers, the wager is placed on the intersection of the side lines and a cross line. A bet placed on the line between red and even (or black and odd) wins only if the number at which the ball comes to rest is both red and even (this bet is not admissible in many casinos). Similarly, a split bet between two columns or two dozens is placed on the line between the columns or dozens, thereby giving the player 24 numbers.

For inexplicable reasons, Roulette has attracted more people with “systems” than any other casino game. The most common approach is based on recording the numbers appearing in play in the hope of detecting a favored one or group. Some then bet on the least favored, following the compensation principle. Others, with more reason, wager on the most favored. This game continues to remain a crowd favorite at the casinos.

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