There’s nothing quite like a game of roulette. Place your bet, then watch as the ball spins round the wheel - if it lands in a numbered pocket covered by your bet, you win. This simple, luck-based game is a staple of both land-based and online casinos. Like other casino games, it has an extensive history and all sorts of variants. If you want to find out more about the game, great! Keep reading and you’ll learn some little-known facts about roulette.
Most roulette games offer six bets with 1:1 odds. There’s the red and black bets, the odd and even bets and the 1-18 and 19-36 bets. It’s a common misconception that each of these has a 50/50 chance of paying out. However, the actual chances of winning one of these bets is slightly lower than 50%. This is because roulette wheels have one or two extra pockets that aren’t covered by any of these bets. If you’re playing European roulette, where there’s an extra green 0 pocket, your chances of winning an even money bet are roughly 48.6%. If it’s an American roulette you’re playing, the chances are lower at 47.3% - this is because American roulette has two extra pockets (the 0 and 00).
The roulette wheel is sometimes referred to as ‘devil’s wheel’. The reason for this is that if you add up all the numbers on the wheel (1-36) together, you get 666. This number was associated with the devil in the Book of Revelation of the New Testament and is today regarded by many as a number to be feared. As such, all sorts of superstitions to do with this number have arisen.
In the state of California, traditional games of roulette that use wheels with numbered pockets aren’t actually allowed to run. Thankfully, casino operators have found a way to get around this restriction. Many gambling venues throughout the state offer California roulette, a special variant of roulette that uses standard playing cards to determine winners.
One of the luckiest roulette players has got to be Ashely Revell. After selling everything he owned in 2004, he decided to stake the $135,000 he’d made on a roulette game at the Plaza Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. He staked all of his money on red - thankfully, the ball landed on red 7, meaning that Ashley doubles his money instantly, earning an extra $135,000 thanks to a very lucky spin of a roulette wheel.
Nowadays, standard American roulette wheels have 38 pockets in total. However, they haven’t always had this many. Throughout the 19th century when the game was still growing in popularity in the States, roulette wheels only had 31 pockets altogether. These covered the numbers 1-28, along with a 0 pocket, a 00 pocket and an extra large ‘eagle’ pocket that featured a picture of an American eagle. Roulette games played with this particular wheel had quite a low RTP, so the wheel didn’t last too long.
In 1891, Charles Deville Wells notched up a series of wins that many would be jealous of. He started gambling in Monte Carlo with a budget of around $7,000 and managed to win 23 out of 30 roulette games. A number of years later he was arrested and jailed for fraud, though he always insisted his wins at Monte Carlo were entirely down to luck and nothing else.
Given how many numbers there are on roulette wheels, the odds of the same number winning twice in a row are quite slim. Believe it or not, one wheel had the number 19 win no fewer than seven times in a row. This remarkable incident took place in 2012 at the Rio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. The odds of this happening are a huge three billion to one! Another similar incident happened at a casino in Bristol, when a roulette wheel produced 36 red winning numbers in a row.
When playing roulette at land-based casinos, some of the pieces of equipment that are used have special names. A ‘dolly’ is the small plastic marker that’s used to signify the winning bets, while a ‘fret’ is what separates all the pockets from one another.
Of all the numbers on the roulette wheel, the number 17 tends to be favoured the most often by players. This is largely because of the James Bond films. Bond is a keen high-stakes gambler and is seen winning on a black 17 in the 1971 film Diamonds Are Forever. Sean Connery, the first actor to play the spy, had in fact previously experienced some luck with the number. In 1963, he bet on 17 when playing roulette. The first two spins of the wheel didn’t win, though fortunately enough the next three consecutive winning numbers were all 17, giving the actor quite a substantial win.
There isn’t any sort of way to ‘beat’ a game of roulette. Whether you win or lose is entirely down to luck. Even Albert Einstein agreed, saying ‘No one can beat roulette unless they steal all the money when the dealer is not looking.’
The roulette wheels you see in land-based casinos are elaborate pieces of gaming equipment. If you want to purchase a professional, casino-standard one for yourself, it will set you back around $5,000! Some of the more expensive, expertly manufactured models can even cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Now that you know more about roulette, why not have a go at the game yourself? We’ve got lots of exciting roulette games lined up and waiting to be played in our Casino section. Our collection offers several animated versions, along with some live dealer games that enhance the gaming experience. Play live roulette and you’ll get to take part in a real-life game despite not actually being physically present. Watch as the game’s broadcast live to your computer or mobile device and hopefully your bets will pay off!