There is some speculation as to the actual origins of the roulette wheel. Some suggest that it was created by the Chinese and introduced to Europe as Chinese monks made their way into the area, bringing with them pieces of their culture and ideologies. Others think that it was evolved over time from early Roman gambling games. The most widely excepted version of the origins of the roulette wheel itself is that the seventeenth century mathematician, Blaise Pascal, created it.
Blaise Pascal was a mathematician, inventor, physicist, and even a Catholic philosopher in the seventeenth century who has become well know in history for his many contributions. He is responsible for a number of ground breaking theories and inventions throughout his lifetime including the first mechanical calculator. Children in high school are still taught of Pascal’s triangle, and he even has a unit of atmospheric pressure which bears his name.
Pascal became obsessed with creating a perpetual motion machine, which he spent many years of his life trying to perfect. While he was inevitably unsuccessful in this attempt, his labors did produce unexpected fruit. Out of his attempts to create a perpetual motion machine, Pascal created the first roulette wheel.
The History of the Roulette Wheel
The first roulette wheel did not contain any zero, rather just the numbers 1 through 36. It wasn’t until 1842 that two French brothers, Francois and Louis Blanc added a zero to the wheel in an attempt to swing the odds in favor of the house. This was the first addition to the roulette wheel that ensured the placement of a roulette table in a casino would not turn out to be a losing proposition for any casino who featured a roulette table, and it worked. This version of the roulette wheel was first used in the earliest casinos in Monte Carlo, and can claim responsibility for Monte Carlo’s fame in the world of gambling today.
It was not until the wheel reached America that a second house number, the double zero was added to the wheel. The addition of the double zero gave the house an even larger advantage and has managed to remain popular throughout the United States despite the added house edge. The original wheel with a single zero can still be found in casino throughout Europe, and has become known as the European roulette wheel, while those bearing both a zero and double zero are known as American roulette wheels.
There was an additional slot added to the earliest American roulette wheels, which adorned an American eagle in the slot. This was another house slot that added an even better advantage for the house, but this addition was short lived. It is likely that players very rarely played this type of wheel simply because the house edge was too great.
Today the roulette wheel is a well known symbol throughout the world that marks a place of gaming where people can go to wager money on games of chance. Every casino in the world now features a roulette table.