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Roulette - Crash Course

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Photo Courtesy of (Nevada Casino History)

American Roulette Wheel

Photo Courtesy of (Nevada Casino History)

Roulette is a casino game played with chips, a small ivory or plastic ball, and a large spinning wheel with 38 numbered pockets for the ball to stop in. The player is allowed to place a bet on any number from 1-36 as well as a single "0" and a double "0" and is paid 35-1 odds if the number hits. There are many other bets available and players may use cash, regular casino chips, or special chips (called a color) that are only used on each specific roulette table.

A player new to the game of roulette may approach a table and purchase a color, such as the blue chips, and the dealer will set the chip value using a small plastic lamer. If the minimum chip value is $1, a "20" lamer will signify that a stack of chips (always 20 to a stack) is $20. The table is likely to have a minimum per spin of 3 chips, or perhaps $5, which means a player with $1 chips must bet 5 chips each spin.

Chips purchased in this manner are for use only at that wheel, at that time, and may not be removed from the table area. You must cash in your chips at the table before you leave. Some chip collectors try to walk away from the table with chips, but this may result in exclusion from the tables.

A standard roulette wheel used in most US casinos is 32 inches. The wheel head spins on ball bearings inside a fixed wooden holder. Normal maintenance keeps the wheel in balance and the numbers coming up randomly. Poor maintenance can result in a biased wheel which may increase a player's ability to beat the game.

The wheel head itself has 38 pockets with a small fret between each number. European wheels usually have just a single zero, US wheels have a zero and double zero. Since the casinos pay 35-1 on a single number bet, the casino edge on a US wheel are twice as high as a European wheel - 5.26 percent. This house edge is higher than some bets at craps and also higher than the average player plays to at blackjack.

Roulette Systems

There are many highly-touted systems to beat roulette from the simple Martingale trick of doubling your bet each time you lose - until you win, to more advanced betting systems like the Labouchere and the six-pack plus betting system.

The order of the numbers around a roulette wheel are designed to provide a random, non-exploitable game. However, this very order is often used in betting systems to group or bring order to bets: 0-28-9-26-30-11-7-20-32-17-5-22-34-15-3-24-36-13-1 and 00-27-10-25-29-12-8-19-31-18-6-21-33-16-4-23-35-14-2.

Roulette has been played for centuries, often with an air of mystique and privilege. Probably because most of the casinos in Europe were originally designed for wealthy patrons. The game itself has changed very little over the years, but a few huge wins at the gaming tables really made playing roulette a special pleasure.

If you have ever heard the saying, "breaking the bank at Monte Carlo," well, that comes from the exploits of Joseph Jaggers in 1873. He and a group of six players exploited a biased wheel at the Monte Carlo casino, eventually winning all the money on the wheel and watching as a black cloth was placed over the game, signifying there would be no further play that evening.

Nearly twenty-years later, Charles Wells had an extraordinary run of luck and was also able to "break the bank" on several tables. A song, The Man Who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo, was written in his honor, but he was unable to replicate his luck at the tables, even while using other people's money. He was later sent to prison for his role in additional swindles.

Other roulette bets are available for the player - odd and even numbers, black and red color, first 18, second 18, 1-12, 13-24, 25-36, columns, splits, corners and many more. You can learn more if you wish to continue with your roulette training.

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