The roulette wheel is probably the most iconic feature of the casino. It’s a game anyone can play, the rules are simple and you can walk up to the table and have as good a chance of winning as someone who’s been playing every day for the past 30 years. With a history going back 300 years, there are enough stories surrounding roulette to write a book. Here, we touch on some fascinating facts about the game.
It was invented by accident
Some of the most important discoveries were made by accident – just read up on the development of penicillin for evidence of that! The roulette wheel came about as a result of experiments being carried out by renowned mathematician Blaise Pascal in the early 1700s. His quest to unlock the secrets of perpetual motion remained unfulfilled, but the equipment he constructed formed the basis for the roulette wheel you still in use today from the Strip in Las Vegas to the live casinos at sites such as comeon.com.
The number of the beast
Some people call it “the Devil’s wheel.” That might sound like hyperbole from those who have a moral objection to gambling, but mathematicians have noticed that they might just have a point. When you add up all the numbers on the roulette wheel from one to 36, they add up to 666. As any horror movie enthusiast will know, that is the number of the beast according to the biblical Book of Revelations.
The man who broke the bank
Back in the Music Hall days of Victorian England, there was a popular song called The Man Who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo. It was based on the true story of Charles Wells. In the summer of 1891, he arrived at the world’s most famous casino with £4,000 and rapidly converted it into £60,000 at the roulette wheel. Three months later, he was back again with the same bankroll and achieved the same feat. On both occasions, he “broke the bank” and play was suspended while the croupier had to go to the vault to replenish funds. To this day, nobody knows how he did it, but Wells’ reputation as a small time criminal suggests there was some trickery involved!
Naturally, there’s plenty of superstition around the roulette wheel and its numbers. Some people take inspiration from the movies, picking 17 (James Bond’s lucky number) or 22 (Casablanca, Lost in America and Indecent Proposal). But one number has proved even luckier in real life. In 1991, a man called Chris Boyd bet his life savings of $220,000 on red in a Vegas casino. The ball landed on Red 7, and he collected his winnings. 18 years later, a man called Ashley Revell did the same thing. Again, the ball landed on Red 7. Even more astonishing, a table at Caesars Palace delivered Red 7 six times in succession. In case you are wondering, the odds of that happening are around three billion to one!