The history of French Roulette
History is not exactly a science and 1 plus 1 does not always add up to 2. This is why more often than not, you will find historians arguing over the exact same events that led to the birth of the French Roulette. Unearthing the origin of one of the most classy casino games of our times is not very easy. That is why the origin of the French roulette is filled with a lot of facts and myths.
Before embarking on a concrete discussion of the exact origin of the French Roulette, a discussion of the gambling games that existed prior the discovery of the French Roulette and probably led to its development would be highly appropriate.
The earliest known accounts of the spinning wheel being used for purposes of entertainment are found in China. Chinese soldiers used the spinning wheel in a sadistic game where they tied their captives between two rotating wheels which had very sharp spikes that had been attached to their rims. Some of the spikes on the rims were so long that they could cut a fully grown man in two, while others could only administer minor injuries. The captive was given a chance to choose the wheel that they would be tied on and the Chinese soldiers would bet if the wheel would “win” by cutting the captive in two and killing him or would only administer injury.
The Greco Roman Merchants
The spinning wheel moved from China and was adopted by travelling Greco-Roman Merchants who used in an almost similar fashion as that one of today: the „wheel of fortune”. According to history – during the Greco Roman period – the spinning wheel was used for gambling purposes. Later in history, the Roman soldiers adopted chariot wheels in their gambling games, while the Greeks used metal shields with markings that soldiers gambled on. Heads of the army believed that entertainment was good for soldiers before and after a war.
Blaise Pascal and the French Roulette
Blaise Pascal, a mathematician and a scientist, in 1655 tried to build a perpetual motion device, but accidentally ended up creating the first French Roulette. Roulette means “small wheel” in French. Blaise Pascal’s French Roulette grew massively in terms of popularity. His basic wheel design has only been slightly changed in a period of four centuries.
Francois and Lois Blanc
In 1842, Lois Blanc and his brother Francois improved the French Roulette game by adding a zero, thus increasing the number of slots on the wheel to 37, that is, 0 to 36. This made the game very profitable for gambling hall operators, hence motivating them to promote the game to their customers. By this time, the game had already been outlawed in France; it, however, had already spread to other European countries where it grew massively in terms of popularity. Francois Blanc even went to the extent of opening a casino in Monte Carlo and making the French Roulette the main centre of attraction.