There’s something so fascinating about roulette.
I’ve been dealing the game for years, and being my job, the thought of playing doesn’t really appeal to me.
But I can definitely see why so many people find the game so addictive.
Here is a list of 37 facts about roulette — one for each number including zero.
Here we go:
Surprising roulette facts
- $100 on red ten times could make you a millionaire. You can calculate this yourself if you want. But basically if you placed a hundred on red (or any other even chance bet) and won, and reinvested the total amount nine more times, and got lucky — you’d have over a million dollars. Chances of that happening are about one in 2,000 though, and you probably wouldn’t be able to do that simply because of the table maximums.
- Some roulette dealers may be able to hit numbers. This is commonly referred to as section shooting and it means being able to spin the ball so it is more likely to land on a certain section of the wheel, such as zero and its neighbors. Some say it’s physically impossible to do so; as a roulette dealer, I believe it’s very hard, but actually possible, and you can read my thoughts about it here.
- Some wheels have one zero, some have two. However, the payouts will be exactly the same. This means that if you play on a double zero roulette, the house edge will be higher. Single zero roulette tables are common in Europe, whereas in the US you may not be able to find them, or they may be rare and with higher minimums.
- Wheel clocking made three players win £1.3m in 2004. Yep, over a million pounds. An Eastern European gang used an electronic device while playing roulette at the Ritz Club in London, and won big. At the time, there were no laws that forbid the use of such devices at the table (not specifically, anyway), and the three people got away with it and were allowed to keep their money. They played until management noticed and stopped them, but then it was too late.
- I’ve seen black (and red) come in 20 times in a row. As a roulette dealer, I’ve dealt the game thousands of times. This means that, just like those players who played thousands of times, I’ve witnessed those super rare coincidences and patterns of numbers that are hard to believe. Such as spinning the same number five times in a row. Or red/black over twenty times in a row. Rare doesn’t mean impossible and if you play (or deal) roulette long enough, you’ll see it too.
- You may have to remove your hat to play. Casinos are very strict when it comes to rules and procedures, simply because there is always money involved. To prevent cheating and money laundering, there are quite a few rules all customers, and staff, must follow. Some are even a legal requirement. Interestingly enough, hats may not be allowed at the roulette table just because the eye in the sky needs to see everyone’s identity (in case of a dispute or camera check).
- Roulette is one of the hardest games to deal. Seriously. Some games are even harder (e.g. craps) but when it comes to controlling the game, pushing chip stacks, spinning the ball fast enough, and calculating very complex payouts within seconds, you must be a very experienced dealer to be able to do all that. Roulette is very easy to play, which is why it’s ideal for beginners — but in terms of dealing, expect to practice for at least a year before you can be 100 percent confident.
- The house doesn’t always win on roulette. I’ve already written an entire article about this simply because some people believe it’s impossible for casinos to lose money, and that’s simply not true. I mean, provided there are enough customers and expenses aren’t too high, then in the long run the casino should win as it has a statistical advantage over the players. But what happens in one or two hours is simply unpredictable, and if a high roller gets lucky and wins bing — the casino loses money. A lot of money.
- Ashley Revell gambled everything on a single spin. Perhaps the most spectacular roulette spin in history. At least among those that were televised. In 2004, a gambler from Kent, UK, literally bet everything he owned, including his clothes, on a single roulette spin at the Plaza Hotel & Casino in Vegas. He put $135,000 on red — and won. The money was then used to start an online company, which went out of business eight years later.
Interesting roulette facts
- Roulette color chips have no fixed value. It’s not like green chips are worth a dollar, and orange chips are worth a hundred. Unless we’re talking about cash chips (if you’re not sure about the difference, have a look at this page). The value of roulette color chips is decided by the customer before playing. If the customer doesn’t say anything and simply gives the dealer the money, then usually color chips will have the lowest value.
- A single chip on a number pays 35 to one. You probably knew this already, but I definitely had to add it to this list. Unlike blackjack or baccarat, roulette is one of those games where there are a lot of options available, and if you’re brave enough to risk it all on a single number, and get lucky, you’ll have 36 times the amount (a 35 to one payout plus your original bet). For example, a $50 bet on a number straight up would pay $1,800.
- Pushing chip stacks isn’t as easy as it looks. As mentioned earlier, roulette can be very hard to deal. Usually, the hardest part is to control the game so it runs at a fast pace, especially when there are more than five customers at the table. But have you ever seen roulette dealers push five, six, up to ten stacks of chips with one hand, often without touching the layout? It may look easy, but as a dealer I can tell you it takes a lot of practice.
- The house edge is relatively low. This depends on where you play, though. Provided the roulette wheel has only one zero, then the house edge will be about 2.7 percent. Even less if La Partage is applied. In the long run, any player could lose significant amounts, but if you’re playing once in a while, then I think the odds are fair. Casinos are businesses anyway, and must make sure each game will bring them money when played over and over again.
- Roulette balls are now made of plastic. In the past, the most common materials were wood and ivory. Nowadays, roulette balls are usually made of plastic, such as teflon. The material is actually pretty important as it affects the weight and texture of the ball. You want the ball to spin fast, but not too fast; it should never scratch the wheel, or bounce too many times; it shouldn’t be too big and obviously it should last for thousands of spins.
- Roulette is fast paced. And it’s one of the main reasons it’s so addictive. Some high rollers like roulette in particular simply because they have the chance to gamble large amounts in seconds. This means they can win a lot or lose a lot within a few spins. You can’t do that on other games, even if you bet the maximums. And even someone who wants to play more conservatively may still like the fact that roulette is such a fast game, especially if the dealer is experienced.
- Zero is not an even number. I mean, technically it is. But not on roulette. So if you bet on even numbers and zero comes in, you lose (or lose half depending on the rule). The green zero is designed to give the casino an advantage, so any even chance bet, including even and low numbers, does not cover it. This is why some people like to bet on, say, red, and then put a chip on zero straight up as well, just in case it comes in.
- You can place a bet by simply announcing it. You’ll have to throw a chip, or a plaque, or notes that cover the full amount of the bet (the dealer will give you change during or after the spin if needed). But you won’t have to even touch the layout. These are usually referred to as call bets. Complex call bets (e.g. two numbers straight up and their neighbors, change on orphelins) can be a bit of a nightmare for the dealers as they have to work them out within seconds.
- You can play very conservatively. Just like you can bet everything on a few numbers and lose thousands on a single spin, you can also do the opposite — play so you’re only investing a few chips at a time. Plus, some bets are more conservative anyway: think of even chances, columns, dozens, and six-lines.
Fun roulette facts
- Two corners and a straight up is a Mickey Mouse. To calculate inside bet payouts faster, roulette dealers use picture bets — patterns of chips that are easy to remember and that always have the same payout. Two chips on the corners and one chip on the number itself is called the “Mickey Mouse” because it looks like the head of the cartoon character.
- A chip placed between two numbers is a cheval. Which is a “horse”. This would be the French term though. In casinos around the world, this bet is usually called a split bet. It pays 17 to one, which is why dealers must learn all the multiples of 17 in case there are, say, 27 chips on a split and they have to calculate the payout quickly.
- The sum of all roulette numbers is 666. And it’s probably why roulette is called the Devil’s game. Now, is this a pure coincidence? Or did the inventors use 36 numbers just so that the total amount would be the number of the beast? Impossible to know for sure. But the sum is indeed 666 and you can grab a calculator and do it yourself if you want.
- The roulette marker is called the dolly. If the ball lands on, say, 20 black, the roulette dealer will grab a marker (usually white or transparent) using the second and third finger and place it on number 20 on the layout. It’s called the dolly because it kind of looks like a tiny doll. Cute!
- I’ve seen people play for 24 hours in a row. Not just roulette — other casino games too, including slots. I’ve also seen customers sit at the roulette table and order food and drinks, and then completely forget to eat as they were staring at the wheel/layout. Casino games can be seriously addictive and not everyone is able to stop.
- Mike Ashley won £1m on one spin. £1,284,000 to be precise. Former Newcastle owner and entrepreneur Mike Ashley once bet £480,000 on 17 full and complete, change on black, odd, low numbers, middle column, second dozen. If it sounds confusing, don’t worry. Basically he covered all possible bets that would win if 17 came in. And it did. It happened in 2008 in a casino in Mayfair, London.
- Roulette dealers have frequent breaks. As many as one per hour or more. Dealers must be sharp and alert so they can deal quickly and calculate all the different payouts without making mistakes. It’s easy to get tired and lose concentration if you’re on a long shift and you’re dealing for hours in a row. Frequent breaks are the easy solution to that (and one of the many advantages of being a dealer).
- Dealers clear their hands when touching chips. And also when going on a break, going to a new table, shaking hands, or grabbing banknotes. This is a very common gesture in casinos. Some dealers clap their hands, others simply show clear hands or do a strange hand gesture. This is to show that they are not hiding anything such as chips or notes. It looks funny but it’s one of the first things you learn as a casino dealer.
Other roulette facts
- Betting options are basically endless. Not only can you bet on multiple outside and inside bets — you can also combine them and even have your own “custom” call bets. Each with different odds and payouts. That’s one of the great things about the game of roulette. It basically guarantees the game will never get boring.
- Roulette dealers make mistakes too. Dealers are human beings. Roulette is hard to deal (that’s probably the third time I’ve written it already), and if the dealer is tired, or loses concentration or gets distracted, even for a split second, they may make a mistake such as paying the wrong amount or paying in the wrong order. Senior dealers will make less mistakes, but not zero.
- Roulette tables (and wheels) are quite expensive. Thinking of playing roulette at home, or throwing a casino-style party with your own roulette table? You could get one of those tiny, cheap plastic roulette tables, which are basically toys, from an online store. But you won’t find a proper brand new roulette table for less than $1,300. And the roulette wheel will probably be even more expensive (they are sold separately).
- Roulette is a very old game. The traditional roulette wheel, basically the one we see in casinos today, came from 17th century France. And the word roulette literally means “small wheel” in French. You could say that roulette is about 400 years old, but chances are a similar version of the game was invented much earlier — some say in ancient China, some say in ancient Rome.
- French roulette has a different layout. Typically, when referring to roulette tables you could say that you’re playing the American, European, or French version depending on the layout and whether there is a double zero. French roulette in particular has a different layout, where even chances (red, black, odd, even, low numbers, high numbers) appear on the two sides.
- The only way to beat roulette is to cheat. Even if you did discover some secret strategy that would lower the house edge to the point where you’d win consistently, management wouldn’t like that and you would probably end up being banned. Casinos have the right to stop customers from playing whenever they believe odds are being manipulated — even if you’re not cheating technically. An example of this is card counting on blackjack.
- There are always minimum and maximum bets. Could you show up at the roulette table and put, say, 20 cents on red? Nope. Could you put a million dollars on a single number? Nope (exclusive casinos do have higher maximums but a million on a straight up is just insane). This is one of the reasons progressive roulette strategies don’t work — besides being too risky, you can’t double your bet over and over again; you’d go over the maximum.
- The definition of minimum bet isn’t always the same. Typically, in European casinos the minimum bet refers to the minimum per bet. For example, a minimum of $5 on inside bets and a minimum of $25 on even chances, columns, and dozens. But in the US, the minimum could be per spin (e.g. you could put $2 on a number but there must be at least $10 on the layout).
- The sequence of the numbers is not random. Provided the wheel spins fast enough, and provided the dealer isn’t trying to hit numbers, the outcome of each roulette spin is almost 100 percent random. But here I’m referring to the sequence of the numbers on the actual wheel. The colors (as well as low-high) alternate perfectly. So it’s not like there are sections with more reds, or blacks.
- The roulette wheel has diamonds in it. No, not actual diamonds. These are the metallic parts designed to make the ball bounce as it lands on the inner part of the wheel (this making the spin even less predictable). Some wheels have less, some have more. Have a look at the picture above to see what they look like.
- $278 on a single number wins $10k. If allowed by the table maximums, a bet of 278 dollars on a number straight up would pay slightly over 10,000 if that number came in. You would win $9,730 and get to keep the original bet of 278, for a total of $10,008. Not bad!
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