2. Why Play Roulette?

Roulette — the name means "little wheel" -– became the gambling game of choice in nineteenth century France. Although originally associated with Monte Carlo, it is now played in casinos all around the world.

Roulette is the queen of all gambling games. We thrill to the spin and a chance of winning a small fortune with each turn of the wheel. With a practiced flick of the wrist, the skilled croupier sets in motion the spinning wheel and clicking ivory ball. In a swirl of red and black our bet's fate is decided – sometimes we win and sometimes we lose – yet we still continue to bet on the alluring spinning wheel.

The great nineteenth century Russian novelist, Fyodor Dostoevski was an inveterate gambler. He begged and borrowed rubles from his acquaintances to gamble on roulette always hoping that the next spin would be his big win. It was almost as if this bearded genius were hypnotized by roulette and its accouterments – the colorful spinning wheel, the eccentric crowd of gamblers, and the celebrated directions of the croupier – Faites vos jeux, messieurs! And as the wheel begins to slow down, Rien ne va plus! Roulette has an attraction that can be most addictive!

Spinning games show up in many early civilizations. Ancient Greeks and Romans played gambling games by spinning shields and chariot wheels. Picture a group of burly, battle hardened gladiators, in an area especially cordoned off for these heroes of the arena, spinning a chariot wheel to determine who would be the next challenger in the ring.

These games of chance were not limited to the Mediterranean either. Early Eskimos enjoyed a primitive version of roulette. The direction of a hunting trip was sometimes determined by the direction of a spun arrow.

In these days, Eskimo customs permitted an exchange of wives, and more than once the fate of the little woman was determined by a spin of the wheel. One story which has become a part of gambling lore is that of a young Eskimo gambler who had such a hot hand that he won seventeen wives in one game. It is not reported whether he considered this extraordinarily good luck or bad.

The origins of the modern version of the game are somewhat obscure. One story has the seventeenth century French mathematician Blaise Pascal devising the game while he was in retreat in a monastery, working on numbers theory.

Others believe that an old Chinese game whose object was to arrange 37 statuettes of animals into a symbolic square of "666" was the forerunner of roulette.

Hoca was an early version of roulette played in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries in Germany, Austria, Hungary and France. The French statesman Cardinal Mazarin proposed that hoca be used to replenish the depleted coffers of Louis XIV and envisioned hundreds of gaming tables spread about the kingdom.

However, this scheme met with considerable government resistance, and after Mazarin's demise the game was prohibited with death as the penalty for any practitioners!

With almost magnetic appeal, different forms of roulette would spring forth to enchant and mesmerize European royalty. The Turkish ruler, Selim III, introduced the game to his realm after learning of it from captured French soldiers.

In the imperial Russian court of Catherine II, roulette tables were set up in luxurious rooms especially appointed for such diversions. Russian nobility was entertained and seduced by the elegance, and of course by the chance to win or lose fortunes, which they proceeded to do.

By the time of Waterloo in 1815, legal casinos had spread to several German towns as well.

One of the favorite German gambling resorts was found in the town of Bad Homburg near Frankfurt. The casino was founded by a Frenchman, François Blanc, who also opened the Monte Carlo Casino in the principality of Monaco, a few miles from Nice.

An English journalist of the period, George Augustus Sala, reported on his experience in the Bad Homburg casino in 1866:

The gaming salons, if not conveniently crowded, had their full compliment of players. There were the same calculating old fogies, the same supercilious-looking young men, the same young girls and full-blown women, with a nervous quivering about the lips, and the same old sinners of both sexes whom one has known at these places the last ten or fifteen years, busily engaged at trente-et-quarante.

At the roulette table, too, one had no difficulty in recognizing the old familiar set. The handsome-looking young Russian noble who ‘spots the board’ with gold coins – the fat bejeweled-fingered Jew who seeks to emulate the Muscovite lord with silver florins – the Englishman and his wife, evidently residents, who play against each other, quite unconsciously, at opposite ends of the table – the youthful, yet ‘used up’ little French marquis, who dresses in the English fashion, and brings with him his own private pocket rake, that he may hook in his golden winnings the more readily – the elegantly dressed, shriveled, hag-faced woman who plays for the run on colors – the nervous, care worn young Englishman, who plays heavily against the see-saw, with other nervous fellow-countrymen staking their gold on the first, second, or last dozen numbers – professional gamblers, well and ill-dressed, with sharply defined Mephistophelean features, quick restless eyes, and villainously compressed lips, who, after trying all roulette systems, generally get landed croupiers or swindlers in the end – seedy-looking Poles of the last emigration, who prudently place their florins on two, three or four numbers alone, and deep-calculating Germans, who make ventures with painful hesitation, and after long intervals of abstention, and, as a matter of course, almost invariably lose; prostitutes – French, German, English, Polish, Italian, and Jewish – of every nationality – most of them young – so young in fact that the world well may be called their mother, robed like princesses, and becoiffured, bejeweled, and begloved as only prostitutes ever seem to be, and who lay down their gold with charming indifference, though with a decided partiality for zero and the first four numbers.

These, with watchful old women and Germans of hang-dog look that beset every public gaming table, waiting for a chance to pounce upon the stakes of the more unsuspecting players, are some of the characters whom we recognized around the roulette table that night, when the play ran high and the players were more than usually eager." (George A. Sala, "Gambling Sketches," London Society, vol. 9 [1866] pp. 491-500).

An interesting sketch of the worldly gamblers found in Germany in the 1860s. I think many of them, or rather their progeny, still find their ways into casinos today. I am sure that you recognize one or two of them.

One reason to play roulette is that the game has a history that is known and respected by many of its devoted players. There's a bit of that Monte Carlo magic in every roulette wheel - even in the crudest sawdust joints. Dice players have no idea that they are playing a game with a history and most could care less it they knew the history of dice games. Often roulette aficionados ensconce themselves in the past. They can even tell you the names of the greatest roulette players in history and can describe the stories of their greatest scores and often, even bigger falls.

Here's a description of Monte Carlo about the year 1900 as taken from The Sealed Book of Roulette. Monte Carlo may be described as the "multum in parvo" of the Riviera, since every amusement, entertainment and pleasure can be tasted and enjoyed until the appetite is satiated. There is nothing wanting.

The Casino proper is a cosmopolitan rendezvous for toute le monde, where from ten o'clock in the morning till midnight you will find, seated or standing, the groups of all nationalities playing seriously all manner of systems, and many armed with books and ledgers to check and countercheck their calculations with mathematical precision. Here gambling is carried on as a business, and the social side of life is a secondary consideration.

According to the author, the real world of Monte Carlo is found in the luxurious Sporting Club. He describes his experience here - The gambling that takes place here, whether at Roulette or Baccarat, is noticeably in the real sporting spirit. There is joyousness in the air compared with the atmosphere of ordinary casinos, mainly because the club members can mostly afford to play and lose cheerfully. Coolness and courage may be seen exemplified among the players for high stakes, in contrast to the hectic flush caused by desperate anxiety which changes the countenance of the spasmodic gamblers in the public rooms across the way.

From midnight to dawn, all through the season, the Sporting Club of Monte Carlo becomes the ballroom of Europe. One can sit about in easy chairs and smoke and gossip with friends or stroll through the heterogeneous throng, listening to wit and admiring beauty, till one realises "the inspiration and mental tonic of gaiety." Truly here will be found gaiety in excelsis. Today, roulette has spread to all parts of the globe. It can be found in locations from Castle Harbour in St. John, Antigua, to the Fairmont Hotel in Livingstone, Zambia.

Roulette is the third most popular casino table game in the United States, and worldwide it is by far the most popular casino table game. The latest information I have available shows that there are 170 roulette wheels in Las Vegas, 155 in Atlantic City, 300 in the United Kingdom, and over 1,500 in Europe.

In the United States, roulette has not enjoyed the popularity of craps and blackjack. The usual explanation is that the average house take of 5.26% in the American version of roulette compares too unfavorably with the line bet odds of 1.4% in craps, and the chance of even gaining an advantage over the casino offered by blackjack.

I think the explanation for roulette lagging behind the other casino table games is a bit more subtle. Craps gained in popularity in World War II, when many GIs were exposed to the game. If you have been in U.S. casinos over the past ten years, you will have noticed that the interest in craps is waning as the World War II generation ages.

Blackjack has received tremendous publicity because of card counting escapades, starting with Edward O. Thorp's revelations in the 1960s that blackjack could be beaten by card counting.

In other words, the greater popularity of craps and blackjack in this country has been more a matter of exposure and publicity than the rational thought processes of gamblers seeking to avoid a casino table game with slightly higher odds than its competitors.

The average craps and blackjack players, with their poor playing, give the house a much greater advantage than the average roulette player, to say nothing of the legions of slots players.

The question to be addressed in this book is whether roulette can be beaten by any means other than by pure luck. If it can, then there is no reason to avoid the game, as playing it is one of the more pleasant diversions I can conceive, and if it is possible to win as well, then the experience will not only be pleasant, but at times exhilarating.

There are three basic approaches to playing the game. The first and most common way of playing is to use no system at all. This is the way the typical person plays, scattering chips all over the layout, playing favorite numbers based on his birth date, lucky numbers or just plain randomly. While it is possible to win playing this way, any winnings would have to be attributed to luck.

A second approach to is to apply a mechanical system to the game. There have been more systems devised for roulette than for any other casino table game as the roulette layout lends itself to almost endless combinations of wagering. Some of the roulette systems have exotic sounding names such as Martingale, Labouchere, d'Alembert and Ascot. Sizable winnings have been attributed to some of these mechanical approaches.

A third approach is to look for biased wheels. Since it is impossible to make a physically perfect roulette wheel, the biasedwheel player will seek to detect mechanical defects in the wheel by "clocking the wheel." To clock the wheel entails recording large numbers of roulette decisions, statistically analyzing the results, and then determining whether an advantage can be gained over the casino because of the defective wheel.

We will explore both the mechanical systems and the wheel clocking approaches in this book. Both approaches contain gems of wisdom which can be used to our advantage.

The objective of this book, however, is not to just present an overview of roulette but rather to demonstrate a powerful and effective way of playing and beating the game on a consistent basis. The background information is presented so that you, the reader, will gain better insight and understanding of the game so that you may apply what you have learned to become a consistent winner in roulette.

Maximum Advantage Roulette is a system developed using the best aspects of the mechanical approaches and wheel clocking. With it, you will be able to win a high percentage of your roulette games in any casino in the world.

Casinos don't give money away. To beat them we must target a specific set of objectives and using the right tools, with the right game, beat the casinos at their own game. To this end, you will find Maximum Advantage Roulette most admirable.