Roulette Wheels

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Published: 08/04/2012

Despite advances in technology, the Roulette wheels featured in casinos today are not much different from the ones first used over a century ago. In the 17th century, French mathematician Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) created a design for a perpetual motion machine, which became the basis for the smooth-spinning mechanisms required for Roulette.

The numbers on the Roulette wheel surface alternate Black and Red. There are never more than two Odd or Even numbers adjacent to each other. Even though the numbers around the wheel seem to be scattered randomly, they have been placed systematically for a balanced distribution among the three columns and dozens, so that no section is overloaded. In much the same manner, Big and Small numbers are positioned, too.

Many fans of the table game have noted that Roulette wheels seem to have mystical properties. For example, “red and black” may symbolise church and government, while Zero is the void that exists when neither is present. All of the numbers on the face of a Roulette wheel total “666” when added together. That number is said to be associated with the antichrist, implying that Satan has some part in the game.

On the 38-number American wheel, every odd number appears directly across the wheel face from the next even number in sequence. Counting around the wheel in a clockwise rotation from the Single Zero, the numbers appear in this order: 0-28-9-26-30-11-7-20-32-17-5-22-34-15-3-24-36-13-1-00 -27-10-25-29-12-8-19-31-18-6-21-33-16-4-23-35-14-2.

On the 37-number European wheel, which has no double zero, the sequence clockwise from the Zero is 0-32-15-19-4-21-2-25-17-34-6-27-13-36-11-30-8-23 -10-5-24-16-33-1-20-14-31-9-22-18-29-7-28-12-35-3-26. Because there is an odd number of slots, no number is directly opposite another.

For many decades, a third wheel layout has been popular in Macau. It employs 37 numbers like its European cousin, but the sequence is completely different, going clockwise from the Zero: 0-27-10-25-29-12-8-19-31-18-6-21-33-16-4-23-35-14-2-28 -9-26-30-11-7-20-32-17-5-22-34-15-3-24-36-13-1.

No matter which layout is used, some aspects of the wheel always remain the same. The wheel can spin clockwise or counter-clockwise, but the ball must always be spun in the opposite direction. Many casinos require that the ball be spun into action from the spot of the previous winning number. For the very first spin of the day, the number associated with the day’s date may be used as the starting location.

The part of the wheel that is motion is typically motorized. It is formally referred to as the “wheel head.” Upon its face are the numbered slots, also known as “pockets.” Casino-quality Roulette wheels usually measure 20 inches in diameter. They are often topped by a conical turret. Around the wheel head is a stationary surface where the ball is launched by the croupier. Called the “bowl,” it usually measures 32 inches in diameter.

Laminated wood is the substance that most Roulette wheels are made of. For obvious reasons, any substance that can be magnetised must be avoided. Quite often the entire Roulette wheel assembly will be surrounded by a heavy casing, such as a Plexiglas “cowl.” It helps prevent tampering as well as the possibility of the ball from escaping from the bowl.

Located at intervals along the lower surface of the bowl are raised frets referred to as “deflectors.” As the ball loses speed, it drops down toward the spinning wheel. En route, it may strike one of these defectors, thus inducing bouncing and more random movement.

At crowded tables, the croupier in charge may choose to use “long spins,” discharging the ball with high velocity to allow players time to place their bets. When attendance is low, “short spins” can be used to help speed up play. On average, one can expect a new spin to begin every two minutes.

Published on: 08/04/2012

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