Roulette is one of the oldest casino games and a mainstay of Monte Carlo. It has a small following in the United States and draws far smaller crowds than table games like craps, blackjack and slot machines. But it is a game that offers the possibility of great rewards, especially for those who place inside bets (which cover specific numbers or groups) and take advantage of the house edge reduction known as La Partage.
A croupier spins the wheel and throws a ball into it. If the ball lands in one of the numbered slots, winning bettors will receive their payouts according to their betting odds. A typical win in the American version of the game will return 36 to 37 chips, while a European-style game with only one zero will return 38 to 40 chips on average.
The roulette wheel consists of a solid wooden disk that is slightly convex and surrounded by metal separators or frets, which are painted alternately red and black and arranged in nonconsecutive rows. The compartments within the wheel are called pockets or canoes by croupiers, and they are numbered from 1 to 36 on both European- and American-style wheels. A green compartment carries the number 0, and two more green compartments — one on each side of the wheel — carry the signs 0 and 00.
The earliest versions of the game had either a single or double zero, and the color of these compartments was determined to distinguish them from the others. In the late 1790s, roulette achieved its present layout and wheel structure, and it quickly became a popular game in casinos and gambling dens throughout Europe.