The Roulette Wheel Basics
As you know, European Roulette wheels have 37 numbers (0 to 36) while American Roulette wheels have the additional 00. However, regardless of which game you are playing, the wheel consists of components such as the wheelbase, the pockets where the ball lands, a rotor, a ball track, and diamonds. Each of these has its own purpose, and each is worth discussion in its own right.
The Roulette Wheelbase
The exterior element of the roulette wheel is the wheelbase. Usually it is made of wood and has a metal interior. The wheelbases are designed to be strong so that even if there are small dents, it won’t impact the wheel’s mechanics. The most delicate part of a roulette wheel is the ball track as even a slight imperfection can prevent the game from being truly random.
The Roulette Wheel Shaft
The shaft on a roulette wheel, sometimes known as the spindle, is the part that supports the rotor. The shaft needs to be carefully maintained in order to keep the wheel working properly and fairly. A bent shafted can result in a biased wheel and make the rotor spin at an angle.
Each number on the roulette wheel is known as a pocket and it is where the ball will come to rest. There have been several changes to the design of pockets over the years. There was a time that they were far deeper than they are today to prevent the ball bouncing too much and to ensure that it came to rest quickly. However, it was found that this made the wheels too predictable, so the design was changed.
In fact, the depth of the pockets is one of several factors that must be considered when determining the randomness of the game. Another issue is the pocket separators. When they become lose, they may absorb the ball’s kinetic energy, resulting in it coming to a rest far more quickly. That is why the design of the pockets is so important. Many designs have been tried over the years and one of the most successful was the Huxley Starburst design. This involves giving the pockets a triangular shape, which causes the ball to deflect randomly and eliminate the ability to predict where it will stop.
Another design is scalloped pockets, which are similar to low fret pockets. Many casinos now use low fret designs as they are also thought to enhance randomness.
Roulette Wheel Diamonds
Another design element that has a direct impact on the randomness of a spin are the diamonds. Every roulette wheel has diamonds that protrude from the face of the wheel. These are there so that when the ball hits them, it changes its trajectory in a way that no one can predict. However, with time, the diamonds may become worn, and this can lend an element of predictability to the wheel. As a result, casinos regularly change their wheels and the diamonds. Sometimes the diamonds are also referred to as deflectors, pins, stops or slats.
The Roulette Wheel Rotor
The rotor is a vital part of the roulette wheel. It includes the inner mechanism that turns the wheel. A roulette wheel rotor weights approximately 66lbs and they can be exchanged between wheels. The rotors are precision made pieces of equipment and they also play a vital part in assuring randomness. Casinos pay a great deal of attention to the rotors, as they are the part that is most likely to be damaged by wear and tear. This can result in imbalances and imperfections, which may allow players to spot patterns.
The Roulette Wheel Ball Track
The ball track is the path that the ball follows within the roulette wheel. Most roulette wheels have wooden ball tracks and they are coated with an epoxy resin to add strength and ensure that it cannot be scratched. However, it too will eventually be damaged by wear and tear. As a result, casinos will change their roulette wheels on a regular basis.
Roulette Wheel Number Ordering
When you look at a roulette wheel, whether it is an American or European wheel, you will naturally start to look for patterns in the order of the numbers. However, the order of the pockets has nothing to do with their arithmetic value. This is to try to make the game as balanced as possible. The sequence of numbers has been carefully designed in order to achieve several things:
- It is designed to confuse. The idea is that a person should not be able to look at the wheel and see an immediate relation between the numbers and sectors. That is why it is nearly impossible to see a bias and bet on a specific sector as a result. It ensures that even if a wheel does have a slight bias, perhaps due to an imperfection, the average eye will find it very difficult to spot.
- Red and black always alternate. It doesn’t matter what type of game you are playing, no two adjacent pockets will have the same colour.
- Low and high numbers are designed to alternate as much as possible. The low numbers are 1 – 18 and the high are 19 – 36. You will nearly always see a low and high number next to each other on a European roulette wheel, the exception is 5 and 10. This is not quite the same with American roulette wheels; there are a number of instances of low or high numbers being adjacent to one another. That is why many consider the European roulette wheel to be the better balanced.
- Even and Odd numbers are evenly distributed around the wheel. On a European roulette wheel, no more than two even or odd numbers are adjacent to one another.
While the ordering of the numbers on a roulette wheel may appear to be random, the truth is that it is anything but. The sequence has been carefully planned to ensure that the game is as balanced as possible.
The sequence of numbers on a European roulette wheel 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
On an American wheel the sequence is: 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
As should be apparent, there is far more to the roulette wheel than first meets the eye. A huge amount of effort has gone into ensuring that they are completely unbiased, and this requires attention to detail on every level. The result is a game that is hugely enjoyable and most importantly, entirely fair. Next time you go to place your bets on a roulette wheel, take a moment to appreciate the masterpiece it truly is.