It has been reported that on 18th August 1913, in a game of roulette at the Monte Carlo Casino, the ball fell on black 26 times in a row. This anecdote is often mentioned in the context of the gambler's fallacy (see the wiki).

I am looking for information about the roulette wheel in use in Monte Carlo in 1913

In particular: was it the "European" type with one zero or the "American" type with two zeros? I would also appreciate a description --- even better a photo or sketch --- of the pattern of the numbers and colors around the wheel. These patterns have changed over the years and I have no information about the one that would have been in use back in 1913 in Monte Carlo.

My uneducated guess is that it would be a "European" type. But I have not found a reliable source of information on the matter. I have gleaned a few bits and pieces: The "American" roulette was originally the "French" roulette (introduced into what is now the United States via the French-owned Louisiana territory), while the "European" roulette was originally the "German" roulette. At some point (presumably by the end of the nineteenth century), the European/German model (which offers a better deal to gamblers) had displaced the American/French model throughout Europe. This did not happen in the United States, where the American/French model remains the most prevalent to this day. Given my limited information I venture to guess that by 1913, the European/German roulette would have completely replaced the American/French roulette in Monte Carlo.

But Monte Carlo being an atypical semi-enclave bordering France, perhaps their roulette was also atypical of the time and place?

I opted to post this question under "History of Science and Mathematics," but that was a bit of a gamble and I welcome suggestions to move it if there is a better outlet! (moderators, feel free to move it if convenient)

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    $\begingroup$ Can you provide a bit more general information for us non-gamblers? In particular, when the second green (zero) slot was added, did that replace a number or actually increase the total number of slots (thus reducing a number's probablity from $\frac{1}{N} $ to $ \frac{1}{N+1}$ )? $\endgroup$ Mar 1 '18 at 13:27
  • $\begingroup$ @CarlWitthoft, I'm afraid I know nothing about gambling. I'm preparing a stats midterm test and wanted to set a historically accurate problem ;-) The paragraph of information I give is a brief summary of what I googled over a 20-minute period, stuff that comes up in blogs and magazines. I do not really know where to look for reliable info and was hoping someone would suggest a good source. Having said that, my understanding is that one of the French zeros was removed by the "Germans" to offer more attractive bets (i.e. zero removed not added, but there once was a US roulette with 3 zeros!). $\endgroup$
    – PatrickT
    Mar 1 '18 at 15:30
  • $\begingroup$ The third "zero" added in casinos across the U.S. was the picture of a bald eagle rather than a "000". My understanding is that this 3-zero version has become as rare as the American bald eagle of flesh and blood. Nice intro here with a photo of the eagle if you scroll down this page: casinoreviews.co.uk/roulette/history $\endgroup$
    – PatrickT
    Mar 1 '18 at 15:42
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    $\begingroup$ Roulette in wikipedia: During the first part of the 20th century, the only casino towns of note were Monte Carlo with the traditional single zero French wheel, and Las Vegas with the American double zero wheel. $\endgroup$
    – sand1
    Mar 1 '18 at 16:41
  • $\begingroup$ @sand1, thanks, I just found the answer, also on wikipedia, by searching old postcards on ebay and then reverse-engineering it through wikipedia! Do you want to make it an answer? including the image of the rules of the game from around 1900 (approx date given): commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/… $\endgroup$
    – PatrickT
    Mar 1 '18 at 16:48

Please allow me to answer my own question by putting together information gleaned from wikipedia and here, I am reasonably confident that the following is correct. If you have stronger evidence, such as a local newspaper photo/sketch of that time period, please do post an answer and I'll accept it.

The layout of the wheel in use at the Monte Carlo casino on August 1913 was almost certainly the so-called "European" style with a single zero. By the end of the nineteenth century, the European layout (originating from Germany) had replaced the American layout (originating from France) at Monte Carlo. The layout has remained basically unchanged since (order of the number sequence and coloring scheme) except that the zero is now commonly colored green.

enter image description here

Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:La_Roulette_de_Monte-Carlo_R%C3%A8gle_du_Jeu.jpg

Thanks to users Carl Witthoft and sand1 for their comments.


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