Roulette Variants: California Roulette

In American and European Roulette, the game is played using a betting table, roulette wheel and small ball. To play roulette, the dealer, also known as the croupier, spins the wheel and rolls the ball in the opposite direction. After circling the wheel, the ball randomly stops in one of the wheel’s 37 numbered pockets (or 38 in American Roulette).

Roulette playing

This is the standard way to play roulette and what most gamblers are familiar with. In fact, many people think about the excitement of the ball spinning the roulette wheel and landing in a numbered pocket, when they think about casino gambling. Yet, this way of playing roulette is not standard in all variations. Some variations do not even use numbered slots on the roulette wheel.

In a version known as California Roulette, instead of using numbered slots, the roulette wheel is lined with cards. There are 38 cards in total, labeled from 1 to 36, in addition to 0 and 00. To play this version of roulette, bets are made on single or multiple numbers, colors or suits of cards. The dealer shuffles the cards and produces one on the table. The card that is drawn by the dealer determines the winning and losing bets.

Some roulette wheels in California are even more distinct. These wheels are still lined with cards; however, there are no numbers on the cards. The cards alternate red and black on wheel. To determine the winning number, the dealer places two cards face down on the betting table in black and red rectangles. If the spinner lands on red card, the dealer flips over the card in the red box. If the wheel lands on the black card, the dealer flips over the card in the black box.

This unique version of roulette is attributed to California laws that require casino games like roulette to use cards, instead of slots. In 2004, state regulators issued guidelines for casinos that mandate the use of cards in roulette games. These rules create a distinct game known as California Roulette that is not considered the same as traditional roulette. With the modifications in place, this variation of roulette is technically considered a card game. According to the California Division of Gaming Control, “the game of roulette is specifically prohibited by name as being illegal to deal, play, carry on, open, cause to be opened, or conducted, under California law.”

In California Roulette, all the traditional rules of American Roulette apply. Players make typical bets on numbers or colors. The only difference is that cards are used to determine the winning bet. In addition to betting on numbers and colors, players can bet on the suit of cards that will be selected. This adds an extra layer to the game play. While California Roulette looks much different than traditional roulette, players shouldn’t be worried because the game functions very similarly.

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