The A to Z of gambling!The latest edition of our “A to Z of Gambling” concerns the letter “R”. We’ll take a look at the “Rake”, as well as a brief history of a casino classic and a sports betting staple, in the forms of “Roulette” and “Racing”.

R is for… Roulette
When you think of a casino, be it online or land based, I’ll bet the first image that comes to mind is the roulette table, with its green layout piled high with chips, and the whirring of the ball as it spins round the wheel. Roulette is an iconic game – a real casino classic – and this is mostly due to the game’s blend of excitement, suspense and of course, its simplicity.

The game is believe to have originated in France, around and about the 17th century, though the exact origins of roulette remain a mystery. One facet of the game definitely is French in origin, however – the name “roulette” comes from the French for “little wheel”.

Much myth and legend surrounds the popular casino game; some believe that Blaise Pascal came up with the idea while experimenting with possible perpetual motion devices, while due to the fact that all of the numbers on the roulette wheel add up to 666, it has at times been associated with the devil!

Roulette’s rules are straightforward – players wager against the casino simply by placing chips on the relevant section of the layout, before the croupier spins the wheel and releases the ball in the opposite direction. The ball will randomly fall into a numbered pocket, which will then be used to settle all bets at the table.

Different variations of roulette occur around the world, the most notable being the difference between “European Roulette” and “American Roulette”; the former has only a single zero (0) on the wheel, while the latter has both a single and a double zero (0 and 00). This extra possible outcome has the effect of increasing the house edge – the theoretical amount of profit made by the casino from any given roulette wheel – from 2.70% in the European form, to 5.26% in American Roulette.

Thanks to the boom in online casinos, more and more people are discovering the thrills and spills of roulette. You can play for free here – why not practice your strategy and test your nerve, without risking a penny of your own cash?

R is for… Rake
In most casino games, it is fairly obvious how the company makes its money – whenever a gambler loses his or her wager, the casino is winning it. But what about in a card room, where players are playing games like poker, against each other and not the house? That’s where “Rake” comes in.

It may sound like a gardening implement, but the rake is actually a fee, usually in the form of a designated percentage of each pot, that is taken aside and kept to cover the costs of the dealer, playing equipment and other such overheads in a casino or card room.

Other forms of rake do exist in poker, such as paying a fixed amount to the house when the dealer button passes to your seat, or the house levying a charge for each hour (or half hour) that the poker table is in use. In poker tournaments, players usually pay a charge on top of their buy in and this too is a form of rake. For example, if the tournament buy in is £10, you may see it written as £10 + £1, meaning that any player would have to pay their buy in (which goes towards the prize pool) and a further £1 fee to cover costs.

Many online poker players now benefit from “rakeback” deals, which see a portion of all the money paid in rake returned to them, as an incentive to play at a specific poker site. This can be extremely profitable and all regular poker players should seriously consider looking into rakeback.

R is for… Racing
The history of thoroughbred horse racing in Britain dates back as far as King James I, who discovered the town of Newmarket in 1605, spending a great deal of time there and helping to set up horse racing in the town. But man’s relationship with horses dates even further back, and the first recorded race in Britain took place as long ago as 1174, while historians think it likely that even Roman soldiers were racing horses around 200 A.D.!

The Royal Family are inextricably linked to racing in Britain and back in the 18th century, Queen Anne played a pivotal role in creating the “Royal” meeting at Ascot, still held every year in June. This connection to Royalty ensured that the popularity of racing flourished and in turn, the breeding industry and the number of racecourses.

In the middle of the 18th century, the Jockey Club was created, making horse racing Britain’s first properly regulated sport. Soon after, the “Classic” races – the St Leger, Oaks, Derby, 2000 Guineas and 1000 Guineas – were established.

With the development of transport and technology in the 19th century, horse racing was made more accessible to the masses and newspapers devoted more coverage to the sport, while the volume of betting on racing also shot up. Similarly, in the mid 20th century, the advent of television increased the popularity of racing still further, and to this day, horse racing is the second most watched sport behind football.

Horse racing is a cornerstone of the bookmaking industry in Britain, with more than £12 billion wagered on the sport each year, while five of the ten most attended sporting fixtures in the country during 2011 were horse racing meetings, with over 150,000 people paying to attend the 2011 Grand National and a little under 300,000 turning out at Royal Ascot.

Until next time, when we look at the letter “S” – best of luck, in and out of the casino!