Monday, November 08, 2010

Do You Know the Origins of the Roulette Number-Marker or Dolly?

On American and British-style roulette tables, you see the dealer spin the ball, call out the winning number when the ball drops, and then place a marker or dolly (some call it a chesspiece) on the chips in the box on the layout corresponding to that winning number (or in the empty box when there are no winning chips), right? And I'm sure some of you realize that the reason for immediately placing the number marker over the winning chips is to prevent pastposting additional chips onto the number.

But did you know that until 1957 there was no roulette marker or dolly on American and UK roulette tables? That's right. In the old days the dealer would spin the ball, then when it fell into the slot of a number simply call out that number and point to it on the layout, in similar fashion to how dealers run the game on the giant French roulette wheels with their chip rakes.

What brought the marker into existence?

In the mid 1950s, the Classon Casino Pastposting Cheating Team devastated casinos in Las Vegas, Cuba and Puerto Rico by attacking their roulette wheels with late bets after the dealer called out and pointed to the winning number. Casinos were desperate and tried everything to stop them. Finally, in 1957, a surveillance operator at the Sands casino in Las Vegas came up with the idea to prevent pastposting on roulette layouts by having dealers place a marker atop winning chips or on the naked number-box immediately after the winning number was determined. He--and everyone else in the casino industry--felt certain that this security measure would eliminate pastposting on the inside numbers of roulette layouts. Boy were they wrong!

Henry Classon and his brother Joe simply devised a way to pastpost chips underneath the marker. Read about it here.