Russian Roulette

All gambling games involve an element of risk and expose players to the chance of losing their stake, whether that is money or a valued possession. There is one game that has the very highest stakes of all and involves risking your life to win it: Russian roulette.

How is Russian roulette played?

The ‘game’ is played with a six-chambered revolver. All chambers are left empty except one, which contains a live bullet, and the cylinder is spun so that it loads a random chamber. The gun is placed to the temple and the trigger pulled. If the chamber selected was empty, the player wins; if the chamber was loaded, they lose and pay the ultimate price.

Where does the game come from?

It first appeared in a 19th-century Russian novel called The Fatalist. It became famous in the 1978 American film, The Deer Hunter, in which US soldiers were taken prisoner and forced to play Russian roulette by their Vietnamese captors. The film led to several copy-cat suicides.

What are the odds?

There is a one in six chance of winning Russian roulette, meaning a 17% chance of dying. This is only true if the chamber is re-spun for each turn, however, and the odds worsen if the game is played by a group of people who do not spin the cylinder between turns.