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Those Roulette Edges

3 Sep 2023

By John Grochowski
QUESTION: When you calculate the house edge in roulette, you always use single-number bets or the even-money payoff bets where you get 18 numbers (red or black, odd or even, 1-18 or 19-36).
What about something in between like the corners or columns? How do they wind up in the same place as singles or red/black?

ANSWER: Roulette lends itself to easy arithmetic and a well-defined house edge that's kept the game in casinos since the late 1700s.

Payoffs are based on true odds for a 1-36 number set. If there were only 36 numbers on the wheel, roulette would be an even proposition with no house edge. But there are 37 numbers with a single zero, 38 with 0 and 00 or 39 in the triple-zero games that now dot the Las Vegas Strip.

Imagine you wagered $1 per spin and every number turned up once. You'd risk $37 on a single-zero wheel, $38 on a double-zero wheel and $39 on a triple-zero abomination.

Four-number corner bets pay 8-1. If each of your winners came up once, you'd get $32 in winnings plus keep $4 on the winning wagers. That would leave $36 on your side of the table.

Subtract that from the wager totals and you've lost $1 on a single-zero wheel, $2 with double zero and $3 with triple zero.

Divide the $1 in casino profit by $37 risked in single-zero roulette, and you get 0.027. Multiply by 100 to convert to percent, and the house has a 2.7 percent edge.

With a $2 profit vs. $38 in wagers, the house edge at double-zero is 0.0526, or 5.26 percent. And the $3 in profit divided by $39 in wagers at triple zero means the house edge is 0.0769, or 7.69 percent.

If you've been betting $1 on 12-number columns instead, payoffs are 2-1. Each of your 12 winners brings $2 in profit plus you keep the $1 wagers. That leaves you with a total of $36 -- the same total you have after four winners on corners.

We know where it goes from there. House profits are $1 on a single-zero wheel, $2 at double-zero and $3 at triple-zero, leading to respective house edges of 2.7, 5.26 and 7.69 percent.

Those are the same house edges at each zero-level as you'll find on nearly every wager. In casinos that offer special rules such as Atlantic City's half-back or the French en prison, the edge on 18-number bets can be cut in half. And the five-number "basket" of 0, 00, 1, 2 and 3, offered only on double-zero wheels, increases the house take to 7.89 percent.

Otherwise, edges are the same, though results are more volatile when you have fewer numbers in action.


QUESTION: I have a back-to-back jackpots story for you, or maybe it's side by side. Usually, my wife plays slots while I play video poker. This time, she decided to play video poker next to me.

We both were playing quarters on single-hand games. She was on Double Double Bonus and I was on Super Double Bonus. I had a Jack, Queen and Ace of clubs on my screen and was about to hit the button, when I got an elbow. "Look! Look! Look!"

Jen had four Aces and a 3 of hearts for $500. She'd held three Aces and drew the other two, and she was thrilled.

Then I hit draw, and I got my royal!

Jen was mock exasperated. "Oh, sure. I get my best hand ever and you had to one-up me." She high-fived me anyway.

ANSWER: Good story! Thanks for sharing.

This article is provided by the Frank Scoblete Network. Melissa A. Kaplan is the network's managing editor. If you would like to use this article on your website, please contact Casino City Press, the exclusive web syndication outlet for the Frank Scoblete Network. To contact Frank, please e-mail him at fscobe@optonline.net.

 
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