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1 November 2000

I like to play roulette, especially in Las Vegas where I can buy quarter chips and spread them all over the layout. I prefer to make the single-number bets rather than bet the reds or the blacks. I like the thrill of a big win when one of my numbers comes up.

If I spread 12 chips on different numbers, am I getting a better deal than if I play the columns or dozens on the outside? I know I'm covering the same amount of numbers either way, but it sure feels like I'm winning more when I get paid 35-1 on one of my numbers.

Anna

The house edge is the same whichever way you play 12 numbers. In the long run on an American double-zero wheel, the house will keep \$5.26 of every \$100 you wager.

Let's walk through it. Say you make 25-cent single-number bets on 1, 3, 5, 13, 15, 17, 20, 22, 24, 32, 34 and 36. (Why did I choose those particular numbers? Just because they're adjacent on the wheel, though not on the table layout.) You're risking \$3 per spin of the wheel. In a perfect sequence of 38 spins in which each number comes up once, you risk \$114.

When one of your numbers comes up, you win 35 chips and keep the one chip you wagered on the winning number, for a total of 36 chips. That's \$9 per winning spin when you're betting quarter chips. You lose the 11 chips you wagered on the other numbers. Multiply that by 12 winning spins, and at the end of the sequence you have \$108, meaning you've lost \$6 overall.

Now let's say that instead of playing those single numbers, you wager the full \$3 per spin on the first dozen. Your total risk for 38 spins is still \$114. Any time a number from 1 through 12 turns up, you're paid at 2-1 odds. On each winning bet, you get \$6 in winnings plus you keep your \$3 wager, for a total of \$9. Multiply that by 12 winning numbers, and at the end of the sequence you have \$108 left for an overall \$6 loss -- the same as when you were betting individual numbers.

By betting on 12 single numbers, you've essentially created your own dozens bet. The percentages are the same as if you'd just bet the dozens.

What's the house edge? On either set of wagers, the house keeps \$6 of your \$114. Divide the 6 by 114, and you get .0526. Multiply by 100 to convert to percent, and the house edge on either betting method is 5.26 percent.

The Casino Answer Book by John Grochowski
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John Grochowski

John Grochowski is the best-selling author of The Craps Answer Book, The Slot Machine Answer Book and The Video Poker Answer Book. His weekly column is syndicated to newspapers and Web sites, and he contributes to many of the major magazines and newspapers in the gaming field, including Midwest Gaming and Travel, Slot Manager, Casino Journal, Strictly Slots and Casino Player.

Listen to John Grochowski's "Casino Answer Man" tips Tuesday through Friday at 5:18 p.m. on WLS-AM (890) in Chicago. Look for John Grochowski on Facebook and Twitter @GrochowskiJ.