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# Those hidden house edges

12 October 2017

QUESTION: Can you tell me if Bally's Roulette game (upright slot) is a true game of chance with the bouncing ball, or if the machine is being controlled or set based on betting patterns?

ANSWER: It is a true game of chance with results determined by a random number generator. The RNG receives no information on your betting patterns. The game has been lab tested for randomness, and every number has a equal chance of occurring on every spin.

The house edge does tend to be a little higher than table roulette because payoffs are sometimes lower than table payoffs. Bally gives operators a variety of pay tables to choose from. It's not uncommon to see single-numbers pay 34-1 or even 33-1 instead of table roulette's 35-1.

QUESTION: I saw this on a cruise ship, and I was wondering about the effect.

If you got a blackjack and both cards were red, it paid 2-1. They could be mixed suits, diamonds and hearts. As long as they were both red, you got the extra payoff.

If both cards were black, they paid the usual 3-2. But if you got one red and one black, it only paid even money.

It seems like it would just be a wash, that the 2-1 on all-red and the 1-1 on mixed would average out to 3-2.

ANSWER: The rule is negative for the players, adding 0.57% to the house edge.

The reason is that there are more 1-1 payoffs than there are 2-1 payoffs.

Let's look suit by suit for each ace.

Ace of hearts: Eight cards complete 2-1 payoff (K-Q-J-10 of diamonds and of hearts); eight cards complete 1-1 payoff (K-Q-J-10 of clubs and spades).

Ace of diamonds: Eight cards complete 2-1 payoff (K-Q-J-10 of diamonds and of hearts); eight cards complete 1-1 payoff (K-Q-J-10 of clubs and spades).

Ace of spades: Eight cards complete 3-2 payoff (K-Q-J-10 of spades and clubs); eight cards complete 1-1 payoff (K-Q-J-10 of hearts and diamonds).

Ace of clubs: Eight cards complete 3-2 payoff (K-Q-J-10 of spades and clubs); eight cards complete 1-1 payoff (K-Q-J-10 of hearts and diamonds).

Add all that up, and you have 16 combinations that pay 2-1 and 16 that pay 3-2, but 32 that pay only even money.

The first 16 even-money blackjacks balance off the 16 2-1 pays, but the extra 16 even-money combinations drag the average payoff under the standard 3-2.

QUESTION: I don't like paying the commission when I win on banker on baccarat. Why can't they set up the game so I don't have to pay when I win?

ANSWER: In regular baccarat, banker wins more often than it loses, so the commission is necessary to give the house an edge. And make no mistake — if the house couldn't get an edge, it wouldn't offer the bet.

A number of baccarat-based games have been devised without a commission. Most involve altering the game so the banker bet loses more than it wins. EZ Baccarat, for example, declares that if the banker wins with 7, the bet is a push.

Another method is to alter the payback on certain hands. A game called Nepal Baccarat pays only 1-2 if banker wins with 6, so that a winning \$10 bet would pay only \$5. An online game called No Commission Baccarat uses a similar format, giving half-bet payouts if banker wins with 8.

None of these have really taken a foothold in the marketplace. Baccarat attracts fewer players than blackjack, craps, roulette and Three Card Poker, and those who play the game seem to prefer the traditional rules.
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Best of John Grochowski
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.

#### Books by John Grochowski:

Winning Tips for Casino Games
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.