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Questions about electronic roulette

By Frank Scoblete


There is some movement on the part of some slot players over to electronic games such as roulette, craps, baccarat and blackjack among others. Most slot players are just nibbling at the games, but some have thrown themselves whole hog into them.

Over the next few issues I am going to do a body of work on electronic table games that have come to dominate many casinos, especially those that do not have actual table games. Roulette is one of the favorite electronic games and I’ll start here.

Many slot players don’t want to play the actual table games for a variety of reasons, one of which is being badgered by other players, another of which is looking stupid in front of veteran players, a third of which is just not being comfortable with the types of choices one has at the table games.

So here are some questions from roulette electronic garners:

ALICE: Are the roulette edges the same as in the actual table game or are they merely slot machines with higher edges just masquerading as a roulette game?

FRANK RESPONDS: Almost all of the roulette games I’ve seen or about which I have been told are exactly like the real table game. The house edge is the same as playing an actual game.

Thus, the house edge on the American double-zero wheel, meaning a wheel with a 0 and a 00, is 5.26 percent whether you bet the inside numbers straight up or cover those proposition bets that are on the outside of the inside numbers such as red/black, odd/even or high/low. So you have the betting choices that a real table game player enjoys.

The inside bets pay 35-to-one.There are 38 numbers and a win gives you $35 per a one-dollar wager. The fair value, that is if the house had no edge, would be a $37 payment for your one dollar. But to get an edge over the player the casino “taxes” the players two dollars on a win.

The outside proposition bets will pay even-money or two-to-one on the dozens bets. The house edge will still be 5.26 percent on these bets but the pattern of the game is more of a back-and-forth as opposed to possible long waits for those 35 to one wins. As a player I enjoy the outside even-money bets but slot players might prefer going for the bigger occasional wins.

The electronic roulette game will, over a significant period of time, begin to keep that 5.26 percent on the game no matter what betting choices a player makes. That is the same as the actual table game.

RAYMOND: Table game players often think they are superior gamblers to us poor slot players but I have found a real error that has been made by roulette players and it is significant. Writers such as you, and others, think the house edge is 5.26 percent on the double-zero wheel (0 and 00) but this is wrong.

Follow me on this please. There are 38 numbers on the wheel but the casino only pays 35 on the win. Here is the problem. The casino keeps three dollars on a player win, not two dollars as you writers say. That comes to a 7.89 percent house edge, not the 5.26 percent you say.

Am I wrong here?

FRANK RESPONDS: Raymond you made a little mistake that many slot players make and it is this: When you win a bet, the actual wager is returned to you and is not considered a part of your win. Thus, you get the 35-to-one win and you get your original wager back.

That return of the original wager does not count as part of the win.

On a regular slot machine, a win includes the bet you made. So a 35¬to-one win would include the original wager on a normal slot machine.

There are some casinos that will pull a fast one, so to speak, by claiming that a win is 35-for-one. If you see that for then the original bet is included as part of the win, just as it is on a slot machine. However, this is somewhat rare but keep your eyes open just in case.

So you see, Raymond, the gambling writers have the correct house edge on a game that pays 35-to-one and that is 5.26 percent.

NANCY: Are electronic table games such as roulette actually better bets than a traditional slot machine?

FRANK RESPONDS: If you bet the same total amount of money on electronic roulette as you do on 25-cent and one-dollar slot machines (or even most five-dollar traditional machines) then you are getting a better game. That 5.26 percent house edge translates into a return of 94.74 percent and for a slot machine that would be considered quite a good return.

If you want to give electronic roulette a chance take a certain amount of money and give the game a try. I think you might find this to be a pleasant experience and it would give you a sense of what a real table game is all about.

All the best in and out of the casinos!

Visit Frank’s web site at Frank’s latest books are Confessions of a Wayward Catholic; I Am a Dice Controller and /Am a Card Counter. All of Frank’s books are available from, Kindle, Barnes and Noble, e-books and at bookstores.

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