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Confessions of a Beginning Roulette Player

31 July 2001

Everyone has to be a beginner sometime. And just about every beginner will sometimes run afoul of table rules and etiquette out of pure ignorance.

For me, it happened many years ago at the now-defunct Silver City casino toward the north end of the Las Vegas Strip. I was a casino veteran by then, but hadn't played much roulette. I'd done my homework years earlier, before my second trip to Las Vegas, and decided that the 5.26 percent house edge on double-zero roulette was too high for me to spend much time at the wheel.

Given low enough table limits, I'd play a little roulette as a diversion, a break in the action. At Silver City, the limits were low enough. The table minimum was only $1, and you could break that down into 25-cent chips. For a couple of bucks, I could spread chips across family birthdays on the inside, and bet red or black on the outside.

That's what I was doing, and it was working pretty well. I won single-number bets three times in short order, and I was holding my own on the red-black bets.

The dealer seemed to be getting a little testy with me, and I wasn't sure why. It couldn't be because I was winning. Betting quarter chips, I was only ahead about $20. That was chicken feed compared with the two European fellows next to me who were betting $10 chips, spreading $100 or more on the layout with each spin. And it couldn't be that I was being discourteous. I was relaxed, had my happy face on and was tipping the dealer after each single-number win.

What was the problem?

The dealer snapped at me a couple of times for betting early. I didn't understand why. I didn't bet again until she'd cleared away the losing bets, paid the winner and picked up the marker off the winning number of the last spin. What was I doing wrong?

After a while, a dealer trainee came on, and he ran the game while our original dealer supervised. On his first spin, my single-number bets lost and were cleared away on the inside, but my bet on black won. The trainee paid it by leaving an equal stack of chips next to my bet, and he moved on to pay the others. I took my winnings, and left my original bet on the table, intending to bet the same amount on the next spin.

When the trainee looked back toward my bet, he was confused.

"I could have sworn I paid that bet," he said.

The original dealer gritted her teeth. "You did. This has become a war of nerves between him and me."

Oops.

That's how I discovered I shouldn't just take the winnings down and leave the original bet on the table for next time until the dealer was finished with all payoff procedures. If I had taken both winnings and bet down, it would have been OK, but by taking just the winnings down, I'd left no cue to remind the dealers they'd already paid me. In effect, I was betting while they were still in payoff mode. That's what the dealer had been trying to tell me all along.

Add that to this little list of rules every player should know before playing roulette:

Minimum and maximum bets are posted on a placard that sits on the table.

The table minimum may be met on inside bets by making several smaller bets.

With a $1 minimum and quarter chips, I'm OK if I bet 25 cents each on one single number, a two-number split and two four-number corners. But on outside bets such as red or black, even or odd, the dozens or columns, each bet must meet the table minimum. Betting 50 cents on black and 50 cents on the first dozen doesn't do it.

The player must designate the value of chips he or she will be using. If I place $20 on the layout, the dealer won't give me chips until I specify: Is each chip to be worth 25 cents? 50 cents? A dollar? Ten dollars? Once I've made a choice, the dealer will give me roulette chips, all of the same color to differentiate them from other players' chips, and will place one of my color chips on a rail with a marker atop to indicate value.

Roulette chips have no value at the cashier's cage. The same color will be used several times in the same day, and may have a different value each time. The cashier has no way of knowing what that color was worth when you were playing. Players must exchange roulette chips for casino chips before leaving the table.

When the dealer spins the ball and wheel, players may continue betting until the dealer calls out, "No more bets." That will happen shortly after the ball's spin starts to decay and it starts to descend on the wheel before falling to the center numbers.

When the ball stops in a numbered slot, the dealer will place a marker on the winning number, clear off all losing bets and pay off the winners. Don't start to bet on the next spin until that process is finished.

Got it? It took a while, but I did.

Recent Articles
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.

John Grochowski Websites:

www.casinoanswerman.com

Books by John Grochowski:

Winning Tips for Casino Games

> More Books By 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.

John Grochowski Websites:

www.casinoanswerman.com

Books by John Grochowski:

> More Books By John Grochowski