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Best of John Grochowski

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Figuring Roulette Edge

29 March 2020

QUESTION: Please explain to me about roulette and the 5.26 percent house edge. It seems to me like every time I play, I lose a lot more than 5.26 percent. In fact, if I buy in for $100, I can’t say I’ve ever had a session where I’ve lost only $5 or $6.

I usually play at $5 tables and divide my $100 into $1 chips. I bet $5 on red or black and spread five $1 bets on inside numbers. The red or black bets keep me going and the inside numbers give me bigger payoffs when I win.

In the end, I usually lose my $100. It seems to me more like the house edge is close to 100 percent.

ANSWER: The house edge doesn’t apply just to your buy-in. It covers the total of all the bets you make.

Let’s say your $100 buy-in gives you 10 spins of the wheel. Imagine you win four $5 corner bets for even money payoffs, four $1 corner bets for 8-1 payoffs and one $1 split bet for a 17-1 payoff.

You keep your bets along with the winnings, so now you have $40 from the red or black bets, $36 from the corners and $18 from the split for a total of $94.

Next, you use $90 of your $94 for nine more wheel spins, while keeping $4 in reserve.

At this point, your wagering total is $190, not $100, and you’re not done. You’ll have more wins and losses, with funds available to keep playing if that’s what you want.

In the end, the house keeps an average of 5.26 percent of your total wagers. On average, you’ll make $1,901 worth of wagers before you lose the $100.

Your budget won’t stretch that far every time. Sometimes you’ll lose a lot faster. Sometimes you’ll get longer runs for your money. Sometimes you’ll have a winning session. They’ll average out into the house keeping 5.26 percent of your total wagers.

The house sees big winners, small winners, players who break even, small losers and big winners every day. The total of all their action, day after day, will result in the house keeping 5.26 percent of their wagers. Not 5.26 percent of their total buy-ins, mind you, 5.26 percent of the wagers, and that’s much larger figure.


QUESTION: One thing has always bothered me about Three Card Poker. Straights outrank flushes. Straights pay more in Pair Plus, and if you have a flush and the dealer has a straight, you lose in the ante-play part.

It just doesn’t feel right. We used to play poker for fun at home when I was a kid, I started playing for money in college, and I play video poker in casinos now. Flushes have always outranked straights.

ANSWER: Frequency of winning hands is different in three-card poker games than in five-card or seven-card games. Flushes are dealt more often than straights, so straights outrank flushes.

In Three Card Poker, there are 22,100 possible hands in which card order doesn’t matter. Flushes account for 1,096 of those hands while there are only 720 straights. You have a 1 in 20 chance of being dealt a flush, but only a 1 in 31 chance at a straight.

Compare that to five-card stud games such as Caribbean Stud or Let It Ride. There, you have a 1 in 255 shot at a straight but only 1 in 509 at a flush.

The change in hand frequency dictates that straights must outrank flushes to make the odds and payoffs come out right in Three Card Poker.
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:

> 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