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Best of John Grochowski

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Five-number bet at roulette and baccarat ties

1 March 2015

QUESTION: My husband and I go our separate ways in the casino. He likes to play craps, and I love to play roulette. I get that craps gives you a better shot to win, but I have more fun at the wheel.

One question: I’ve read your articles, and you’ve mentioned several times that the house edge is higher on 0-00-1-2-3 than at any of the other bets. Why is that? Couldn’t the casino fix that? Why would they want one bet out of dozens that’s worse than the others?

ANSWER: Payoffs are designed to be made in whole dollars, and on all other bets on the wheel, that can be done while giving the house a 5.26 percent edge. For the five-number bet on 0-00-1-2-3, that can’t be done.

Let’s look at how the roulette edge works. If you bet on a single number, the odds against your winning are 37-1 – there are 37 numbers that win for the house, and only one that wins for you.

But the house pays winners only 35-1. If $1 is bet on each number, a total of $38 is risked. The winner keeps his $1 wager and gets $35 in winnings. That leaves $2 in profit for the casinos. Divide that $2 by the $38 wagered, then multiply by 100 to convert to percent, and you get a 5.26 percent house edge.

Let’s say instead, you bet on a four-number corner. Now there are four winning numbers and 34 losers. The odds against you winning are 34-4, which reduces to 8.5-1. The casino pays 8-1. If you made the $1 bet 38 times and each number came up once, you’d win four times, keeping your $1 bet and winning $8 on each win. That leaves you with $36 of your $38 in wagers, while the house has $2 – or 5.26 percent.

But with the five-number bet, there are five winning numbers and 33 losers. That makes the odds against winning 33-5, which reduces to 6.6-1. The nearest whole dollar payoff that gives the house an edge is 6-1. Per 38 spins at $1 a pop, you win five times, each time keeping your $1 bet and picking up $6 in winnings. That leaves you with $35 at the end of the trial, and it gives the house a $3 profit instead of the $2 on other wagers. That’s a house edge of 7.89 percent.

The house can’t increase the payoff to 7-1. That would give the player an edge. To make the house edge 5.26 percent like all the other bets, the payoff would have to be 6.2-1. Casinos don’t want to have to stock their tables with dimes to make that payoff.


QUESTION: How many hands in a row without a tie do you have to go before you should bet the tie in baccarat? Is there a point at which that becomes a profitable play?

ANSWER: The tie is always a bad bet in baccarat. Tieless streaks haven’t been shown to have any great effect on the frequency of ties to come. The true odds against a hand ending in a tie are 9.5-1, and the house pays only 8-1. That’s a 14.4-percent house edge, far too big to overcome. There is no point at which it’s a profitable play, and it’s a bet best left alone.

Playing the streaks can be fun in baccarat, but streaks don’t change the odds. For that matter, card counting doesn’t work either. While the odds of the game do change slightly as cards are dealt and the composition of the deck changes, the effect is so small that there is no practical way to apply the count.
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:

The Craps Answer Book

> More Books By John Grochowski