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Is the Big Wheel a good deal?

14 August 2016

QUESTION: I live in an area where there are eight casinos within about a 45-minute drive. They’re scattered in different directions, so there’s no casino hopping. You pick one and that’s where you go for the day.

My husband and I go to them all. Maybe we see each one twice a year. One thing I’ve noticed is that while they have a lot of the same games, only one has that money wheel, where they spin to see if it lands on $1, $2, $5 and so on.

It’s funny, because it seems like in movies and TV shows when they show inside casinos, that’s one of the things they always show.

ANSWER: The money wheel, or Big Six wheel, has a very high house edge and is not a particularly popular game. Those who play very much see their bankrolls deplete too fast, and they move on to other games.

Because of that, Big Six doesn’t draw enough business to merit a place on most casino floors.

However, the setup is showy and screams “Casino!” even to those who have never played. It makes a great visual for TV and movies. It also is an attention-grabber that may draw impulse bets from players on their way in or on their way out of a casino. That makes it a viable game for large casinos with enough customers that a few impulse bets from a small percentage of players can make the game profitable.

The showy part is a vertical wheel, usually with 54 segments – although 52-segment wheels have been used. Fifty-two of the 54 segments display U.S. currency, while the other two spaces are reserved for special symbols such as casino logos or American eagles.

Typically, 24 spaces are filled by $1 bills, 15 with $2, seven with $5, four with $10, two with $20, one with an eagle or other special symbol, and the other with a casino logo or another symbol. The currency spaces are paid in proportion to their values — $1 spaces pay 1-1, $2 spaces pay 2-1, and so on. The eagle space pays 40-1 on most wheels, but often 45-1 in Atlantic City, and the casino logo space also pays 40-1, or 45-1 in A.C.

House edges are very high: 11.1% if you bet on the $1 spaces; 16.67% on $2; 22.22% on $5 or $20; 18.52% on $10; and 24.07% on special symbols if they pay 40-1, or 14.81% if they pay 45-1.

It’s a game to be avoided.


QUESTION: A sports betting question for you, since NFL training camps are opening. With the point spreads, what percentage of games to I have to win to make a profit? You have to bet an extra 10%, $11 to win $10. So do you have to win 60%?

ANSWER: The 10% vigorish charged on such bets translates to a 4.55% house edge. Here’s how it works. If I bet $110 on Team A, and you bet $110 on Team B, the house takes in $220 in wagers. The house pays the winner $210 — the $110 wager plus $100 in winnings.

The house then takes the other $10, and we can divide that by the $220 in wagers, then multiply to 100 to convert to percent, to arrive at a house edge of 4.5454%.

Your break-even point is 50% plus half that house edge. If you win 52.273% and lose 47.727%, the difference between the two is 4.54%, just under the house edge. Win more than 52.273%, and you profit.
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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.

John Grochowski Websites:

www.casinoanswerman.com

Books by John Grochowski:

The Craps Answer Book

> 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