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Best of John Grochowski

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The five-number roulette bet

11 October 2015

QUESTION: I’ve read that the roulette bet on the first five numbers is a bad bet. What if I bet the numbers separately? Is there something about the numbers that make them bad, or is it just betting them together?

ANSWER: It’s the five-number combination bet on 0, 00, 1, 2 and 3 that has a higher house edge than other bets at a double-zero roulette table. Betting the individual numbers, or other combinations to take in those numbers, have the same 5.26% house edge as other wagers.

Let’s say you’re at a $5 table and are allowed to break that into $1 chips. If you decide to bet your $5 on the five-number combo, then five of the 38 numbers on the layout are winners for you, and each winner pays 6-1.

If you bet $5 on each of 38 spins and each number comes up once, you risk $190. On each winner, you keep your $5 bet and get $30 in winnings. That $35 per winning number means you have $175 at the end of the sequence, and the house keeps $15. Divide $15 by the $190 in wagers 0.0789. Multiply by 100 to convert to percent, and that’s a 7.89% house edge.

Let’s try it a different way. On each of the 38 spins, you bet $3 on a three-number street including 1, 2 and 3, and $2 on a two-number split of 0 and 00. You’re still betting $5 per spin, and still risking $190 for the sequence. On each of the two 0-00 split wins, you keep your $2 bet and are paid $34 at 17-1 odds, putting $36 on your side of the table after each win. Three-number streets pay 11-1, so on each of those three wins you keep a $3 bet and win $33, for a total of $36 per win.

Total that up, and you have $72 for the two split wins and $108 for the three streets. So after the full sequence, you have $180 of your original $190 -- $5 more than if you bet the same numbers as the five-number combination. The house keeps $10, which divided by $190 is 0.0526, or 5.26%.

If you bet $1 on each of the five numbers individually, you’re still betting $5 per spin and risking $190. Each of the five wins pays 35-1, so you win $35 and keep a $1 bet per winning number.

With five winning numbers, you have $180 after the sequence, the same as if you made the street and split, for a house edge of 5.26%.

There’s nothing magical about the numbers themselves. They don’t show up any less often than any other number on the layout. It’s the payoff odds that give the casino a larger edge on the five-number combination. If you want to bet those numbers, pick a different way to do it.


QUESTION: I have a question about betting progressions in baccarat. Does it do any harm when you raise your bets after wins? I have a system where I raise my bet after every two wins.

ANSWER: Adding to your bets after wins does not change the house edge. Players make different-sized bets at the same table all the time, and face the same house edge.

What betting progressions do is increase your exposure to the house edge. If your bets total $1,000 instead of $500, for example, then your average loss doubles. That’s not because of any change in the edge; it’s just because the edge is working against more money.
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