On a busy night in a crowded casino, I sat at a coffee shop counter and overheard a man and a woman planning their roulette attack. One would bet red, the other black. Wins would balance losses. They wouldn’t lose any money, but they’d get their comps for free.
Or so they thought.
They’d neglected to take into account that whenever the spin was 0 or 00, they’d lose BOTH bets.
Let’s say the two of them were each betting $5 on red, for $10 at risk on each spin of the wheel. In a perfect sequence of 38 spins in which each number — 1 through 36, along with 0 and 00 — occurred once, they would risk a total of $380. On the 18 red numbers, they’d collect $180 in winnings plus keep their $180 in wagers. So at the end of the sequence, they’d have $360, and the house would have have $20 of the original $380.
Now let’s say one wagers $5 on red and the other wagers $5 on black. On 36 of the 38 numbers, the red and black wagers would cancel out. One bet would win, the other would lose. That leaves two more numbers, 0 and 00. On those, both red and black lose, meaning the couple loses $10 on 0 and $10 more on 00.
That’s a total of $20 in losses. At the end of our 38-spin sample, the couple has $360 of its original $380 in wagers, and the house has $20, the same as if they’d bet opposite sides.
Those $20 in losses from $380 in wagers comes to 5.26 percent in the casino coffers. Yep, the same house edge we’ve been talking all along. Sorry, no free comps here.
John has been writing about casinos and casino games since 1994 through his weekly syndicated column that goes to newspapers and websites, including the Chicago Sun-Times, Denver Post and Casino City Times. He’s a regular in magazines specifically for gaming players, including Midwest Gaming and Travel and Southern Gaming and Destinations, and in the casino industry trade publications, such as Casino Journal and Slot Manager. John is the author of six books on gaming, including “The Slot Machine Answer Book” and “The Video Poker Answer Book.” If you are interested in his past work or simply want to ask a gaming-related question, please e-mail him at email@example.com.