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A Combo of Different Wagers Won’t Help Against the House Edge

Author: Mark Pilarski

Dear Mark: Is there a way of combining numerous wagers on a roulette table to magnify one's odds and increase my odds of winning? For example, a column bet pays off at 2 to 1. If I place the second and third column, I will have a 66.6% chance of winning, just as long as the 0/00 doesn't appear. I would offset that by playing either the 0-00-1-2-3 combination, or a split wager of one chip on the 0-00. Tim S.

You can increase your feasibility of winning at Roulette – at least something -- by placing multiple bets on the layout, but, let me cap that, BUT, the house edge on any composite of bets, less one, is always going to be 1/19, or 5.26%.

You also mentioned in your question the 0-00-1-2-3 combination bet. All wagers, Tim, on a double zero roulette table will give the casino a 5.26% advantage (1/19), and no combination of bets on the layout will turn that. The single exception to that rule is a wager where you are betting that the 0, 00, 1, 2, or 3 pocket catches the ball. That wager is decidedly higher.

And why? Because it is about what the casino is willing to pay you versus the true odds of hitting any of these numbers. This five number wager, also called the basket bet, has a 13.16% probability of winning, pays 6 to 1, creating a global return of .9211 on the dollar. This one bet, above all others, has a house edge of 7.89%.

Any combination tactic, Tim, at an American roulette table should be to start with bypassing the five-number wager. Otherwise, all the residual bets, in any combination, still have a 5.26% edge.

The astute players maximize their odds and increase their chances of winning by seeking out, and playing only on a single zero roulette game, as that little added effort -- if successful in finding one -- allows you to cut into the house edge by 5.26% to 2.63%.

Dear Mark: I saw a slot machine where there was an option to stop one or more wheels, or to stop all of them. Does that change the result of the spin, or are the outcomes the same had I not used the touch screen? I am figuring it is divine intervention on where the reels will stop, and not skill. Alan R.

Surprisingly, Alan, I have not crossed paths with this type of machine. I am aware of them, but to tangle with, or write about, I have not to date done so.

So, Alan, I am winging my answer here, and am fairly sure that by manually stopping the video reels at what you believe is some synergistic moment, is not going to have any impact on the outcome. If it did, this would become a game of skill, which is not legal in any gaming jurisdiction that I am familiar with when it comes to slot machines. Video poker, on the other hand, is completely skill based.

Gambling Wisdom of the week: If you have one chink in your psychological armor, playing the horses will bring it out. – Andrew Beyer, Beyer on Speed (1993)