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Roulette is Unbeatable, but let's change the payout!

  1. Jul 22, 2012 #1
    Hey all, long time reader/lurker!

    I was having a nice get together with friends and one of the friendly discussions we had during our feast involved casino games. One of which was roulette. All of us agreed it's a sucker's game.
    Out of curiosity, what would it take for any of us to sit down and play American or European Roulette? Would changing the payout for every time you WIN on your bet be enough to overcome the house’s edge? If so, what kind of payout is necessary to have a 1% edge over the house? What about a big 5% player edge?
    We went back and forth on this for a few minutes, but it’s still driving me nuts because I know it should be simple to figure out, yet I can't.

    American roulette (00) – 38 numbers, 35:1 – House edge 5.26% - probability to win 47.3%
    Single Zero roulette (0) – 37 numbers, 35:1 – House edge 2.70% - probability to win 48.6%
    European roulette (0) – 37 numbers, (1/2 money return on 1:1 bets when it lands on 0) 35:1 – House edge 1.36% - probability to win 49.3%????????

    My simple math and most likely incorrect:
    On the American roulette, l bet $10 on RED (1:1 bet). I win $10 +$0.63.
    10 + 5.26% (house edge) + 1.00% (my edge) = $10.63
    So as long as I get 6.26% on top of my original bet I have a long term 1% edge? It doesn’t look or sound right to me.
    On the American roulette wheel I am expected to lose about $0.53 per $10 in the long run, but if the casino gives me an additional $0.63 for every time I win, will beat them in the long term correct?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 22, 2012 #2

    Simon Bridge

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    Of course, the bigger the house pays over the odds the more people will want to play the game so I'm not sure what the point is. Are you trying to fix the payout to compensate for the house edge built-in to the equipment? Then the usual approach is to fix the payout to the true odds. Compare with simpler games.

    There are lots of ways to make biased equipment fair just by changing the way the game is played. Respin every time the house wins for eg.
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2012
  4. Jul 23, 2012 #3
    Yeah, like a special weekend the casino changes the payout in "favor" for the player. I don't know why, maybe to increase foot traffic?

    Never mind that, the point was/is I wanted to know whether changing the payout without changing the game itself can actually give the player and edge in the long run. My friend said no no it doesn't matter because of the probability to win and independent events, blah blah. At first I passively agreed about what he said, but then I thought about it for a minute and flat out rejected what he was saying because it didn't make sense.

    The spin is random, independent and has no memory, fact. What makes the game unbeatable in the long run is the payout, not only the probability of winning on your number or color.

    So I said think about it! On American roulette, there are 38 numbers and if they paid you 38:1, the house edge = 0%. So, if they changed it to 39:1, the player has an edge, albeit very small, but nevertheless an edge.

    Sorry if this seems so trivial and silly, but I want to be right! You know it's just one of those kind of conversations that started out as nothing, but now it's a battle to be right. ;)

    I looked at roulette math on the internet, but I needed someone here to flat out say hey you're right.
  5. Jul 23, 2012 #4

    Simon Bridge

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    Well, yes, changing the payout changes the game. That's why you get odds offered in various sports betting.

    If the odds are long though there can be a wait before you'd expect to see a payoff - and each turn of the wheel is independent... so you can end up spending quite a lot of money before you break even.
  6. Jul 23, 2012 #5
    Well that goes back to one of my original questions. You end up spending money before you break even, but what's the magic number? What kind of return is it necessary to make your sit down worthwhile?
  7. Jul 24, 2012 #6

    Simon Bridge

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    In a fair game you can, at best, expect to break even.
    People gamble because they think they can beat the odds.

    The best bets are those where the odds are in your favor but don't look like that ... as in face-up draw poker.
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