by John Grochowski
Casino games don’t stand still, not even games that are more than 200 years old. There are tweaks and changes as operators strive to make the games more profitable.
That can mean making the games more attractive so more people play. It also can mean raising the house edge and hoping that doesn’t drive off players.
The latter course has been set by casinos trying out triple zero roulette. Instead of one green space with a 0, or two with a 0 and a 00, there are three with a 0, 00 and 000.
Sometimes the 000 space is filled with a logo instead, but the effect is the same. It expands the wheel to 39 spaces, winners are still paid at odds that would be true for 36 spaces, and the extra space increases the house edge.
Instead of the usual 2.7 percent at a single-zero wheel or 5.26 percent on most bets at a double-zero wheel, the house edge jumps to 7.69 percent with three zeroes.
Where did Triple Zero Roulette Originate?
Triple zero roulette first popped up on the Las Vegas at the Venetian in the fall of 2016. There, it’s called Sands Roulette and instead of a 000, a Sands logo is used. That’s the only connection to the old Sands hotel and casino, which once stood on the Venetian site. This isn’t any nostalgic old game, it’s just a higher-edge version of an old one.
Since then, the game has popped up at other Strip locations, including Excalibur, New York New York, Harrah’s, Luxor and more. Triple zero roulette has made its way to downtown Las Vegas at the Golden Nugget and Four Queens, and also has been spotted at locals casinos including Green Valley Ranch and the Palms.
Calculating the House Edge in Roulette
Calculating the house edge isn’t difficult. In an average 39 single-number bets in which each number turned up once, a winner would bring a 35-to-1 payoff in which the bettor gets 35 units in winnings and keeps his one-unit bet. That leaves 36 units on the player side of the table, and the house keeps three units for the sequence.
Divide the house’s three-unit profit by 39 units risked, and you get 0.0769. Multiply by 100 to convert to percent, and the house edge is 7.69 percent.
To go into more detail, think about the situation on bets with even-money payoffs such as red or black, odd or even, or 1-18 and 19-36.
Imagine you bet $1 on red for each spin in a 39-spin sequence in which each number came up once. Your total risk would be $39.
On the 0, 00 and 000 (or Sands logo or other special logo), you’d lose your $1. You’d also lose your bets on the 18 black numbers.
The 18 red numbers each bring $1 in winnings and you get to keep your $1 wagers. So you win $18 and keep $18 for a total of $36.
That $36 on your side of the table means the house has kept $3, and as we’ve already seen above, $3 in house profit divided by $39 in wagers, then multiplied by 100 to convert to percent, yields a 7.69 percent house edge.
You could do that exercise for every available wager, and the answer would be the same. Regardless of whether you’re betting 12-number columns, four-number corners, two-number splits or any other available bet at a triple-zero table, the house edge is 7.69 percent.
How Does the Triple Zero Roulette Advantage Compare to Double Zero Roulette?
How does that compare to double-zero roulette, the most common roulette configuration in American casinos?
Let’s try the same exercise with even-money bets at a double-zero wheel.
There are 38 numbers instead of 39, so your risk is $38 at $1 a spin in a sequence in which every number turns up once.
Bets on red and you will lose on the two zeroes and on the black numbers. On each of the 18 red numbers, you win $1 and keep your $1 bet.
Again that leaves you with $36 at the end of the sequence. Since your risk was $38, that gives the house a $2 profit.
The $2 house profit divided by the $38 risk, multiplied by 100 yields a 5.26 percent house edge.
That’s how it is for every bet on a double-zero wheel. The house edge is 5.26 percent on all but the five-number basket of 0, 00, 1, 2 and 3, where the edge is 7.89 percent.
If we ran the same exercise for single-zero wheels, we’d find all bets with a house edge of 2.7 percent.
Edges can be trimmed by special rules such as the European en prison or the Atlantic City half back rule when even-money bets run up against a zero. But basic house edges are 2.7 percent for a single-zero wheel, 5.26 percent for double-zero and 7.69 percent on triple-zero games.
If a fourth zero was added, the house edge would rise to 10 percent, and would continue to rise as more zeros or logos were added.
As long as payoffs remain at true odds for 36 numbers, each space added to roulette wheels will increase the house edge. The player’s best defense is to seek out wheels with fewer zeroes.
John Grochowski has been covering casinos and casino games for nearly 40 years. He is the author of six books
and his work appears in newspapers, magazines and websites around the world.
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