A shuffle through the Gaming mailbag:
Q. I was reading your article that showed the questioner that changing the zeroes to numbers 37 and 38 wouldn’t change the odds.
However, that would make the odds disappear on the even money bets of even/odd and red/black, assuming that one of the numbers would be red and the other black.
Then, in aggregate, the even money bets, holding no house edge, would significantly reduce the total house edge, and unless the house required a “house edge” bet in conjunction with the no-house edge bet. Kind of like requiring a pass line bet before an odds bet in craps), no one would play individual numbers.
Just thinking, that’s another reason to use 0, 00, and the color green.
A. The reader refers to a column in which I explained that the house gets its edge in roulette by paying winners less than true odds. Including 0 and 00 along with 1 through 36, there are 38 numbers on a standard American roulette wheel. True odds against any given number coming up are 37-1, but the payoff is only 35-1.
To clarify that there are 38 numbers, you could re-label 0 and 00 as 37 and 38, and as long as the payoff remains 35-1, the house has its 5.26 percent edge.
Casinos would have to adjust for bets with even-money payoffs, including red or black and odd or even. Presently, 0 and 00 are on green backgrounds and are neitherred nor black, odd nor even.
Even-money bets lose on the zeroes. If you bet on black, you win on the 18 black winners but lose on the 18 reds and on the two zeroes. The house has an edge because it pays even money but the zeroes bring the true odds to 20-18 against either red or black winning.
To keep that edge, the house couldn’t just make 37 another odd number and 38 another even, nor could it make one red and one black. There are many ways to adjust, but the easiest would be to put two numbers in green and make them red/black losers.
Another even-money payoff bet could be left alone. Bets labeled 1 through 18 and 19 through 36 could stay exactly the same, because 37 and 38 fall outside their parameters. The house can declare 37 and 38 losers on the even-money bets just as easily as it can collect on 0 and 00.
Q. I decided to try Mississippi Stud, and on one of my first hands I was dealt a pair of 8s. That’s just a push, but I knew enough to stay and see if it would improve. So I matched my first $10 bet.
There were two other players. They both told me I wanted to bet three times my bet and that I wanted to bet 3x on every raise opportunity.
They seemed to know what they were doing, so I followed their advice. I’m glad I did. The community card added a pair of 6s, so I had two pairs and got paid 2-1 on all my 3x bets.
The game moved on, so I’m asking you. It must have been the right move to make, but why is it right to bet so much on a hand that’s just a push from the start.
A. Your hand may have been only a push from start, but it was a hand on which you couldn’t lose.
If community cards didn’t improve the hand, the worst that would happen is that you got your money back. Making maximum bets was a no-risk opportunity at a big payoff.
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