Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Playing Roulette as a Business

(In which I drop the phrase "WTF?" several times)

OK, keep laughing. Yes, Playing Roulette as a Business is the actual title of a book out there. I discovered it at the library a few weeks ago, and it's so chock full of misconseptions that I think I was irritating other library patrons with my laughter.

The system? Bet two units on one block of six numbers, bet two units on another block of six numbers, and bet one unit on the five number block of 0, 00, 1, 2, 3. If you know anything about roulette, you're already saying "WTF?!", but if not, let me explain why this is so dumb.

There's 38 slots on a roulette wheel. If you bet $1 on a single number, beat the 38:1 odds, and win, you get $35, plus keep your original $1. The difference between the $36 you get and the $38 you should is the house edge. The edge, on a percentage basis, is the $2 difference divided by the $38 you should get, which is 5.26%. That's a huge house edge -- don't play this game if you are in it to make money -- "as a business". Heh.

If you bet $1 on a six-number block and win, you'll get $5 plus your $1 back. Figuring out the payoff for almost any $1 bet is easy: it's 36 divided by the number of numbers covered. Betting on black, which covers 18 numbers? That's 36/18, so you'll get $2 ($1 won, plus your original $1).

However, the five number block of 0, 00, 1, 2, 3 only pays back $6 plus the original $1, although it should be paying $7.20 plus $1. That's the worst bet in roulette, with a 7.89% house edge.

The author says that the 6/6/5 blocks of numbers he recommends work because they're spread out around the wheel, making it more likely that they'll hit. Again, WTF? Whether the 17 numbers are scattered around the wheel or whether they're one big wedge of 17 numbers, the odds of hitting any of them are the same: 17 in 38.

He correctly disparages the Martingale system, which has you double your bets after every loss. Your bets would be 1-2-4-8-16-32-64-128 and so on. The obvious problem with the system is that when you hit a losing streak, you're betting $64 or $128 after eight or nine losses in order to win $1.

The author's solution? Use a 1-1-1-2-4-8-16-32-64-128 progression. WTF? That's just the Martingale with two extra losing sessions tacked onto the beginning. When you're in the middle of a losing "streak", the wheel doesn't know that you've lost or won the previous spin.

The most amusing part of the book came at the very, very end. On the back cover of the book is the following:

R. J. Smart is the pseudonym of a Nevada roulette croupier. He prefers to remain anonymous and hopes to earn enough royalties from sales of this book to permit expansion of his roulette activities to casinos other than the one in which he works.

WTF? The author of Playing Roulette as a Business is apparently unable to play roulette as a business, and his system apparently doesn't even give him enough bankroll to play somewhere else (WTF does that mean?).

So in conclusion, to play roulette as a business, you've got to:
1) Make the worst possible bet on the wheel
2) Follow a system that the author says not to follow
3) Trust a guy who admits that he's funding his roulette play from roulette book royalties.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Travis, I am not sure how to contact you re: wikipedia, but I am curious as to why you edited certain people out of the sports section which I had added (Tacoma). I listed several professional soccer players, all of whom are real and played professionally. Why/how do you have authority to change it, and what standards did you use?
Thanks, Terry.