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Hack 39. Lose Slowly at Roulette

Hack 39. Lose Slowly at Roulette

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Figure4-1.Typicalroulettebettinglayout



Playerscanbetinalargevarietyofways,whichisonereason

rouletteissopopularincasinos.Forexample,aplayercould

placeonechipoverasinglenumber,touchingtwonumbers,on

acolor,adjacenttoacolumnof12numbers,andsoon.Like

anyotherprobabilityquestion,thechanceofrandomlygetting

thedesiredoutcomeisafunctionofthenumberofdesired

outcomes(winning)dividedbythetotalnumberofoutcomes.

Thereare38spacesonthewheeland,becauseall38possible

outcomesareequallylikely,thecalculationsarefairly

straightforward.Table4-10showsthetypesofbetsplayerscan

make,theinformationnecessarytocalculatetheoddsof

winningforasinglespinofthewheelandaone-dollarbet,the

actualamountsthecasinopaysout,andthehouseadvantage.

TableStatisticsofrouletteforeach$1bet



Typeof

wager

Single

1

number



Numberof

winning

outcomes



Numberof

losing

outcomes

37



Casino

Odds

pays

37to1



$35



House

House

edge

edge

equation





5.26

percent



Two

2

numbers



36



Single

color



18



20



Evenor

18

odd



20



Twelve

12

numbers



26



36to2

or18to1

20to18

or1.11to

1

20to18

or1.11to

1

26to12

or2.17to

1



$17







5.26

percent



$1







5.26

percent



$1







5.26

percent



$2







5.26

percent



Thehouseadvantageisfiguredbyfirstdeterminingwhatthe

casinoshouldpaybackforeachdollarbetiftherewereno

advantagetothecasino.Thefairpaybackwouldbetogivethe

winneranamountofmoneyequaltotherisktaken.The

amountofrisktakenis,essentially,thenumberofpossible

losingoutcomes.Thisactualamountpaidtothewinneristhen

subtractedfromtheamountthatshouldbepaidiftherewere

nohouseadvantage.These"extra"dollarsthatthehousekeeps

isdividedbytheproportionoftotaloutcomestowinning

outcomes.Iftherearenoextradollars,thegameisevenly

matchedbetweenplayerandcasinoandthehouseedgeis0

percent.

IfyoustudythestatisticsofrouletteinTable4-10,acoupleof

conclusionsareapparent.First,thecasinomakesitsprofitby

pretendingthatthereareonly36numbersonaroulettewheel

(i.e.,only36possibleoutcomes)andpaysoutusingthat

pretenddistribution.

Second,regardlessofthetypeofwagerthatismadeata

roulettewheel,thehouseedgeisaconstant5.26percent.This

istrueexceptforoneobscurewager,whichisallowedatmost

casinos.Playersareoftenallowedtobetonthetwozerosand

theiradjacentnumbers,1,2and3,foratotaloffivenumbers.

Thisisdonebyplacingachiptotheside,touchingboththe0



andthe1.I'dtellyoumoreaboutcheckingwiththepersonwho

spinsthewheeltomakesuretheytakethiswager,andsoon,

exceptthatthisistheworstbetattheroulettetableandno

statisticianwouldadviseit.Casinoswhoallowthisbetpayout

asifitwereabetonsixnumbers.So,thecasino'susualedge

of5.26percentisevenlargerhere:7.89percent,asshownin

Table4-11.

TableStatisticsforbettingonfivenumbersinroulette(aninadvisable

wager)



Typeof

wager



Numberof

winning

outcomes



Five

5

numbers



Numberof

losing

outcomes

33



House

House

edge

edge

equation



Casino

Odds

pays

33to5

or6.6to $6

1







7.89

percent



WhyItWorks

Roulette'spopularityisbasedpartlyonthefactthatsomany

differenttypesofwagersarepossible.Agamblerwithalotof

chipscanspreadthemoutalloverthetable,withawidevariety

ofdifferentbetsondifferentnumbersandcombinationsof

numbers.Aslongassheavoidstheworstbetatthetable(five

numbers),shecanrestassuredthattheadvantagetothe

housewillbethesamehonest5.26percentforeachofher

bets.Itisonelessthingforthegamblertoworryabout.

Thefactthatthereissuchalargevarietyofbetsthatcanbe

placedonasinglelayoutisnoluckyhappenstance,though.The

decisiontouse36numberswasawiseone,andnodoubtit

wasmadeallthoseyearsagobecauseofthelargenumberof

factorsthatgointo36.Thirty-sixcanbeevenlydividedby1,of

course,butalsoby2,3,4,6,9,12,and18,makingsomany



simplebetspossible.



Hack40.PlayintheBlackinBlackjack



Perhapsthemostpotentiallyprofitableapplicationof

statisticshackingisattheblackjacktable.

Inblackjack,theobjectofthegameistogetahandofcards

thatisclosertototaling21points(withoutgoingover)thanthe

dealer'scards.It'sasimplegame,really.Youstartwithtwo

cardsandcanaskforasmanymoreasyouwouldlike.Cards

areworththeirfacevalue,withtheexceptionoffacecards,

whichareworth10points,andAces,whichcanbeeither1or

11.

Youloseifyougoover21orifthedealeriscloserthanyou

(withoutgoingover).Thebetsareevenmoney,withthe

exceptionofgettingablackjack:twocardsthataddupto21.

Typically,yougetpaid3-to-2forhittingablackjack.Thedealer

hasanadvantageinthatshedoesn'thavetoactuntilafteryou.

Ifyoubust(goover21),shewinsautomatically.

Statisticianscanplaythisgamewiselybyusingtwosourcesof

information:thedealer'sface-upcardandtheknowledgeof

cardspreviouslydealt.Basicstrategiesbasedonprobabilitywill

letsmartplayersplayalmostevenagainstthehousewithout

havingtopaymuchattentionorlearncomplicatedsystems.

Methodsoftakingintoaccountpreviouslydealtcardsare

collectivelycalledcountingcards,andusingthesemethods

allowsplayerstohaveastatisticaladvantageoverthehouse.



U.S.courtshaveruledthatcardcountingislegalincasinos,though

casinoswishyouwouldnotdoit.Iftheydecidethatyouarecounting

cards,theymightaskyoutoleavethatgameandplaysomeother

game,ortheymightbanyoufromthecasinoentirely.Itistheirrightto

dothis.



BasicStrategy

Firstthingsfirst.Table4-12presentstheproperbasicblackjack

play,dependingonthetwo-cardhandyouaredealtandthe

dealer'supcard.Mostcasinosallowyoutosplityourhand(take

apairandsplititintotwodifferenthands)anddoubledown

(doubleyourbetinexchangeforthelimitationofreceivingjust

onemorecard).Whetheryoushouldstay,takeacard,split,or

doubledowndependsonthelikelihoodthatyouwillimproveor

hurtyourhandandthelikelihoodthatthedealerwillbust.

TableBasicblackjackstrategyagainstdealer'supcard



Yourhand

5-8

9

10-11

12

13-16

17-20

2,2

3,3

4,4

5,5

6,6

7,7

8,8

9,9

10,10

A,A

A,2

A,3orA,4

A,5

A,6



Hit

Always

2,7-A

10orA

2,3,7-A

7-A



8-A

2,8-A

2-5,7-A

10orA

7-A

8-A



2-6,8,9





2-5,7-A

2-4,7-A

2or3,7-A

2,7-A



Stay







4-6

2-6

Always

















Always













Doubledown



3-6

2-9













2-9













6

5or6

4-6

3-6



Split













2-7

3-7

6



2-6

2-7

Always

7,10,A



Always











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