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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

anyotherprobabilityquestion,thechanceofrandomlygetting

thedesiredoutcomeisafunctionofthenumberofdesired

outcomes(winning)dividedbythetotalnumberofoutcomes.

Thereare38spacesonthewheeland,becauseall38possible

outcomesareequallylikely,thecalculationsarefairly

straightforward.Table4-10showsthetypesofbetsplayerscan

make,theinformationnecessarytocalculatetheoddsof

winningforasinglespinofthewheelandaone-dollarbet,the

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

casinoshouldpaybackforeachdollarbetiftherewereno

winneranamountofmoneyequaltotherisktaken.The

amountofrisktakenis,essentially,thenumberofpossible

losingoutcomes.Thisactualamountpaidtothewinneristhen

subtractedfromtheamountthatshouldbepaidiftherewere

isdividedbytheproportionoftotaloutcomestowinning

matchedbetweenplayerandcasinoandthehouseedgeis0

percent.

IfyoustudythestatisticsofrouletteinTable4-10,acoupleof

conclusionsareapparent.First,thecasinomakesitsprofitby

pretendingthatthereareonly36numbersonaroulettewheel

(i.e.,only36possibleoutcomes)andpaysoutusingthat

pretenddistribution.

roulettewheel,thehouseedgeisaconstant5.26percent.This

istrueexceptforoneobscurewager,whichisallowedatmost

casinos.Playersareoftenallowedtobetonthetwozerosand

Thisisdonebyplacingachiptotheside,touchingboththe0

spinsthewheeltomakesuretheytakethiswager,andsoon,

exceptthatthisistheworstbetattheroulettetableandno

asifitwereabetonsixnumbers.So,thecasino'susualedge

of5.26percentisevenlargerhere:7.89percent,asshownin

Table4-11.

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

ofdifferentbetsondifferentnumbersandcombinationsof

numbers.Aslongassheavoidstheworstbetatthetable(five

housewillbethesamehonest5.26percentforeachofher

Thefactthatthereissuchalargevarietyofbetsthatcanbe

placedonasinglelayoutisnoluckyhappenstance,though.The

decisiontouse36numberswasawiseone,andnodoubtit

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

areworththeirfacevalue,withtheexceptionoffacecards,

whichareworth10points,andAces,whichcanbeeither1or

11.

Youloseifyougoover21orifthedealeriscloserthanyou

(withoutgoingover).Thebetsareevenmoney,withthe

Typically,yougetpaid3-to-2forhittingablackjack.Thedealer

Ifyoubust(goover21),shewinsautomatically.

Statisticianscanplaythisgamewiselybyusingtwosourcesof

information:thedealer'sface-upcardandtheknowledgeof

cardspreviouslydealt.Basicstrategiesbasedonprobabilitywill

letsmartplayersplayalmostevenagainstthehousewithout

havingtopaymuchattentionorlearncomplicatedsystems.

Methodsoftakingintoaccountpreviouslydealtcardsare

collectivelycalledcountingcards,andusingthesemethods

U.S.courtshaveruledthatcardcountingislegalincasinos,though

casinoswishyouwouldnotdoit.Iftheydecidethatyouarecounting

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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Hack 39. Lose Slowly at Roulette

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