As the Wheel Turns

Dear Mark,

Occasionally you will describe a specific bet on the roulette table and its
house advantage. How about a guide for us beginners on the names of wagers
offered, payoffs, and their casino advantage? Janice B.

The easiest part of your question, Janice, is what the house edge is in roulette. With the exception of the Five-number bet, all wagers on an American Wheel (this is the wheel that offers both 0, 00), give the casino an advantage of 5.26%. The European roulette wheel, with its single 0, has a house edge of only 2.70%. So, which wheel do you think this columnist would recommend you to play on? Undoubtedly, you guessed right. The European roulette with its 2.7% house advantage.

Before doing the nitty-gritty on American wheel bets betting for the newbies, here's a language bit on some casino jargon.

"Inside" bets are those involving any number from 1-36, 0 or 00, or a combination of any of these numbers. "Outside" bets are outside the 1-36, 0, 00 real estate and include "Dozen" bets, "Column" bets and "Even-money" wagers.

- The Straight-Up Bet: The player is betting that a particular one of 38
numbers, from 1-26, 0, 00, will come up. He or she places the wagered money
directly on that number.
Payoff: 35 to 1, True Odds: 37 to 1, Probability: 2.63%, Casino Edge: 5.26%

- The Split Bet (also called a two-number bet): The bettor wagers on two
adjacent numbers on the layout. Bets are placed to overlap the two numbers.
With a split bet you have twice the chance of winning, but the payoff is half
as much.
Payoff: 17 to 1, True Odds: 18 to 1, Probability: 5.26%, Casino Edge: 5.26%

- The Street Bet: Players are wagering that one of three numbers will come
up, such as 4, 5, 6 or 22, 23, 24.
Payoff: 11 to 1, True Odds: 11.67 to 1, Probability: 7.89%, Casino Edge: 5.26%

- The Corner Bet: Bets are placed at the intersection of lines between any
four numbers that form a square. An example would be 1, 2, 4 and 5.
Payoff: 8 to 1, True Odds: 8.5 to 1, Probability: 10.53%, Casino Edge: 5.26%

- The Five-Number Bet: There is only one five-number bet on the layout: 0,
00, 1, 2, and 3. It is the worst bet on the roulette table, with a house edge
50 percent higher than any other wager.
Payoff: 6 to 1, True Odds: 6.6 to 1, Probability: 13.16%, Casino Edge: 7.89%

- The Line Bet: With a line bet you are betting that one of six numbers will
appear. Bets are placed on the intersection of two adjacent rows of three
numbers, such as, 1, 2, 3, and 4, 5, 6.
Payoff: 5 to 1, True Odds: 5.33 to 1, Probability: 15.79%, Casino Edge: 5.26%

- Dozen bets: The roulette table is divided into three sets of 12 numbers,
the first (from 1-12), the second (from 13-24), and third (from 25-36). You
bet that a particular number will include the winning number.
Payoff: 2 to 1, True Odds: 2.17 to 1, Probability: 31.58%, Casino Edge: 5.26%

- Column: Like the dozen bet, a column bet is a wager on 12 numbers
contained in any one of the three long columns of numbers located at the
opposite end of the wheel.
Payoff: 2 to 1, True Odds: 2.17 to 1, Probability: 31.58%, Casino Edge: 5.26%

- Even money: There are three types of even-money bets and they pay 1 to 1.
You can place a bet on high (19-36) or low (1-18) numbers, red or black, or
odd or even.
Payoff: 1 to 1, True Odds: 1.11 to 1, Probability: 47.37%, Casino Edge: 5.26%

Gambling thought of the week: "North Vegas is where you go if you're a hooker turning forty and the syndicate men on the strip decide you're no longer much good for business out there with the high rollers." - Hunter S. Thompson