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Best of John G. Brokopp

Gaming Guru

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A Look at Roulette

14 July 1999

The game of roulette isn't nearly as intimidating as craps. There's a good chance you may even have played it at home with a miniature plastic version of the roulette wheel and a felt layout. The basic premise of the game is picking numbers, or guessing red or black or odd or even. Today we'll take a look at Roulette with an emphasis on the wide variety of bets that are available to you.

For openers, let's make it clear right off the bat that the house "vig" in roulette is about 5.25 percent. That's because in addition to numbers 1 through 36, including an equal number of blacks and reds, the American roulette wheel has two green slots marked "0" and "00". You'll see how that factors into the scheme of things as we describe the different kinds of roulette wheel wagers.

When you walk up to a roulette wheel and decide to play, place your money on the layout. The dealer will give you non-negotiable casino chips with which to play. Every person at the table plays with different colored chips so that the dealer knows who's who when it comes time to make pay outs. At most Chicago-area riverboat casino destinations, the value of the chips is one dollar each. Therefore, a $20 buy-in will give you 20 roulette chips with which to play. When you are finished playing, just tell the dealer you wish to "color" your chips. He'll bring them in, count them, and give you negotiable casino chips that you may in turn redeem for cash at the casino cage.

Here's how the game is played: Once everyone has placed their bets, the dealer gives the wheel a spin and then sends the little roulette ball spinning in the opposite direction the wheel is turning. When the ball finally slows down , it'll eventually drop into a numbered slot. The dealer will mark the corresponding number on the layout and proceed to collect losing chips and then pay out winning wagers, if any.

One word about roulette etiquette: Do not make any new bets or collect your winnings until the dealer has removed his marker from the layout! If you attempt to do so, you'll be given a friendly reminder that's it's a no-no. Once he removes his marker from the winning number, that's the signal for the table to start placing their wagers on the next spin.

If you make a nice score at the wheel, it's a nice gesture to tip the dealer a buck or two. Just toss in a couple of your colored roulette chips, and the dealer will convert them into negotiable casino chips and drop them in the "toke" box.

Now let's check out the types of roulette wheel wagers:

STRAIGHT UP: A bet on one number. If it hits, you'll be paid 35-1. Since there are 38 spots on the roulette wheel, the true mathematical pay out is 37-1, but here's where the casino takes its unbeatable edge.

SPLIT: A bet on two numbers that pays 17-1.

STREET: A bet on three numbers that pays 11-1.

CORNER: A bet on four numbers that pays 8-1.

FIRST FIVE: A bet on the first five numbers (0,00,1,2,3). It carries a FAT house "vig", higher than the 5.25 on all other roulette wheel bets. DON'T MAKE THIS WAGER!

SIDE STREET: A bet on six numbers that pays 5-1.

COLUMN: A bet on one of three columns of numbers that pays 2-1.

DOZEN: A bet on the first dozen numbers (1 through 12), second dozen (13 through 24), or third dozen (25 through 36) that pays 2-1.

Then there are the even money betting propositions of RED/BLACK, ODD/EVEN, and HIGH (1 through 18) or LOW (19 through 36).

The even money and 2-1 bets are clearly labeled on the layout. The other wagers require you to place your chips in certain ways. It won't take you long to catch on, and the dealer will be most helpful in assisting you. Just ask!

John G. Brokopp

John G. Brokopp's gaming column appears in Chicago Sun Times (Chicago, Illinois), The Times (Northwest Indiana), The Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa), The Courier News (Elgin, Illinois), The Gazette (Southwest Suburban Chicago) and Senior Wire (Denver, CO). He's also a regular contributor to The Colorado Gambler, Midwest Gaming & Travel, Casino Player and Strictly Slots. John possesses 28 years of experience as a professional handicapper, publicist, freelance writer, and casino gaming correspondent. He is also the author of two very popular books, The Insider’s Guide to Internet Gambling and Thrifty Gambling.

Books by John G. Brokopp:

> More Books By John G. Brokopp

John G. Brokopp
John G. Brokopp's gaming column appears in Chicago Sun Times (Chicago, Illinois), The Times (Northwest Indiana), The Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa), The Courier News (Elgin, Illinois), The Gazette (Southwest Suburban Chicago) and Senior Wire (Denver, CO). He's also a regular contributor to The Colorado Gambler, Midwest Gaming & Travel, Casino Player and Strictly Slots. John possesses 28 years of experience as a professional handicapper, publicist, freelance writer, and casino gaming correspondent. He is also the author of two very popular books, The Insider’s Guide to Internet Gambling and Thrifty Gambling.

Books by John G. Brokopp:

> More Books By John G. Brokopp