A shuffle through the Gaming mailbag:

Q. I know the one-roll bets in craps are supposed to be bad news, but what about the field? Both casinos near me pay 3-1 on 12 in the field, and the charts say the house edge is 2.78 percent. That beats the 4 percent if you place 5 or 9 or the 6.67 on 4 or 10, so why wouldn’t I bet the field instead of those bets?

A. You don’t have to make any of those bets. Pass, come, don’t pass, don’t come and place bets on 6 or 8 all have house edges of less than 2 percent and are better bets than any you listed.

Also, if you wanted to be on 4 or 10, you’d be better off buying instead of placing, and reducing the edge to 4.76 percent.

But to stick with the bets you asked about, there’s another factor you need to consider. The place bets are multi-roll bets that can stay in action for several rolls, while the field is a one-roll bet that needs to be replenished for each roll.

On the average, it takes 3.6 rolls to decide a place bet on 5 or 9 and four rolls to decide a place bet on 4 or 10.

If you wanted $1 on your bet for every roll, in 1,000 rolls, you’d need to bet $1,000 on the field, but only $250 on place bets on 4 or 10 and about $278 on place bets on 5 or 9.

On a per roll basis, the house edge is 1.11 percent on placing 5 or 8 and 1.67 percent on placing 4 or 10, while the field stays at 2.78.

Per $1,000 wagered, your average loss of $27.78 on the field looks lower than the $40 on placing 5 or 9 and the $66.67 on placing 4 or 10. But if you have $1 on the table on each bet for each of 1,000 rolls, the average loss of $27.78 on the field is higher than the $11.11 on placing 5 or 9 or the $16.67 on placing 4 or 10.

The need to replenish one-roll bets makes them costlier vis-a-vis multi-roll bets than a comparison of house edges might lead you to believe.

Q. Playing roulette, this guy kept making the five number bet. People kept telling him it was the worst bet at the table, and he said, “Not here. The wheel trends that way.”

A. For hundreds of years, players have been trying to find wheels that have a flaw that would make some numbers come up more than others. These things are rare, exceedingly so as long as the wheel is well-maintained.

But let’s play along and assume the player really had found a wheel where 0, 00, 1, 2 and 3 come up more than expected by random chance. He still shouldn’t make the five-number bet, because there are ways to play those numbers and get better odds.

Let’s say he bets $5 on the five-number bet. If any one of them comes up, he’s paid 6-1, so will have $30 in winnings and will keep his $5 bet for a total of $35. But if he instead bets $1 on each number, any win pays him 35-1, so he has $35 in winnings plus keeps the $1 winning bet for a total of $36.

There are other ways to bet the five numbers using streets, splits and single numbers, and all of them will pay more than making the five-number bet.

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