John Grochowski

John Grochowski John Grochowski John Grochowski John Grochowski

A shuffle through the Gaming mailbag:

Q. Does every slot reel have to have the same number of each symbol? Do they all have to have some of each symbol? Could a machine make sure no one can win a five of a kind jackpot by having none of the jackpot symbol on the last reel?

A. Let’s take your last question first. Any advertised jackpot has to be available. If the machine’s pay table lists a payoff for five of a kind with at least one of the same symbol on each reel, then it must be possible to get five of a kind. The game maker is not permitted to include a fifth reel with none of the symbols that would complete the combination.

Now to backtrack, not every reel has to have the same number of each symbol. You can see that easily on games such as Jackpot Party that have bonus trigger symbols only on the first, third and fifth reels. The second and fourth reels don’t have the bonus triggers, and therefore have other symbols in different numbers than on reels 1, 3 and 5.

That’s legal because there is no advertising a bigger payoff or enhanced bonus for four or five bonus triggers. The games specify that it takes three symbols and that they appear on reels 1, 3 and 5.

Such bonus games are an obvious example, but other games can have reel symbols in different proportions. Manufacturers don’t have to put the same number of symbols on each reel. But they can’t leave reels void of symbols and make it impossible to get a winning combination that is advertised on the pay table.

Q. On a trip to Las Vegas at the Excalibur Casino I was looking, I noted the numbers on the roulette wheel were in a different order than I was use to. To my surprise when I

looked at the top of the number board I saw 3 zeros at the top, 0, 00, and 000!

I never saw that before so I asked the dealer if that paid off at different odds since there were more possible outcomes. The dealer said no. So I asked why anyone in their right mind would play this wheel. He just shrugged his shoulders. Was I wrong in my thought process or is there something here I am not aware of?

A. Triple zero roulette or its equivalent with a house symbol instead of a 000 has been around for a couple of years. It first came to my attention at the Venetian where it was called Sands Roulette, with a Sands logo standing in for the 000.

You are correct that the house edge is higher with the extra zeroes and no increase in payoffs.

Most roulette wheels in the United States have 38 numbers, with 1 through 36 plus 0 and 00. Payoffs would be at true odds if there were only 36 numbers, but the house has an edge because of the extra possibilities. Single-number bets pay 35-1, but true odds are 37-1. That gives the house a 5.26 percent.

At triple-zero roulette, single-number bets still pay 35-1, but because there are 39 spaces on the wheel, the true odds are 38-1. That increases the house edge to 7.69 percent.

That applies to other bets, too. Two-number splits, three-number streets, four-number corners, six-number double streets, columns, dozens, red or black, odd or even – the house edge is 7.69 percent.

Even the double-zero version has a house edge higher than most table games. Add a triple-zero, and roulette is a game to avoid.

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