John Grochowski

John Grochowski John Grochowski John Grochowski John Grochowski

A shuffle through the Gaming mailbag:

Q. Have you heard about the new Sands Roulette game at the Venetian? Above the 0 and 00 there is another green space that has a capital “S” and a Sands logo.

Is that a game they had at the old Sands that they’re bringing back? Besides having an extra bet, does it change the game?

A. The Venetian stands on the site of the old Sands Las Vegas resort, but Sands Roulette is not a revival of an old Sands staple. This is a triple-zero roulette game with the logo functioning as a third zero. That increases the house edge.

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 edge.

At Sands 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.

In the past, I’ve seen triple-zero roulette games only at charity casino nights, where all the games gave the house an extra edge. In a commercial casino, I wouldn’t even consider playing with an extra 0.

Q. Three Card Poker question: I was playing at a table that had a 50-1 payoff on mini-royals. It also paid 40 on other straight flushes, 30 on three of a kind, 6 on straights, 3 on flushes and 1 on pairs.

How much does the mini-royal bring down the house edge? Also, how often do you get a mini-royal? I’ve never seen a royal in five-card games like Caribbean Stud, but another player got one at Three Card Poker the night I played.

A. Just to avoid any confusion, the question here applies to the Pair Plus portion of Three Card Poker, not to the ante-bet portion where you play against the dealer. In Pair Plus, you’re paid on any hand of a pair or better.

The pay table you describe is the most commonly used, except that most tables don’t have the larger payoff on mini-royals. Instead, Ace-King-Queen of the same suit is treated the same as any other straight flush and paid 40-1. Under those conditions, the house edge on Pair Plus is 7.28 percent.

Given the 50-1 mini-royal payoff you found, the house edge is reduced to 7.10 percent. So layering the mini-royal payoff onto the common pay table reduces the house edge by 0.18 percent.

There are 22,100 possible three-card hands in which card order doesn’t matter. Of those, four are mini-royals — one in each suit. So your chances of being dealt a mini-royal are 1 in 5,525. That makes it a fairly rare hand, but an attainable one. Those who play a lot of Three Card Poker will see one from time to time.

Royals in five-card stud games are much rarer events. In five-card games, there are 2,598,960 possible hands in which card order doesn’t matter. Four of those are royals, so your chances of being dealt a royal are 1 in 649,740. Many who play five-card stud games will go a lifetime without ever seeing one.

Sign up to receive the area's top entertainment headlines delivered to your inbox every Thursday.