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Today’s topic comes courtesy of Facebook. A friend of a friend posted that she was leaving Las Vegas happy because she was departing as a winner. She won all three spins at roulette and was done.

I was tempted to write a reply asking if she had played all 37 numbers on each spin. This would guarantee she “won,” depending on the definition of winning a particular spin.

Alternatively, she could’ve bet red on three consecutive spins and had a red number come up each time. The odds would be about 11.5% that she would win all three.

My question is, however, is this really why someone comes to Las Vegas if they are coming to gamble? There are plenty of things to do here besides gamble. I realize many people don’t realize this. They think those of us who live here must live above one of the casinos!

We have wonderful hiking trails, and Lake Mead to go boating or fishing. Most every casino on the Strip has non-gambling attractions nowadays. You can see dolphins, sharks and tigers. You can ride roller coasters and ferris wheels. You can take in an afternoon show or go shopping at a different mall every day. So, if you don’t want to gamble, you don’t have to.

My philosophy is casino gaming is a form of entertainment. The cost is quite a variable in it. You go to a movie, you know the ticket and refreshments will cost you $20-$25. At a casino, you might win, you might lose big or break even.

I have no doubt the overall enjoyment of your entertainment will be strongly tied to how you do. But, I know for myself there have been nights in which I won $20 and had less fun than a night I lost $10. If you play table games, the social experience can play a large part of how much fun you had.

If your only goal, however, is to walk away a winner, then this is not really as difficult as it sounds. You just have to understand that if this is your goal, then your entertainment value may not be that high because you probably won’t be in the casino very long.

So, here’s the big secret. Start with $10. Bet $1 on red or black or odd or even. When you are up money, you leave a winner. When your $10 is gone, you’re done and you’re going home a loser.

With this strategy, you will walk away a winner 88% of the time! What more can you ask for? You will be able to brag to all of your friends (on Facebook, of course) that you went to Las Vegas and you left winning money 8 out of 9 times!

You should realize you will be done in one spin 48% of the time. You’ll be done in 10 or less spins about 75% of the time. These will be your winners for the most part – unless you lose 10 times in a row!

You will be there for 11-50 spins an additional 20% of the time. You will win some of these, but these will be mostly losers. The final 5% will last longer than 50 spins. The good news is you’ll get your money’s worth. The bad news is most of these are going to be losers.

Once in a while you’ll have a winner out of these long sessions. The longest session took over 300 spins to resolve. It just goes to show you how long you can potentially play for just $10 (or ten times the table minimum).

Some of you might be wondering how I can write about winning 8 out of 9 times. This must be a hoax or some math trick. If this is true, the casinos would put a stop to it.

Why would I publicize this and give the casinos a head’s up instead of just running to the casino with a team of roulette players to win 8 out of 9 times!

This is actually an important separate lesson. If someone tells you he can beat the casino, he isn’t going to write about it. He’s going to put it into action and win as much money as he can from the casino. Then after the casino has caught on perhaps write about it.

In this case, I have made absolutely no assertion that you can or will beat the casino. You cannot change the long term odds of the wager you made. This wager has a payback of 97.3% and no type of bankroll manipulation or changing the length of your session can change this.

Thus 88.24% of the time you will win $1 and 11.76% you will lose $10. This leaves you down a significant amount of money. Keep in mind the payback is a percent of the total wager. You wager a lot more in a longer session than a shorter one. In my simulation of one million of these sessions, the player would’ve wagered more than 10,790,000 wagers and lost just over $290,000 or just about 2.7% of the total wager, as we would expect.

The question is, how much fun will you have playing for about one minute and winning $1 vs. two hours and losing $10? You have to answer that question for yourself.

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About the Author

Elliot Frome

Elliot Frome’s roots run deep into gaming theory and analysis. His father, Lenny, was a pioneer in developing video poker strategy in the 1980s and is credited with raising its popularity to dizzying heights. Elliot is a second generation gaming author and analyst with nearly 20 years of programming experience.

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