How Triple Zero Roulette Works and Why You Should Never Play It
About two and a half years ago, The Venetian in Las Vegas launched a new version of roulette they called Sands Roulette. They used it to replace their traditional American roulette games.
The difference between a standard American roulette game and Sands Roulette is the addition of another green 0 in the form of an S (which stands for “Sands,” but who cares?).
This increases the house edge for the game from 5.26% to 7.69%.
In exchange for this extra 0, players do get something — a lower minimum bet. At the standard roulette tables in The Venetian, the minimum bet was $15.
On the new Sands Roulette tables, the minimum bet is only $10.
Triple zero roulette, or Sands Roulette, is a terrible game that you should never play. You can compare it to 6:5 blackjack, which is another example of the casinos juicing their profits by offering games with worse odds for the player.
In blackjack, the house edge is usually less than 1%, but if you reduce the payoff for a blackjack from 3 to 2 to 6 to 5, the house edge increases by 1.5%.
The tale of Sands Roulette doesn’t end there, though. The minimum bet on the new roulette game was raised to $15 about six months after the game was introduced. And the casino, at that time, was offering both games, right next to each other.
I read a report that there were more players at the Sands Roulette table than at the standard table, which just demonstrates how ignorant most gamblers are.
Heck, if you’re going to make it easy for the casinos to win your money, they might as well take advantage of that, right?
The story continues, though.
Planet Hollywood and New York New York both decided to get into the action and started offering triple zero roulette games, too. Both of those properties are owned by Caesars and MGM, which means you can probably expect triple zero roulette at even more casinos in the future. (Most of the casinos on the Strip are owned by just a handful of large corporations.)
And according to later reports, The Venetian had eliminated standard roulette tables altogether and were only offering triple zero roulette games.
I don’t think it’s out of the question that casinos might launch quadruple zero roulette games at some point in the future, either.
The best defense against that is to educate players as to how roulette works and what the zeros mean to the players.
How the Casino Wins at Roulette
Most of the posts I write about roulette talk about the standard version of the game as it’s played in Las Vegas. This roulette variation has 38 numbers on the wheel, and two of them are green — the 0 and the 00.
Another variation of roulette has only 37 numbers on the wheel, and only one of them is green. This is called a single-zero roulette game.
It’s the 0 (or the 0 and the 00) which gives the house its edge in roulette, and it’s impossible to beat that edge.
The payouts would be break-even propositions IF the 0s weren’t on the wheel.
Here’s the most basic example.
On an American roulette wheel, you can bet on black. There are 18 black and 18 red numbers on a roulette wheel.
If the green 0 and the green 00 weren’t there, you’d eventually break even betting on black because that bet pays even money.
Half the time, you’d win, and the other half, you’d lose.
But with the 0 and the 00, you’ll win somewhat less than half the time, and you’ll lose somewhat more than half the time.
- You’ll win 18/38 of the time, or 47.37% of the time
- You’ll lose 20/38 of the time, or 52.63% of the time
- Bet $100 every time, and you’ll lose $2,000 and win $1,800, for a total of $200
Sure, sometimes you’ll get lucky and win more often. Other times, you’ll have bad luck and win less often.
But over time, you’ll wind up losing an average of $5.26 per spin. (That’s $200 divided by 38 spins.)
And that’s what we mean when we say that the game has a house edge of 5.26%.
How Much Money Can You Lose Playing Roulette?
That depends on how much money you bring with you and how much money you bet.
But statistically, you can look at some interesting predictions based on the probability behind the game.
If you bring $500 to the casino with you and bet it all on one spin, you can lose $500 right away.
On the other hand, if you only bet $15 per spin, you can predict how much you’ll lose per hour based on the house edge and how many spins per hour you see.
At a standard roulette game with a house edge of 5.26%, the casino expects you to lose (on average, in the long run) 5.26% of all the money you wager.
If you place 30 bets at $15 per bet, you’re putting $450 into action.
The casino expects to win 5.26% of that, so your expected loss is $23.67.
For an hour’s entertainment at a nice casino, that might be a pretty good deal. That’s for you to decide.
But with this triple zero roulette, the house edge increases from 5.26% to 7.69%.
This means that in an average hour, wagering the same amount of money, you’re looking at an average loss of $34.61.
That’s not nearly as attractive of a deal, is it?
Why Does the House Edge Go Up So Much With Sands Roulette?
We can run the same calculation with Sands Roulette that we did with standard American roulette.
You now have 39 possible outcomes. Three of them are green 0s (essentially), and the other 36 possible outcomes are the other numbers.
- A bet on black now wins 18/39 of the time, or 46.15% of the time
- A bet on red now wins 21/39 of the time, or 53.85% of the time
- If you bet $100 on 39 spins, you’d win $1,800, but you’d lose $2,100, resulting in a net loss of $300 instead of a net loss of $200
This time, though, you must divide the net loss by 39 spins instead of 38 spins.
The result is $7.69, which is the same thing as 7.69%.
That extra losing possibility changes the odds dramatically.
Why You Should Refuse to Play Triple Zero Roulette
I always suggest that people think of casino gambling as a form of entertainment with a cost. It’s just a product with a price, and that price is normally 5.26%.
But the casinos are trying to raise the price to 7.69%.
And if gamblers indicate they’re willing to pay that extra amount, they’ll continue to raise that price.
The best way to prevent that is to refuse to pay it.
There’s precedent for this kind of thing.
In the late 1960s and early 1970s, casinos made a big deal out of changing the rules conditions for blackjack in an attempt to thwart card counters.
But enough players refused to play that the casinos had to relent and go back to the old rules.
Other Ways Casinos Raise the House Edge for Various Casino Games
Earlier in this post, I mentioned 6:5 blackjack. That’s a great example of how casinos raise the price on their casino games.
In a standard blackjack game, a two-card hand totaling 21 is the prize. It’s called a “blackjack” or a “natural,” and it pays off at 3 to 2 odds.
In other words, for every $2 you risked, the casino pays you off $3 instead of even money.
But in 6:5 blackjack, they pay you $6 for every $5 you risk, which is a significant difference. In fact, it’s such a big difference that it increases the house edge from around 1% to over 3%.
And if you’re not wagering multiples of $5, it’s even worse because they only pay the 6 to 5 on your multiples of $5. Anything over that gets paid off at even money to avoid having to use smaller-denomination chips.
So if you bet $8 on a hand of blackjack, you’d get your 6 to 5 payout on the $5, which would be $6. But you’d only get $3 (even money) on the other $3, for a total payout of only $9.
So in effect, you’d only be getting a 9 to 8 payout.
My advice to gamblers is to avoid these games, too, and stick to the best blackjack games you can find.
Vegas Casinos Aren’t the Only Ones Gouging Their Customers
I live near Oklahoma, and in the last year, they’ve made it legal to play with cards, dice, and wheels. So you can now play blackjack, craps, and roulette in Oklahoma casinos.
But casinos in Oklahoma charge you a fee just to place a bet. They call it an ante, but don’t be confused by this misuse of the word. It’s a fee.
Usually, they charge 50 cents per bet.
If you’re playing blackjack for $5 per hand, you’re losing an additional 50 cents per hand. It’s impossible to win that 50 cents, no matter what happens.
This increases the house edge by a whopping 10%.
You can mitigate the effect of the fee by playing for higher stakes.
For example, if you bet $20 per hand instead of $5 per hand, that 50 cents only represents an increase of 2.5%.
But when you’re dealing with a game that has a house edge of 1%, that’s a significant increase.
I’d almost rather play 6:5 blackjack.
This same 50-cent fee applies to roulette bets and craps bets, too.
An ante, by the way, is a forced bet in a poker game that drives the action. If no one had to place an ante bet, you’d only get action on premium hands, which would make the game unbearably dull.
The difference between a real ante and this so-called ante that the Oklahoma casinos charge is that the ante goes in the pot. It’s just another bet, which means you have an opportunity to win it and get it back.
That’s not the case with the “ante” in blackjack games in Oklahoma casinos that charge.
The casinos claim that the state is forcing them to charge this fee, but that’s not correct. The state charges the casino a tax on each hand, but there’s no requirement that the casino “pass this cost” on to the customer.
That’s a business decision on the part of the Oklahoma casinos.
Last time I was at the Winstar, though, so many people were at the blackjack and craps tables that I couldn’t get near them to play the games.
So this “ante” isn’t causing enough people to stop playing that the casinos have any motivation to stop charging it.
Of course, if you take my arguments against triple zero roulette to their ultimate conclusion, you’ll refuse to play any casino game.
After all, what difference does it make what the house edge is?
If the house has an edge, they literally have an unfair advantage. That’s how the casinos stay in business, and if you play long enough, you’ll eventually lose all your money.
But there’s a difference when you start thinking of these games in terms of their cost as entertainment.
Is it worth it to play a game that costs $20 per hour?
Is the exact same game, sitting right next to the first game, worth $30 per hour?
Obviously, you’d go with the game that costs less per hour to play.
But so few gamblers even understand the rudiments of how the math behind the games work that casinos are able to offer the same game with worse odds right next to it and still have more players at the worse version of the game.
This makes sense (sort of) when it comes to slot machines because the math behind the game isn’t readily apparent.
But anyone contrasting double zero roulette with triple zero roulette ought to be able to figure out — with little difficulty — which game is better.
And the dramatic change in favor of the casino should be obvious, too — even if you don’t map out all the math.
So here are two pieces of advice about triple zero roulette.
- Don’t play it
- Learn enough about casino games to understand why you shouldn’t
Keep reading our blog if you want an education in how casino games work mathematically along with lots of other useful gambling-related information and advice. And be sure to check out our list of recommended online casinos before playing your favorite casino games on the web.