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Best of Donald Catlin
Mailbag2 November 2007
Every now and then I receive a letter from a reader that is interesting but does not have enough substance to demand a whole column. Here are three such letters and I thank the writers - I'm sure my readers will enjoy them; I did.
Well, John, thousands of people pass the Zzyzx Road exit on I-15 every day so I don't think I can take credit for naming this horse. It is interesting though and I imagine a lot of people are curious about how this horse got such a strange name. Thanks for the info.
I don't know about a formula Eddie but this can be easily computed. Before I get to that, however, I have to settle the issue of the push on the 12. Some people insist that this should not be counted as the resolution of the wager; others think it should be counted since you can take the wager down when the 12 occurs. Whichever stand you take there will be critics so you can't win this argument. I am going to assume that the bet is resolved when the 12 occurs since it makes the calculations nicer.
In 36 rolls if everything happens as probability theory predicts, the 2, 3, 7, 11, 12 will occur 12 times and a point will occur 24 times. Thus 1/3 of the time the wager will be $5 and 2/3 of the time the wager will be $17. Hence the average wager will be
1/3 x 5 + 2/3 x 17 = 13
By the way, note why Eddie uses $12 to lay the odds. This number pays out an integer amount no matter what the point is. Good thinking Eddie!
A single zero Roulette game has 37 outcomes. On even money bets there are 18 ways to win and 19 ways to lose. The house edge is
18/37 - 19/37 = -1/37 = -2.7%
Notice that this is not half of the 5.26% edge on the double zero wheel but is a bit more.
The en prison rule on a single zero game is as follows. It applies only to even money bets. If the ball lands on the zero the player's wager is not lost but remains on the layout (in prison). On the next spin if the ball again lands on the zero the wager remains. Otherwise, if the player's wager is a winner his bet is returned (a push). If it is a loser the player's wager is taken.
With the en prison rule in effect there are 18 winning numbers, 18 losing numbers and one number (the zero) whose expected return is -1/2 (half the time you lose and half the time you push). The expected return is
18/37 - 18/37 - 1/37 x 1/2 = - 1/74 = -1.35%
If this machine is a single zero game with en prison then this is indeed a good game, Suzanne.
I enjoy your letters so keep them coming. See you next month.
Don Catlin can be reached at email@example.com
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Best of Donald Catlin