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Best of Donald Catlin

Gaming Guru

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Questions from the mailbag

8 March 2008

Over the past couple of months I've received several letters from my readers. Here are three such.

Somewhere I read about an expert(?) gambler that charts the craps table. Isn't this heresy for number guys like yourself? The dice or table cannot remember. So why does his method make sense, unless it is used strictly to spot the mythical "controlled shooter"? Do you believe in the controlled shooter? Dave

Dave, you are right, it makes no sense. Yes, I believe there are controlled shooters around; in fact I know some of them. Controlled shooting is not easy so there are not many of them. As far as spotting a controlled shooter all you need are eyeballs. If you have studied controlled shooting then you know what the set, grip, and delivery should look like. Once you identify these features then it is simply a matter of evaluating the shooters skill level, i.e., do the dice land on the right spot and behave as intended.

Good morning Mr. Catlin, love your articles. I have been reading them on line for a while now. I found a system on you tube for on-line roulette. Can you look at it and tell me what you think? (Peter provides the address here but I am going to omit it.) I figure with your expertise in gaming you can figure out if this is legit.

Regards, Peter

I took a look at the site and realized though it had fancy graphics it provided no useful information. Ostensibly it appeared to be marketing a book which I'm positive is useless. What is worse, however, is that they ask for your name and email address so it might actually be some sort of phishing site. Anyway Peter, I'd steer clear if I were you.

Dear Don,

Read your odds article.

Here is a question:

A roulette player places straight bets on ten individual numbers. As you know the odds are 35 to 1. He uses table color one-unit chips. The total amount bet is $10, which is the minimum table bet. One of his bets wins returning 35 plus his 1 winning bet. He lost 9 units as only one number can win. Therefore he lost $9 from $35 giving him a profit of $26. The true odds are really 26 to 1 or if he played 20 numbers the true odds would be 16 to 1. Do you agree with these two statements?

Sorry but I do not agree. There are 38 spaces on the wheel. 10 of these win and 28 lose so true odds would be 28 to 10 or 2.8 to 1. The actual odds are 26 to 10 or 2.6 to 1. You can check this answer by computing the expected return:

exp = 2.6 x(10/38) - 28/38 = - 2/38 = - 5.26%

which is the standard house edge for Roulette.

Thanks for the letters guys; I enjoy getting them. See you next month.


Don Catlin can be reached at 711cat@comcast.net

Donald Catlin

Don Catlin is a retired professor of mathematics and statistics from the University of Massachusetts. His original research area was in Stochastic Estimation applied to submarine navigation problems but has spent the last several years doing gaming analysis for gaming developers and writing about gaming. He is the author of The Lottery Book, The Truth Behind the Numbers published by Bonus books.

Books by Donald Catlin:

Lottery Book: The Truth Behind the Numbers
Donald Catlin
Don Catlin is a retired professor of mathematics and statistics from the University of Massachusetts. His original research area was in Stochastic Estimation applied to submarine navigation problems but has spent the last several years doing gaming analysis for gaming developers and writing about gaming. He is the author of The Lottery Book, The Truth Behind the Numbers published by Bonus books.

Books by Donald Catlin:

Lottery Book: The Truth Behind the Numbers