Category Archives: Roulette

Venetian Sticks It to Players with Triple Zero Sands Roulette

It appears all bets are off when it comes to casinos coming up with clever ways to increase profits. Venetian Las Vegas recently introduced Sands Roulette, a game almost identical to traditional roulette, but with an insidious twist, a triple zero.

Most roulette tables in the U.S. have a zero and double zero. Those games have a house advantage of 5.2%. Not the worst game in a casino, but fairly hefty when compared to games like blackjack and baccarat.

Occasionally, you can find a European roulette table, with just a zero, and the house edge
dips down to 2.7%. In Las Vegas, those tables tend to be reserved for high rollers.

Sands Roulette at Venetian, with 0-00-000, means there are more ways for a player to lose,
and the house advantage jumps up to 7.7% (7.69% to be exact, but let’s not get bogged
down in details).

We’d love to show you a photo of the Sands Roulette table layout, but photography is
strictly forbidden at live tables in the Venetian. Therefore, we aren’t able to share the
photo below.

Triple Zero Sands Roulette

Sadly, this isn’t Photoshopped. It actually exists.

Yes, the bean counters are at it again.

While a 2.5% increase in the house edge may not seem like a lot at first glance, it
amounts to a huge windfall for the casino over the course of thousands, or hundreds of thousands, of spins.

The frustrating part about this particular revenue enhancement strategy is it’s
implemented in a way that seems underhanded. You won’t see a triple zero on the table, but
rather the triple zero is represented with an “S” and the Sands logo. The Venetian is owned by Las Vegas Sands Corp.

Sands Roulette intentionally takes advantage of less experienced players. One Venetian
staffer even said, aloud, “Tourists and conventioneers don’t really care.”

That opinion seemed to be confirmed by the fact the Sands Roulette table (there’s only one
in the casino at this point) was packed during our visit.

That same floor person admitted, “We try new table games for 90 days and evaluate the
results. If it tanks, it’ll go away.” Good to know, although much like 6-to-5 blackjack
(for many years, the game payed 3-to-2), sometimes such “innovations” never go away.

The Venetian staffer followed up with something rather ominous. He said, “If it increases
the drop, they’ll probably try adding another space.”

We’ll let that particular brand of WTF sink in for a moment.

Triple zero Sands Roulette

Sorry, we can’t show you this photo, either. Our hands are tied!

That’s right. Not only is the Venetian exploring new ways to stick it to us, they’re open to upping the ante. Let’s do this until we see what the pain point is, they seem to be saying.

Deep breaths.

Look, we don’t begrudge casinos the ability to increase profits. They’re doing it with paid parking and reduced liquor pour sizes and comp drink monitoring systems.

But is it too much to ask to not muck with a timeless, iconic casino table game? Seriously, WWJBS? (What would James Bond say?)

As mentioned, there’s currently only one triple zero table at Venetian, and we’re not
aware of any others in Las Vegas. It would surprise no one if triple zero games started
popping up at competing casinos in the very near future.

The Sands Roulette table had a $10 minimum, while all the other roulette tables had a $15 limit. One could make the argument the triple zero is a “surcharge” for the “lower” table minimum. Or not.

Will the average Las Vegas visitor realize they’re being dinged when they play the triple
zero Sands Roulette? Will knowing about it keep them from playing? We suspect not. Recreational gamblers don’t obsess over things like odds. These are the same folks playing the Big Six wheel, with one of the biggest house edges in a casino (as much as 24%, the mind reels).

Taken alone, Sands Roulette’s triple zero at Venetian Las Vegas isn’t the end of the world. But it does feel like another symbol of how casinos seem to be jeopardizing long-term trust and loyalty for short-term gain. With each new fee or detrimental change to a game, casinos run the risk of damaging the public perception of Las Vegas as a value-driven destination.

The opining about this state of affairs isn’t limited to us, of course. Our friend Sam Novak at VegasBright.com has a few thoughts well worth a look.

Ultimately, we decide what games succeed or fail. So, choose wisely.

Thanks to Marc Meltzer of EdgeVegas.com and the eagle-eyed folks at the Wizard of Vegas
forum for tipping us off to the unfortunate existence of Sands Roulette at Venetian Las Vegas.

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One of Those Magical Las Vegas Moments

One of the reasons we love Las Vegas so much is its undeniable magic. Not the kind of magic with doves or mirrors. The real kind. The kind that keeps the dream that is Las Vegas alive and kicking.

So, we were recently at the California casino, downtown, and had been playing roulette about an hour. We were up about $100. Which is pretty magical, but that’s not the magic we’re discussing here.

California Hotel

Unrelated: Was that traffic light really necessary? It messes with our neon mojo.

After that hour, we’d gotten to know the dealer a little, and our fellow players. Building that rapport makes the game even more fun. Then a young guy strides up and slaps a green $25 chip on one number.

After you’ve been in casinos awhile, you get used to seeing that kind of random behavior. Often, it’s annoying. Those “hit it and quit it” gamblers can disrupt the flow of the table, and often don’t tip, for whatever reason. You also kind of get used to those one-off players getting spanked, hard. Especially if someone bets on just one number in roulette.

That $25 bet was the only one this guy made, just the one, out of the blue. On 23. Then this happened.

roulette

Boom. The casino staff was so taken aback, they forget to kick us out for taking a photo.

There was a collective stunned silence as the number 23 was called. Then there was bedlam. The other players at the table roared, and this guy’s friends roared. He just sort of smiled, as if he’d known what was going to happen all along.

The bet paid $875. He tipped the dealer $25, and began to walk away. The dealer said, “Sir, you have a $25 chip still on the table.” The player said, “Keep that, too.”

After this magical moment, we learned the guy’s name is Ken, and he and his friends were visiting from West Covina, California.

The whole episode had us all shaking our heads for the rest of the session.

Yes, the odds are stacked against us. Everyone knows that. Yes, the casino almost always wins. But sometimes, Lady Luck intercedes, and that “almost” clears the way for us to win, too.

When those moments happen, and they happen more frequently than you’d think, it’s as close as it gets to real magic. Voila.

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Riverboat Roulette at Golden Gate Lends a Colorful New Twist to a Classic Game

A new take on roulette was recently unveiled at Golden Gate casino, downtown, called Riverboat Roulette. We’re pleased to say we were momentarily able to divert our eyes away from the go-go dealers to give it a whirl.

Riverboat Roulette

Let’s gamble and stuff.

This “new” version of roulette isn’t exactly revolutionary, as the basics of the game remain intact. Riverboat Roulette does provide some interesting new side bets, as well as an eye-catching layout (above) and tricked-out ball “pockets.”

Riverboat Roulette

Behold, the first overtly LGBT-friendly roulette wheel in Las Vegas.

We were the first-ever customer to make a bet on the live game at Golden Gate (where it’s available exclusively), so from here on out, please treat us with the respect we so richly deserve.

Riverboat Roulette made its first appearance at the 2012 Global Gaming Expo and was named one of the “Top New Table Games of 2013” by Casino Journal. No, really, they didn’t just make that up.

So, here’s the deal.

Beyond the basic game of roulette, Riverboat Roulette offers color-coded side bets that pay varying amounts based upon the color. Bet blue, if blue hits, you win. Same with the other colors, except for white. If you bet on a color other than white, and white hits, you lose your bet. There are eight white spaces.

Riverboat Roulette

We’d do the math, but you know, Captain Morgan.

But here’s the cool part. If you bet blue and teal hits, your bet doesn’t go anywhere, it’s a “push.” That’s what makes this a “multi-spin” game. If you hit another color, other than blue, the bet keeps going. That cycle continues until you hit your color (win!) or white (not so much!).

Riverboat Roulette

People with too much time on their hands will note there’s no chip under the marker. It was a re-enactment.

When you bet on white, it’s a one-spin bet. Any other color sends your bet home crying to its mommy.

Riverboat Roulette

We’re 99% sure you’ll never need to know this unless you get a much better job.

The payouts are as follows: Blue and orange pay 7-to-5, purple and pink pay 8-to-5, teal and yellow pay 2-to-1. White pays 7-to-2.

We’d love to get into the nitty-gritty of these payouts and house edges, but we have things to do, so we’ll just say, “The odds aren’t particularly in your favor.” Then again, you know, casino.

Riverboat Roulette

We just like to blur backgrounds sometimes.

Other than that, Riverboat Roulette adds a little flair to a classic game, and while we didn’t have much success, we suggest you give it a try because it’s at Golden Gate, and the Golden Gate is the best thing since sliced bread, although if you think about it, sliced bread doesn’t provide epic free cocktails and eye candy. So, suck it, sliced bread.

Golden Gate Las Vegas

Golden Gate trivia: The Golden Gate was assigned the first phone number in Las Vegas. The number was 1.

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Five Ways to Not Piss Off a Las Vegas Dealer

Being a dealer in a Las Vegas casino can be a sweet gig. You meet interesting new people every day, the financial rewards can be substantial and you get to be an ambassador not only for your casino but also Las Vegas, the most exciting city on Earth.

There are challenges to being a dealer, too, of course, and a lot of that’s on us.

We grilled a dealer, Michael Nguyen, co-owner of a new dealer school, Casino Entertainment Group (CEG), and got him to spill about the things that tick dealers off, and how we can avoid them.

craps game

We’re about to get told.

5. Don’t Blame Dealers If You Lose

Gambling is a numbers game, and the house always has the advantage. Nevertheless, dealers make a convenient target when players need to vent about their bad fortune.

“We hear people say things like ‘unbelievable’ or ‘Can you believe that?’ every other hand,” says Nguyen. “We’ve dealt thousands of hands. Don’t get upset if your 17 in blackjack doesn’t beat the dealer. People must realize the odds aren’t always in their favor. They can’t expect to win every hand.”

One of the worst things about players taking their frustrations out on dealers, often to the point of verbal abuse or worse, is dealers aren’t allowed to defend themselves. A dealer who gets combative with a player, even if it’s deserved, risks losing their job. So, they just have to take it. Only jerks and cowards beat up on those who aren’t allowed to defend themselves.

4. Don’t Gamble Drunk

Yes, the cocktails are free, and drinking is part of the Vegas experience, but customers going overboard can turn ugly for dealers.

Nguyen says, “The person gambling isn’t doing him or herself any favor by tipping back one too many during the game. The more drinking, the more mistakes are made during a game. If you’re wasted while playing, you’re wasting money.

Dealers are used to players having a few cocktails, and getting a little boisterous, but excessive drinking is annoying to dealers and other players alike.

Also, gambling drunk leads to spilled drinks, one of the most irksome aspects of a dealer’s shift. Spilled drinks ruin table game felt, disrupt the game and turn dealers into babysitters. Drink responsibly. Or don’t, but don’t play a table game!

Las Vegas dealer

It’s simple. You be nice, they’ll be nice.

3. Don’t Blow Smoke in a Dealer’s Face

Sounds like common sense, right? Wrong.

“We understand the environment and know people like to smoke while playing,” says Nguyen. “We don’t even mind the smoking, in fact. But blowing cigarette or cigar smoke directly in a dealer’s face is rude. Be respectful.”

Agreed. Oh, and if we ever write a list of “The Five Best Ways to Not Piss Off This Las Vegas Blog,” not smoking a disgusting, big-ass cigar in our vicinity will be all five things on the list.

2. Tip Your Dealer, Already

We’d have make this number one on the list, but we defer to the expert.

Nguyen comes clean, saying, “This is a very touchy subject. Dealers don’t expect a person who’s
losing to tip. But if you’re winning, toss a chip our way every so often. We’re not looking for
a stack of chips, but don’t stiff the dealer if you’re on a winning streak.”

Somebody had to say it! We’ve seen this trend getting worse in recent months, or at least it seems that way.

We disagree with Nguyen on this point, actually. Dealers make a meager base pay, and they live on tips. So, we tip whether we’re winning or losing. We value what they do no matter the outcome of our play.

craps dealer

One of the many talents of dealers is concealing their “tells” when a player is being a nimrod.

Nguyen continues, “Another pet peeve is when a player tells us we’ll get tipped at the end [of the session] and leaves a dollar or less when all is said and done. A dollar or less is sort of like a slap in the face. And while we’re talking about tipping, don’t stiff the cocktail waitress, either.”

We can’t say it enough. If you can’t afford to tip, do something other than play casino table games. Slot machines might be your thing. No tipping required.

1. Good Vibes Only, Please

Playing in a Las Vegas casino is meant to be fun, so avoid being a buzzkill.

“Remember, there are other people at the table, too,” says Nguyen. “No one wants to be next to the person who constantly complains, demands the cocktail waitress bring a drink immediately, and so on. We understand when a person’s trip or gambling session may not be working out, but the next hand or spin may be different. Keeping an upbeat attitude and staying positive could possibly change a person’s luck.”

Absolutely nailed it. The Golden Rule applies to casinos as it does to everday life.

In a casino, be the kind of person you’d like to hang out with. Keep the mood light, be polite and don’t lose sight of the fact if gambling isn’t fun, why the hell are you doing it?

Special thanks to Michael Nguyen of CEG dealer school for giving us the straight scoop, and we appreciate dealers for being such an integral part of some of our most memorable Las Vegas moments, ever.

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Double Ball Roulette at Tropicana: A New Way to Play a Classic Casino Game

There’s a new way to play roulette, and it’s spicing up what is perhaps the best-known of all casino games.

Double Ball Roulette recently made its debut at the Tropicana as part of a “field test” required by the Nevada Gaming Commission prior to the game being more widely available.

This new take on roulette is familiar enough to keep it from being daunting. It’s traditional “American” (0-00) roulette, but with two balls rather than one, plus new bets, different payouts and an added bonus: Players get to remotely control when the balls are dropped onto the wheel.

Double Ball Roulette

The right mix of familiar and new.

The look of the layout isn’t dramatically different from traditional roulette, except for a side bet that pays off if both balls land on the same number. This bet pays 1,200-to-1. Two balls land on one number roughly once every 38 spins, so it’s not too uncommon. The chances of picking that number when it hits, though, is 1-in-1,444.

Beyond differences in the layout, you’ll know you’re at a Double Ball Roulette table because of an eye-catching addition to the wheel itself. The balls are shot with compressed air through a tube (see photo, below), as opposed to being spun by a dealer.

A wireless remote is circulated around the table, and players get to press a button to release the balls. We love this new element of the game! Anything to make a table game more interactive, we’re up for it.

Double Ball Roulette

The dealer drops both balls into the hole into the top of the thingy at left. Then, when a player hits the remote, the balls are shot through the tube and into the ball track. It’s a little like the movie “Rollerball,” but without all the bell bottoms.

Of course, this remote control doubles as an ingenious way to keep players at the table longer, awaiting their turn to hit the button, just as craps players stay at the table longer awaiting their next roll of the dice.

We’d love to show you the remote button device, but photos are forbidden in casinos. Ha, ha. That jokes never gets old. This Las Vegas blog doesn’t live by society’s rules.

Double Ball Roulette

Even if the two ball thing doesn’t pan out, we’d love to see these remote buttons on every roulette table in Vegas!

Because there are two balls, one might conclude there’s double the chances of winning on any given spin. While that’s true, a closer look at the payouts shows the casino isn’t giving up anything extra. In fact, it’s taking a little more of a commission for all the fun we’re having.

For example, in traditional roulette, a win on a straight up number pays 35-to-1. In Double Ball Roulette, a straight up number pays 17-to-1. (Two balls, two resulting numbers, roughly half the payout.) So, in its payout, the casino gets a little extra something by rounding down.

For a single number, the house edge is 5.33% in Double Ball Roulette. In traditional roulette, it’s 5.26%. So, not much worse, and there’s definitely no bet in traditional roulette that pays 1,200-to-1.

Check out all the probabilities for this new game over at Wizard of Odds, and all the pay tables at the Double Ball Roulette site.

The Double Ball Jackpot seems unlikely, but during the first 16 days of Double Ball Roulette’s operation at Tropicana, the jackpot has hit nine times. An individual player, in fact, won three times. On the same day.

Oh, and yes, there’s room for two balls in any of the wheel’s number “pockets.” Double Ball Roulette uses a traditional roulette wheel.

Some of the other bets and payouts take a little getting used to. Two numbers, split, pay 8-to-1. Three numbers (a line) pay 5-to-1, four numbers (a corner bet) pays 3-to-1. Five numbers (called “first five,” otherwise known as a basket bet) pays 5-to-2, and six numbers (line) pays 2-to-1.

Double Ball Roulette

So, to win on red, both balls have to land on red numbers. Ditto black. A split result pays 1-to-1.

It only takes a minute to get used to two results for each spin. The dealer uses two dollies (or markers) on the layout, and a video display shows both winning numbers overhead.

Double Ball Roulette

Double your roulette stimuli.

Overall, Double Ball Roulette brings some new twists to a vintage casino game. Roulette tends to get a little repetitious at times, so we find this new take refreshing.

Hardcore roulette players might opt to skip the novelty of Double Ball Roulette because of its slightly higher house advantage on certain bets, but for the recreational player, it’s a fun variation we hope will start cropping up in other Las Vegas casinos soon.

Get more details about the game at the official Double Ball Roulette site, as well as some enticing hints about future prize possibilities (how cool would it be to win a jet ski at a roulette table?) which will really make this game stand out among table games.

If you get a chance to play Double Ball Roulette, let us know what you think! And while you’re sharing your thoughts in the comments, please feel free to also share your shock at the fact we didn’t make even a single “ball” pun in this entire blog post. It’s called maturity, thanks.

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