Category Archives: Roulette

Triple Zero Roulette is Pretty Much Everyflippingwhere in Las Vegas

It started innocently enough. An additional space showed up on a roulette table.

It looked innocuous, just one additional space on one table at Venetian back in 2016, no big deal.

Triple Zero Sands Roulette

The logo that started it all.

Then triple zero roulette popped up at Planet Hollywood and New York-New York. No big deal, right?

Well, it depends upon who you ask. Or possibly whom. Have you always been this obsessed with grammar? Lighten up, you’re reading a Las Vegas blog.

Math wizards were quick to point out each additional space on a roulette makes the game worse for players.

Longtime roulette players sometimes joke about triple zero roulette, “More ways to win!”

Um, no.

On a table with two zeros, the house edge is 5.26%. Not great, but a table with three zeros bumps the house edge up to 7.69%, or as we call it, the gambler discomfort zone.

Triple zero Harrah's

Don’t try to hide that extra spot, Harrah’s.

Prior to the pandemic, the proliferation of triple zero roulette raised lots of hackles. We should know, we were one of the main hackle-raisers.

Mid-pandemic, lots of things we used to get riled up about seem relatively trivial. Still.

There’s a reason you don’t hear much about triple zero roulette anymore. It’s pretty much everywhere in Las Vegas now.

We’ve visited a number of casinos in the weeks since casinos reopened in June, and we’re hard-pressed to remember a casino where there wasn’t triple zero roulette.

Triple zero Flamingo

Pretty sure Ben Siegel would’ve bugged out about this, Flamingo.

We’ve seen triple zero at Harrah’s, Flamingo, Four Queens, MGM Grand, Linq and others.

We used to keep a list of casinos with triple zero roulette, but that list seems almost quaint now.

We naively hoped lower demand would inspire casinos to dump triple zero roulette, but no such luck. So far.

Triple zero MGM Grand

Logos have more of a “Nothing to see here!” vibe than zeroes. Good going, MGM Grand.

So, why do people play triple zero roulette when there’s often a double zero roulette table nearby?

There are two answers: One, lower table limits. Two, they just don’t care.

Lower table limits make triple zero roulette tables tempting despite the greater house edge.

As for the “they just don’t care” aspect, we find ourselves in that camp lately.

We are a recreational gambler. We aren’t playing any game for hours on end. That’s true of most Las Vegas visitors, too. You’re lucky or you aren’t. It’s more about fun than math.

Triple zero Four Queens

We knew we were fighting a losing battle when we saw triple zero at Four Queens and its sister casino, Binion’s. Bonus points for the blue felt, though.

Ultimately, gambling is gambling. The odds are always on the side of the house.

If you’re gambling to make money, while possible, you may want to find other pursuits.

One of the worst things that can happen is to let frustration about odds or rules or pay tables overtake your enjoyment of the gambling experience.

Unless it has to do with paper straws being used in your drinks. Those ruin everything.

Triple zero roulette Linq

Is now really the time to risk irking players, Linq?

While it’s not fun having to report triple zero roulette tables are everywhere in Las Vegas, there are bright spots!

For example, downtown’s Plaza hotel has a single zero roulette table on its casino floor.

Plaza single zero roulette

Behold the unicorn of roulette tables, single zero at Plaza.

Cromwell has a single zero table, too. We miss you, Cromwell.

A few other Las Vegas casinos have single zero as well, but they’re typically tucked away in high limit salons where table minimums can be sky high.

Our advice is to find a roulette table with solid drink service and friendly dealers, and just play for fun.

Lucky Luck will either smile upon you or plant her boot firmly in your posterior.

Gamble for the memories, not the return on investment.

And also avoid keno, because the odds absolutely suck.

But mostly gamble for the fun! Life already has plenty of math.

Triple Zero Roulette Debuts at Planet Hollywood and New York-New York and Everything Is Ruined

Triple zero roulette has been introduced at two casinos in Las Vegas, Planet Hollywood and New York-New York.

Venetian got the first triple zero roulette table (two, actually) on The Strip back in Oct. 2016, and it seemed inevitable the much-reviled game would proliferate.

That it has.

Here’s a look at the triple zero roulette table at Planet Hollywood.

Triple zero roulette

On the bright side, one of the “fun facts” about roulette stays the same: The numbers on a roulette table add up to 666.

“What is triple zero roulette?” you ask.

Well, a typical roulette table in U.S. casinos has two zeros.

On a table with two zeros, the house edge is 5.26%. That’s one of the highest house advantages in the casino.

On a triple zero roulette table, the house edge jumps up to 7.69%.

See, that’s what makes a much-reviled game so reviled.

Given the odds are worse on a triple zero table, why would people play it? You ask great questions!

Typically, the minimum bet on a triple zero roulette table is lower than on a double zero table.

Yes, there are some single zero tables in Las Vegas casinos, but they tend to be reserved for big spenders. An exception is the single zero table at Cromwell. There’s a premium to be paid for the better odds, of course. The minimum bet at Cromwell is $25.

Cromwell single zero roulette

The house edge in a single zero roulette game is 2.7%. You go, Cromwell.

How did we know more triple zero games would make their way to Las Vegas casinos? Another excellent question!

We knew because players at Venetian’s triple zero roulette table (see below) didn’t care at all about the less favorable odds.

Venetian roulette

Triple zero roulette tables are often packed when double zero tables are empty.

It was the same at Planet Hollywood during our visit.

Planet Hollywood has eight roulette tables. Seven have a $15 minimum, one has a $10 minimum. The lower table minimum is more than enough to entice recreational gamblers, and casinos couldn’t be happier about it.

Before you start calling triple zero roulette players stupid, consider this: They’re not gambling to make money. They’re playing to have fun.

And here’s a confession: We had fun playing triple zero roulette at Planet Hollywood, too. And we won money to boot.

We even made money on one of the bets you’ll only find at a triple zero roulette table. It’s a bet on any of the zeros, and it pays 11-to-1.

Triple zero roulette

Big thanks to Planet Hollywood for not asking security to Taser us for taking photos.

Oh, and while we’re at it, here’s another counter-intuitive fact about triple zero roulette: It can actually make your money last longer.

It’s true!

Despite disadvantageous odds, the lower table minimum at triple zero roulette means a typical player (assuming they make the minimum bet) will lose less over time than someone betting more at a double zero roulette table.

That’ll teach you to be less judgy.

So, no, not everything is ruined. But that doesn’t mean we have to like triple zero roulette.

Triple zero roulette is a symbol of an evolution taking place in Las Vegas casinos. As gambling revenue declines, casinos have to find new and clever ways of bolstering their bottom lines.

If guests play games with a higher house edge, casinos will continue to find ways to raise them even higher.

Angry showgirl

Just about sums it up.

The irony, of course, is gambling revenue is declining because the perceived value of gambling has declined. Casinos tighten their slots, so players play slots less. Casinos change 3-to-2 blackjack games to 6-to-5, so fewer play the game. It’s a vicious cycle.

Our strategy is to play the games where we have the most fun. That way, we can spend our time being entertained rather than doing math.

We’d love to hear your thoughts. Do you care about the number of zeros on your roulette table?

Thanks to our friends at the You Can Bet on That podcast for alerting us to the triple zero roulette table at Planet Hollywood.

Updated (4/26/18): Park MGM has also introduced triple zero roulette.

Updated (4/13/19): Since this story, a number of Las Vegas casinos have introduced triple zero roulette. Las Vegas casinos with triple zero roulette:

  • Venetian and Palazzo
  • Planet Hollywood
  • Circus Circus
  • Golden Nugget
  • Park MGM
  • New York-New York
  • Harrah’s Las Vegas
  • Luxor
  • Wynn Las Vegas
  • Linq
  • Binion’s
  • Four Queens
  • Aria Las Vegas
  • Caesars Palace
  • Green Valley Ranch
  • Palms

 

Fascinating Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Roulette

Roulette is one of the most entertaining, and accessible, games in a Las Vegas casino.

Even seasoned roulette players will be surprised by some of the fascinating aspects of the game we’ve hastily slapped together.

Roulette

Ah, roulette being roulette.

Let’s start with a couple of names for things we didn’t know had names. First, there’s a term for when a roulette dealer gathers and restacks chips, it’s called “mucking.”

Also, there’s another name for the object used to mark a winning number: A “marker” is also called a “dolly.”

Roulette dolly

Roulette markers, or dollys, come in all shapes and sizes.

It’s also worth noting a roulette dealer is also called a “croupier.”

Are we having fun yet?

Here’s a surprising fact about roulette: Just as people are left and right-handed, there are also right-handed and left-handed tables.

If you’ve played roulette, you’re probably more familiar with the right-handed table. The wheel sits to the right side of the dealer.

Roulette right-handed

We’re going to pretend Hard Rock reserved this right-handed table for us. Just go with it.

Here’s a left-handed roulette table. If you guessed the wheel is to the left of the dealer, you’re well on your way to a job as an elected official.

Roulette left-handed

The left-handed layout can cause confusion with players. Example: “It’s backwards! Pay me for the number I thought I was betting on!”

Here’s what happens when a right-handed roulette table and a left-handed roulette table hook up in Las Vegas.

El Cortez roulette

This roulette table at El Cortez goes both ways.

Here’s a relatively useless fact: On roulette tables, the ball spins in the opposite direction of the wheel’s rotation.

On a right-handed table, the wheel goes counter-clockwise while the ball goes clockwise. On a left-handed table, the ball goes counter-clockwise while the wheel goes clockwise.

Interestingly, a roulette dealer trained in a European casino will reverse the rotation of the wheel and ball following every spin.

Triple Zero Sands Roulette

If you see a triple zero roulette table, just run.

Many of the procedures and devices on a roulette table are to try and ensure the results are random.

On a roulette wheel, for example, small devices called “canoes” are installed to give the ball additional obstacles to divert the ball from a predictable path as it falls into the wheel.

Roulette canoe

Canoes are also called frets, making this blog post, officially, the most useless in the history of the Interwebs.

Players sometimes try to pick up on a dealer’s pattern or rhythm, called a “dealer signature,” to predict where the ball is likely to fall. When player’s see a pattern, they practice something known as “section shooting,” or betting in certain areas of the wheel to try and gain an advantage over the house.

Now, let’s talk chips!

It’s a little-known fact that dealers, when pushing stacked chips to players, can’t move the chips in a way that conceals them from the security cameras above.

Dealers spend a lot of time practicing pushing stacks of chips. If you’re ever asked, 20 is the standard number of chips in a stack at a roulette table. Try pushing five stacks of 20 chips without them tipping over!

Roulette

Use the Force, Luke.

Unlike other casino chips, roulette chips have no value away from the table and can’t be traded for cash at the casino cashier, or “cage.”

That’s because roulette chips have no set value. Players determine what value a chip will have. Chips can be worth $1, $5 or more, as stated when the player buys in.

Taking chips from a roulette table is discouraged, because it’s a common scam to buy in for a low denomination (say, $1 per chip), to take chips away from the table, then return at another time, buying in for a higher denomination (say, $5), then slipping the previous low-value chips back into the game for an immediate profit. It happens quite often, actually, and the practice is illegal.

We’ve been playing roulette quite a long time, but only recently learned about “picture bets.”

Picture bets are a way for dealers to easily recognize and pay out common chip combinations. Those chip combinations often have colorful names, and dealers memorize the names and payouts to keep games moving. (The more spins, the more money a casino makes, by the way. The house edge for double zero roulette is 5.26%.)

Think of picture bets as flash cards for dealers.

Here are a couple of picture bets, and let’s say the chips are worth $1 just to keep it simple.

The “Mickey Mouse” is two corners (each pays 8-to-1) and one straight up number (pays 35-to-one), and it pays $51.

Roulette Mickey Mouse

To see some of these “picture bets,” like the Mickey Mouse, you have to view the bets from the perspective of the dealer.

“Deck of Cards” is called that because it pays $52 (52 cards in a deck): It’s one straight up number and one split (pays 17-to-1).

Roulette deck of cards

Want to win a bar bet? Tell your friends roulette involves a “deck of cards.”

A “Basket” pays $67 for two corners and three splits. We’ll turn it on its side for you.

Roulette basket

We flipped it so you can see the basket. You’re welcome.

A “Picture Frame” is one straight up number, four corners and four splits. This pays a healthy $135. An “Empty Picture Frame” is the same configuration, but without the straight up number.

Roulette picture frame

Somebody got a phone call!

Our favorite picture bet, because it’s the dirtiest, of course, is “Dinner for Two.” This bet is two splits and a straight up number. It pays (wait for it) $69.

Roulette dinner for two

Because “dinner for two.” We’ll wait.

Hey, roulette dealers often have a lot of idle time on their hands!

Here’s something to watch the next time you’re near a roulette table: Notice that dealers in a live roulette game must keep the wheel in perpetual motion. It’s a gaming regulation.

Now, have fun, and give roulette a spin.

Cromwell Rolls Out Eatwell Snack Bar, Sports Book and Enticing Games

For a small, boutique hotel, The Cromwell has made some big moves recently.

To start, The Cromwell unveiled a new snack bar, Eatwell.

Cromwell Eatwell

Eatwell at Cromwell. If you want to self-park, it’ll have to be at the Flamingowell.

Eatwell is open 24 hours a day, and has a variety of grab-and-go goodies like sandwiches, pastries, salads and pizzas.

We went for a sandwich, mainly because sandwiches are a metaphor for love. Or something.

Eatwell at Cromwell

One cannot live by cavorting alone, even in Vegas.

We’re pleased to report the food quality is solid at Eatwell, and the prices are reasonable.

Here’s a peek at the Eatwell menu.

Cromwell Eatwell menu

If you actually read the “Healthy Alternatives” section, we can’t be friends.

We have no idea what these things on the ceiling are, but we are a blog, not a snack bar design firm.

Cromwell Eatwell

We’re pretty sure you can become pregnant just walking under these.

Caffeine fans will rejoice in the knowledge Eatwell offers a full selection of Starbucks coffees.

Here’s a gratuitous photo of some cookies.

Cromwell Eatwell cookies

Don’t think of them as cookies. Think of them as fuel for your bad Las Vegas decisions.

The Cromwell has also opened a new race and sports book.

We have never personally understood why they’re called race and sports books. A race is a sport. If you’re going to call it a race and sports book, you could just as easily call it a game and sports book, or possibly a match and sports book.

Cromwell sports book

It’s not the size of the sports book that counts, it’s whether you cover the spread.

The new sports book at Cromwell has a tiny footprint, but sports books aren’t huge moneymakers for casinos, so the size is proportionate given the limited footprint of the resort.

The Cromwell used to be Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall & Saloon, and before that it was Barbary Coast and Empey’s Desert Villa. Prior to that, it was a small collection of tumbleweeds.

The new sports book can accommodate about 50 people or 75 if they all inhale at the same time.

The Cromwell sports book boasts a 32-foot-long, nine-foot-tall LED video wall.

Beyond these sweet new amenities, The Cromwell has made a serious play to attract gamblers.

Among the new offerings is a single zero roulette table. Single zero roulette, also known as “European roulette,” is often reserved for high limit rooms, but Cromwell has a table on its main casino floor.

Because photos aren’t allowed at live games, we won’t be able to share the photo below.

Cromwell single zero roulette

The house edge in a single zero roulette game is 2.7%. With two zeros, it’s 5.26%.

Unlike double zero roulette games, the minimum bet on the single zero game is $25. Better odds, higher minimums. In Vegas, that’s a thing.

On the other end of the spectrum, Venetian has a $5 roulette table with three zeros. We are not making this up. Remember, the more zeros, the more suck for players.

In addition to single zero roulette, Cromwell also offers 100x odds on craps.

Nobody ever actually takes advantage of 100x odds, but it’s great to know you could if you inherited money from a rich uncle. Possibly, one named Sheldon.

Cromwell casino

Thanks to the good folks at The Cromwell for not asking security to give us The Taser Experience during the taking of these photos.

But wait, there’s more.

The Cromwell is also touting its EZ Baccarat. We’re pretty sure we played EZ Baccarat at Lucky Dragon, and it was, as promised, easy. One benefit of this version of baccarat is it “eliminates the taking of the 5% commission after every winning Bank hand.” Whatever that might actually mean.

Also being talked up are The Cromwell’s 3-to-2 and double deck blackjack games.

During our visit, we saw three open 3-to-2 double deck blackjack tables, two with $25 minimums and one at $15. Shoe games had minimums ranging from $10 to $25.

The Cromwell also lists among its new “enhancements” a “re-imagined” Interlude bar (if you’re not a fan of live music, this is a great place to not be a fan of it), a new high limit slot area called The Abbey, and keyless access to hotel rooms.

Cromwell casino bar

Our liver breaks into song whenever it sees Cromwell’s casino bar.

There’s also Ivy, a “personalized virtual concierge service” provided via text, developed by a company called Go Moment. It’s sort of a bot that can field questions and requests related to housekeeping and room service. Such services are mainly a way for hotels to save money and cut down on call volume, but Ivy has gotten generally good reviews since the most common guest requests can be resolved more efficiently through automation. Fewer and fewer Las Vegas hotels have real concierges, anyway.

With its recent changes, The Cromwell has certainly gotten the attention of players, and despite ongoing challenges with unsavory elements at Drai’s Nightclub on the roof, the boutique hotel is drawing new interest from visitors seeking a welcoming environment with friendly service and odds you won’t find in many casinos on the Las Vegas Strip.

Enjoy more poorly-framed and inadequately-focused photos from The Cromwell.

Cromwell Enhancements

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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%.

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.

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

Updated (4/13/19): Since this story, a number of Las Vegas casinos have introduced triple zero roulette. Here’s a complete list of the Las Vegas casinos with triple zero roulette:

  • Venetian and Palazzo
  • Planet Hollywood
  • Circus Circus
  • Golden Nugget
  • Park MGM
  • New York-New York
  • Harrah’s Las Vegas
  • Luxor
  • Wynn Las Vegas
  • Linq
  • Binion’s
  • Four Queens
  • Aria Las Vegas
  • Caesars Palace
  • Green Valley Ranch
  • Palms

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.