Twilight play doesn’t mean looser machines

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Do slots pay more when the casino is crowded? It sure seems like there are more winners when I play in the evening, as opposed to when I play during the day. Kay S.

Besides it being illegal, Kay, no manufacturer would program a machine to hit at a specific time. It wouldn’t take long for some computer geek to detect its built-in programming, assuring said geek a profitable evening.

As for a crowded casino, this has absolutely no effect whatsoever on how much one particular slot pays off. When a casino is swarming with players, sure, you will notice more winners, but that’s because there are more players playing. This, Kay, is where the relationship stops, and you shouldn’t automatically conclude that specific machines hit more frequently when the casino is crowded.

What more players gambling also does, Kay, is alert you to the “sounds of winning.” True, because of today’s ticket-in ticket-out technology, long gone are those sounds of clanking coins falling into metal trays that broadcast prosperity, but hypnotic electronic sounds from even the smallest jackpot have replaced the thuds of dollars to induce play, giving you a false sense that winning is in the air.

Ultimately, Kay, the result of each spin on a machine is determined at random, without any regard to the number of patrons in the casino.

I structure my roulette bets in the following manner. Straight up wagers on black 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, and then I hedge it by betting on red, odd, and 19-36. Although I would by no means declare myself a winner with this strategy over the long run, but sometimes my outside bets carry me when black 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 are not hitting. Could you please comment on my strategy? Nate D.

What you are trying to accomplish, Nate, protecting your black straight-up bets (2, 4, 6, 8, 10) against loss by making compensating, opposing wagers on the outside, just doesn’t work, neither short term, nor over the long run.

No matter how you structure your wagers at roulette, the house has a 5.26 percent advantage on each number (inside) or proposition (outside) bet you make. All bets on the layout, whether you’re betting on even money wagers like, in your case, red, odd, 19-36, or wagering on a straight-up numbers, hold an identical house edge of 5.26%.

Your additional wagers only equate to more money wagered, all exposed to the same built-in casino advantage, contributing, over time, to more money that you will lose.

The secret to roulette, Nate, is not which bet(s) you make, but which game that you play on. The vast majority of roulette tables in America are of the double-zero variety. What you want to search out is a single zero roulette wheel. With just 37 numbers (0-36), instead of 38 (0, 00, 1-36), and payoffs being the same as on a double-zero wheel, your straight-up bets of 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, and your even money wagers on red, odd, and 19-36 have a house edge of only 2.7 percent.

Gambling Wisdom of the Week: “The night before I left Las Vegas I walked out in the desert to look at the moon. There was a jeweled city on the horizon, spires rising in the night, but the jewels were diadems of electric and the spires were the neon of signs ten stories high.” —Norman Mailer

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