Other casino games Gaming

Roulette mayhem

Written by Pai Yao

This article first appeared in the Jan/Feb 2012 issue of World Gaming magazine.

Playing roulette can be a lot of fun. The only problem is that it can get crowded around the table and before you know it, things can start to turn crazy.

Roulette lays claim to being the most troublesome table game in a casino. Those crazy French aristocrats didn’t know the trouble they would cause when they came up with this game. From a casino’s perspective it has a few significant downsides. It takes up a lot of room, the wheels are costly, require significant maintenance and it can be a complicated game for staff to run. Admittedly, we won’t be shedding tears for casinos but we are going to identify how roulette can be a frustrating experience for some players.

First the good points!
Roulette is an easy game to play and has all the elements that make it an exciting table game. You simply place your chips anywhere on the layout and wait for the spin. There are plenty of betting options, with bets ranging from even money all the way up to 35/1. The house edge is a very reasonable 2.7 percent for all available bets (on single zero roulette, which is the predominant Macau version). It’s visually stimulating and if you play a section of numbers it’s exciting to watch the ball bounce (and hopefully land) on your numbers. So why can this game turn into a nightmare?

Expense is at the heart of the problem
Compared to games like blackjack or poker, roulette is not a cost effective game for casinos to run. This means there are fewer roulette tables in most casinos and they are offered at a much higher limit. This means that it can be a more expensive game to play for the patrons. When low limit roulette tables appear people cram around and the mayhem starts.

Room at the table
An average roulette table can accommodate four seated players comfortably. It can even withstand a few standing players betting on the outer even money options. But when you get 20 people crammed around the table, things can get out of hand. People will push and elbow their way towards the felt and if you’re unlucky enough to be at the end of the table and you want to place a bet on the lower numbers then you’re in real trouble.

When things go “pear shaped”
A major point of contention at the table is when other players bump your chips out of the way as they place their own bets. More aggressive players have even been known to move another player’s chips out of the way. If the table is crowded people may start screaming at the dealer and other players to place chips on numbers they can’t reach. All of these things can turn to disaster when a disgruntled player starts disputing where his chips were placed. When this happens you can expect long delays as disputes are resolved. Many such disputes are sent “upstairs” for the security cameras to shed some light on the situation.

Pace of play
When the roulette layout is covered thickly with chips there can be long delays between spins. The situation is manageable if you have an experienced dealer but if you have a beginner you can expect trouble. The inexperienced dealer will often become flustered and will seek confirmation and corrections on every payout by their superior. The worst thing is when the dealer takes away winning chips. That’s when you can expect the fireworks to really begin!

So what’s the solution?
If you’re a high roller you can usually find a table where you can sit and play for higher stakes in comfort.

For the rest of us there is a solution. Modern technology has provided the answer in the form of e-roulette. E-roulette is one of the most popular forms of e-gaming and this change in the landscape has taken away many of the annoying elements of roulette.

In an e-roulette game you have your own touch terminal where you can confidently place your bets at your own pace. It also allows you to choose your own limits and even the smallest gamblers will be accommodated. You get a set amount of time to place your bets so there is no one to blame but yourself if you miss a number. The game moves at a quick pace and there are even new versions of the game where you can simultaneously bet on numerous wheels from the one terminal.

But don’t forget how great a live traditional roulette game can be. There is nothing better than sitting with a huge stack of chips and placing them all around the layout. It’s a real thrill when your lucky number comes up and the dealer pushes a mountain of chips in your direction. If you haven’t experienced the live version of roulette you should try it. But there will be times you’ll want to find refuge in an e-roulette game where you can relax and play at your own pace without the ‘mayhem’.