What is ‘triple zero’ roulette?

Traditionally, the American version of roulette featured 38 numbers, including a single and a double zero. The ‘double zero’ roulette table already increased the house edge to 5.26%, compared with 2.7% for the European version, which features 37 numbers, including just a single zero. However, in recent times, numerous casinos in Las Vegas have introduced ‘triple zero’ roulette which, as the name suggests, features 39 numbers, including a single, a double and a triple zero. The addition of the triple zero – effectively another pocket that is not considered red or black, high or low or odd or even – increases the house edge to 7.69%.

Originally introduced, as ‘Sands Roulette’, at The Venetian in 2016, a triple zero roulette typically offers a lower table limit than double, or single, zero roulette as a ploy to entice recreational gamblers – who may be gambling for enjoyment, rather than to make money – to play at disadvantageous odds. It can be argued that a player making the minimum bet on a triple zero roulette table will lose less, in a given period of time, than a player making the minimum bet on a double zero roulette table, but – akin to blackjack paying odds of 6/5, rather than 3/2, on single-deck tables – the lower table minimum costs 2.43% in terms of the house edge, with no increase in payouts.

What is Spanish 21?

Spanish 21, or Spanish blackjack, is a variant of the classic game of blackjack. As the name suggests, Spanish 21 is traditionally played with the Spanish 48-card deck, although the standard 52-deck, minus the four tens, is equally suitable. Obviously, removing four, or 25%, of the 10-point cards increases the house edge, but only to 0.40%, if the dealer stands on 17, compared with 0.28% for blackjack played under liberal Las Vegas Strip rules. Indeed, in common with liberal Las Vegas Strip rules, Spanish 21 players may double after splitting, resplit aces and late surrender of the first two cards is allowed.

Spanish 21 is akin to blackjack in many ways, although the main difference is that a player 21, including blackjack, always beats a dealer 21. Any five-card, mixed suit 21 pays 3/2, any six-card, mixed suit 21 pays 2/1 and any seven-card, or higher, mixed suit 21 pays 3/1. Similarly, a mixed suit 6,7,8 pays 3/2, a suited 6,7,8 pays 2/1 and a suited 6,7,8 in spades pays 3/1; the same odds apply to 7,7,7 in all three cases although, in the event of a suited 7,7,7, if the dealer is also showing a seven, the player receives a bonus of $1,000, or $2,500 – known as a ‘Super Bonus’ – depending on the size of his or her initial stake. Note that none of these bonuses apply after doubling or splitting.

Where in a casino would you find ‘Little Joe’?

Not to be confused with ‘Little Joe’ Cartwright, the character made famous by the late Michael Landon in the television series ‘Bonanza’ from the late Fifties onwards, ‘Little Joe’ is a traditional – in fact, almost obsolete – term used in casino craps games. The term ‘Little Joe’ was first recorded in the late nineteenth century and is often used, loosely, and erroneously, according to some sources, to describe any roll of four – that is, 1-3, 3-1, or 2-2 – or a point of four in a craps. The term ‘Little Joe from Kokomo’, on the other hand, was a later development and refers specifically to a ‘hard’ four or, in other words, 2-2 alone. For the record, the probability of rolling any four is 3/36, or 1/12, or 8.33%, while the probability of rolling a hard four is 1/36, or 2.77%.

In the case of the latter term, the ‘Little Joe’ in question is believed to be ‘Little Joe’ Fohn, who was one of the top tournament bowlers in Kokomo, Indiana in the Twenties. Interestingly, the first Japanese American jockey in the United States, Yoshio Kobuki – who, his father once joked, was small enough to fit in his jacket pocket – was also nicknamed ‘Kokomo Joe’. However, Kobuki Jnr. was not born until 1918 and did not rise to prominence until the early Forties, by which time the ‘Little Joe from Kokomo’ term was probably already in common usage. It is also interesting to note that U.S. Route 31 and U.S. Route 22 pass through Kokomo, Indiana north-south and west-east, respectively.

What was the biggest gambling loss ever?

In the gambling industry, extremely wealthy patrons, who consistently gamble far more than the average man in the street are known as ‘high rollers’ or ‘whales’, depending on the level of their bankroll. In Las Vegas, casino hosts offer generous complimentary services to these high-stakes gamblers, safe in the knowledge that they are not immune to the unswayable laws of mathematical probability and may, periodically, come a cropper and suffer eye-wateringly heavy losses.

The man who has the dubious distinction of achieving what is believed to be the biggest losing streak in the history of Las Vegas is Japanese-American Terrance Watanabe, former owner of the Oriental Trading Company, founded by his father, Harry Watanabe, in 1932. In 2000, Watanabe sold his stake in the family business, for an undisclosed fortune, and became a philanthropist and self-confessed gambling addict.

In 2007, while staying in what was later described as the ‘most elegant suite’ in Caesars Palace, Watanabe claims that he bet over $825 on a variety of casino games at Caesars Palace and The Rio, losing a total of $127 million. Unlike most high-stakes gamblers, his choices included games, such as keno, roulette and slots, which carry a large house edge. Even in games carrying a much smaller house edge, such as blackjack – which Watanabe would reputedly play, three $50,000 hands at a time, for hours on end – he repeatedly made awful decisions and could lose up to $5 million a day.

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