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Author Topic: [Fastlane]Questions about roulette  (Read 12255 times)
Halzebier
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« on: September 03, 2005, 12:36:24 AM »

Hi there!

I'm considering using Fastlane for a game of Shadowrun (one of the settings recommended by Alexander, no less). All cybergear color and Sixth World flavor aside, relationships (double-crossing, calling in favours, selling out etc.) are at the core of the cyberpunk genre, so Fastlane ought to be a perfect fit.

Anyway, I've been re-reading the rules and have a couple of questions regarding roulette. The following quotes are from the rules:

Quote
A general rule given by many professional roulette players: don't bid against yourself.

1. How can there be "professional" roulette players, i.e. people who make a living playing roulette, when roulette is a game of pure chance (as opposed to, say, poker)? Or does "professional" have another meaning here (e.g. habitual)?

Quote
[A style] gives the player an additional chip above and beyond any chips they might bid from the bank - the only limit is that it may not be placed on an inside bet.

2. What is an "inside bet"?

Quote
Fastlande does not use the Five Number Bet common in American casinos, as it benefits the House too extremely[.]

3. What's a "Five Number Bet" and why would it benefit the house more than other bets? They rake in 1/19th of what's on the table, in the long run, and that's it, no?

4. I've gotten hold of a small wheel (7 inches across, plus felt map and chips) and now I'm wondering if the spin takes longer with a larger wheel. So what's the expected window of time for bidding with a regular wheel?

Regards,

Hal
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Eero Tuovinen
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« Reply #1 on: September 03, 2005, 01:04:52 AM »

1: You're right about the odds. Alexander probably means "experienced". Although casino employees are one kind of person who make their living from the wheel. I should also note that while a single spin of the wheel is a luck game, in the context of Fastlane there's important strategy in the management of the risk and your resources. So it's not all luck.

2: Inside bets are defined in the book as well. In the list on page 26 the italized bets are outside bets. The difference is in the odds: the outside bets are much more likely to succeed, and give correspondingly lower odds. In casinos there's frequently a rule that forces you to make higher bets on the outside than on the inside, to prevent some degenerate tactics. If you have a roulette layout, you'll notice that the outside bets are called such because they're situated outside the number grid, while inside bets are all set on the numbers or their borders.

3: The five number bet is set between 0 and 1 in the corner, and wins on 0, 1, 2, 3 and 00. It's worse than the others because it's payout doesn't correspond to the odds (it usually pays out at 6:1; calculate the expected return yourself). In general, why do you think that the house take is 1/19th? It all depends on whether you win your bets or not, and whether the odds are equal to the probabilities. (There's nothing that says that the payout has to be equal to the calculated probabilities, as the five number bet suggests.) The money you win comes out of the bank after all, and the money you lose goes in.

4: Spin takes longer on a heavier wheel with a good axle. I can't say what you'd expect time-wise, but it's somewhere around 10-15 seconds perhaps?
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Lxndr
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« Reply #2 on: September 03, 2005, 06:10:59 AM »

1.  There are "professional" roulette players - people who at least claim to make significant and regular earnings from a roulette wheel.  Generally, I figure, if you've managed to publish a book based on your roulette playing, with a "system", etc., you're "professional" insofar as you're at least making money off the book.

2.  I thought I explained this in the text somewhere, but I guess I wasn't clear enough.  In retrospect, I should have defined 'inside bet' in the glossary as well.  Anyway, yes, an inside bet is any bet that's actually placed on the "inside", rather than around the edges - any bet on a particular block of numbers, rather than on, say, a column, or high vs low, etc.

3.  The five-number bet only works on American wheels.  Notice that all the other bids are factors of 36 - bids on 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 12, 18.  The payouts then are able to be even divisors of this.  36/5 doesn't equal a whole number, so the casinos round down.  Thus, the house percentage is higher for this bid than any other.  I also avoided the five-number bet because it doesn't exist on European wheels.

4.  Spins do take differing amounts of time depending on the size of the wheel.  On my 12 inch wheel, I just let it spin.  On my little 4 inch travel wheel, I let people place bets before the spin starts.  My 12-incher on which I based my suggested ruling takes around 15 to 20 seconds, which is a good time.
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Alexander Cherry, Twisted Confessions Game Design
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Halzebier
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« Reply #3 on: September 03, 2005, 07:06:24 AM »

Quote from: Eero Tuovinen
I should also note that while a single spin of the wheel is a luck game, in the context of Fastlane there's important strategy in the management of the risk and your resources. So it's not all luck.

Yeah, I got that, though I'm only slowly getting my head around the specifics.

Contrary to normal roulette, you will often want to win very specific amounts, working with a limited number of chips, right?

So if the difficulty is 5 chips, I will want to take away 6. If my bidding limit is 4, my best bet is going for two columns, as either will provide a take of 6 (2x3), so my chance of winning this conflict is 66% (not counting 0 and 00).

Quote from: Eero Tuovinen
In casinos there's frequently a rule that forces you to make higher bets on the outside than on the inside, to prevent some degenerate tactics.

Degenerate tactics?

Quote from: Eero Tuovinen
3: The five number bet is set between 0 and 1 in the corner, and wins on 0, 1, 2, 3 and 00. It's worse than the others because it's payout doesn't correspond to the odds (it usually pays out at 6:1; calculate the expected return yourself). In general, why do you think that the house take is 1/19th? It all depends on whether you win your bets or not, and whether the odds are equal to the probabilities. (There's nothing that says that the payout has to be equal to the calculated probabilities, as the five number bet suggests.) The money you win comes out of the bank after all, and the money you lose goes in.

That's interesting. I wasn't aware of options where the odds are less than the probabilities (minus the zeroes).

That's also how I arrived at the the 1/19th figure: With 38 numbers (00, 0, 1-36), the house's takings would amount to 2/38th over the long run (i.e., with many, many players over many, many evenings) because with the numbers 1-36, it's a zero sum game and everything balances out.

More questions:

1. Where does the free chip for a style come from (i.e., is it on the house or paid for out of the player's bank)?

2. When does the croupier reveal how much he will spend? After the players call out how much they are able to and how much they must bid, but before they commit to how much they actually do bid (and certainly before they commit to how they place their bid)?

Sorry for all the questions, by the way. I'm having a hard time getting my head around the rules, even though I've printed out a sample character from the webpage, set up my wheel, thought about some standard situations and spun some numbers.

Regards & Many thanks,

Hal
--
P.S.: Also thanks to Alexander who has answered as well!
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Lance D. Allen
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« Reply #4 on: September 03, 2005, 08:18:28 AM »

The croupier typically sets the difficulty right up front, based on what he feels is reasonable and/or most appropriate. There may or may not be some haggling at this point (not supported by the rules, but I've argued Lx down on some difficulties I thought were unreasonable a time or three) and then you spin the wheel, and bid.

The other question, about chips from styles, I'm not certain. I believe you just get a chip that doesn't count toward your bank, nor from the croupier's bank. The same is true of the Lucky Number chip. However, all losings, including those from free chips, go to the croupier's bank, so that's something to think about.
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Lxndr
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« Reply #5 on: September 03, 2005, 11:07:26 AM »

Free chips (the Lucky Number and styles) come from the great beyond, rather than from anyone else's bank.  It's the same place the croupier's spendings go. 

It was suggested in another post that this great beyond be given a name - the House.  Something I think I'm going to take into account for a second printing, once this print run is out.  So think of it this way:
  • Players bids come from their bank, and are supplemented by the Lucky Number, and possibly a style, both supplied by the House.
  • Difficulties are determined by the Croupier spending from his bank.
  • Chips that are lost are given to the Croupier.  Chips that win are given back to the player to return to their bank, along with their winnings from the House.  Combined, this is the player's "take."
  • Players allocate their total take among the various difficulties, including each other if appropriate.
  • Burning commences.  All chips created from burning go to the House.
  • Players spend their winnings on improving their characters, if desired - these spent chips go to the House.  Remaining chips from the take go into their bank.  The croupier also spends on improving the NPCs.

The croupier sets the difficulty right up front.  You can haggle, although there's no specified "haggling" period.  Once you start bidding, the croupier is not allowed to change his bid.
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Alexander Cherry, Twisted Confessions Game Design
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Eero Tuovinen
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« Reply #6 on: September 03, 2005, 11:14:55 AM »

Degenerate tactics?

I'm no expert, but one limitation I know has been used is this: your outside bets have to always be at least the house minimum, but when betting on the inside, the sum total of the inside bets has to be equal to the house minimum. So you can bet smaller single bets on the inside, which has the longer shots. The purpose of the minimum is to keep the chips moving and prevent the player from playing very low-risk covers combined with small high risk bets, or something like that. The simplest method for winning (or at least breaking even) in roulette is to always play black and double your bet until you win, for example. Setting the minimum higher for outside bets prevents this behavior.

But I don't really know anything about roulette. It's all half-remembered random stuff.
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Lxndr
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« Reply #7 on: September 03, 2005, 11:22:59 AM »

There's quite a few places out there that have different minimums for inside vs. outside bets.  I think this is a result of wanting people bidding on the outside to risk more in quantity, since they're not risking as much qualitatively.
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Alexander Cherry, Twisted Confessions Game Design
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Darren Hill
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« Reply #8 on: September 03, 2005, 11:31:50 AM »

The simplest method for winning (or at least breaking even) in roulette is to always play black and double your bet until you win, for example. Setting the minimum higher for outside bets prevents this behavior.

I wouldn't recommend fastlane players use that strategy with their chips (nor casino-goers, either). IIRC Black means you get your stake back plus an equal amount? If so, the best you can do here is just slightly better than break even, and you run out of money VERY fast: start with $5, and 5 bets later, you're up to $160. The total you have spent at this point (no wins) = $315; if you win that roll you get $320 back, and have made a grand total of $5. That's a lot of risk for a very small return.

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Eero Tuovinen
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« Reply #9 on: September 03, 2005, 12:32:35 PM »

I didn't claim that it's a good method, of course. But for a person who's playing for entertainment purposes it's better than some others. And such a player isn't very good for the house, so it's no wonder if they're discouraged in different ways. A casino wants people who're willing to lose money, not folks who play it safe.
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #10 on: October 14, 2005, 01:12:30 PM »

Yeah, knowing the odds, a person like myself could sit down and play roullette for hours and hours losing only a very small amount of money (with correspondingly small potential to win). While drinking the free drinks. Actually you can do this on penny slots if you know what you're doing, too. It's fun, and doesn't end up costing a fortune.

And the casinos hate it, and generally do what they can to discourage players from playing this way.

Make no mistake, you can't win at any casino game like this without getting lucky. Over the long haul, they come out ahead. What you can do is make your dollar last longer. The casino has only room for so many people, has to pay for the room, the employees, and the free alcohol. So they have to keep people moving along at a certain rate to be as profitable as they like to be. So they're always looking for ways like the special roulette rules to keep players from dragging the game out.

Mike
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Lxndr
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« Reply #11 on: October 25, 2005, 01:06:23 PM »

That's why some of these bets are reasonable suggestions for Fastlane - because sometimes, players just want to make their chips last a little bit longer.  So there's the "safe" bets, which let them stay in the game one more round, even if they're unlikely to do anything spectacular.

That said, the bidding double bit doesn't work as well for Fastlane, since there's usually opposition you're trying to meet with your chips, rather than just worrying about your own winnings, and each bid drags the attribute you use down a point.  But if you're okay with that, it's certainly an interesting strategy.  I'd like to see that tried in a game, somewhere down the line.
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Alexander Cherry, Twisted Confessions Game Design
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