Big wheel casino game
The Big Six wheel, also known simply as The Big Six or Wheel of Fortune, is an unequal game of chance, played using a large vertical wheel that can be spun.
Since 13 May 2002, it can be played legally in licensed casinos in the United Kingdom, under The Gaming Clubs (Bankers' Games) (Amendment) Regulations 2002 (Statutory Instrument 2002/1130).
The wheel is divided into a number of equal segments separated by spokes or pins. Each segment is associated with a number. The wheel is spun by a dealer, and the winning segment is indicated by a pointer mounted on a flexible piece of rubber or leather, which also rubs against the pins to impart friction and slow the wheel down.
There are a number of variants of the game, that divide the wheel into a different number of segments, use different symbols in the segments, and have different odds if a symbol is selected.
This variant is the most common in casinos in the United States. The symbols are $1, $2, $5, $10 and $20 bills — and two special symbols, a joker and the casino logo. The $1 bills pay at odds of 1 to 1, the $2 bills at 2 to 1, the $5 bills at 5 to 1, and so on. The joker and the logo pay at odds of 40 to 1 or 45 to 1, depending on local gaming regulations or the practice of the casino.
The house advantage or edge (the proportion of the stakes that the casino expects to win on average) of this game is one of the highest of most casino games. In the United States it ranges from 11.1% on the $1-bill bet to more than 24% on the joker or logo (when it pays at 40 to 1). In Australia the house edge is 7.69% on all bets such that the payouts are: 47:1, 23:1, 11:1, 5:1, 3:1 and 1:1 on a 52 segment wheel.
The symbols on the wheel represent some of the 216 possible combinations of three dice. Sometimes the same symbol appears in more than one segment. Players wager on the numbers 1 through 6. If the number appears on one of the dice in the winning segment, the dealer pays at 1 to 1. If the number appears on two of the dice, the dealer pays at 2 to 1. If the number appears on three of the dice, the dealer pays at 3 to 1.
One example of a dice wheel, manufactured by H. C. Evans & Co. of Chicago (or its successor), is divided into 54 segments. Each of the triples appears four times. The following doubles each appears four times: 2, 1, 1; 2, 2, 1; 4, 3, 3; 5, 4, 4; 6, 5, 5; and 6, 6, 3. The following combinations each appear three times: 3, 2, 1; and 6, 5, 4.
In the example above, there are 54 possible outcomes for a single spin of the wheel. For a specific number:
- there are 7 possible outcomes, where one die only will match the number;
- there are 4 possible outcomes, where two dice only will match; and
- there are 4 possible outcomes, where all three dice will match.
At odds of 1 to 1, 2 to 1 and 3 to 1 respectively for each of these types of outcome, the expected loss as a percentage of the stake wagered is:
1 - [(7/54) * 2 + (4/54) * 3 + (4/54) * 4] = 22.2%
The symbolism of the game is redolent of chuck-a-luck or sic bo, games of chance played with three dice. However, the house advantage or edge is greater than for chuck-a-luck, which itself has a higher house advantage than other casino games.
This variety is seldom seen in casinos, but frequently seen as a carnival game, or at a charity "Monte Carlo night" fund-raiser. A similar game, the "Big Nine" wheel, has five numbers on each segment, and also three special symbols, appearing on three spaces each, which pay 10:1 odds.
United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand
A legal game in a licensed casino in the United Kingdom, Australia or New Zealand involves a wheel at least 1.5 metres in diameter divided into 52 segments, each marked with one of seven symbols (referred to as A to G). The table below sets out the frequency of the symbols, their probability, the associated odds specified, and the house advantage or edge.
|Symbol||Number of segments||Probability of winning||Odds offered in UK||House edge in UK||Odds offered in AUS & NZ||House edge in AUS & NZ|
|1 out of 52||1.9%||50 to 1||47 to 1||7.7%|
|2 out of 52||3.9%||20 to 1||19.2%||23 to 1|
|4 out of 52||10 to 1||15.4%||11 to 1|
|8 out of 52||5 to 1|
|12 out of 52||23.1%||3 to 1|
|24 out of 52||46.2%||1 to 1|
One variant called "Mississippi Derby" was used for a short time at the Grand Casino in Gulfport, Mississippi. (The casino was destroyed in 2005 by Hurricane Katrina.) The symbols were combinations of three of a number of different horses, arranged to represent a winner, a second-placed horse and a third-placed horse. (The horses were represented in three concentric rings, with the winner on the outer ring.) Players wagered on particular horses to "win", "place" or "show", as with betting in horse racing. The payoffs varied from horse to horse, depending on how many times and where the horse appeared on the rings. Odds ranged from 40 to 1 for the "longshot" to win, down to 1-2 for the "favorite" to show.
Regulation in the United Kingdom
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