Boobala Darling Wins A Cruise: Part 5 of 9 (A Fictional Story Staged In Brooklyn)

The Opportunist: Makes His Mark

Uncle Jake was quite taken aback by the unexpected news. He was against his nephew wanting to marry at such a young age. Besides, he was not too pleased with his choice. He felt his handsome nephew deserved something better than this unattractive girl, but she might end up being a devoted wife. He turned to Harry and asked: “Do her parents know you are getting married?”

“No they don’t, Uncle Jake. They dislike me big time, and I don’t know why. They are threatening to send her to an aunt in California to keep us apart. Boobala and I love each other very much and it would break my heart if she left. Since we are of age, we have decided to elope. I am hoping as my Uncle you will give us your approval and help us out financially.”

Uncle Jake couldn’t understand the rush. “Is she pregnant?”

“No, Uncle she’s not pregnant,” he answered.

Jake was still uneasy about the coming marriage. How could he give his approval when he knew that Harry was emotionally immature and irresponsible. Of course, he had to painfully admit he was partly to blame. He was sorry that the kid got a bum deal out of life, with his mom dying when he was so young and a dad who didn’t care. Maybe that’s why he spoiled him so much. He hoped that Harry would become a responsible adult once he married. Jake agreed to get them a furnished room and kitchenette, the rent paid up for a year. He even bought him a suit for the wedding with all the accessories to match.

Harry never seemed to be satisfied with what he got. He always wanted more. In planning the wedding, Boobala had suggested to Harry that they go on a cruise to the Bahamas for their honeymoon. She had always dreamed of going on a cruise. “It’s so romantic,” she would say. Harry angrily snapped at her: “What are you crazy, I get seasick easy. Do you want me to spend our honeymoon throwing up? Besides it would be dull with nothing to watch but watch the sea, so forget about it. I’d rather go to Las Vegas where the action is. It’s more fun.”

As a last shot, to squeeze some more money out of his uncle, he reminded him about the honeymoon. “Hey uncle,” Harry turned on his famous charm, “since I’m your only kin, why don’t you send us to Las Vegas for a week’s honeymoon. I always wanted to go there.” He was looking for a way to escape his wedding night consummation, which he was not bargaining for.

Uncle Jake was annoyed. “What the hell do you think I am, a [email protected]#[email protected]% ATM? Listen dude, the buck stops here. I’ve spent enough already on this wedding. You want to go that bad, then you can work and save your money if you like.” This was the first time that Uncle Jake exploded towards him, and the first time Harry didn’t get his way. He was mad as hell. Already at 19 years of age, Harry had begun to drink and bet heavily. His best friend Billie Boy always had a stash of beer and wine on hand whenever Harry needed it. Uncle Jake didn’t even have a clue that Harry was drinking and gambling. He only knew that he smoked. In his eyes, Harry was always a good kid, a little wild-eyed but good. There was nothing about him that should cause concern.

No: 7 (9-7-2011)

To be continued: Part 6 of 9 of Boobala Darling Wins A Cruise

The Last Cowboy by Daniel Uebbing

A Western Drama in a Modern Setting

“The Last Cowboy” is a fictional story of Henry Dunn. Henry swaggered into a bar in Strickland, Oregon. His insolence offended the drunken sheriff who challenged Henry to a duel. Henry wins the duel but is forced to leave Oregon after killing the sheriff.

Daniel Uebbing has written a spoof on the West depicted by the genre of writing found in pulp Western novels and in Western movie and TV scripts. He has overlaid the Old West to a contemporary setting, with neon lights, movie stars, modern day malls and conveniences.

Uebbing follows Henry’s hardships as he travels from Oregon to Las Vegas, keeping one step ahead of the law in this tongue in cheek parody. While in Las Vegas Henry spent or lost his money by gambling, on drugs, and on prostitutes.

When Henry hit bottom, he thought of Angie, his high school sweetheart in Kansas. He decided to change his life once and for all. Henry heads east to return to Angie. In his mock epic Uebbing puts Henry in a bizarre experience with a group of drop out Bohemians. Graphic descriptions portray exaggerated sex and violence intended to satirize a seamy side of life.

Henry’s travels take him through the desert, the Grand Canyon, Nebraska, Tennessee, and the Badlands of South Dakota. His companion for much of his journey was the young son of a dead prostitute. The “Kid” was in search of the American dream, a home, a mother, and taste of idealism. He died in an accident in South Dakota and never got to meet Angie in “Mid America.”

Daniel Uebbing has captured the discrepancies between what we read in our Western novels and the actual history of the West in his book “The Last Cowboy” He uses a surrealistic satiric mock epic style to prove that we still have real cowboys today. Debauchery, drunkenness and alcohol are the evil pitted against a heroic renegade or a powerful sheriff. Add an underlying message of the American ideal and the result is a parody on the American way of life.

Robert D. Reed Publishers, 978-1934759134,

As Reviewed for Midwest Book Review

Stu Ungar – Gambler, Addict, Loser, Legend

If you chance upon a cluster of people at a party chitchatting about great poker players, there would be no doubt that you would hear the name Stu Ungar come up at least once. There are a lot of people in the poker world who actually consider Stu Ungar the greatest poker player of all time – second to none. Of course there would be those who would contest that but the greater majority would agree that Stu Ungar was one of a kind.

Born in September 8, 1953 as Stuart Errol Ungar, he was nicknamed “The Kid.” He was born to Jewish parents in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Though Stu is most known for being a poker player, he actually started out playing gin rummy. His skills were such that at the age of ten, he won a local tournament. Four years later, he was already one of the best gin rummy players in New York. As his father had died in 1968, he dropped out of school to focus on playing at gin rummy tournaments to help support his family.

Stu’s genius in gin rummy proved to be too much for his opponents. Eventually, no one would want to play with him anymore as he beat them too badly. He soon moved Las Vegas and proceeded to make his reputation in gin rummy there as well. After a while, the same situation evolved – no one would set up a match with him as he would just grind them to pieces. That was when he channeled his attention to poker.

In 1980, Stu made a name for himself in poker when he beat Doyle Brunson, a poker legend by his own rights, at the World Series of Poker. Stu is the only poker player to have won both the WSOP title and the Super Bowl of Poker three times! In fact, by the time he was 25 years old, Stu had won the WSOP twice already. He earned his last title in 1997 when he played at the WSOP for the last time.

Stu was not only into gin rummy and poker but was a great blackjack player as well. This could be attributed to the fact that he had a very high IQ – a genius, that is – and he had a photographic memory as well. This served him well in card counting and he was eventually barred from a lot of casinos because of this skill.

Not all was rosy in Stu’s life, though. He was known for his drug abuse and troubled marriage. In those days, professional poker players were not known for their polite behavior as well. Stu was quite well known for dealer abuse. This poker great’s life ended in 1998 when his body was found at the Oasis Hotel. Autopsies recorded that he had drugs in his system though they were not indicated as the main cause of death. However, records showed that the heart failure that killed him was a result of years of drug abuse.

I think the best thing to remember Stu by would be one of his quotes: “Some day, I suppose it’s possible for someone to be a better no limit hold ’em player than me. I doubt it, but it could happen. But, I swear to you, I don’t see how anyone could ever play gin better than me.”

Poker in Mexico

Although poker in Mexico’s casinos is legal in certain areas, it is only in the last few years that the card game has become more popular among its residents and now we are beginning to see more Mexican poker players winning major tournaments around the world, on a daily basis. Take for example two of Mexico’s most successful players – Victor Perches, winner of a WSOP Bracelet in 2006, and Mexico’s most recent WSOP Bracelet winner, Angel Guillen, who took home the prize back in 2009.

Perches, originally from Chihuahua, Mexico, arrived to the United States almost 30 years ago and shortly thereafter began a successful poker career. With plans of working in a food processing plant in Oregon, Perches moved to Las Vegas shortly thereafter. Even though it wasn’t in his original plans, Perches eventually worked his way up to the 2006 World Series of Poker and won the first WSOP Bracelet in Mexico’s history. At the age of 57 years-old, Victoriano Perches cashed in a cool $157,338 and the title of being the first Mexican poker player to win a coveted WSOP Bracelet in the tournament’s history.

Angel “Boloban” Guillen is relatively new to the professional poker scene, but in his short career has already seen his fair share of big wins. It was at the LAPT in Punta del Este where he cashed in for a huge $99,920 prize and took third place in this prestigious poker tournament. Following up that big win, in 2009 the Mexico City native entered the World Series of Poker $2,500 No-Limit Hold’em event and took second place for a very impressive $312,800 cash prize. Many would have called it a day after a win like that, but Angel followed it up only 10 days later with a first place win in the $2,000 No Limit Hold’em Event and cashed in a massive prize of $530,548! With this win, Guillen became only the second poker player from Mexico to win a World Series of Poker Bracelet.

Although professional poker players in Mexico are few and far between, players such as these show promise that one day this highly-populated country will become a driving force in online and live poker tournaments around the world. “Like Chris Moneymaker did for you (in the U.S.), I want to do the same thing in my country. Hopefully, I can.” said Guillen regarding his future poker career.

Odds History

The concept of the pointspread began over a half century ago and really raised the interest in sports betting. It leveled the playing field; the pointspread became the equalizer. In the 1970s, Bob Martin of the Union Plaza Race and Sportsbook in downtown Las Vegas was the most respected oddsmaker in the gaming industry. A lot of oddsmaking tools used today are credited to Martin.

Oddsmakers are the first to say they are not in the business to predict the outcome of a game, but to divide public opinion of the final outcome. Public opinion is created by the media; newspapers, magazines, television, radio and the Internet. Popularity of well-known teams, superstars and media hype, influence the line in a lot of cases besides statistics and power ratings. Power ratings are based on many statistics taken from offense, defense, special teams, points for, points against, at home and away.

The oddsmaker has to take into account every possible thing which affects the outcome of a game… information such as: quality of the teams, injuries, incentive to win, morale, weather (football), history of the match up, recent and previous records. In a perfect world for the oddsmaker, an equal number of people will bet on each side.

In the 1980s, Roxy Roxborough became the main influence in oddsmaking as the age of technology began. Computers became a force in oddsmaking and changed odds at sportsbooks simultaneously. Roxborough founded Las Vegas Sports Consultants (LVCS) in the 1980s which now has most of the sportsbooks in Las Vegas as clients. LVCS has used computer-generated power ratings and information, so everything is passed along faster.

Certain offshore sportsbooks are taking the lead today and their numbers are probably the most respected. Setting a line and letting the most sophisticated and sharp handicappers play into it, then opening it to the public, gives sportsbooks the most two-way action.

Las Vegas Sports Consultants is the world’s best oddsmaking company and the most respected authority on making the lines. There are 4-5 oddsmakers assigned to make lines for each major sport. Each of these oddsmakers adds different opinions, strengths and weaknesses to the process. They want to create a line that half of the people like to bet one way while the other half will bet the other way.

The opening line is the first line created by the oddsmakers then sent out to the sportsbooks. It starts with each oddsmaker creating a line on every game, based on their own approach. This includes up-to-date power ratings on each team. Power ratings are the oddsmakers view of each team; they are used to calculate a beginning pointspread. The power ratings are adjusted after each game. Non-game factors such as injuries, travel, rest, morale are some of the adjustments used to make an opening line. Recently played games and previous meetings between opponents are also considered. They sit down and come to a consensus line that the more experienced oddsmaker okays before being released to the sportsbooks.

Once the opening line is released, the individual sportsbooks decide if they want to make any adjustments before offering it to the public. Experts working for individual books sometimes will have strong opinions on a game. The purpose of these adjustments is to divide the betting action equally. When the betting begins, sportsbooks can adjust the line at any time. By doing this, they make the team getting less action, more attractive. Moving the line can influence how the public bets on a particular game.

Successful bettors are the ones who look at the pointspread as a starting point and determine which side of the line would give them the most value and chance of winning. You must decide with your head, not your heart, to be successful.

What You Should Know About Free Casino Play

For those of you who truly enjoy the thrill of gambling yet don’t see yourself flying off to Vegas for the weekends to play the slots machines or try your hand at poker, there is now an interesting alternative which is growing quite popular with individuals from all walks of society – free casino play online. Gambling in moderation can be exciting and challenging for people of all ages and now internet casino sites are making it much easier to participate in the rush.

What are some reasons you might want to try online casino games? Some people like the challenge and thrill of competing and simply want to have a good time. Others are very much into competing to win and earn some extra cash to purchase those extras that a normal paycheck may not cover. Whatever your reason, with today’s computer technology and graphics, you can find just about any game online that is normally played in a real casino to include online slots, roulette and video poker, just to name a few, and enjoy the same fast pace thrilling atmosphere as if you were really there in person.

For many people gambling is seen as an adventure and free casino play can help satisfy that adventurous streak without cutting into your budget. Its main advantage is that you can play for free as long as you want without the pressure of feeling you have to gamble with real money, at least until you feel confident enough to do so. You can try your hand at various games, experimenting and gaining skills that help you become good before placing a “real” bet.

Another advantage is that online casino sites are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Therefore you can play at your convenience. There are no travel expenses incurred to another city or state in search of casino facilities, no excuses to be made for taking time off from your job, no inconveniences in your work schedule as you can play anytime after work or weekends and you need go no further than your favorite sofa in the living room laptop in hand and enjoy your game! You choose the time and place, without having to interrupt either work or family responsibilities. In fact, you can even invite others of your family and friends to join in the games, turning the adventure into an enjoyable and memorable friends and family affair.

The Worlds Greatest Horse Race Handicapper – Winning Over $670 Million

My friend and mentor Australian Alan Woods, passed away on January 28th 2008 at the age of sixty-two. He was, without a double the world’s most successful horse-racing gambler. It was estimated that at the time of death last January, he was worth over £320m ($670 million US). For twenty years, he was regarded as one of the world’s largest punters and was generally named as one of the three biggest bettors alive. We called him “Mister Huge”.

He did not see racing as a sport of horses and humans, he only saw it as a never ending string of statistics and numbers. He did not socialize with the upper crust of racing. In fact he couldn’t’ even recognize common names of Jockeys, trainers, or important racing personalities. He would brag that he had not been to a racetrack for over twenty-five years. He was the best of the game and had little interest in the beautiful animals that make up the sport. Alan was strictly a numbers guy. Born in 1945 in Murwillumbah, New South Wales, Alan showed an early brilliance for mathematics. He was a losing punter at university and did not develop gaming interest until later on. He was a mathematician and worked as an actuary in the 1970s. His job was to figure out how long you would live if you smoked two packs a day and did not exercise. The insurance companies would then sell you insurance based on his numbers.

In the mid 70’s, he was intrigued by reading a copy of The Revere Point Count Strategy on blackjack card counting. This was his initiation as a serious gambler. For three years he undertook disguises to avoid identification as he traveled from Australia to Las Vegas, playing alone or with teams of blackjack pirates. In 1982 he was tired of the travel, fake identities, and dodging the casino bosses, he headed for Hong Kong. He was successful in the world of card counting, but it was a drop in the bucket compared to what was ahead in horse racing. After investigating what the Computer Group was doing with computers in sports betting, his priorities changed. With a couple of programmers, he would establish a new purpose and change the sport forever. Hong Kong is the perfect spot for professional gamblers. Racing is controlled by the not-for-profit Hong Kong Jockey Club, and is scrupulously honest. You don’t want to be caught fixing races in China and have the authorities find out. Untrue results or race fixing hurts computer calculations. Hong Kong racing features huge betting pools with a limited number of horses and jockeys. He would build a database, his programmers would write a program and they would make history. Hong Kong racing is packed with multiple exotic wagering providing numerous financial opportunities for computer wizards.

For twenty years, Woods would rise to the zenith of this business and become one of the world’s largest horse players. His teams of computer experts and money running agents made it all work. He directed his empire them from a luxury high-rise apartment in Manila. Over the journey he had his ups and downs but it’s reported that during one race day in 1995, Woods made $8 million. It was estimated that in the 2006-07 season, Woods accounted for 2% of the $71.46 billion total Hong Kong Jockey Club betting turnover. His downturn only came when he ventured outside of the Racing world. In the late 1990’s, he took a $100-million stock-market hit when he attempted to short the NASDAQ index just weeks before the bubble actually burst. Had he waited sixty more days, he would have been a billionaire. But it is showing how effective computers can be to the professional punters in succeeding at horse racing. Though Alan is gone, another cancer victim, his legacy will live on. We will miss you my friend.

A Bad Night in Vegas: A Boxing Story

His name was Javier Ayala and he was from Los Angeles by way of Tijuana. He had once gone ten rounds with the great Roberto Duran in 1973 in Los Angeles and also went the distance with Leroy Haley. But on this night at the Silver Slipper in Las Vegas, his main event opponent was Bruce Finch whose claim to fame would be that after his 3rd round TKO loss to Sugar Ray Leonard in1982 in Reno, Leonard would have surgery to repair a detached retina.

Coming into the Finch fight, Javier had lost six straight including ones to the very capable Jerry “Schoolboy” Cheatham and Dujuan Johnson as well as to rugged Lou Bizzarro. Arguably, he had become a gate through which prospects must get through before going to the next level.

I was visiting my brother at the time (I had been on assignment in nearby Phoenix and flew in for some R and R), but on this particular July night in 1980 I was alone. After several hours of Black Jack at Bally’s and dinner at Kathy’s Southern Cooking restaurant, I pursued my real interest of the evening which was to watch a young lightweight prospect out of Youngstown, Ohio by the name of Ray “Boom Boom” Manicini. He had won ten in a row and was on the undercard in a eight-rounder against one Leon Smith whom he blew away in the first round with several unanswered body shots to Smith’s liver that you could hear throughout the hall…………I was on the aisle near ringside and they sounded like muffled bombs. I was most impressed and anything else on this particular boxing night would simply be icing on the cake.

Chris Schwenke fought his first pro fight and won a four-round UD over Bill Fallow. He would then go on a 14 fight win streak. There was an uneventful 6-rounder before the Finch-Ayala bout between Danny Sanders and Irish Pat Coffey which Danny won by TKO in the last round. At that point, there was a brief intermission and I remember this young boy of about 9 or 10 years old who then appeared and was standing just to the rear of my seat. I asked him his name and he said he was Javier Ayala’s son. He was very shy and humble. We had a nice exchange and I said I hoped his father would do well. As the fighters walked to the ring, I noticed Javier reach over to pat his son on the shoulder and give him a smile and wink. The fighters were then introduced amidst the usual fanfare and the crowd readied for the main event.

Finch, from Milwaukee, had lost only three fights coming in and these were to the very capable Tommy Hearns, Larry Bonds, and Pete Ranzany. He had won 21 and was touted as having lot’s of pop in his punches. The much younger Finch looked to be in excellent welterweight shape, while Ayala, at age 37, looked just a bit shop worn.

As I torched up my Cuesto Rey……….thankfully, there was no political correctness back in 1980, particularly in a gambling casino……….the fighters received their instructions touched gloves, the bell rang and the fight began. The first two rounds were mostly cat and mouse with both fighters feeling each other out and getting in a few decent shots. Finch threw some neat combinations and seemed to have taken control by the end of round two. In the third round is when it happened. Both fighters were coming out of a clinch and as they set themselves, Ayala moved forward to throw a telegraphed looping right. Finch got there first unleashing a short and vicious right uppercut which hit Ayala at the point of his chin. You could hear the blow back in the gambling area.

Ayala hit the canvas as if he had been hit with a ten gauge shotgun……..and that’s when what started out to be a pleasant evening of manly fun became something else. As he landed on his back, his body hit before his head which then whip sawed onto the canvas. He stayed down as his only handler hovered over him and as ringside officials and the referee quickly went to revive him. He was unconscious and stayed that way for between 15 and 20 minutes without so much as moving a limb. A stretcher was being readied, the crowd was hushed, and a genuine sense of concern permeated. Everyone feared the worse. Finch, while elated with his one punch victory, was visibly concerned. While this was all going on, I glanced over at his son standing in the rear area and I’ll never forget the look on his face or the tears in his eyes. I went over to him, put my arm around him and said “don’t worry, your father will be fine.” He was shaking all over and it was all I could do to keep myself composed.

Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, Javier Ayala arose to scattered applause, but their was palpable relief as well. He left the ring under his own power, albeit unsteadily, and seemed okay. As he was heading for the dressing room, he stopped and took his son’s hand in his own and they both disappeared from sight as they went into the room. The word that best descibes what I witnessed at that moment was pathos……..my overwhelming emotion was one of sympathy and pity.

I never found out exactly what happened to Ayala but I do know that was his last fight. He would finish with a record of 21 wins, 24 losses, and 1 draw. Where he is today or where his son might be remain mysteries that I just as soon not solve. My connection with Javier Ayala has remained deliberately unresolved.

As for Bruce Finch, he would go on to win eleven in a row before being stopped by Sugar Ray in 1982. He would then lose six of his next seven fights before retiring in 1985.

To this day, when I get giddy over some fight or engage in a heated argument over boxing in general and need a reality check, I always think back to that bad night in Vegas………one that would leave me with indelible memories. “In no other sport is the connection between performer and observer so intimate, so frequently painful, so unresolved.” – Joyce Carol Oates

Singapore – The Ultimate Gaming Venue

Singapore, the ‘visitor’s paradise’ is poised to eclipse Las Vegas, as a renowned gaming destination with more travelers choosing it as their favorite gaming and gambling spot. Be dazzled by one of the finest gaming halls; bump in to some poker halls and enjoy heart-pumping entertainment at Singapore, which is sure to relish you all!

Recently, legalized gambling has been spreading in Asia in a faster pace and Singapore has emerged as Asia’s hottest gaming destination. Resort World Casino, Sentosa, is an unrivaled gaming floor in Singapore, where the celebrations reach its zenith. Owned by one of Asia’s oldest gaming operators, the casino brims with never ending activities. Wide array of table games, slots, baccarat, blackjack, roulette and casino style poker games, keeps you entertained. More than just gaming, you can see Dale Chihuly’s magnificent glass sculptures, taste some of Singapore’s best culinary delights, and watch top-class shows. Tourists above 21 years of age having a valid passport can enter the gaming floor. Resort World Sentosa is an amazing casino and home to some grand hotels, Theme Parks, trendy shops, maritime museum and marine park.

Marina Bay Sands, a grand 5.5 billion dollar casino is definitely a try at least once in a life time. From baccarat to Singapore Stud Poker, you’ll get everything you are looking for. Get a chance to indulge and explore some exhilarating rapid table games- a combination of dealer and electronic betting interface, serenaded by world-class performances by jazz legends and pop sensations at ‘The Shoppes’ or whet your appetite with a selection of Chinese, Indian or Malay savory cuisines. It’s probably a place where you can shop till you drop. Marina Bay Sands gaming floor is the place where it all comes together.

For the roller coaster die-hard fans, chill out at Singapore’s Universal Studio. Hop on state-of-the-art rides; experience the ‘Transformers The Ride -3D’ show or coast ride out on ‘Battlestar Glactica’. It’s absolutely ‘universal’ and you’ll never forget the thrill.

Singapore Cable Car, Asia’s first cable car museum, presents a bird’s eye view of Singapore’s skyline. Unbelievable! Picturesque view of the city from Mount Faber is really an interesting move from the gambling vessels to the skyline. Take a stroll amidst the heaven of scenery, not only scenic, it is fun also.

Singapore Poker also has driven great popularity. Surprising Singapore doesn’t have a poker room and the great news for poker players is Resorts World Sentosa is planning to open the poker rooms soon. The underground poker network is active throughout Singapore, where the fans organize games. Getting a spot at these games is not very easy and the entry is strictly restricted by invitation only.

Singapore Flyer, the largest observation wheel is yet another exciting venue. Visitors can enjoy a ride in real a flight simulator, a journey of dreams. Enjoy a unique experience of viewing three countries Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore, while you fly high in the sky!

Singapore also provides a variety of sports betting option for international and domestic football games and Grand Prix Auto races. Paint Ball Game played with a special paint ball gun also attracts guests. Either played indoors or at outdoors, fields of varying sizes offer realistic and unique experience. Red Dynasty Paint Ball Park and Bottle Tree Park offers some finest paintball scenarios.

The attractions here are vast and varied, whether it is about shopping off the beaten path, soaking in the cozy atmosphere or getting into some thick action with a variety of sporting or gaming action, Singapore is simply superb!

The Best Roulette Game in Las Vegas – Why and Where to Play Single Zero Roulette

We have all seen a roulette wheel. Some of us have even played it in a casino. While all roulette games look the same at first glance, small variations in the winning payouts and even the wheel itself can lead to sizable differences in the expected outcome for both the player and the casino. In this article, we will show you the three main roulette games available in American casinos. We will take a deeper look at the underlying mathematics of each game to determine which variant of roulette is best, and why. Finally, we will help you track down the best roulette game in Las Vegas!

If a roulette wheel had only 36 pockets (the little slots on the side of the wheel into which the ball eventually drops) the game would be truly fair. The 1-in-36 (2.78%) chance a player would have to win 35-to-1 would exactly offset the 35-in-36 (97.22%) chance he or she would have to lose.

Casinos, of course, are in the business to make a profit. The money to buy the liquor they serve for free, to build and maintain the dancing fountains, and to pay the wages of everyone from the bellhop to the pit boss to the celebrity headliner has to come from somewhere. A lot of it comes from the house edge, which is the mathematical advantage over the player that is built into every game the casino offers.

In most roulette games offered in American casinos, that advantage is provided by the green 0 and 00 pockets both on the wheel and at the top of the layout. Instead of 36 pockets, a typical American roulette wheel actually has 38: the numbers 1 through 36, 0, and 00. The presence of the 00 pocket leads to American roulette sometimes being called “double-zero roulette.” In double-zero roulette, the player now has only 1 chance in 38 (2.63%) of winning 35-to-1; the probability of losing has increased to 37 out of 38 (97.37%) Even the most math-averse reader can see that this setup is disadvantageous to the gambler. More specifically, the 2 extra pockets give the casino a house edge of 5.26%. Over the very long run, for every $10,000 the casino collects in losing wagers, it pays back only $9474 in winnings. It should be pointed out that all bets available on double-zero roulette–except one–have the same house edge. The comparative payouts and probabilities for straights, streets, corners, and splits, as well as the lower-paying bets on the outside of the layout, are all structured to have this same house edge of 5.26%. The one exception is the “basket,” which is a wager on 0, 00, 1, 2, and 3. This wager pays 6-to-1 and has a house edge of 7.89%.

Serious roulette players who want to minimize the house edge should track down and play single-zero roulette. In single-zero roulette, the green 00 pocket is missing; the wheel has only 37 pockets. This is as close to fair as the wheel can get. The player has a 1-in-37 chance (2.70%) of winning 35-to-1, and a 36-in-37 chance (97.30%) of losing. This is only a 7 one-hundredths of a percent increased probability of winning on any particular number, but it has a significant effect on the house edge. Single-zero roulette has a house edge of only 2.70%, compared to 5.26% for double-zero roulette. That works out to an extra $256 in winnings per $10,000 collected.

Some single-zero roulette games offer another variation on their payouts. If a player wagers on one of the even-money outside bets on the layout (even, odd, red, black, 1-to-18, or 19-to-36), and the ball lands in the 0 pocket, the casino collects only half of your losing wager. For example, if you wager $10 on black, and the ball lands on 0, the house only takes $5 of your wager.

In an even rarer variation, the dealer may give you the choice of either losing only half your bet, or putting your bet “in prison.” Here’s what happens when you go to roulette jail:

1) The dealer puts a marker over your bet (the full $10 bet from before) that says en prison. You can neither add nor take away from your wager for the next spin.

2) The dealer spins the roulette wheel again for the next round.

When the ball finally comes to rest, one of two things will happen. Again, let us assume we have a $10 en prison bet on black.

1) The ball lands on black. You do not win anything, but it is like a jailbreak for your wager. The en prison marker is removed and you are free to do what you wish with your $10. Effectively, you get your money back.

2) The ball lands anywhere else (red or 0). You lose.

The en prison or “half back on even money” option cuts the house edge on these bets to a meager 1.35%. All of the other bets on the layout remain at the usual single-zero house edge of 2.70%. As far as I know, no casino offers this option on double-zero roulette. If one did, the house edge on these even-money wagers would be 2.63%.

By this point, we have shown that single-zero roulette is the more advantageous variation to play. It is the standard roulette game across Europe and Australia; a double-zero roulette game in Monte Carlo would be practically unheard of. You will also find single-zero roulette in many casinos throughout the Caribbean and the Pacific Rim.

Single-zero roulette is significantly harder to find in the United States, but it is out there. Many of the larger, higher-end casinos on the Las Vegas Strip offer it in their high-limit gaming sections only. A few of the more “European-themed” hotels are rumored to even offer the en-prison option.

If you lack either the bankroll or the stomach to wager $25, $50, or even $100 per spin, head to Las Vegas and visit Caesar’s Palace, Mandalay Bay (on weekends only), The Mirage, Monte Carlo (Friday and Saturday nights only), Nevada Palace, Stratosphere, and The Venetian.

Note that at Caesar’s, The Venetian, and Mandalay Bay, while their regular roulette tables may not technically be “high-limit” tables by their standards, they may still have a $15 minimum bet.

Several Las Vegas casinos reportedly offer single-zero roulette in their high-limit areas only. Other casinos not listed here just might offer it if a known high-roller requests it. Las Vegas casinos that limit their single-zero roulette to their high-limit tables include Bellagio, Golden Nugget (at high roller request only), Las Vegas Hilton, Luxor (weekends only), MGM Grand, Paris (at high roller request only), Rio, and Wynn Las Vegas.

A few of these high-limit tables even offer the favorable en prison option. Gamblers have reported playing en prison at the high-limit tables of Bellagio, Mandalay Bay, MGM Grand, The Mirage, Rio, and Wynn Las Vegas.

Several casinos in Atlantic City offer single-zero roulette in their high-limit areas only. I have heard of none that offer en prison. You can play high-stakes single-zero roulette at Tropicana, Showboat, Harrah’s, Caesar’s, Trump Marina, and Trump Taj Mahal.

These lists of casinos will no doubt change as time goes on. Some games increase in popularity while other tables have no one but a lonely dealer at them at 10 o’clock on a Friday night. In the time between this article was written and is now being read, some casinos may have expanded their single-zero roulette games or gotten rid of them entirely. An attempt is being made to keep track of all active single-zero roulette games in the United States at the Single Zero Roulette Squidoo Lens at [http://www.squidoo.com/singlezeroroulette/].

We have shown that single-zero roulette offers substantially better odds for the gambler than does the more common double-zero American game. The gambler will ultimately lose money over the very long run at any roulette game. Because of the lower house edge, however, the gambler has a better chance of winning money in the short run at the single-zero tables, particularly if the game offers the en prison option. Any roulette enthusiasts who want to maximize their wins–or even just minimize their losses–would do well to find and play the more advantageous, single-zero roulette game.