Big Six under study

My latest report is up over at the Center for Gaming Research. It’s a look at why Big Six is such a great game–for the house:

Big Six is a minor casino game, but one that has high visibility on most casinos floors. Positioned where it is easily accessible by casual and novice gamblers, the game offers payouts as high as 45 to 1. But all of the bets, particularly, the longshots, have relatively large advantages for the house, ranging from about 11% to over 24%. The game is one of the worst bets on the casino floor for gamblers.

Looking at field results from a single table in an Atlantic City casino over four years, it is clear that this is a wheel that spins predominantly to the house’s, rather than player’s, advantage. The average win percentage of 42.25% for the period examined explains why seasoned gamblers avoid this game.


I’m glad I took a look at the game–it didn’t take long, and it’s nice practice for testing assumptions a little more controversial than “Big Six isn’t such a great game.”

I fully expect to get several emails from outraged Big Six players, telling me how they’ve won hundreds of dollars on the game over the years.

If you’re in this boat, and are getting ready to email me to tell me I “got it wrong” about this game, here is the offer I’ll make: if you can replicate your winning formula for Big Six in a casino with me or another representative watching and recording all of the details for your bets over several hours, I’m willing to test your theory. If you’re right, we will have found something new.

1 thought on “Big Six under study”

  1. I’m not about to tell you that ‘you got it wrong’ (though it is a bit tempting to do so just for the heck of it).

    Instead of making some sort of silly assertion as to the beatability of the game, I’d just like to thank you for taking the time to put that report together. I’ve never seen a formal study of real world Big Six results, probably because it is viewed as a sucker-bet carnival game, and therefore not worthy of the attention of researchers (as opposed to the heavily-studied games like blackjack).

    I am a big fan of the idea that just because something does not seem to merit formal study does not necessarily mean that there is nothing to be gained from doing so. While your results were not groundbreaking (and I gather that you did not expect them to be from what you wrote), the study does provide a good starting point for anyone wishing to do further research on the game (studying the psychological aspects of carnival game marketing and patronage comes to mind). This study is also useful as it can prove the effectiveness of a model (as you mentioned) for compiling figures on games which have results which are not quite so obviously skewed.

    This is getting unnecessarily long-winded, so in a word – Thanks! This one is in my gaming research file now, in a brand new folder marked “Big Six”, a folder I really didn’t expect ever to have. 🙂

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