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HOME > Gaming > Three reels and the speed of craps

Three reels and the speed of craps

3 August 2014

By John Grochowski

QUESTION: I guess I’m getting old, but why don’t they make three-reel slots anymore? Those are still my favorites. I don’t feel like I can win anything big on video slots, but it’s hard to find the reels anymore.

ANSWER: They do still make three-reel games. International Game Technology has long been the leader in the reel-spinners, and its classics such as Red White and Blue and Double Diamond are still there, as are new twists including Double 3x, 4x, 5x Diamond, available with either one payline or nine, and the three-reel version of Centipede, with 20 paylines.

Bally Technologies (Blazing 7s, Alpha 2 Pro Stepper slots including Gems and Rings) and WMS Gaming (Reel Rich Devil, Diamonds of Dublin) also continue to make three-reel slots, as do several other gamemakers.

However, video slots have been crowding the reel spinners off gaming floors for more than a decade now, and the overwhelming majority of games in most casinos are on video. That’s mostly because of player preference. Slot directors fill their floors with video slots because those are the most-played, most profitable games.

There are other advantages for the casino operator in video. Video slots have no moving parts and are easier and less expensive to maintain. And when a video slot passes peak popularity, it just takes new software to change the game.

None of those video advantages would keep a reel-spinning slot off the floor if it was popular and profitable enough. But fewer three-reelers can earn enough to merit a place at a time when most players are gravitating toward the video games.

QUESTION: How much faster does craps move than other games? I kind of feel like I can relax over a game of blackjack, but craps seems frenetic, constant action. It’s like the difference between baseball, which I love, and hockey, which I also love.

ANSWER: It depends on how many players are at the table. More players means more time spent paying off winners, collecting losing bets, checking rewards cards and other little tasks that go with serving the public.

In Jim Kilby’s text “Casino Operations Management,” the averages listed for one player in action are 249 rolls per hour in craps, 209 in blackjack and 112 spins in roulette. There are a lot of variables that go into that, notably speed of the dealer or crew and speed of the player, but that’s what Kilby came up with when he tracked tables for casino-wide average.

With five players at the table, it’s 144 rolls at craps, 70 hands at blackjack and 48 spins at roulette. Kilby’s figures went up to 11 players at craps and 102 rolls per hour, a full seven-player blackjack table and 52 hands per hour, and six roulette players for 35 spins an hour.

So yes, craps does move much faster than other games – to use five players as an example, it’s twice as fast as blackjack and three times as fast as roulette.

Craps players who stick to multiroll bets can ease the effect of that speed. If you bet the pass line, it takes an average of 3.38 rolls per decision. So the 144 rolls per hour with five craps players yields an average of 42.6 decisions, fewer than the 70 hands per hour at blackjack.

But that drop to fewer decisions per hour than blackjack applies only if you stick to one pass line bet and don’t jump in with multiple come bets or place bets, too. It’s a rare craps player who does that. Most really are getting twice as many decisions or more per hour than blackjack players.

This article is provided by the Frank Scoblete Network. Melissa A. Kaplan is the network's managing editor. If you would like to use this article on your website, please contact Casino City Press, the exclusive web syndication outlet for the Frank Scoblete Network. To contact Frank, please e-mail him at fscobe@optonline.net.

John Grochowski
John  Grochowski
John Grochowski is the best-selling author of The Craps Answer Book, The Slot Machine Answer Book and The Video Poker Answer Book. His weekly column is syndicated to newspapers and Web sites, and he contributes to many of the major magazines and newspapers in the gaming field. Listen to John Grochowski's "Casino Answer Man" tips Tuesday through Friday at 5:18 p.m. on WLS-AM (890) in Chicago.

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