The Big Six Wheel should be a common sight to anyone who has ever been into a casino – or watched an episode of Wheel of Fortune. It’s a large, vertical wheel that is spun by either a croupier or a contestant to reveal prizes or winning (and losing) numbers.
It comes in different forms, depending on where you find it. On the gameshow and in most charity drives that make use of it to dish out prizes, the wheel consists of a varying amount of segments and in each of them is a different prize of different values. The version used in carnivals is actually the original Big Six wheel, which includes three dice in each segment and the object of the game is to bet on one of the numbers from 1 to 6 and if the pointer lands on a segment with dice that match your bet, you win once, twice, or thrice your bet, depending on how many of the dice in the segment match your number.
And then there’s the Big Six Wheels you find at casinos, but what sets this wheel apart from the others?
The Composition of the Wheel
The Big Six Wheel found in casinos are known as money wheels, and like dice wheels, they’re made up of 54 equal-sized segments. In these segments, though, aren’t dice but one of 5 different numbers, as well as two wilds. These numbers, represented as dollars, are 1, 2, 5, 10, and 20 and bettors place wagers on the pointer landing on one of them or one of the wilds.
The way it breaks down is like this:
|Number||Number of Times it Appears||Chance of Winning||House Edge||Payout|
|Wilds||1 (of each)||1.85%||24.07%||40:1|
As you may notice, those are very, very high house edges. They’re actually some of the largest on the casino floor. On the other hand, though the payouts aren’t amazing, the chances of winning are better than most.
The above table applies to the most common version of the money wheel: the Las Vegas wheel. There are several others, though. They don’t actually deviate much from one another, despite some substituting the numbers for colors (Macau wheels) or symbols of animals (Australian wheels).
All of these variants, though, are made up of 54 segments and the way the payouts scale are very similar. They’re not identical, though. For example, the payout rates on wheels that use colors or symbols tend to be a bit higher, with Australian wheels offering higher payouts on all bets, whereas Macau wheels all offer the same as Las Vegas or Atlantic City wheels, except their equivalent of the $2 segment actually plays out 3 times as much. The biggest difference between all these different variants, though, is the payouts for the wilds or jokers. Atlantic City wheels, for example, pay 45:1 on either of the wilds, rather than 40:1, and the Australian wheel pays 47:1.
Also worth mentioning, though these analog wheels all have the same amount of segments (54), some electronic versions designed by the likes of Azure or Interblocks, usually have fewer segments (between 47 and 52). Which is why if you do play an electronic version of the game, you should absolutely ask exactly how many segments there are and if at all possible, to be given tables like the one above to lay out exactly what your chances of winning are.
Still, in casinos, the Las Vegas variant is by far the most common (and is used exclusively in Las Vegas, of course) so if you know how it works, you should be covered in most casinos, nationwide.