Tropicana Cash Wheel

In this meeting, Steve challenged us to figure out the best of some bad choices at the casino.

Facilitator(s): Steve Meyerson
Date of Meeting: July 13, 2017
Problem: pdf

Steve started today’s meeting by sharing that he had recently noticed that the Tropicana Casino in Atlantic City has a game called the Cash Wheel. Steve took notes on what he saw and presented us with a representation of the Cash Wheel.

Steve explained that we should imagine this as a spinning wheel with equal odds of landing on any one of the numbers. We talked together to get some understanding of how the game would be played. We also counted the different sections and noted the number in each category with a total of 54 sections:

Category Count
1 23
2 15
5 8
10 4
20 2
Joker 1
Tropicana 1

Steve then shared the following payoff information:

Here’s another representation of the board and the payoff table (available for download above):

Eventually, we understood how the game is played:

  • The player makes a bet by putting some money on one of the categories (one, two, five, ten, twenty, Tropicana or Joker).
  • The wheel is spun.
  • If the wheel stops on the category you chose, you win.
  • The amount of money you collect depends on the payoff. If you chose one, you get the same amount you bet. If you chose two, you get double what you bet. If you chose five, you get five times what you bet, and so on.

After some more discussion about how we might start to calculate the odds and consider how payoff would affect our decision, we worked to answer some of these questions:

  • What is the best (least bad) bet on the wheel?
  • What is the house edge for each category?
Teacher Thinking


Location: Turning Point, 423 39th St., Brooklyn, NY
Attended: Steve, Esther, Eric, Raheem, Stephanie, Stephen, Mark, Leo
Programs represented: CUNY, Metropolitan Detention Center, ParentJobNet, Touro, Turning Point

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