Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Spinning the wheel

In this post, I'll define a basic set of data structures and functions to spin a wheel of fortune. In the next post, I'll show you the simple model casinos use to build a bigger, more attractive pot, without touching the physical wheel and without losing money. Finally, I'll show you how casinos tweak that model to bend the odds and create near misses.


Let's say we have a physical wheel with four pockets, which are labeled either miss or win.

Three out of four pockets are labeled as a miss, one is labeled as a win. This makes the odds to win one out of four, or 25%.

Spinning the wheel, we should end up in one of four pockets. We can do this by picking a random index of the physical wheel.

To avoid a shoulder injury spinning the wheel multiple times, we'll define a function that does this for us instead.

Now I can spin the wheel one million times.

If the math adds up, we should win 25% of the time. To verify this, we'll group the results by label and print them.

Give or take a few hundred spins, we're pretty close to winning 25% of the time.

When the odds are this fair, it's impossible to come up with an attractive enough payout without the casino going broke. What if we wanted to advertise a bigger pot, while keeping the same physical wheel, without losing money? Tomorrow, I'll write about the simple model casinos have been using to achieve this.

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