The Big 6 Wheel – Rules & Strategies to Help You Win

Thinking Man With a Big 6 Wheel To The Right

One of the simplest casino games, Big Six (or Big Six Wheel) is a game of chance built around a big prop, the infamous Wheel of Fortune. Big Six betting is straightforward, as are the game’s rules and the paytable.

Big Six isn’t just a casino game. You’ll find it at carnivals, at fundraisers, and even used as a party game.

This post is all about the Big Six Wheel, how it’s played, how the payouts work, and what you can do to win more often when you play.

Big Six Basics

The most important thing about the game is the big spinning wheel. In most versions of the game, the wheel is upright, not lying flat as in roulette. This makes the game highly visible. Casinos use color, light, sound, and the placement of the game to draw in players.

The big Vegas casinos used to compete for ever-gaudier and larger Big Six games, though Big Six isn’t as big a part of the American gambling scene as it once was.

Other names for the game include Wheel of Fortune, Big Wheel, Money Wheel, Lucky Wheel, and plenty of other combinations of gambling buzzwords and the word “wheel.”

The player’s goal is for the wheel to stop on the segment they bet on. Different segments have different payout amounts and likelihoods of winning, covered in more detail below in the Odds & Payouts section.

Big Six Wheel Layout

Typically, the wheel is broken up into 54 segments.

Each of these 54 segments is labeled with one of six values. The values that appear most frequently on the wheel have the lowest payouts; the opposite is also true. The game’s biggest payouts have the lowest odds of winning.

52 of the wheel’s segments contain one of five lower values. 2 of the wheel’s segments will be wild symbols or other special symbols, depending on the game’s rules.

How to Play Big Six

You have only 7 options for bets on Big Six. You can bet on any of the five numbered or colored spaces, or on either of the wild/joker symbols. Bets are usually limited to $100 on any individual space and $500 overall.

Big Six Casino Game

In the most popular American version of the game, you’re betting on dollar bills. These bills represent your payout, so that betting on the $1 bill means a 1:1 payout, a $2 bill means a 2:1 payout, etc. Some versions of the game replace the bills with numbers, colors, or other symbols.

Once you’ve placed your bet, the wheel will spin, and you’ll see an outcome. If you bet on the symbol that wins, you’ll earn a payout based on the game’s paytable.

Big Six Odds & Payouts

Below is a typical paytable for a Vegas Big 6 game:

  • 1 – pays 1:1 – 44.44% chance to win
  • 2 – pays 2:1 – 27.78% chance to win
  • 5 – pays 5:1 – 12.96% chance to win
  • 10 – pays 10:1 – 7.41% chance to win
  • 20 – pays 20:1 – 3.7% chance to win
  • Wild #1 – pays 40:1 – 1.85% chance to win
  • Wild #2 – pays 40:1 – 1.85% chance to win

In this arrangement, the game gives the casino an edge of 19.84%. I probably don’t have to say this, but it’s clearly among the worst bets on the floor in terms of player odds.

Below is a paytable in common use in Atlantic City and other parts of the US East Coast. Notice that the payouts and probabilities are slightly different:

  • 1 – pays 1:1 – 42.59% chance to win
  • 2 – pays 2:1 – 27.78% chance to win
  • 5 – pays 5:1 – 14.81% chance to win
  • 10 – pays 10:1 – 7.41% chance to win
  • 20 – pays 20:1 – 3.7% chance to win
  • Wild #1 – pays 45:1 – 1.85% chance to win
  • Wild #2 – pays 45:1 – 1.85% chance to win

Here, the house edge on the overall game is about 16.13%, still way worse than you’ll find on most casino games, but a few points better than the typical Vegas paytable outlined above.

Is Big Six Legal to Play?

In states with casinos, Big Six Wheel games are legal and relatively easy to find.

However, most Americans won’t play this game for the first time in Vegas or Atlantic City. Most people’s first experience with the Money Wheel game is at a charitable event or a fundraiser.

In states where gambling is outlawed, you’re not going to find a legal Big Six game. That includes fundraisers or charity events. Unless social or charitable gambling is explicitly legal, playing Big Six Wheel games for real money is probably illegal.

In Colorado, charitable gaming is allowed under certain conditions, and state law seems to only allow bingo and raffles, excluding games like Big Six. Look at Oklahoma law for an example of the opposite in action – Oklahoma explicitly allows the use of Money Wheel-type games for charitable purposes.

I’m not a lawyer. If you have real questions about the legality of a game, you should talk to a lawyer familiar with gaming law in the state where you live.

Big Six Strategy – How to Win More Often

Since Big Six is a game of chance, it doesn’t allow for a lot of rigorous strategies.

The player’s only two choices are how much to bet and which of seven bets to place. It’s only slightly more complicated than a scratch-off lottery ticket.

That said, I can think of three things Big Six players can do to increase their winnings, even considering that Big Six Wheel is based on luck.

Want the Best Big Six Odds? Play in Australia

Casinos in Australia are more rigorously-regulated than their American counterparts. That means game rules have to be adjusted. The common Australian version of the game is set up so that every bet gives the casino the same edge – 7.69%.

They did this to comply with various local regulations limiting the hold percentage of casino games. That 47 credit payout for landing on the game’s only kangaroo symbol has the same edge as the 1:1 payout for the 24 koala symbols.

Casino Wheel of Fortune Slot Machine

You’ll lose less against a house edge of 7.69% compared to the American version of the game, which is tipped more than twice as much in the house’s favor.

Stick To Short Odds Bets to Reduce the Casino’s Edge

This one’s simple. If you want to win more (really, lose less), stick to the game’s even-money bet. In America, that’s the $1 bill, and there’s 24 of them among the wheel’s 54 spots.

The house edge on the Vegas version of the game is 11.11%, meaning you’ll lose about $1.11 of each $10 bet. At 50 spins per hour, you’re spending about $55 an hour to play. That’s expensive for an even-money session, but it’s still cheaper than getting a massage.

Maximize Your Winnings in the Short Term With Two Extra Bets per Round

I’ve seen lots of players play Big Six in Vegas like this – they bet $10 on the $1 space and $10 on both of the wild symbols. That gives them a 48.1% chance of winning any amount, though it’s most likely to be that 1:1 payout for the $1 space.

These players are likely to see two wild symbol wins per hour, but that $800 in winnings doesn’t do much to overcome the additional $20 in bets placed, the ones that lose most of the time.

Will you win more betting this way?

You might, especially over the short term. Eventually, the math that runs the game will take over, and you’ll ultimately lose more money over time.

Our Thoughts on Playing the Big Six Wheel

Playing Big Six Wheel is fun. It’s not meant to be intellectually stimulating, it’s meant to create a little tension. As the wheel spins and the segments click by, your heart jumps up and down, anticipating the result, adding up potential winnings, and waiting for that last click and stop. It’s fun.

That said, it’s also a potentially dangerous game in terms of your bankroll. Those wild symbol bets can give the casino an edge near 25%.

How many of us would spend even a penny on a slot machine with a 75% payback percentage?

Not many.

If you’re in the casino have fun and you enjoy the tension and release of a few rounds of Big Six, there’s no harm in playing. Just be sure you understand the ratio of risk vs. reward that you’re up against.