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26 August 2016
By Mark Pilarski
Dear Mark: I will try to keep this as short as possible. Where I play, the craps table offers what is called a "fire" bet. If you make all the point numbers (4-5-6-8-9-10) in any order before 7 rolls, you are paid 1,000 to 1. I made the 4, 5, 6, 8, and 10, and then low and behold, the 9 rolled, which should have paid me $5,000 since I had $5 on the fire bet. However, the pit boss yelled out “No roll” and the shooter proceeded to roll a 7 three rolls later. My question is, was I screwed by the pit boss out of $5,000? While you are at it, should I be making the bet in the first place? I have been playing the fire bet for a few years now, and this was the closest I have ever come to hitting all six numbers. John K.
I will begin, John, with the game, followed by the math, and then that “no roll” call.
Some casinos offer what’s called a "fire bet," that pays if the shooter makes “at least” 4 different points (4, 5, 6, 8, 9,10) before the seven rolls.
The bet is typically offered at $1 to $5, and the bettor is betting that a hot shooter will make multiple valued points. For the points to count towards the fire bet, they must all be different. For example, if a player were to make a point of 4 twice, only one of those rolls would only be credited for a point on the fire bet, not two.
For the first three points hit, there are no payoffs. However, increasing odds are paid for the fourth, fifth and sixth points; 25-to-1 odds are paid for the fourth point, which would be $125 a $5 bet; the fifth point pays at 250-to-1 odds, which is $1,250 for a $5 bet; and the sixth point pays 1,000-to-1 odds or $5,000 in your case. It is important to note here that you won something on that $5 wager: $1,250.
As for to your inquiry about the worthiness of this wager, John, consider this. There is a reason why, as you stated: “this is the closest I’ve come to hitting all six numbers.” The fire bet is the worst bet you can make on a craps game. It has a huge house edge of 24.7%.
Concerning your question about being screwed, I doubt you were unless, of course, your legitimate win of $1,250 for hitting five numbers was not honored.
When the boxman supervising a craps game invalidates a roll, he or she will call “no roll” or “no dice.” Usually, this happens when one or both of the dice fail to cover much distance, they bounce off the game, a player tries to slide them, or the dice do not land flat. More than likely one of those possibilities happened on that fateful roll.
I can tell you first hand, John, that in a fast-paced game like craps, a boxman needs to make split-second decisions that won’t always be favorable to you.
True, John, I wasn’t there boxing the game. So I can only presume that the boxman either thought it wasn’t a legal toss, or one of the dice after landing was tilted at such an angle that he or she couldn’t clearly distinguish it as that 9 that you were eager for.
Gambling Wisdom of the Week: “His hands become nervous when he picks up their cards, exactly as if he were holding live birds instead of inanimate pieces of cardboard.” - Maxim Gorky (1868-1936), describing Leo Tolstoy at cards
19 August 2016Dear Mark: When it comes to making the best bet in a casino, your advice has been playing perfect strategy at either blackjack or video poker. Here’s my issue with that: I am not interested in learning a new skill in any game that I will probably play once a month, for only four hours at best. But I also don’t want to make stupid bets that have a high house edge. ... (read more)
12 August 2016Dear Mark: On a multi-line/multi-coin video slot machine, how many coins do you recommend per line? Also, on a slot machine where you can push a button to stop the reels when I do decide to stop them, does it make any difference as to my chances of winning? Susan L. On multi-line/multi-coin slots, I would recommend playing one coin per line. ... (read more)
5 August 2016Dear Mark: Over the years I have been playing slots less and less. Now I just play in an occasional slot tournament that our local casino offers. I do find these enjoyable. Do you have any suggestions on how I can improve my chances of winning in these tournaments? Mary L. A good number of casinos offer slot tournaments for their patrons. ... (read more)