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Best of Mark Pilarski

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Deal Me In: A certain craps loss

16 September 2011

Dear Mark: First, is it legal to bet the pass line and don’t pass simultaneously? Rationale being, one bet wins, one bet loses, and I don’t expose my bankroll while I rake in the comps. What are your thoughts of this system? Am I missing anything? Andy I.

Yes, Andy, betting both sides is permissible, and playing just for comps may work in some casinos, but it is far from a risk-free proposition. And, yes, you are missing something. Actually, Andy, it’s a guaranteed losing system. First, some Crapsology 101.

Craps is a game played with a pair of matched, numbered dice. Each die has six sides. With perfectly balanced dice, each side has an equal chance of landing face up when rolled. Because each die has six sides, 36 different combinations (6 x 6) can be thrown on one toss of two dice. Except, Andy, what you forgot to take into consideration with your system is that there are 35 combinations, not 36, where one side wins and the other loses.

I believe, Andy, that you overlooked the shooter rolling a pair of sixes on the come out where the pass line would win, but on the don’t side, it’s just a push. Yes, you get your money back with a push, but the push does not cancel out the loss on the pass side.

With this system, Andy, mathematically there cannot be a net win because your wins are canceled by matching losses. A net loss is certain because of the 12 rolling on the come out, and your comps for wagering both sides might not equal the amount you will eventually lose.

Dear Mark: I was puzzled some by your recent response to Nick regarding card counters. Doesn’t the edge the card counter has over the house come from winning more hands than they lose? I thought their profit came from winning more than 50 percent of the hands dealt. Jeff S.

Although, Jeff, I assumed my answer was well defined, maybe I should repeat myself.

Card counters’ slight advantage against the house, varying between 0.5 percent and 1.5 percent, does NOT come from their winning more hands than the house; it is that they bet more when the remaining deck is in their favor, and less when it's not.

The counter’s likelihood of winning hands comes from the increased probability of a blackjack; increased gain from splitting, doubling and surrender; and even the insurance side bet, which becomes profitable at high counts.

If the remaining deck(s) have a high concentration of aces and 10s, the player is obviously bound to see more blackjacks, and receiving payment of 3-2 on those snappers is where the player gets his or her edge. Moreover, if the remaining deck(s) are abundant in high cards, the player is more likely to get a 10 for their splits and double downs, giving him a winnable 20 or 21. This said, Jeff, the probability of a counter winning a hand is still under 50 percent.

Also, Jeff, contrary to the popular myth, a card counter doesn’t need to be the sharpest knife in the drawer to count cards. There are factors, though, beyond tracking of the ratio of high cards to low cards that affect a player’s expected profit, like the particular card counting system selected, speed of the game, game rules, deck penetration, number of players seated at the table and number of decks used.

Gambling Wisdom of the Week: “The fear of risk and gambling creates a life not worth living.” —Wayne Allyn Root, The King of Vegas’ Guide to Gambling
Recent Articles
Best of Mark Pilarski
Mark Pilarski

As a recognized authority on casino gambling, Mark Pilarski survived 18 years in the casino trenches, working for seven different casinos. Mark now writes a nationally syndicated gambling column, is a university lecturer, author, reviewer and contributing editor for numerous gaming periodicals, and is the creator of the best-selling, award-winning audiocassette series on casino gambling, Hooked on Winning.
Mark Pilarski
As a recognized authority on casino gambling, Mark Pilarski survived 18 years in the casino trenches, working for seven different casinos. Mark now writes a nationally syndicated gambling column, is a university lecturer, author, reviewer and contributing editor for numerous gaming periodicals, and is the creator of the best-selling, award-winning audiocassette series on casino gambling, Hooked on Winning.