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Deal Me In: A sort-of answer to a sort-of query

4 February 2011

By Mark Pilarski

Dear Mark: I play craps on a $10 minimum table. Can I play a $5 Come or Pass line bet on a $10 minimum table? Lee B.

A Come bet, Lee, has the same rules and costs as a wager on the Pass Line, the only difference being that it is placed after the point has been established. So, Lee, if the table minimum were $10 for a Pass line bet, it would be the same for a Come wager.

Longtime readers of this column know that I encourage making low minimum wagers at table games. Low minimums grant gamblers on a budget the ability to stretch their bankrolls and keep them in action longer.

The problem with a $10 crap game, Lee, is that the cubes can get cold, and a $100 buy-in could go poof, lickety-split. A few consecutive passes with the dice showing cinco dos before your point, and you're adios. That same $100 buy-in at a $2 table would give you a chance to ride out bad streaks.

The reason the casino bumps up the table minimum on the weekends for nickel players is supply and demand. As long as $10 players are willing to belly up to a crap game, it's going to be $10, or even $25 if they can get it. So is there a way to just bet $5 even if the table minimum is $10? That was sort of your question … and there Sort of Is!

You bet the Pass line and Don't pass at the same time. Huh? Yes, Lee, being a nickel Pass line player, you would place $30 in lieu of $5 on the Pass line, and then simultaneously bet $25 on the Don't pass. Your net bet becomes only $5. Again, sort of.

The catch, Lee, is that the 12, which appears on average once every 36 rolls, makes you lose on the Pass line, and push on the Don't.

To overcome this obstacle you could bet a buck as insurance every roll of the dice and get 30 to 1 if and when it appears, or, take a chance and gamble that it doesn't roll during your gambling timeline. Either way, Lee, at least you are in action when those weekend table limits are higher than your bankroll allows.

Dear Mark: I'm not much of a gambler, but I still read your column each week. I love all the insider information you share from your working days in the casino. Although I do not play blackjack, just nickel slots and video games that includes video blackjack, in your most recent column you spoke of dealers hitting soft 17s, but you didn't share an example of what that is. Could you? Jenny J.

A soft 17 (S17), Jenny, either on a live table game or video blackjack, is a hand that includes an Ace and can be counted as 7 or 17. "Soft" denotes that the value can be changed. If the Ace is later valued at 1, the hand becomes a "hard" hand.

Hands of (Ace, 6), (Ace, 2, 4), (Ace, Ace, 5), (2, 2, 2, A) are all examples of a soft 17. An Ace, 6, Ten is a hard 17 since now the Ace must be counted as a one.

Gambling Wisdom of the Week: "Greed is the punter's greatest downfall. You can eat only one dinner, why attempt to go for more?" —Jack Holt, racehorse trainer, Sporting Life July 1994
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.