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Best of Mark Pilarski

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Deal Me In: Come one, come all

16 July 2010

Dear Mark: I walked up to a craps table with a free play $80 coupon and told the dealer that I wanted to make a pass line bet. He informed me that I would have to wait until the point was made (which I did) but also said you can still make the same bet now. I'm new to craps, but what did he mean by I have to wait, but I could still make it now? I'm confused. Scooter T.

The dealer, Scooter, was speaking of a wager akin to a pass line bet called a come bet, which allows you to make a wager while a round is in progress and after the pass line point has been established.

To make a come bet, you place your wager in the come box, and the next roll becomes your come bet's "come-out roll." The next point that the shooter rolls becomes your personal point. If the shooter repeats your point number, you win, and if the shooter rolls a seven before your point shows again, you lose.

The rules of pass line bets apply as well to the come bet.

Once your bet is in the come box, and before your personal point has been established, if the shooter rolls a natural (7 or 11), the come bet wins. If the shooter rolls craps (2, 3 or 12), the bet is lost. Also, just as in a pass line bet, once placed, your bet cannot be removed. The come bet pays even money.

In addition, Scooter, once a number becomes a come bet point, you are allowed to add odds to your bet. The dealer will place the odds on top of the come bet, slightly off center so it makes a distinction between your original bet and the odds.

Come bettors can find themselves in a situation where they have a come bet (possibly with odds on it), and the next roll is a come-out roll. With this scenario, the odds bets on the come wagers are presumed to be NOT working for the come-out roll.

In such a case -- where the shooter rolls a 7 on the come-out roll -- any players with active come bets waiting for their personal come-point would lose their initial wager but would have their odds money returned to them.

If your point is rolled, the come bet wins and the odds are returned. You can inform the dealer that you want your odds working so they can also win if the shooter rolls your come point. Obviously, if a seven is rolled first, cinco dos, adios, they both lose.

Dear Mark: How does the casino get its edge at pai gow poker, and what is that edge? Mike H.

Pai gow poker begins with each player being dealt seven cards. Without a draw, you skillfully arrange your cards into two poker hands, one of five cards and the other of two. To win, both your five-card hand and your two-card hand must beat the banker's corresponding hands. Winning one hand and losing the other is a push or tie, where you neither win nor lose.

These same rules apply to the banker. His or her five-card hand and two-card hand must beat both your five and two-card hands, respectively. The one exception, and one rule where the house gets its edge, is when the dealer has a "copy." A copy is where the player and banker have identical two-card or five-card hands. For instance, if both you and the dealer each have a Jack/six as your two-card hands, it's a copy, and it always goes to the dealer. That's the first drawback, Mike, but a further stumbling block is that the casino improves its edge by taking a five percent commission from each winning bet. For example, if you win a $20 wager, you are paid $20 (1 to 1 odds), but then you must fork over to the dealer a 5% "tax" ($1) on your winnings.

As for that house edge, Mike, if you play your cards right, tooling that perfect basic strategy like the pro your friends all think you are, you can grind the casino advantage down to 2.5%.

Gambling Wisdom of the Week: I agree that gambling is anti-social, but at least it keeps people away from television. - Anonymous U.S. Clergyman to Author Bernard Newman reported in his 1960s book Mr. Kennedy's America
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.