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Best of Mark Pilarski

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Deal Me In: Did a crappy thing happen at the craps table?

26 August 2016

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
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.