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Best of Mark Pilarski

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Deal Me In: Making doing OK even better

4 May 2012

Dear Mark: In today's article in the Detroit Free Press, you answered a question about playing craps. You mention the pass line wager and a place bet on the 6 or 8, giving the house edge of about 1.5 percent. You then state that this is lowered even more when taking odds. What exactly is taking odds? I bet the pass line wager and the place bet on the 6 or 8 like you suggest when I head to the casino and do OK most of the time. I may be taking odds but don't know it... help!!!! Jeff T.

Odds are a separate wager, which are different from a Pass line bet or placing the 6 and 8. Thus, Jeff, if you were taking odds, I am sure you would know it. Next time you belly up to a crap game, note that your pass line bet has a defined space on the layout where you put your chips. The chips in an unmarked area directly behind a pass line bet, those, Jeff, are odds.

When playing craps, the predominant bet is the pass line wager. Although most players at the table have some action on the pass line, taking odds is a supplemental wager to your pass line bet that you would make after the point is established. Paired together, now you have a pass line bet and odds packaged, and your winning payoff occurs if the point appears before the seven rolls.

What’s great about taking odds, Jeff, is that this wager is distinct from all the other casino wagers in that free odds carry NO casino advantage. All bets are paid off at true odds, paying 2 to 1 on points of 4 and 10, 3 to 2 on a 5 and 9, and 6 to 5 on the points of 6 and 8. As stated in the column that you cited, a pass line (or come bet) with no odds has a house edge of 1.4 percent.

With a $10 wager and 50 playing decisions hourly, your theoretical loss (all bets lose over time) is $10 x 50 x 0.014, or $7 per hour. Adding an extra $10 for single odds to your $10 pass line wager, you reduce the house edge down to 0.85 percent, with your hourly loss lowered to $4.25. Take multiple odds, say, for instance, 3x odds, or $30 behind your pass line bet, your combined house edge now becomes just 0.47 percent. Note, Jeff, that by taking odds, your exposure to an hourly loss is reduced considerably.

Yes, Jeff, a pass line bet with multiple odds is an outstanding wager, but be aware that even with odds, craps is a negative-expectation game, and the house still has an overall edge on your play.

Dear Mark: I have always been a bit nervous about doubling down on 10s and 11s against a dealer up card of 10. I prefer to hit instead, especially my 10s, and win my fair share of times doing so. Because I do win, should I consider doubling? Jim D.

As you should, Jim, win that is, your fair share of times by just hitting a 10 instead of doubling. By hitting your 10, you will win approximately 56 percent of the time. However, if you were to double down, you will win 54 percent of the time, and win twice the amount. Therefore, Jim, let me throw a question your way. Which do you think is better? Winning one wager 56 percent of the time, or doubling the same wager and winning 54 percent of the time?

Gambling Wisdom of the Week: "A racetrack is a place where windows clean people." -- Danny Thomas
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.