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Best of Mark Pilarski

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Deal Me In: What's in your wallet?

10 October 2014

Dear Mark: My usual betting system in craps is to play the Pass Line with full odds and then follow it up with two Come bets with full odds. On a recent trip to Las Vegas, I tried a new system after having read a book that recommended playing the Pass Line with odds, and then placing the 6 and 8. (If the point is 6, place the 5. If the point is 8, place the 9). After two sessions with the Place bets, I realized I did much better with my Come system. My question is, in the long run, which betting system do you prefer? Michael F.

Gambling is a tricky gig, Michael, and the shrewd gambler should always be on the lookout for how to improve on sound gambling. Your initial option, a Pass Line bet with full odds followed by two Come bets with full odds, is the best way to go, mathematically. I also believe that option two has a sizable shortcoming, especially if what you wrote was NOT a typo.

You penned, “If the point is 6, place the 5. If the point is 8, place the 9.” Hopefully, you meant if the point is 6, place the 8, and if the point is 8, place the 6. The reason, Michael, is that odds of any Place bet change depending upon which number you place. The house edge for placing the 6 and 8 is 1.5 percent, whereas placing the 5 and 9 it is 4.0 percent. My advice here is to scrap “placing” the 5 and 9 and stick only to placing the 6 and 8.

When playing craps, the predominant bet on the game is the Pass Line wager. Although most players at a craps table have some action on the Pass Line, taking odds is an auxiliary wager to your Pass Line bet that you make after the point is established.

What’s great about taking odds, Michael, is that this wager is distinct from all the other casino wagers in that 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. Without taking any free odds, both the Pass Line and Come wagers have a 1.4 percent casino advantage. When you package it with odds, the house edge in now substantially under 1 percent.

That said, there are two good reasons to go with option two and complement your one Pass Line wager and odds with a Place bet on the 6 or 8. First, a Place bet has a relatively small casino advantage, 1.5 percent, and second, it is downright cheap. A Place bet can be had for as little as $6.

Obviously, option two is NOT the vanguard of faultless play on a crap game as it is costlier edgewise than your initial preference. However, everything depends on the amount of cash you have in your billfold. Taking odds, Michael, can be an expensive proposition, especially when dealing in multiples of 10, and taking full odds on three separate wagers means you will need to be well capitalized.

If you have the wherewithal, conventional gambling wisdom says a Pass Line bet with full odds, followed by two Come bets and full odds is the smarter play. If you are light on funds, a Pass Line bet with full odds and placing the 6 and 8 is not a bad second choice.

Gambling Wisdom of the Week: “I've always played cards. I can't remember when there wasn't a gambling game going on somewhere, even if it was a craps game in a wheelbarrow on the backside of the racetrack.” – Wilford Brimley
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.