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Best of Mark Pilarski

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Deal Me In: Yo Levine the Dancing Queen

19 December 2014

Dear Mark: When playing craps, I will occasionally toss in a bet for the dealers. Normally, it is a two-way “Yo,” or a Horn bet if I am making the same. What are your thoughts on these two bets for the dealer, or is there another bet that dealers appreciate even more? Chase D.

All dealers welcome ANY wager made on their behalf, but they definitely prefer bets made by the player that have a low house edge, such as the Pass, Come, Don't Pass, Don't Come and Placing the 6 or 8. Wagers made on a "Yo" ("Yo" is craps jargon for an 11) or a Horn bet means that a significant percentage of your gratuity ends up going to the casino, and not to them.

Let’s examine both of your “tip” wagers.

The “Yo 11” bet is one of the most popular bets on a craps game. As its name implies, an 11 must roll in order for this wager to be a winner. This bet is good for only one roll. If it wins, dealers will pay you, and themselves, at 15-1 odds and leave the original bet(s) on the table.

You make this bet by tossing two low-value chips on the table, then state, "two-way Yo,” and a dealer will place two Yo bets, one for you and one for the crew. Despite the payout odds on this bet being 15-1, the true odds are 17-1. This means that the house has an 11.11 percent advantage on this wager.

A “horn,” or “craps-eleven” bet as it is typically called, is a one-roll wager that on the next roll of the dice their sum will be 2, 3, 11 or 12. If they total anything different (4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 or 10), you lose. If 3 or 11 appears, you are paid 15:1. If 2 or 12 rolls, the payoff is 30:1.

Horn bets are made in even dollar units, divisible by four, with equal amounts bet on each of the four outcomes. Horn bets are resolved as though four possible winners had been bet individually. Although the payoffs can vary between casinos, the house edge on the “horn” bet is more than 12 percent.

Do I recommend either of your two wagers? NO. The craps table offers two kinds of one-roll bets — bad and ugly. Your two proposition bets seemingly have lofty payoffs, but the house edge is far too high for you and the dealers to waste your hard-earned money on them.

Undeniably, Chase, for the dealers any bet is better than no bet at all. Unfortunately, both of yours are far cries from some of the better bets on the table, like a 1.36 percent Pass line bet. Putting the crew on the line with you along with some booties (odds) behind a Pass line bet will get you the accolades and benefits of a member of the ruling class of the craps table.

Gambling Wisdom of the Week: “Here is the terrible truth. I get more pure happiness winning twenty grand at the casino craps table than when I receive a check for many times that amount as the result of honest hard work on my book.” – Mario Puzo
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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.