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Best of Mark Pilarski

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Dealing out some crap

13 July 2004

Dear Mark,
Could you please give me some advice on which are the best proposition bets, percentage, wise on a crap game? Kent H.

Opportunities are everywhere on a crap game, Kent, but as the wise man said, "Abandon hope all ye who enter." No proposition bets, even if they seem attractive with high payoffs, are worth risking your hard-earned money on. Not a one! The stickman who is barking their performance is just inducing play on wagers that are all "house bets," one carrying a casino advantage of more than 16%.

Allow me, Kent, to share a few (oh, there are plenty of these land mines on a craps table) of the many popular proposition wagers and why they are so damaging fiscally to your wallet.

Any Seven: The actual odds of an any seven wager are 5 to 1, but the bet payoff is 4 to 1. The house edge on this one roll bet is 16.67% to one, the absolute worst on the craps game.

Snake Eyes (2) or Boxcars (12): There is only one way to make a 2 or a 12. The odds against either are 35 to 1, but the house payoff is 30 to 1. The house edge on this one roll bet is 13.89%.

Any Craps: Craps are the numbers 2, 3 and 12. The 2 and 12 can be made just one way, the 3 two ways. The odds against any craps happening are 36 to 4 or 9 to 1. The correct payoff should be 8 to 1, but the casino is only willing to part with 7 to 1. The house edge on this one-roll bet is 11.1%.

Ace-Deuce (1, 2) or the Yo Eleven (11): There are two ways that the three and eleven can be made out of the 36 possible number combinations. The odds of making either are 36 to two or 18 to one. The correct odds are 17 to one but the house payoff is 15 FOR one. The house edge on this one roll bet is 11.1%.

Hardways: Hardways allows the player to bet that the numbers 4, 6, 8 and 10 will show on the dice as matched pairs (2 and 2, 3 and 3, 4 and 4, 5 and 5) before the 7 occurs, or an easy way 4, 6, 8 and 10 (using six as an example: 2 and 4, 4 and 2, 5 and 1, 1 and 5). For the hard 6 and 8, the correct odds on these two numbers is 10 to 1, with the payoff being 9 to 1, and a house edge of 9.1%. As for the hard four and 10, the correct odds on these numbers is 8 to 1, but the payoff is only 7 to 1 giving the casino an 11.1% edge.

So next time, Kent, you here the stickman bellowing the virtues of a proposition wager, though it will eventually hit, probability dictates that it, like other proposition bets, will certainly eat away at your billfold until nothing is left in it but the smell of old leather. Choose instead to participate on low house edge actions like a pass line bet or placing the 6 or 8. Both of these wagers have a low house advantage of less than 1.5%, making them arguably the best bets in the casino.

Gambling quote of the week: "A preponderance of good players refuse to accept a momentary defeat. They feel frustrated and angry. Beads of perspiration dot their foreheads. Faces are flushed, palms sweaty. This reaction obviously affects their playing ability." --Ian Andersen, Turning The Tables On Las Vegas (1976)

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.