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Best of Mark Pilarski

Gaming Guru

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Employee resolute about being wrong

19 July 2004

Dear Mark,
I have a friend who once worked for me and his favorite casino game was craps. I told him one day that my only experience playing craps was while I was in the military and we did not have all the different bets that you can make today in the casinos. During our conversation, the subject came up concerning how many different ways a seven can be made. I told him that I believe that a seven can be made with six different combinations. He said that he had been playing craps for over 20 years and that I did not know what I was talking about. He was very adamant that there were only three ways to make a seven. I tried to explain why I think there are six ways, but possibly my communications skills are not what they should be, or maybe he is just too dense to understand. Can you explain just how many ways there are to make a seven so even this stubborn fool can understand? Tom M.

Craps is a game played with a pair of matched, numbered cubes. Each die (the singular of dice) has six sides on it. The numbers one through six are marked with small dots on each side. With perfectly balanced dice, each side has an equal chance of landing face up when rolled. Because each dice has six sides, 36 different combinations (6 X 6) can be thrown on one toss of two dice. Your mulish pal believes there are only three ways to roll a seven, but, Tom, the four (1 and 3, 3 and 1, 2 and 2) and 10 (six and 4, 4 and 6, 5 and 5) are the two numbers that can only be rolled three ways.
You are correct, Tom, in that seven can be rolled six different ways (6 and 1, 1 and 6, 5 and 2, 2 and 5, 4 and 3, 3 and 4). To illustrate the difference, demonstrate it by using two different colored dice, a red one, and a blue one. The red dice has a six on it, and the blue dice has a one. Then, show that same red die with a one on it and the blue die having a six. Continue to do this with all six possible combinations. If your efforts fail to sink in, tell your impenetrable buddy he has failed Crapology 101.

Dear Mark,
I play my fair share of "way" tickets in keno. I have been told that by playing way tickets versus individual ones of the same numbers, my odds improve against the house. Is this true? Martin S.

A "way" ticket groups different numbers and combinations to create more than one way to win on one ticket. You can also make the same groupings of bets using several individual tickets. I am sorry to say, Martin, that playing a way ticket does not change the casino's enormous built-in edge. Making multiple wagers on one ticket provide the same payouts and the same odds as placing separate bets. The only benefit to way tickets is that the minimum required bet could be lower.

Gambling quote of the week: "Every con man, every thief, every transient and scam operator eventually passes through a place like Vegas, trying to beat the casinos out of money with fraudulent schemes." -Edwin Silberstang, The Winner's Guide To Casino Gambling (1980)

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.