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Best of Mark Pilarski

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It's best that you avoid these bets altogether

27 April 2007

Dear Mark: A few weeks back you mentioned the difference between field bet payoffs on the craps table. I can't believe that all these years I have been playing on the wrong game, the one that only pays double on the 12. Are there any other proposition bet disparities on the craps layout that I am not aware of and should be looking for? Dan G.

What I think you're referring to, Dan, is the difference in the casino's edge on a field bet, when the house pays triple versus double, on the roll of a 12. Paying out triple on the 12, the casino edge is 2.78%, as opposed to its standard double-pay with a 5.56% edge.

Normally, craps has the same standard payouts from casino to casino, but there are some variations that the craps player should be acquainted with to get better, albeit still atrocious, odds. Three wagers come to mind. The field bet mentioned above, the hop on 2 or 12, and the hop on the 11.

Hop bets are one-roll wagers that can be made on any specific two-dice combination on the next roll. Although there is no specific location on the layout for most hop bets, the dealer will broker your wager just so long as you call a hop bet out before the dice are cast. For instance, you say to the stickman, "I want box cars on the hop," meaning, that you are betting that on the next roll, a pair of sixes will be belly-up.

As for the hop 2 or 12, the casino is going to pay you either or 30-1 or 31-1. The 2 or 12 that pays 30 to 1 has a casino advantage of 13.89%, and although getting paid 31-1 is slightly better, the true odds remain 35-1, so getting paid a measly buck more still makes it one of the worst bets on the crap table.

The other common variation is the payout for a hop bet on an 11. This is a bet that an 11 (also known as a "Yo") will be thrown on the next roll. Different casinos pay this bet at either 15-1 or 16-1, and the casino edge on this wager is 16.7% or 11.1%, respectively.

Here's the deal, Dan. All hop bets, and most proposition bets on the craps layout for that matter, have a high house advantage and should be canned, jettisoned, deep-sixed from your casino-betting repertoire. Proposition bets are just not the smart way to play craps. A bet on the pass line, taking odds, or placing the six or eight is what I call SMART PLAY.

Dear Mark: I am 74 years old and a longtime keno player. My favorite ticket is a fifteen spot. I play that many numbers because it represents the birthdays of all 15 of my grandchildren. Not that I think they are unlucky, but I have never won anything over $100. My husband believes the chances are over one in a million that I ever will. Noting my age, and on a scale of one through 10, what do you think my chances are of ever hitting this ticket? Doris K.

Huh, a scale of one to 10? Is there any possibility, Doris, that you will let me use a negative number — a wee, teensy, microscopic, dust mote of a number?

I would be conscience-stricken, Doris, if I didn't tell you that your chances are at the very bottom of the wishing well, in that to date, no one has ever hit a solid 15, a solid 14 spot, a solid 13 nor even, to the best of my knowledge, a 12 out of 12.

So what are the odds of your hitting a solid 15 spot? It's a doozy, Doris. Try 428 billion to one. So, if you get started now, playing at a buck a pop, six tickets an hour, 24/7, you'll need to add 8,143,074 years to your young 74-year initial flurry of life. There's always blackjack, of course.

Gambling Wisdom of the Week: "Give ma a deck of cards instead of a tax shelter and I'll take my chances." —Mario Puzo, "Inside Las Vegas"

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.