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Best of Mark Pilarski
No filet mignon this time1 August 2008
Dear Mark: What is the best way to play $25 on the crap game. I say place it on the pass line, while my friend believes you should place it on either the 6 or 8? Your decision gets one of us a steak dinner. Jeff F.
You are in the know, Jeff, sort of, but only for a Whopper at Burger King and not a steak dinner, and here's why.
Between the two wagers mentioned, your pass line bet has a 1.414% house edge whereas placing the 6 or 8 has a casino advantage of 1.52%. But you guys forget the don't pass, which has an even lower house edge of 1.36%.
Better yet, the bet with the lowest house edge would be a pass/come or don't pass/don't come with odds placed behind them. It amazes me how few players think about making an odds bet along with their pass line bet. Like you, most players just want to chuck a $25 chip down on the pass line, but what you really should do, Jeff, is get the most money you can in odds and the least amount of money on the line.
For instance, instead of taking that $25 chip and plunking it down on the pass line, you are better off with $5 on the pass line and $20 in odds. By taking odds, you will lose just seven cents each time you make the bet this way over the long haul, versus a 35-cent loss if you make just a pass line with the full $25 amount.
You can enhance the wager even more if you happen to be on a $2 game that offers 10x odds. By splitting up the $25 wager into a $2 pass line bet with $20 in odds, the cost of your wager is only three cents.
An odds bet costs you nothing, Jeff, because the casino's edge on it is zilch, so use it. Now go enjoy that Whopper, heavy all, light mayo.
Dear Mark: Is the field bet in craps ever worth playing? Seems in the past you were not a big fan of it. Bill M.
A field bet is a wager that one of these numbers, the 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11 or 12, will appear on the next roll of the dice. Typically this bet pays 2:1 if either the 2 or 12 rolls, and 1:1 (even money) if 3, 4, 9, 10 or 11 rolls.
You're right, Bill, my past comments were always to disregard all proposition bets that the dealer is barking out. Craps offers two kinds of one-roll proposition bets — hopeless and wretched. Although proposition bets have seemingly lofty payoffs, the house edge is way too high, as high as 16%, to waste your hard-earned money on them. The field bet is one of those proposition bets, and it normally carries a casino advantage of 5.56%. The only difference between the field and other proposition bets is that the field bet is placed directly by the player and not handled by a dealer or a stickman. Because of this, I've seen some confusion as to its quality in the minds of many players, but it's still a wager you should avoid.
The exception to my "don't play" rule is when the 2 or 12 are returning three to one, instead of the usual two to one. Here the house edge drops to 2.78%. Yes, Bill, it is over my "never make a bet that has more than a 2% house edge," rule, but if you've got to play one proposition bet, this one is the best of the worst bets on the game.
Gambling Wisdom of the Week: "If it wasn't for luck, I would win every hand." -- Phil Hellmuth
Best of Mark Pilarski