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Best of Mark Pilarski

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No straw into gold on these wagers

23 June 2006

Dear Mark,

I am interested in the following proposition bets that were getting a lot of play the last time I was at a craps table: Bets like the 11 appearing on the next roll, hard ways, craps, and someone was even betting on the seven appearing on the next toss. Could you please provide a brief explanation of each, list the payoffs and actual odds, plus, which of the above mentioned bets do you recommend, if at all, to play? Al M.

Proposition bets, Al, are generally located in the center of a craps table, and although they pay off at temptingly high odds, they come with a significantly higher casino edge.

As for the 11, the “yo,” it is a one-roll bet that the shooter will make a certain number of your choosing, in this case the 11, on the next roll. The aforementioned 11, the 3, or "ace-deuce,” and a "hi-lo," a combination bet on 2 or 12, all pay off at 15-1, but the actual odds are 17-1, giving the house a wallet-thumping 13.9% edge. “Snake eyes,” the 2, and “box cars”, the 12, pay off at 30-1, but the actual odds of a 2 or 12 appearing are 35-1.

A hard way is a wager that a shooter will make a number the hard way such as 3-3 (6) before throwing a 7 or a 6 the easy way (5-1 or 4-2). The hard 4 (2-2) and hard 10 (5-5) pay off at 7-1 odds with actual odds of 8-1, and the hard 6 (3-3) and hard 8 (4-4) pay off at 9-1 odds with actual odds of 10-1. The hard 4 and 10 carry a casino advantage of 11.1% and the hard 6 and 8 come in slightly lower at 9.09%.

Any seven, also nicknamed "Big Red," is a bet that the shooter will roll a seven on the next roll. The true odds are 5-1, yet the casino only pays 4-1, giving the casino a humongous 16.67% house edge, making it, Al, the worst variety of the worst species of wager on the craps table.

Any craps is a bet that the shooter will roll 2, 3 or 12 on the next roll. The true odds are 8-1, with a casino payoff of 7-1. The house edge on this bet is 11.1%.

The field bet is a wager that any of these numbers, the 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11, or 12, will appear on the next roll of the dice. This bet pays 2-1 on the 2 or 12 and even money on the others (3, 4, 9, 10, 11), although many casinos do generously pay 3-1 on the 2 or 12. The casino advantage is typically 5.5% on a Field wager, but reduced to 2.77% if the 2 or 12 pay off at 3-1. Unlike the other proposition bets above, a field bet is physically placed by the player in a box between the don't pass line and the come box and is not handled by a stickman or dealer.

All these wagers that you have showed interest in can be quite costly and damaging to a player’s bankroll. So, Al, since the house’s edge on the bets we’ve hung out to dry above, is far above my forever-suggested 1.5%, my recommendations as to which one to bet is, trumpets please, ta ta ta ta ta ta, NONE.

The canny craps player would instead put his/her hard-earned cash to work on either the pass line or don't pass line with full odds, and complementing the pass line wagers with place bets on either the 6 or 8.

Gambling Wisdom of the Week: “Poker is a game of people. It's not the hand I hold, it's the people that I play with.” —Amarillo Slim

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.