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Pooh pooh the hardway

3 March 2006

Dear Mark,
In craps, is there a difference between a hopping hardway and a regular hardway? Is either worth playing? Clint F.

With a hardway, Clint, you are betting that a matching pair of dice will appear before a 7, or before two dice of the same total value are rolled. When the face of the dice are rolled as 2 and 2, it is considered a hard 4; the 3 and 3 is a hard 6; the 4 and 4 is a hard 8; and the 5 and 5 is a hard 10. Using a hard 8 as an example, you lose if a seven is rolled, or an eight the “easy” way (6 and 2, 5 and 3, or a 7 and 1).

With a hopping hardway, you are betting that a certain matching pair will appear on the next roll. This one-roller pays 30-to-1, compared to a payoff of 9-to-1 for the run-of-the-mill hard 6 or 8, or 7 to 1 for the hard 4 and 10.

Although all proposition bets like a hardway have high payoffs, the casino advantage on them is between 9-11%; far too high to chance them with your hard-earned money. The only thing hardways are good for is the house. Besides, Clint, they don’t call ‘em hardways for nothing.

Dear Mark,
What is the "allowable" size difference in a set of five dice on a craps table? The reason I ask is, I got some game-used ones from a casino I frequent. They are numbered 1230 and 1232, which I figured to be part of a five number set. We got bored at work and measured them on our Coordinate Measuring Machine. We found a .0007 variation from all sides of the pair. David S.

Games management is the second line of defense when a new deck (set) of dice is introduced on a crap game. Prior to their baptism, a pit boss will inspect the dice with a micrometer to make sure they were produced to a tolerance level of .0005 of an inch.

The first line of defense is the dice maker. That manufacturer deals in tolerances of .0002, with imperfections discarded, making the random nature of a dice throw a certainty.

The most unlikely scenario is that dice 1230 and 1232 were from different decks. They could be from a slightly larger than normal set of dies allowing more tolerance, or they were lackadaisically inspected upstairs and somehow slipped through.

Either way, I doubt that the extra .0002” deficiency from one die to another would affect the outcome of the rolls. Next time you happen to run into a couple ten-thousandths of an inch, just ask ‘em.

Dear Mark,
With super mega lottery jackpots usually being split by more than one winner, do you have any recommendations for how to play that would put you in position to be a sole winner? Peggy S.

Of late, Peggy, there has been single ticket winners of both the Mega Millions and Powerball lottery games.

To be a sole winner of any lottery, you just need to select numbers that nobody else picks. Simple enough. So, since most people tend to play birthdays and anniversaries, don't pick all your numbers under 32. Don’t play geometric sequences on the card, such as rows, columns, and diagonals. Don’t play a numeric sequence, such as 42-43-44-45-46-47, and especially not 1-2-3-4-5-6, since over 50,000 players have marked that sequence in the past when the jackpot was enormous.

What I can’t help you with, Peggy, is beating those insurmountable odds.

Gambling Wisdom of the Week: "Gamblers everywhere are eating better these days; even the buffets — some of which barely used to count as edible — are serving top-notch nosh." —Buster Phillips

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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.