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Best of Mark Pilarski

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Stalking the willy craps vipers

25 August 2003

Dear Mark,
I have been told the Stratosphere, in Las Vegas, has a crapless craps game. So if the button is OFF and a 2, 3 or 12 are rolled, these numbers do not lose, but they are established as points. Is this correct? This seems too good to be true. How does the casino offset this to its advantage? Should I stay away from this game? Ryan D.

Sentence number 4 above — dead on, Ryan. Sentence number 6 — yeah, big time. Crapless craps, or ruse craps, is exceptionally good for the shareholders of any casino that can sell it to their customers.
Also known as never ever craps, crapless craps is another example of a casino offering designed to cost you dearly when you belly up to the crapless craps table, deciding how many Jaguars you'll buy with your sure-shot winnings.
In this modified variation of a regular crap game, you do not lose on the come-out roll when the shooter tosses a 2, 3 or 12. Instead, it automatically becomes the point, just as 4, 5, 6, 8, 9 and 10 do on a standard game. You also do not win if the shooter throws a natural 11. It too becomes the point. With these additional frowzy rules, the house holds a 5.4% edge on your pass line bet versus the 1.4% edge in a typical craps game. Prudent readers of this column consider crapless craps as also playless craps.

Dear Mark,
When playing craps, I pretty much stick to your recommended pass line wager with odds, or placing the 6 and 8. But on my last outing before I started playing, I saw two players making a killing betting both an "any craps" and the "horn" bet. Please describe the differences between an "any craps" bet and a "horn" bet, and, which, if any, of those two bets should I have played alongside those lucky players? Brian K.

Just because the dice were sizzling in the short term with 2s, 3s, 11s and 12s before you jumped in, doesn't mean they will still radiate BTUs when you decide to tackle wagers with a house edge over 11%. Your dice-game timeline — the period you are on the game — will always be different from that of the earlier (and, in this case lucky) players. When you join a game in progress, you initiate your own personal sequence of rolls, the randomness of nature likely returning it to a more normal pattern. (A flipped fair coin can come down the same face up many, many times. But would you bet that all your buddy's pocket change, dumped on your kitchen table, would all show heads on the first try? Well...)
This column, Brian, proselytizes for making wagers with a reduced casino advantage, and an "any craps" or "horn" wager ain't one of them. An "any craps" bet is wagering that 2, 3 or 12 will be the result of the next roll. With a payoff of 7 to 1, the house edge is 11.1%.
A "craps-eleven," or "horn" bet as it's typically called, is a bet that on the next roll will turn a 2, 3, 11 or 12. If any other number rolls, you lose. Though the payoff varies from casino to casino, the house edge on a "horn" bet is always more than 12%. Bucking, Brian, for the top 10 sucker bets list, both of 'em.

Gambling quote of the week: "Whenever you switch from Deuces Wild to Jacks or Better, the first four of a kind will be deuces." -Skip Hughes

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.