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Best of Mark Pilarski

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Yups and nopes for the dark side

15 March 2004

Dear Mark,
I love to play craps. Lately I've been interested in learning more about betting the "don't." So many times I'm at a table where a point is made, maybe they roll a couple more times, then the seven shows. I would like to learn more how to bet when a table is cold and many sevens are showing. How do you actually make that bet? Deborah N.

For one of the best bets in the casino, I have always advised players to make either a pass line bet or to place the 6 or 8. Both the pass line and those place bets have a house advantage of less than 1.5%. Still, so does the wager in your question, the don't bt, and, why don't I reference it more often? Just forgetful? Nah...

The reason I do not mention the "don't" wager is simply my comradely disinclination to bet on a negative event, like the 7 rolling before the point has been made, causing most players — those friendly optimists — on the table to lose their money.

I love the camaraderie of the game. I revel in being part of the winning spirit of the table. I'm there high-fiving fellow pass liners in support of the shooter: "Come on, eight!" Nevertheless, Deborah, that does not mean that betting the don't isn't a worthy wager. (Talk about your triple negatives — better read that one more time.) Pass or don't pass bets give the casino an advantage of roughly 1.4%, though the Don't does have a minuscule mathematical advantage over a pass line bet.

The don't pass bet is the exact opposite of the pass line wager. Here, the player is betting against the shooter's repeating his point number before the seven pops up. These bettors are known as "wrong bettors." It works like this, Deborah. When the game begins and everyone else is betting the pass line, our dark side bettors are wagering their hard-earned cash on the flip side, the don't pass line. A don't pass bet is an even money wager that wins if the shooter does one of the following:

* Craps out on the come-out roll by rolling a two or three (12 ties, see below).
* Rolls a seven before repeating the point number once a point has been established.

A Don't bettor loses if the shooter rolls a seven or 11 on the come-out roll, or repeats the point number before tossing a seven.

Now back to that 12 for a moment. When the house "bars" the 12 on their crap table, that means the 12 is a tie bet for don't pass bettors on the come-out roll. In some casinos, the roll of a two is also a tie. The rules that apply for each casino are written in the area of the table marked "Don't Pass Bar."

One more thing, Deborah. Unlike pass bets, don't pass wagers can be taken down after the point has been established, but never, ever, do it! Why not? Let's think it out. Once a point number is established, wrong bettors have an advantage over right bettors, since there are more ways to roll a seven than there are to roll any other number. For example and to wit, there are six ways to roll a seven: (6-1, 1-6, 5-2, 2-5, 4-3, 3-4), but only three ways to roll a four (3-1, 1-3, 2-2).

A final caution, Deborah. Although you can make any bet on the table you wish, you should expect some taunts from the majority of players on the game, once they see you're rooting against them, hoping the seven wields its ugly face. For gosh sakes, don't scream out, "Come on, seven!" Betting against the majority of players is bad enough, but rooting against them and gloating after a win is really bad form.

If you can't emulate "the Greek," keep a low profile, since the majority of players will be betting the pass line.

Gambling quote of the week: "As I walk from crap game to crap game, my brain becomes active and agile and dwells on lofty thoughts." —Nick "The Greek" Dandalos, Nick the Greek, King of Gamblers (1969)

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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.