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Best of Alan Krigman
Do and Don't Craps Bettors Look Alike to the Casinos23 June 1997
Only in craps do bettors on opposite sides loathe each other.
Picture this. Reds are rallying roundly at roulette. Everyone's on multiple 35-to-1 red numbers - $10, $20, more. A newcomer drops $5, 1-to-1, on black. Up pops 13-black. The upstart wins $5. Everyone else loses big. Nobody blames the beginner for upsetting the tempo of the wheel and ball.
Or this. Banker is booming at baccarat. Everybody's pressing - $100, $200, more. A rookie drops $10 on Player. Player wins, natural nine to zero. The neophyte grabs $10. Everyone else loses big. Nobody castigates the contrarian for changing the flow of the cards.
Perhaps you've let yourself be annoyed by craps players who bet opposite from you. It may help to understand a few things.
First, everybody at the rail has one goal. Get the house's money.
Next, the house has an edge on either side. The casino bosses don't care which you prefer.
Last, the sole statistical difference between do and don't bets is a property called "skewness." Pass, come, and place are skewed toward fewer but larger wins and more but smaller losses. Don't pass, don't come, and lay are skewed toward more but smaller wins and fewer but larger losses.
Here's an idea of how skewness works on a single wager.
Bet $10 on pass, take 5-times odds. You're risking $10 to win $10 coming-out, $60 to win $70 to $110 thereafter - depending on the point. The $70 to $110 wins are less likely than the $60 losses.
"Do" bets yield occasional major triumphs, bought with repeated minor defeats. "Don't" bets yield frequent modest victories, paid for with sporadic costly routs. Neither strategy is inherently the better or the worse. What suits different folks is determined by rewards that motivate and penalties that retard them.
If you're irked by or contemptuous of players who bet opposite to you at craps, you may know less about the game than you believe. Players who think their bets or someone else's influence the dice don't know their telekinesis. Wrong bettors who think they're privy to secrets that give them an edge don't know their arithmetic. Right bettors who think going against the shooter is for wimps don't know their history. Before casinos started "booking" all the action, shooters bet they'd pass; everybody else "faded" - took part of - the wager they wouldn't. If nobody bet against the shooter, there was no game.
Sumner A Ingmark, whose verses critics often bet against, poked poetically at the craps myth that darksiders affect the outcome of a roll:
Best of Alan Krigman