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Best of Alan Krigman

Gaming Guru

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How Craps Players Can Tame the Seven that Ends every Roll

22 March 2006

Playing craps with Pass and Come or Place and Buy bets puts you in peril of losing money on the boxes when a seven eventually ends every roll. If the seven pops immediately or soon after you've loaded the bases, the bankroll damage for the sequence can be devastating. Even after a hot roll during which lots of your numbers have scored, the seven can be painful. This, especially, if that flush of success has had you pumping up your bets.

Pretend your style is a Pass and two Come bets, starting with $10 and taking $50 odds. How familiar is this scenario? The shooter throws four, nine, eight, seven; slam-bam you're out $10 + $50 on each of three positions $180 total. With a repeat before the seven, you wouldn't be as badly off but it would still hurt. For instance, the sequence four, nine, eight, nine, seven would bring in $95 ($85 on the nine and $10 on money in the Come) but $120 would be taken away so you'd still be $25 to the worse. Were the sequence four, nine, nine, eight, seven, you'd pick up $85 on the repeat but drop $180 on the seven and end up $95 behind.

Several strategies can help lessen the impact of the seven that ends a roll. None is effective under all circumstances, and each has liabilities as well as benefits. Here are some possibilities.

Conservative players may limit potential losses on new shooters by betting on Pass and waiting for the point to repeat before putting money on Come. Then waiting for another hit before going to the second Come bet. Or withholding the Odds until at least some earnings have accrued. The primary disadvantage is in cutting profits during what turns out to be a long roll. The main benefit is in reducing gains rather than eroding existing stakes.

Bettors who press aggressively when a shooter seems to catch fire can protect themselves against too big a setback at the end of an extended roll by "locking up" intermediate profits. This involves trimming bet size at some earnings plateau, then advancing again if the shooter continues to hit. Bankrolls are still vulnerable to early seven-outs and some profit is sacrificed if the roll goes on. However, the decreased earnings while bets are reduced tend to be of lesser magnitude than the drop that would be suffered were the seven to occur during the hiatus.

A different philosophy might involve offsetting Pass, Come, Place, and Buy bets with non-overlapping Don't Come or Lay wagers. As an illustration, assume you bet $10 on Pass, then take Odds after the shooter establishes a point. You might then bet $10 Don't Come, and lay the Odds against the second number. If you're minded to continue, your plan for the next two moves might be $10 Come and $10 Don't Come, respectively. A seven on the fifth throw would leave you breaking even for the roll. A repeat on the Pass or one of the Come bets would be a net win and on one of the Don't Come bets a net loss.

This approach can be most effective when the shooter throws a few numbers then sevens-out with no repeats. A repeat or two may earn or cost you money depending on whether your Do or Don't bets hit. Likewise, a long roll could be neutral as well as profitable or punishing to varying degrees. This differs from betting on both sides of a proposition, which boosts casino edge for the total at risk. Moreover, you can tweak the idea to suit your tastes. Perhaps by withholding or taking down your Don't Come bets on a shooter who's hitting lots of numbers. Other options are to try moderating rather than nullifying the loss at the end of the roll by betting more on Pass and Come than on Don't Come, or to avoid the Don't Come and instead seek protection against the terminal seven with bets such as Lays against the four and/or 10.

Solid citizens can develop session strategies for any casino games by varying the sizes of their bets. And in some cases, they can trade off chance of winning against payoff on individual coups as well as entire sessions. But craps offers players the added dimension of combinations of propositions with which to tailor their gambling to their personal hopes and fears. Here's how the shooters' Shakespeare, Sumner A Ingmark, described it:

In two little dice lies gambling's romance,
You hold in your hand the cosmos of chance.
Alan Krigman

Alan Krigman was a weekly syndicated newspaper gaming columnist and Editor & Publisher of Winning Ways, a monthly newsletter for casino aficionados. His columns focused on gambling probability and statistics. He passed away in October, 2013.
Alan Krigman
Alan Krigman was a weekly syndicated newspaper gaming columnist and Editor & Publisher of Winning Ways, a monthly newsletter for casino aficionados. His columns focused on gambling probability and statistics. He passed away in October, 2013.