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Best of Alan Krigman

Gaming Guru

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How Often Do Craps Bets Win and Lose During a Session?

25 January 2005

Most casino games yield decisions on every round. You win, lose, or occasionally push then the process begins anew. Not at craps.

Except for one-roll bets such as the field or propositions at the center of the layout, money may be up for grabs on toss after toss with no activity. Or, some wagers may pay repeatedly during a long roll, while others just sit and finally lose not having returned a cent. It's also solid citizens' sometimes sad fate to have several bets that should linger on the layout, promising to win in their turns, but instead all lose at once in short order.

Make believe you relish the frenetic pace craps is reputed, often feared, to provide. So you drop your dough down on the Pass line. And after the come-out roll, you take odds and make Place bets on all of the numbers other than the point. When your Place bets hit, you leave them as-is for the next throw. You've accordingly blanketed the table with your money and are hot to trot. How much actual action should you anticipate per hour?

The accompanying chart shows the average number of times each element of your overall wager is projected to win or lose for every hundred hurls of the hexahedrons about an hour in a typical game. The figures, which are rounded off, were obtained from a computer simulation of 110 million tosses.

Craps decisions per 100 throws for bets on the Pass line
and on all numbers except the point after the come-out

wager

total
decisions

bets
won

bets
lost
       
Pass on come-out
9.95
6.63
3.32
Pass on point
19.75
8.03
11.72
Place four
15.11
5.04
10.07
Place five
16.26
6.51
9.75
Place six
17.44
7.96
9.48
Place eight
17.44
7.96
9.48
Place nine
16.26
6.51
9.75
Place ten
15.11
5.04
10.07
Overall
127.32
53.68
73.64

Compare this to the pace at blackjack. With three spots dealt per round, each position would get roughly 100 resolutions per hour. More with fewer participants and conversely. So, craps decisions are usually faster. However, blackjack decisions are always on the whole bet; wins at craps are only on part of what you put up.

Use the data in the chart along with your bet sizes and session durations to estimate the handle (the gross amount you risk), the casino's theoretical profit (the "hold"), and the bosses' effective edge on your action. Here's how to do it. 1) Multiply the size of each bet, including the odds for Pass on point, by the corresponding total decisions. The sum, times the number of hours you hang in, is the handle. 2) Multiply payoffs times wins for each wager; the sum is gross hourly income. Multiply bets times losses for each wager; the sum is gross hourly outgo. Ignore the odds in this step ?? they'll be a wash. Outgo minus income, multiplied by number of hours, is the theoretical hold. 3) Divide hold by handle. The quotient is the effective edge.

Here's an example, in case you can't find your pencil. Say you bet $5 on the line, take $10 odds after the come-out, and bet $32 across minus the $5 or $6 on the point. You go at it for an hour. The handle (this includes the odds) is $869. The casino expects to hold $20.65. The overall effective edge for these totals is 2.38 percent. Were you to take $50 rather than $10 odds, keeping everything else the same, the handle would rise to $1,659. The casino's theoretical earnings are still $20.65. But the effective edge the bosses would get on your play falls to 1.24 percent.

Craps players tend to think of their exposure in terms of the total they have on the table every time the dice are dispatched. In this example, with double odds, it's $5 during the come-out and $41 or $42 after the point is established. Were this a game in which every throw resulted in a decision, however, the equivalent bet would be $8.69 with a house advantage of 2.38 percent. At five-times odds, it would be a bet of $11.65 with a 1.77 percent edge. At 10-times odds, the equivalents are $16.59 and 1.24 percent. Fortunately, the casino bosses don't understand this too well, or a lot more craps players would be paying their own way at the all-you-can-eat buffet. The beloved bard, Sumner A Ingmark, had it right when he wrote:

Try waving around a fat fistful of dollars,
You'll muddle the minds both of dunces and scholars.

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.