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Best of Alan Krigman

Gaming Guru

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How to Get Favorable Odds with Place Bets at Craps

4 August 1997

Craps "place bets" are wagers directly on numbers four through six or eight through 10. The bets win if the matching numbers show and lose if a seven appears. Other rolls yield no decision.

The house is favored on each place bet: 6-to-5 on six and eight, 6-to-4 on five and nine, and 6-to-3 on four and 10. Respective payoffs of 7-to-6, 7-to-5, and 9-to-5 compensate for the adverse odds - with margins to give the casino a statistical edge.

You can get the odds of winning place bets in your corner. In two different ways. Neither overcomes the house's edge, but one or the other may suit your individual gambling goals.

Multiple place bets can flip the odds to favor the player. Folks often place several numbers at the same time. They do it to get as much action as they can afford on a shooter, but rarely realize how it affects other characteristics of the game.

As an example, bet $180 on the six. On any roll, your chance is 45.5 percent of winning and 54.5 percent of losing. The casino is favored 54.5-to-45.5, or 6-to-5, but $180 wins $210. Similarly, "buy" the 10 for $172 plus $8 "vig." On any roll, your chance is 33.3 percent of winning and 66.7 percent of losing. The casino is favored 66.7-to-33.3, or 2-to-1, but your $180 outlay nets $336.

Instead, split the $180 evenly between six and eight. Your chance becomes 62.5 percent of winning and 37.5 percent of losing. You're favored 62.5-to-37.5, or 5-to-3, on any roll; wins, however, net $105 while losses still cost $180. Go further. Spread $180 across the board, buying the four and 10 for $29 each plus $1 commission and placing the rest for $30 apiece. This gives you 80 percent chance of winning and 20 percent of losing. You're a 4-to-1 favorite on any roll, but winning brings $35 to $57 - depending on which number hits - while losing sets you back $180.

Sequential place bets are the second way to move the odds to your side. Group series of wagers on a number into rounds. To keep track, divide your chip rack into stake, active, and proceeds areas. Move chips for a round into the active section and make the first bet. End the round if you win, taking down your bet and putting it in the proceeds area with the payoff and any remaining active chips. If you lose, continue the sequence. Repeat until you win or deplete the active stack. Then start a new round.

A round can be as short as two equal bets. Here's an illustration. Move $10 or $12 to the active area and bet $6 on the six or eight or $5 on the four, five, nine, or 10. End the round if you win. Bet again if you lose. Chances on each two-bet round are:

o six or eight - 70.2 percent probability of winning $1 or $7 versus 29.8 percent of losing $12;
o five or nine - 64.0 percent probability of winning $2 or $7 versus 36.0 percent of losing $10;
o four or 10 - 55.6 percent probability of winning $4 or $9 versus 44.4 percent of losing $10.

Odds improve with longer sequences although expected wins fall relative to escalating amounts ultimately at risk. The chances for three-bet rounds of $6, $6, $12 or $5, $5, $10 are:
o six or eight - 83.8 percent probability of winning $1, $2, or $7 versus 16.2 percent of losing $24;
o five or nine - 78.4 percent probability of winning $2, $4, or $7 versus 21.6 percent of losing $20;
o four or 10 - 70.4 percent probability of winning $4, $8, or 9 versus 29.6 percent of losing $20.

By manipulating the odds, solid citizens can juggle risk and return for themselves. Getting favorable odds should please punters who like to hit and run with small profits, while galling gamblers bent on boom or bust. However, Sumner A Ingmark, bard of balanced betting, questioned whether conservative players could carry the concept too far:

Are procedures for gambling astute or a dumb thing,
If they always lose nothing but never win something?

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.