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Best of Alan Krigman

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Is there benefit to loading a craps table in stages with Come bets?

2 November 2009

Is there benefit to loading a craps table in stages with Come bets? By Alan Krigman

Many craps buffs relish the action they get with multiple wagers on the table, simultaneously, which win on different dice totals. Those who bet "with the shooter," depending for profit on strings of numbers being thrown, often start on Pass then Place or Buy one to five of the remaining boxes when a point is established.

This strategy can be quite rewarding on a long roll. And in general, the more numbers covered, the more so. The catch is that a seven clears the layout after the come-out. So a big bundle of bets on the boxes can cause serious pain if a shooter sevens-out before any or many hits compensate for the money going down.

Some solid citizens accordingly delay joining the fray until shooters "qualify" their long-roll potentials with a few scores. This does cut losses on shooters who seven-out rapidly. But it misses payoffs when the ostensible qualifying throws could have been fruitful. And there's no guarantee that a shooter who tosses some numbers right away won't seven-out shortly thereafter.

Come bets offer an alternate approach to involvement on every throw without necessarily loading a table before a roll has gathered steam. Here's one way to do it.

When a point is established, take no Odds and bet on Come. A seven at this juncture loses on the point but wins on the Come, so a quick up-and-down breaks even. An 11 wins on the Come without affecting the money on Pass. A two, three or 12 loses on the Come, also with no impact on the Pass Line bet. Repeating the point wins on the Pass Line and moves the Come bet to the same number for the next throw. Any other result establishes a second point, which will pay if repeated or lose on a seven.

Make a Come bet on every toss. When a previous number repeats, it wins and is replaced by the Come bet. A new number establishes another point. A seven clears away established bets, but is partly offset by a payoff on what's then in the Come box.

Without Odds, the house has more edge than it's willing to accept. But edge on a flat Come bet is still below that on any Place bet. You may hear the objection that Come bets must repeat before paying, while Place bets yield returns the first time. This ignores the eight ways a Come bet wins on its come-out with a seven or 11, compared to only four it loses with a two, three, or 12. It's also mathematical malarkey since a number on one throw doesn't affect subsequent likelihood of the same total.

Enquiring minds will want to know how this strategy pans out. To get an idea, assume 120-throw sessions -- about two hours -- betting $10 on Pass or Come, as appropriate, on every throw. Let established Come points "work" after the shooter Passes and comes out again. The chance of experiencing various levels of success or failure have been determined by simulating 100,000 sessions. Values can be scaled down or up for lower or higher bets.

The best two single sessions brought in $580 and $520. The worst were $440 and $410 setbacks. Overall, 41.9 percent of the sessions finished ahead, 54.0 percent behind, and 4.1 percent even. Probabilities of intermediate results, in $100 ranges, are shown in the accompanying table.

Chances of various final wins and losses betting $10 on Pass or Come on every throw, in simulated two-hour craps sessions

Amount Chance of winning Chance of losing
$10 - $90 26.1% 31.8%
$100 - $190 12.4% 18.8%
$200 - $290 2.8% 3.2%
$300 or more 0.5% 0.2%

Is this strategy for you? When a shooter throws lots of numbers with few sevens on new point come-outs, it can be profitable. And it tempers losses on short rolls. The weakness is vulnerabil-ity to a seven-out when the table is loaded with Come bets moved to multiple numbers, especially if there have been few hits along the way. You have to balance the benefits and the liabilities for yourself. After all, nothing in a casino is foolproof. That's what the beloved bard, Sumner A Ingmark, meant when he mused:

Limit just how much you invest when trusting fate, or Rue what goes awry, if not sooner surely later.

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.