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Best of Alan Krigman
Not All Craps Hedges Deserve the Bad Rap the Genre Gets9 August 2006
A simple and common example might be a $10 bet on the Pass line with $1 on
Any Craps during the come-out roll. If a seven or 11 pops, the $10 bet wins
even money and the $1 goes to the bosses; the $9 net profit seems pretty good,
not much of a come-down from the $10 which would have been paid absent the hedge.
On a two, three, or 12, the $10 is lost but the hedge pays $7 so the net distress
is only $3; far less painful than the $10 that would otherwise have disappeared.
Anything else hitting becomes the point with no immediate monetary action on
the $10 but a loss of the $1 Any Craps; this sacrifice seems like chump change,
a small price to pay for protection against the full $10 damage.
Most credible gambling gurus eschew hedges. They argue that the approach can significantly raise the effective edge the house has over the bettor. And this translates into fatter donations by the solid citizens to the casino mortgage satisfaction fund.
Here's how it works out for the Pass and Any Craps strategy. I'll skip the long, boring calculations and jump right to the bottom line. Betting $10 on Pass, by itself, costs players an average of 1.41 cents per dollar at risk -- 14.14 cents for a $10 wager. Hedging this with $1 Any Craps brings the figures to 2.30 cents per dollar at risk -- 25.25 cents for the $11 total on the table. For reference, betting the whole $11 on Pass would cost 1.41 per dollar at risk -- 15.55 cents for the $11 wager. Comparison shows the insurance provided by this hedge to be rather dear.
The idea of hedging isn't what makes a protective strategy expensive. The problem
with this and other common hedges is twofold: 1) they put money on both sides
of a single proposition; 2) the protective component has a usuriously high edge.
Here, the protective no-five bet lowers rather than raises the penalty for the total on the table. The reasons are inverse to those for the previous example. The bets are for opposite effects -- a seven versus a number -- but are not a tug-of-war on the same result. And the no-five lay has a lower rather than a higher effective edge than the Place bet on the nine.
It may be fun to devise hedges proving you're smarter than the gurus. Were minimum edge the object, though, you'd bet Pass and Come or Don't Pass and Don't Come with maximum Odds. And you'd start with enough of a stake to outride the normal downswings and not depend on ultimately expensive means of tempering them. It evokes this poetic proverb by the pundit, Sumner A Ingmark:
Weak's the gambler who esteems,
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