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Best of Alan Krigman

Gaming Guru

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Playing it smart - stretch your stake with opposing craps bets together but in tandem

29 October 2007

Some casino games accommodate opposing bets. Like Red or Black at roulette, Banker or Player at baccarat, and Pass or Don't Pass at craps. The choice adds a degree of flexibility to the action.

Occasionally, solid citizens devise schemes for betting on both sides. This usually does little more than raise effective edge.

A baccarat buff, for instance, may put $150 on Banker and $100 on Player at the same time. The intent is to enjoy the verve of a black-chip table while only risking $50. The problem is that the house gets the value of edge on $250 to book only $50 in action. That's a bite a bit above $2.50, for a wager that should set bettors back slightly over $0.50.

A craps example involves dropping equal amounts on Pass and Don't Pass during the come-out, then betting the Odds on one or the other. The flat parts of the wager supposedly cancel out, leaving only the Odds on which the casino has no edge. Sorry. But the 12 coming-out costs players an average of 1.4 percent of the sum of the flat bets. So, to pick an amount, a $10 bettor gives the bosses roughly $0.28 using this ploy with $20 total, rather than $0.14 simply betting Pass or Don't Pass for $10 then taking or laying the Odds. This system can win or lose on the Odds. But playing either side for $10 would normally win more or lose less.

Craps does offer an opportunity some players may like, to wager on both sides. The approach is to bet on Pass and follow it with a wager on Don't Come. Or, with the same effect, Don't Pass followed by Come. In mid-hand, if one or the other is not on a point, replace it with an appropriate come-out on the next throw.

The strategy is an alternative to betting Pass and Come or Don't Pass and Don't Come. You still pay for the edge on the two bets, there's no way around that little fact of life. But, unlike directly opposing bets, you have action on the full value of each rather than the difference between them.

What's the impact? One effect is to temper, although not totally eliminate, the impact of the seven. With Pass and Don't Pass both on points, seven wins one and loses the other so you push. On an initial come-out on Pass with nothing on a point, seven wins. With the Don't Pass on a point and a wager coming out on Pass, seven wins both ways. With the Pass on a point and a wager coming out on Don't Pass, seven loses both ways.

As for other results, two, three, 11, and 12 only pertain when either bet is coming out, and follow the usual rules. And, repeats of points win on the Pass and lose on the Don't sides.

You can get an idea of what to expect with this technique from a computer model. A simulation was run for 1,000 players, each using this method for 180 throws roughly three hours with $5 on Pass and $5 on Don't Come, and no Odds on either.

The virtual players finished their sessions losing an average of $6.50. The median end-point was a $5 loss; that is, some players ended losing exactly $5 while half of the rest were deeper in the hole and half broke even or won. The best finish was $155 ahead and the worst $180 behind. The average high-point during the course of the session was a profit of $33.50, with half the players peaking above $25. For low points, the average was a downswing of $41 with half never falling below $35. Of the thousand players, after completing 180 throws, 428 emerged in triumph while 531 skulked away in defeat and 41 broke even.

Overall, the approach moderated bankroll swings relative to two bets on the same side. If you try this, though, be prepared to come up short on comps because many casino workers don't know how edge works and think they can't make any money from players who bet on both sides. But it might be worth testing if you're used to covering two numbers per shooter and are willing to forego high profits for a better chance of staying in action on a modest stake. The parsimonious poet, Sumner A Ingmark, put it like this:

Cut back on your yearnings for generous earnings,
To raise your assurance of bankroll endurance.

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.