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Best of Alan Krigman

Gaming Guru

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What's the difference between taking bets "down" or "off" at craps?

21 January 2013

Question: A long-time craps player told me to take my place bets "off on the next roll" but not "down" if one or both of the dice go off the table. He said shooters throw more sevens than normal in this situation. What's the difference between "off" and "down," and is there more chance of a seven when this happens?

Answer: Taking bets "off" means leaving your checks on the layout but out of action. You can usually specify "off for the next roll" or simply "off." The dealer will drop a small button marked "off" on top of your checks; in this state, you won't lose if a seven rolls or win if the number hits.

When you say "off for the next roll," the dealer usually removes the button at the proper time and puts you back into play automatically. When you just call your bets "off," you must ask that they be restored. Either way, you -- not the dealer -- are responsible to ascertain that the button is or isn't there.

Taking bets "down" means the dealer returns your checks to you.

Do the odds change? Now we're talking a hoary superstition, which many dice devotees take as dogma. But it's balderdash. A pair of dice can land 36 ways, six of which add up to seven. The chance of a seven with unbiased dice is therefore always six out of 36, which equals one out of six or 16.7 percent. Flying off the table doesn't temporarily alter the size, shape, weight, or embossing of the dice -- so it can't affect chances on the next roll.
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.