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Best of Alan Krigman
When You're Talking "True Odds," 5 times 6 equals 5011 September 1995
The accompanying table shows how house advantage shrinks on $10 pass or come wagers when players increase their odds bets in the 1X, 2X, 3X, and 5X multiples offered in various casinos. Results for don't pass and don't come bets are virtually identical.
House advantage is the theoretical commission a casino earns on money players place at risk. Multiply this percentage by the total wagered over a long period; the product is the player's loss if the distribution of wins and losses is statistically correct.
Good gamblers try to cut losses inherent in any game by lowering house advantage. Of course, 5X odds on a $10 bet puts $60 at risk after a "point" is established. If this makes total bets so high that a few quick miss-outs deplete a player's stake, it may be wiser to pay more commission with less or no odds than go broke during a normal cold streak. But, within bankroll constraints, raising odds relative to the flat bets improves potential profits.
This is what advertisements proclaiming "five times the craps action" are all about. They mean "we'll cut our commission to the bone if you raise your bets at some or all of our craps tables."
For real craps aficionados, it goes even deeper. Some casinos offer "true odds" which can exceed the nominal multiple of the flat bet. The phenomenon originated when single odds were still considered a big concession and casinos needed a way to pay winners in whole dollars rather than with change.
Single odds on $5 flat offers an illustration. On four and 10, $5 odds pays $10; on six and eight, it pays $6; but on five and nine, $5 odds pays $7.50. Rather than deal with $0.50 transactions, casinos let players take $6 odds paying $9 on five and nine.
As the odds multiple increases, the auxiliary bets scale-up. On five and nine, $5 flat can therefore take $12 at 2X odds, $18 at 3X, and $30 at 5X.
At low betting levels, the effect is most pronounced with $6 flat. Single odds of $6 on four and 10 pays $12; $6 on five and nine pays $9; but $6 would pay $7.20 on six and eight so $10 paying $12 is allowed. Scaling up, $6 on the line and a point of six or eight can take $20 with 2X odds, $30 with 3X, and $50 with 5X.
Flat bets of $15 offer even greater odds bonuses. Solid citizens can take single odds of $15 on four and 10, $20 on five and nine, and $25 on six and eight. These scale up to $30/$40/$50 for 2X, $45/$60/$75 for 3X, and $75/$100/$125 for 5X.
The effect can be significant if you're trying to shave the house edge in games with nominal odds multiples of 5X and below. Nominal $30/$30/$30 5X odds on a $6 bet yields 0.326 percent house advantage. True $30/$30/$50 5X odds on $6 flat lowers the bite to 0.269 percent. The $15 flat bet with $75/$80/$75 5X odds yields house advantage of 0.321 percent; true $75/$100/$125 5X odds trims this to 0.251 percent. Not that 0.326 or 0.321 percent are bad (compare them to 5.26 percent for bets at roulette), but you can do better if you can afford greater outlay. So, if you're going to play craps based on where you can take the best odds, go beyond ads touting "five times the action." Look for 5X with true odds.
As Sumner A Ingmark, odester to the oddsmakers, once wrote:
When house edge gets usurious.
House advantage decreases as the amount of money
Best of Alan Krigman