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Best of Alan Krigman

Gaming Guru

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You can make money at craps when the shooter sevens-out

26 October 2009

Most craps buffs favor Pass, Come, Place, and Buy bets as their primary wagers. If the shooter produces a plethora of numbers before sevening-out, these dice devotees can pile up profit, toss after toss. The catch is the eventual seven-out. When it occurs, chips on the layout – except for Come bets not yet having moved to numbers – go south. The situation can be a downer, especially for solid citizens who have been pressing aggressively. Many a player ends a hot roll in the hole because of this effect.

With combinations of Don't Pass, Don't Come, and Lay bets, the final seven can be a winner. Bets are lost one at a time but everything left on the table wins when the seven ultimately pops.

Say you start with your dough on Don't Pass. During the come-out roll, you lose when the result is a seven or 11 and win when it's a two or a three. A 12 is a push. On any other number, your moolah moves – figuratively – "behind the line" where it wins if the seven shows and loses if the point repeats.

Pretend you get through the come-out and the Don't Pass bet is behind a number. You could lay odds. But, for this example, assume you just leave it as-is. It then always pays even money.

For the next throw, bet the same amount on Don't Come. This wager works just like Don't Pass. On a seven, you lose on Don't Come but win the Don't Pass bet so the pair is a wash. An 11 loses while a two or three wins on Don't Come without affecting the earlier bet. A 12 doesn't change anything. Repeating the point loses the Don't Pass bet and moves the Don't Come wager behind the original number. Other totals put you in back of two numbers.

Continue this pattern on every toss and you'll have money behind from one to six numbers and a bet in Don't Come. At any step, the most you can lose on a throw is a single bet. On a seven, you'll win on everything behind the numbers but lose what's in the Don't Come box. So, instead of that seven-out ravaging your investment on the table, you break even or get paid.

This isn't one of those mythic secrets the casino bosses don't want bettors to know. It's just another strategy with prospects of ecstasy or agony, the former somewhat less in strength and frequency than the latter. A computer simulation demonstrates the phenomenon and puts some hard numbers on the results.

Make believe you play in a session of 120 throws – roughly two hours. You bet $10 on Don't Pass or Don't Come, as appropriate, on every hurl of the hexahedrons. The chances of alternate results have been determined by simulating 100,000 sessions. Data can be scaled down or up for lower or higher bets.

The best single win in these simulated sessions was $350. The worst single loss was $660. Chances proved to be 41.6 percent of winning, 54.5 percent of losing, and 3.9 percent of breaking even. The probabilities of various intermediate results, in $100 ranges, are given in the accompanying table.

Chances of various final wins or losses betting $10 on Don't Pass or Don't Come on every throw in two-hour craps sessions

Amount Chance of winning Chance of losing
$10 - $90 29.0% 31.3%
$100 - $190 11.3% 17.6%
$200 - $290 1.2% 4.7%
$300 or more under 0.1% 0.9%

Betting strategies can't circumvent the casino's statistical edge. Still, some people favor certain approaches over others.

Repeated "Don't" wagers might appeal to persons inclined to sweat multiple bets going down in one fell swoop when the seven ends a roll. They may also fit the fancy of folks who want lots of bets in action but gladly take modest wins in exchange for facing only small losses. In this example, chances exceed 60 percent of being between $90 up or down in two hours with $10 bets. Moreover, the likelihood of being even or ahead within this range is 3.9 + 29.0 or 32.9 percent, while that of being in its damage domain is 31.3 percent. Maybe you like what this strategy can do but hate other players harassing you for betting "against the shooter." Then remember this, from the indomitable inkslinger, Sumner A Ingmark:

Don't let a sneer, authoritarian, Prevent your acting the contrarian.

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.