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Aw, Craps

If you have read this blog for any time at all, you know that one of my vices is that I like to gamble. It all began when I had to take statistics in college, where my professor used casino games to teach us statistics. For that reason, I learned several casino games, and the one that really stuck was Craps.

It is a straightforward game of math, and once the rules are understood, fairly easy to play. The math can be done in your head pretty quickly. I get tired of always talking about the decay of our society, so I thought that I could do a few posts that were more fun (for me) to write to break things up a bit.

The rules for Craps are easy, but since it is a fast moving game and there are lots of bets that can be made, people who watch the game get easily confused and are often scared away from the game. Let me tell you though, that a busy table with a hot shooter is pretty exciting and makes for a fun game.

The rules are simple: The shooter picks up two sixed sided dice and rolls them to the other end of the table. (Most casinos have the rule that the dice must hit the wall at the opposite side of the table.) The first time the shooter rolls is called the “come out roll.” If the dice show a 7 or 11, the shooter wins. If the dice show a 2, 3, or 12, the shooter loses. Any other number becomes the “point” and the shooter continues to roll until they either roll a 7 (which causes the shooter to lose) or again rolls the point (for which the shooter wins). As long as the shooter continues to win, they continue to roll the dice. If the shooter loses on the come out roll, they can try again, but if they lose by rolling a 7 after the point is set, the dealer passes the dice to the player on the losing shooter’s left, and that person becomes the new shooter. That’s it for the rules of the game.

Everything else that happens on the table is betting that the shooter will win or lose, or is a bet on what numbers will appear on upcoming rolls of the dice.

Upcoming posts will deal with the math of the game and what the odds are for different outcomes.

Let me close out this post by pointing out something which many people will try to lie about: The only winner in casino gambling is the owner of the casino. The math is set up so that the longer you play, the more likely you are to lose. It’s math- there is no way around it.

Even games like blackjack, where people try to convince you that they “count cards” and have a system to always win, are set up so the casino comes out ahead. If it weren’t, everyone who plays in the casino would soon adopt this system and the casino would go out of business. I don’t play to make money, I play because it entertains me. I also know that over the long term, I lose money in the casino. I just try to maximize gains and minimize losses. Here are my rules for gambling:

  • 1 I know that I will lose money over the long term. It is mathematically certain. So budget your gambling and stick to it.
  • 2 I gamble because it is fun and entertaining. If I ever find myself gambling while desperate to win because I need the money, it is time to quit.
  • 3 Don’t ever gamble with money you can’t afford to lose. If you are gambling your rent or grocery money, that isn’t entertainment, it’s desperation.

My wife initially didn’t like it, but then she came to realize that I Am responsible with it. Although the first time she came to the table and saw that I was making individual bets of over $100 and had more than $1200 on the table, she was a little nervous. At the time, she didn’t realize that it wasn’t my money I was gambling with. More on that in a future post.

2 replies on “Aw, Craps”

I am not a gambler but enjoy the math and the process. I went to L.V. once for SIGGRAPH and was on the way home with an hour to kill.

I turned $20 in to chips and sat down at the blackjack table. At the end of an hour I walked away with $17 in cash, having had two nice drinks, tipped the waitress twice and the dealer.

But I went to that table knowing I was spending $20 for entertainment. I cared if I lost the money but wasn’t going to be upset about it, it was a price I was paying.

My only other gambling encounter was with a bunch of friends of a friend. It was a yearly bash. Lots of money on the table. I’m at the table and have about $2k in the pot. I lost.

As I was walking out the door one of the other players leaving says “I guess we’re the big losers tonight.” Being a great conversationalist I answered “huh?” He says something like well we both lost over 3 grand.

“Oh, no, I’m down about $20. I only had $50 I could afford to lose. That was other people’s money I lost.”

He was down 5k, which he could not afford. I went knowing it was for entertainment.

All because when I was around 10 I was hanging with the CPO and he taught me the only rule of gambling…
“Don’t bet if you can’t afford to lose.”

He taught that to me after 4 weeks of paper route went into the dealers pocket.

I’ve never forgotten the lesson

Are you sure about math being absolute? Seems to me the way that subject is being taught today 2 + 2 = 5 … and so forth.

So imagine how the casino will fare in the future. Unlimited profits – record profits even.

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