Bad bets

This is a follow up to my series on Craps. The last post was on good bets, and this one will be about bad bets. The worst bets on the table are what I refer to as sucker bets. A few of them here:

The one set of bets that are horrible are all of the “one roll” bets. Bets where you bet on the outcome of a single roll are all found in the center of the table. They all have a house edge of between 11.1 and 16.9.

These bets include “any craps” which is a bet that the next roll of the dice will be a 2, 3, or 12. If the dice come up as a 2, 3, or 12, the payout is 7 to 1. The house advantage is 11.1. Similar is betting on either the 3 or the 11. Either bet pays 15 to 1, and the house advantage is still 11.1. You can bet the “Big 7” which pays 4 to 1, but has a house advantage of 16.9.

So how exactly do we make money on Craps, if all bets are losers? There are many theories and tactics. Some people recommend things like trying to control the dice and can make them land on a certain number. That won’t work. The game can’t be rigged, it can’t be cheated, and it can’t be beat in the long term.

It CAN be beat in the short term by being a smart player. That is where we find the fun. More on that later.

3 replies on “Bad bets”

In essence, the house wins by reversion to the mean – in this case, that would be a probability distribution, not a single number, but the principle is the same. A player can come ahead thanks to local variance from that distribution over small (statistically speaking) samples, or numbers of bets placed.

But in the long term, averaged over all players and all bets, the probability distribution ensures the house makes its edge as the variance will trend to zero as sample size increases.

It’s *possible* to manipulate the dice to have a higher chance of getting certain results (not guaranteed) – but it requires specific actions, which can be obvious, and some throw techniques are disallowed – and Scarne On Dice detailed them to the general public back in ’45. So, casinos know about, and will boot you, for trying to pull that stuff.

And “casual” games in the alley or whatever bring the added thrill of getting stabbed/shot/a mudhole stomped in you by both the dudes running the game, and the other players. Seeing as how they don’t have to worry about the Gaming Commission pulling their license, they can express their displeasure and not crimp the free-money pipeline.

Anyone running a game isn’t in the business of *losing* money. Play accordingly, kids…

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