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Don't Play This Field

2 June 2006

Several weeks ago, we discussed proposition bets, which are in the center of the craps table and in front of the stickman. We talked about them not because I condone your making these bets but because I want you to know why you should not make them. They have a high casino edge, from 9.09 percent to 16.67 percent.

In contrast, the pass and come bets have a house edge of only 1.41 percent, and that can be reduced to as little as 0.61 percent with double odds and 0.1 percent with 20X odds. Stick with bets that carry a casino advantage of under 2 percent.

I make no suggestions as to which "prop" bets you should make or how much money you should bet on them because I suggest that you stay away from them completely.

But if you insist on making one of these bets, they can each be made at below the table minimum, can be made on the comeout roll if you wish, and are always working. Also, hardway bets may be called off if you feel some unlucky, superstitious dark cloud hanging over you.

The way to make one of these center bets is to toss whatever chips you want to risk losing to the area in front of the stickman and tell him which bet you want to make. He will place them in the proper betting spot. When I say "toss," I mean to do it very gently. And remember, bets made on a previous roll need to be collected and/or paid before the stickman can start taking new bets.

And it's always best to make a bet while the dice are still in front of the stickman. Once he pushes them out to the shooter, you're risking the wrath of dealers and other players by making any bet that may interfere with what they consider to be the flow of the dice.

Now, having suggested that you never make a prop bet, there is an exception. I like to bet on a hard 6 or 8 as a way to tip dealers that have been helpful, attentive and cheerful. A hardway bet can turn a $1 "toke" into $10 if it connects, and it gets the dealers into the game and enthusiastic about the roll's outcome. Simply toss a $1 or $5 chip toward the center of the table and announce "hard 6 (or 8) for the boys." The bet will be appreciated even if it doesn't win.

There's one more bet I haven't talked about yet. Actually, there are several, but this is the only one I'm going to discuss for now.

On either side of the center proposition bets, between the Don't Pass and Come areas of the table, is a large section labeled "Field." The field bet is a one-roll bet that the next number will be a 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11 or 12 and must be played for at least the table minimum. If it wins, it pays even money unless a 2 or 12 is rolled, in which case you're paid double.

Some casinos pay triple if the 12 is rolled. Or some may pay triple if the 2 is rolled. It depends on the casino; just be sure to check the layout.

If any other number is rolled, the bet loses. But there are only four losing numbers, the 5, 6, 7 and 8. Seven winning numbers and only four losers. This has got to be a good bet, right?

Sorry, you guessed it, folks: it doesn't work that way. What matters is not how many winning numbers there are but how many winning combinations there are versus losing combinations. Of the 36 possible ways that the dice land, only 16 are winning combinations and 20 are losers. The house edge is 5.56 percent if 2 and 12 pay double and 2.78 percent if either the 2 or 12 pays triple.

You didn't really think the casino would let you get away with this one, did you? Until next week, may the dice be kind to you.

Linda Mabry

Low Roller Linda Mabry lives and gambles on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. She writes a weekly, general gambling advice column for the Biloxi Sun Herald, and may be contacted through her e-mail address, lnmabry@cableone.net or her web site www.thelowroller.com
Linda Mabry
Low Roller Linda Mabry lives and gambles on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. She writes a weekly, general gambling advice column for the Biloxi Sun Herald, and may be contacted through her e-mail address, lnmabry@cableone.net or her web site www.thelowroller.com