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Know House Edge Before You Roll

22 September 2006

If craps is your game, today's column is for you; but even if you're not a craps player, you may find this interesting. We're just looking at a simple comparison of the house edge on various bets on the layout, which may range from under 1 percent all the way up to 16.67 percent and higher. And if you are a craps player, you may want to look at this list and change your ways.

Blackjack and video poker are games of skill; you have to know what kind of game to play, which table rules to look for and how to play them well. All others are games of luck, meaning there is no way to overcome the house edge. Some days you may get lucky and walk away a winner, but in the long run you'll lose. But in craps, a little bit of knowledge will go a long way in losing less money and stretching your time at the table.

For example, craps is based on luck, but there are some good bets and some bad bets, but even the good, bad and ugly involve short-term variations in long-term odds (i.e., good luck and bad luck).

So, let's look at craps separately because there are so many possibilities. Probably one of the best bets is, surprisingly, a buy bet, but only if you can find a casino that allows you to buy a 4 or a 10 all the way up to $35 or $39 for the same $1 commission charged on wins only, or "charging the vig on the back end." About three fourths of the casinos in Mississippi and some in Las Vegas will do this for you, so it's important to ask. The house edge in that case is only 0.952 percent; yes, that's less than 1 percent, but you have to be willing to risk almost $40. If you stick with $20 and smaller buy bets, the house edge is at least 4.76 percent.

Low rollers may want to stick with pass line and come bets; these carry a 1.41 percent house edge without odds. With 2X odds, you can get this down to .61 percent; 5X odds carries a .33 percent edge and 10X a .184 percent edge. Before The Storm, most casinos here on the Mississippi Gulf Coast offered 10X odds; now, post-Katrina and with not enough good, healthy competition, the three re-opened casinos offer only 5X odds. Tunica casinos offer the best at 20X odds (0.099 percent), but remember, that means a $100 odds bet plus your $5 pass bet. That's a pretty hefty-sized bet for a low roller.

Making a place bet on a 6 or 8 isn't too bad (1.52 percent) but if you start to wander over to the 5 or 9 (4 percent) and the 4 or 10 (6.67 percent), you're definitely not in the recommended area.

The field bet carries a hefty 5.56 percent house edge if both 2 and 12 pay double; 2.78 percent if either 2 or 12 pays triple. Look for a triple 2 or 12 if you insist on playing the field.

When you start straying onto the center part of the craps layout, that's when you start to make sucker bets, what we call "crazy crapper" bets. Those range from the hard way 6 or 8 (9.09 percent), hard way 4 or 10 (11.11 percent), any craps (11.11 percent), horn bet (more than 12 percent), 2, 3, 11 or 12 bet (13.89 percent) and any seven (16.67 percent). And let's not forget the hop bet (11.11 percent) or the hopping hard way (13.89 percent).

Don't fall for the crapless craps game, "Never Ever Craps." It may sound good but the house edge on the pass bet jumps from 1.41 percent to 5.4 percent.

Until next week, dice be nice.

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