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Use Caution with the Odds Bet

18 September 2011

Walk up to any craps table and you will see most players loading up on the free/true odds bet. It is one of the most popular bets on the table.

Veteran and novice players alike will tell you that the bet is the best one in the casino. They jubilantly proclaim that this is the only casino bet in which the house has no mathematical advantage. They loudly profess their love of the only casino bet paid off at the correct odds. This is why most players readily back up their pass line bet with stacks of chips.

Their claims are correct -- sort of. The odds portion of the bet is paid at true odds. However, a pass line bet with the corresponding house advantage is required before a free odds bet is permitted.

The truly knowledgeable player should not be tempted to over bet by the "no house advantage" propaganda.

The truth is that the casino's not having an advantage on this bet does not translate into the player having an advantage on the bet. Is that clear? I will say it a little more directly: A player does not gain an advantage over the casino on a bet that has no casino advantage. It is a neutral bet.

So is stacking chips behind the pass line the correct strategy? Well, the answer is a resounding yes and an absolute no. To determine if the conventional wisdom is correct, let's take a look at the bet.

As I mentioned earlier, to make the bet you must first make a pass line bet. On the come out roll, the player has an advantage over the casino. However, once the point is established the advantage shifts back to the house. It is only then, when the house has the advantage, that the player can make the odds bets.

To compensate for the advantage shift and to tempt the player, the house pays off the odds portion of the bet at true odds.

On a point of 4 or 10, the payoff is 2 to 1
On a point or 5 or 9, the payoff is 3 to 2
On a point of 8 or 8, the payoff is 6 to 5

Because the players are so fond of this bet, casinos use it to draw in players. Competing casinos advertise that they offer multiple odds. Double (2X) and five times odds (5X) are common. Occasionally ten times odds (10X) can be found. There are even some casinos that offer 100 times odds. Based on the above one would think that the casino with the 100X odds would be packed with players and the casino with single or double odds would be a ghost town.

The reality is very few players have the bankroll to withstand the swings inherent in high multiple odds play.

Players are drawn to the casinos that offer multiple times odds because it is a common misconception that the free odds bet lowers the house advantage on the original pass line bet. It does not.

The fact is the house advantage on the pass line bet remains the same at approximately 1.41%. Betting multiple odds will not change that. What multiple odds do is create a new kind of bet. The pass line bet when considered with the odds bet creates a new kind of combination bet.

This combination bet is based upon a ratio of the amount bet on the odds to the amount bet on the pass line. It has the effect of lowering the house edge on the overall bet. See the table below:

2X = 0.606 house advantage
5X = 0.326 house advantage
10X = 0.184 house advantage
100X = 0.021 house advantage

The good news of the odds bet is when things are going well for the pass line player the free odds bets allows him to get a lot of money on the table. The bad news is a cold streak, even a relatively short one, on a multiple odds table, can quickly wipe out a bankroll.

The best way to use the odds bet, in my opinion, is to use a modified version of the Golden Touch's 5-Count. This is an excellent conservative pay strategy. The player can make a minimum pass line bet. He can then modify the 5-Count to his or her predetermined level. Let us say at the 3-Count, the player can place single odds. At the 4-Count he can place double odds. This would continue until the maximum odds are reached or the player reached his maximum betting comfort level. (For more on the 5-Count see Casino Craps: Shoot to Win! by Frank Scoblete.)

Playing maximum odds at craps can lead to a monetary roller coaster. But unlike the roller coaster in your favorite amusement park, you do not know where this ride will end.

Scan
Scan works in a top-secret government agency and he is therefore not allowed to reveal his real name or show a picture of himself. We’ve used a clip-art drawing to indicate his nature. Needless to say, he is an extremely bright guy. He is an active member of the goldentouchcraps.com private members-only Web site where he posts his thoughts and gambling theories on a regular basis.
Scan
Scan works in a top-secret government agency and he is therefore not allowed to reveal his real name or show a picture of himself. We’ve used a clip-art drawing to indicate his nature. Needless to say, he is an extremely bright guy. He is an active member of the goldentouchcraps.com private members-only Web site where he posts his thoughts and gambling theories on a regular basis.