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Rolling Dem Bones: Crap Shoot or Science?

9 May 2007

The vast majority of craps players exhibit some form of ritualistic behavior when it's their turn to shoot the dice, but is there really a method to the madness of rolling?

Some players take their time, setting the cubes to a certain configuration before letting them fly. Others toss the dice at a uniform arc and speed, attempting to hit the same spot on the back wall to achieve fortuitous tumbling action.

If a scientific method for rolling dice did in fact exist, there'd be no better casino in the Chicago area than the Grand Victoria in Elgin, Illinois to put the theory to the test simply because of an ongoing promotion called "Craps for Cash".

The object of Craps for Cash is forthright: Make all six points (four, five, six, eight, nine and 10) on the same "hand" without rolling a seven-out and collect a bonus of \$4,000 in cash. There's no catch and no side wager. All that's required is for the shooter to place a pass line bet in the minimum amount.

It's a pure bonus that makes the Grand Victoria's craps tables among the most popular in the market and a bona fide attraction for serious players, especially when you factor in the fact that the casino offers 100-times odds, which makes the combined house advantage on the pass line when a player takes advantage of full odds a miniscule 0.021 percent.

Through the end of January of this year, the bonus had been collected 316 times for a total of \$1.264 million since the promotion was launched on August 5, 2003.

I was curious enough about the inherent value to the player of this particular promotion to make contact with one of the nation's foremost authorities on gambling mathematics, Michael Shackleford, whose Website, www.wizardofodds.com has a wealth of valuable information and statistical analysis of all casino games.

My question was how "Craps for Cash" impacted the already low house advantage on the craps games at the Grand Victoria. Here is Shackleford's response:

"The probability of making all six points is one in 6,156, so the value of this to the shooter is \$4,000 divided by 6,156 or 64.98 cents. As long as the shooter bets \$45 or less on the pass line, and nothing else except the odds, he will have an advantage".

Doug Cahill, a shift manager at the Grand Victoria, has witnessed "Craps for Cash" winners make 10 or 12 passes of the dice during the course of collecting the bonus. At the opposite end of the extreme, he once saw a shooter make all six points in 14 minutes. Another player shot for over an hour making every point except the eight, some multiple times. He didn't collect the bonus but his collateral winnings and those of his tablemates were significant.

Winners of note include a regular whom Grand Victoria craps table crews have come to know as "Good Time Charlie", a double "Craps for Cash" bonus winner.

And then there was the young lady who stepped up to the table at 1 am on her 21st birthday, a "Craps for Cash" moment which Cahill will never forget:

"Her boyfriend shot the dice and quickly sevened out," he recalled. "When it was her turn, she made five of the six points in half an hour, betting just \$5 on the line. She would look at her boyfriend to see if a roll was a winner or a loser. When she made the sixth point, she was still a little confused as to what she had done. I have not seen many guests get as excited as she when we paid her the \$4,000 bonus."

CASINO NEWS: George Carlin brings his legendary brand of comedy to the Northern Lights Theater at Potawatomi Bingo Casino in Milwaukee on Thursday, May 17 for two shows starting at 7:00 pm and 9:30 pm. Ticket prices are \$40 and \$50. Call 414-847-7922 or visit www.paysbig.com.

The "Set Sail Dream Cruise Giveaway" will be held every Sunday through June 10 at Horseshoe Casino Hammond. Each day of the promotion five guests will win a four-day cruise to either Mexico or the Caribbean. Designer luggage will also be given away. On June 10, guests from Harrah's Entertainment properties around the country will compete for a luxury two-week cruise and a \$50,000 cash grand prize.

Recent Articles
Best of John G. Brokopp
John G. Brokopp

John G. Brokopp's gaming column appears in Chicago Sun Times (Chicago, Illinois), The Times (Northwest Indiana), The Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa), The Courier News (Elgin, Illinois), The Gazette (Southwest Suburban Chicago) and Senior Wire (Denver, CO). He's also a regular contributor to The Colorado Gambler, Midwest Gaming & Travel, Casino Player and Strictly Slots. John possesses 28 years of experience as a professional handicapper, publicist, freelance writer, and casino gaming correspondent. He is also the author of two very popular books, The Insiderâ€™s Guide to Internet Gambling and Thrifty Gambling.

Books by John G. Brokopp:

John G. Brokopp
John G. Brokopp's gaming column appears in Chicago Sun Times (Chicago, Illinois), The Times (Northwest Indiana), The Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa), The Courier News (Elgin, Illinois), The Gazette (Southwest Suburban Chicago) and Senior Wire (Denver, CO). He's also a regular contributor to The Colorado Gambler, Midwest Gaming & Travel, Casino Player and Strictly Slots. John possesses 28 years of experience as a professional handicapper, publicist, freelance writer, and casino gaming correspondent. He is also the author of two very popular books, The Insiderâ€™s Guide to Internet Gambling and Thrifty Gambling.