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# A Shuffle Through the Gaming Mailbag

28 August 2007

Q. I found a craps book with a lot of tips that some of the others hadn't written about.

Who would have known that you can win a bet on Big Red? I've done it a couple of times and made \$100 and \$20 just by timing and counting the number of 7s that have or haven't shown up. It's really a gut feeling. The first 7 can trigger a couple of 7s in a row, which works for me.

A. There's a very good reason most craps books don't include such things. Betting on any 7 --- aka "Big Red" --- doesn't work, at least not in the long run, and can cost you a lot of money.

Trying to time 7s may have worked for you a couple of times. But if you try this repeatedly, and keep track of losses as well as wins, you'll find that in the long run you'll be donating quite a lot of your bankroll to the casino's cause.

That's the way it has to be, because the math on Big Red is pretty awful for the player. There are 36 possible combinations of two six-sided dice, and six of them total 7. That yields 5-1 odds --- 30 ways to lose vs. 6 ways to win --- against the shooter rolling a 7.

This would be an even bet if the house paid 5-1 on any 7. But it doesn't. It pays only 4-1, and that gives the house a 16.67 percent edge.

You can't reduce or overcome that edge by counting the time between 7s. No craps number is ever overdue to turn up, nor has it ever hit so often that it's less likely than usual to roll. The dice have no memory. They don't know what the past rolls have been, and the math never changes. Odds are the same on every roll.

Any system will work sometimes. In the case of Big Red, if you bet when you think the time is right, you have a chance at that 4-1 payoff --- once chance in 6, just the same as at any other time.

Don't be fooled by short-term success. Making wagers with such a high house edge are a good way to gouge your bankroll in the long run.

Q. I've started playing Caribbean Draw Poker, and it's fun. The draw adds a lot of interest. There's more to the game than Caribbean Stud.

I have two questions. Why don't more casinos have Caribbean Draw, and what is the strategy for deciding when to bet and when to fold?

A. Caribbean Draw, which like Caribbean Stud is distributed by Progressive Games, has its own following, but it does play a little slower than the stud game. That's because it has the draw round, where players can discard and replace up to two cards. Since Draw has fewer hands per hour, operators with limited space for table games sometimes are reluctant to make this one of them.

For those unfamiliar with the game, Caribbean Draw starts just like Caribbean Stud, with an ante and an optional bet on a progressive jackpot. After you receive five cards, you may either fold and forfeit your ante, or play by making an additional wager of twice your ante.

If you bet, you can stand pat, or draw one or two cards. The dealer also has an opportunity to draw, but must make draw decisions by set rules.

After the draws, if the dealer does not have at least a pair of 8s, the dealer does not qualify. Players are paid even money on their antes, and the bets are returned. If the dealer does qualify, players who beat the dealer hand are paid even money on their antes and have their bets paid according to the following pay table: one pair or two pairs, even money; three of a kind, 2-1; straight, 3-1; flush, 5-1; full house, 7-1; four of a kind, 20-1; straight flush, 50-1; royal flush, 100-1.

The most important decision a player makes is whether to bet or fold, and it's also the easiest decision to make. Never fold. The dealer makes a qualifying hand only 52 percent of the time. You'll have some hands that are likely losers, but there's never such an overwhelming chance that they'll lose to make it worth forfeiting the ante.

You didn't ask about the optional progressive bet, but let me explain it anyway. As in Caribbean Stud, a \$1 side bet makes you eligible for a progressive jackpot. A portion of each bet is added to the jackpot until a player hits a royal flush and wins the entire amount. Along the way, smaller payouts are made for flushes or better.

Progressive payouts are based on your first five cards --- the draw doesn't matter here. That makes the odds on the progressive wager exactly the same as in Caribbean Stud. In fact, some casinos link Stud and Draw to the same jackpot.

Listen to John Grochowski's "Beat the Odds" tips Saturdays at 6:20 a.m., 2:50 p.m. and 7:41 p.m. and Sundays at 8:20 a.m., 2:50 p.m. and 10:42 p.m. on WBBM-AM, News Radio 780 in Chicago, streaming online at www.wbbm780.com, and to his casino talk show from 6 to 7 p.m. Saturday on WCKG-FM (105.9), streaming at http://1059freefm.com.

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John Grochowski

John Grochowski is the best-selling author of The Craps Answer Book, The Slot Machine Answer Book and The Video Poker Answer Book. His weekly column is syndicated to newspapers and Web sites, and he contributes to many of the major magazines and newspapers in the gaming field, including Midwest Gaming and Travel, Slot Manager, Casino Journal, Strictly Slots and Casino Player.

Listen to John Grochowski's "Casino Answer Man" tips Tuesday through Friday at 5:18 p.m. on WLS-AM (890) in Chicago. Look for John Grochowski on Facebook and Twitter @GrochowskiJ.