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2 August 2011

Of all the most popular casino table games, craps seems the most mystifying to casual players. I often hear from players who tell me they just can't understand what's going on at the craps tables.

And of all the things casual players don't understand about craps, it seems they don't understand the free odds most of all. So when the Rivers Casino in Des Plaines, Ill. opened in mid-July boasting of 100x odds in craps, I received e-mails and phone calls from readers wondering what that meant.

The basic theme was, "Is 100x odds that good a deal, and how do I get in on it?" The short answer is that yes, it is a really good deal, but you need a big bucks to take advantage.

Within that theme, there are specific questions that keep cropping up. Let's try to clear things up:

Q. What does 100x odds mean? Are they paying 100 times more than a regular craps game?

A. No, you're not getting paid 100 times normal payoffs. You're being offered the chance to add a wager 100 times the size of your pass or come bet. That extra bet carries no house edge.

The free odds is a bet players can make after the shooter establishes a point number on pass or come. If the shooter then makes the point, you collect even-money on the pass or come bet, and the free odds pays at true odds — 6-5 if the point is 6 or 8, 3-2 if the point is 5 or 9, or 2-1 if the point is 4 or 10.

In a casino that offers single odds, you could back a \$10 pass bet with only \$10 in free odds. At 5x odds, you could bet \$10 on pass, then add \$50 in odds. With 100x odds, you can back your \$10 pass bet with up to \$1,000 in odds.

Let's say you bet \$10 on the pass line, and on a comeout roll the shooter rolls a 6. That 6 becomes the point number, and you can back it with a free odds wager. If the shooter rolls another 6 before rolling a 7, both bets win. The pass bet is paid at even money, but the free odds are paid 6-5 — the true odds of rolling a 6 before a 7. With single odds, you'd win \$10 on pass and \$12 on the odds. With 100x odds, you'd win \$10 on pass and \$1,200 on your \$1,000 odds bet.

Q. If the payoffs are in the same proportions, what advantage is there to 100x odds?

A. For a big-bankrolled player, it means more of your total wager can be reserved for the free odds at which the house has no advantage.

If you want to have a total of \$1,010 on the table — a number I'll use just for ease of explanation and arithmetic — you could just bet \$1,010 on pass, and if you win, take \$1,010 in winnings. With single odds, you could bet \$505 on pass, then add \$505 in odds. If the point is 6, and you win, you collect \$505 on pass and \$606 on the odds for a total of \$1,111. At 100x odds, if you break it down to \$10 on pass and \$1,000 on the odds, a win on 6 brings \$10 on pass and \$1,200 on the odds for a total of \$1,210.

You win more money for the same betting total. That's among the possibilities that goes into calculating the house edge on pass or come plus odds, which starts at 1.41% with no odds, drops to 0.02% — that's two-hundredths of a percent — at 100x odds.

Q. Can a low roller get that 0.02% house edge?

A. No. The last time I played at a table with 100x odds, the minimum bet was \$10. If you wagered the \$10 minimum on pass or come, then a 100x odds wager would be \$1,000. Even if a casino had \$1 tables, 100x odds would take you to a \$100 wager — not exactly low roller territory.

However, players can reduce the house edge on a pass-odds or come-odds combination with lesser free odds wagers. Starting from the basic 1.41% on pass or come, the house edge drops to 0.85% at single odds, 0.33% at 5x odds and 0.18% at 10x odds, on its way to 0.02 at 100x.

Q. Do you have to bet 100x odds?

A. No, the odds bet is not mandatory. If your bankroll can only handle a \$10 pass bet and \$10 in single odds, then that's the way to go. Never overbet your bankroll, and never bet money you can't afford to lose.

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Best of John Grochowski
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.