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# Best craps play

8 January 2015

For players who take craps seriously, the next step after learning the basics of how to play usually is to probe deeper into the possibilities presented by the dozens of bets and hundreds of potential combinations available.

Is there a weakness that can be exploited? Is there a synergy between Bet A and Bet B that covers the loss-producing potholes in each and paves the road to riches? Can combining a high-risk but high-paying bet with more of an even-keel, grind-it-out wager give you the best of both worlds?

When readers send their favored combinations to me, it usually involves a bet on any 7 in an attempt to cover up the loser 7s on Pass and Place bets. It doesn’t work. The house edge on any 7 is too high at 16.67 percent, and since it’s a one-roll bet, you might need to replenish the wager several times before a Pass or Place bet is decided.

The latest combination sent by a reader does not involve any 7s. Instead, it attempts to combine Place and hardway bets to get some extra oomph on big winners.

“I'm just curious about your thoughts about betting 6 and 8 the hard way while simultaneously betting for 6 to 8 to come out the easy way,” a reader named Matt wrote. “Is there any money to be made betting both the easy and hard way at the same time or would you suggest just betting one or the other or neither?

“I’m just trying to find a winning strategy, to be honest. I know the casino will always win. I’m just trying to better my odds for walking away a winner sometimes vs. rarely or never.”

Place bets on 6 or 8 and the hardways all are multi-roll bets. If you place the 6, you win if the shooter rolls a 6 before the next 7, and lose if a 7 comes first. Same deal with placing 8: You win if the shooter rolls and 8 before the next 7. Winning bets pay at 7-6 odds. The true odds against winning the bet are 6-5, and that leads to a 1.52 percent house edge.

The hardways add a wrinkle. Winners must show the same number on each die. So 6 rolled the hard way is 3-3. You win if the hard 6 shows up before either a 7 or a 6 rolled any other way. Since there are six ways to roll a 7, five ways to roll a 6, and only one of those 6s is the hard way, odds against winning the bet are 10-1. Winners are paid only 9-1, and that leads to a house edge of 9.09 percent.

Arithmetic on hard 8 is the same as on hard 6. There are five ways to roll 8, only one is 4-4, and the house edge is 9.09 percent.

The house edge on the hardways is much higher than on the place bets. The overall edge on the combination will be higher than on the place bets, but lower than on the hardways. If you bet equal amounts on place 6 and hard 6, the house edge would be 5.30 percent – the average of 1.52 percent and 9.09 percent.

But you don’t have to bet in equal amounts, and when the bets are different sizes, the house edge will be a weighted average. Because the place bet on 6 or 8 pays 7-6 odds, you want to bet in multiples of \$6, but there’s no need to do that with the hardways.

Let’s say you bet \$6 to place 6, and only \$1 on hard 6. Per 11 decisions, you’d risk \$77. You’d see an average of six 7s, where you’d lose both bets. On the four easy 6s – 1-5, 2-4, 4-2 and 5-1 – you’d lose the hardway bet, but for each you’d get back your \$6 bets and get \$7 in winnings. That’s \$52 to your side of the table. On the one hard 6, you’d get back your \$6 place bet and \$1 hardway bet, get \$7 in winnings on the place bet and \$9 on the hardway for a total of \$23.

Add that all up, and you have \$75 after the full trial. The house has \$2, and the house edge is 2.60 percent.

Betting the hardway in addition to your place bet has raised the overall edge against you by more than 1 percent, and that’s when you’re betting six times as much on the better bet as on the weaker one.

You’re far better off to stick with the lowest-edge bets on the table – Pass and Come, free odds if you can afford them, placing 6 and 8, and, if you don’t mind betting against the shooter, Don’t Pass and Don’t Come. Making bets with high house edges can bring bigger payoffs sometimes, but overall, they just raise the house edge on your combination and act as a long-term drain on your bankroll.

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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.