Stay informed with the
Recent Articles
Best of John Grochowski

# Bonus craps bets

12 October 2014

QUESTION: My friend and I were playing around with the idea of side bets, especially craps bets where you get a bonus if you win three times in a row. Maybe you’ve seen something like them. You bet the lucky number, and your bet stays in action until you’ve either won three times in a row or you’ve lost.

If we were designing a Lucky 7s bet, how big a payoff would we have to offer before it was a better bet than just betting any 7s three times? If it’s a \$1 side bet, you lose if either the first, second or third rolls is something other than 7, but you win if all three rolls are 7. What’s a reasonable payout on that bet?

ANSWER: In the 36 possible combinations of two dice, there are six that total 7. So the chances of rolling a 7 are 1 in 6. The chances of rolling three consecutive 7s are 1 in 6x6x6, which comes to 1 in 216. For an even bet with no house edge, the payoff would need to be 215-1, so the rare winner would bet back his \$1 bet plus \$215 in winnings.

However, you’re not looking for an even bet. The house wouldn’t make any money on such a thing. The one-roll bet on any 7 pays 4-1 instead of the 5-1 true odds of winning. Shorting the payoff by that one unit gives the house a 16.67-percent edge. You could equal that with a 179-1 payoff on your three-roll bet. The winner would be left with \$180 – his \$1 bet plus \$179 in winnings – and the house would average \$36 in profits per \$216 in wagers. Divide \$36 in house take by \$216 in wagers, then multiply by 100 to convert to percent, and you get 16.67 percent.

If you wanted to give players something more enticing, you could think about a 199-1 payoff, so the winner is left with \$200. That’s a nice round number to shoot for, and with the house making \$16 in profit per \$216 wagered, the house edge is 7.4 percent. That’s higher than the house edge on the field – 5.56 percent if both 2 and 12 pay 2-1, or 2.78 percent of one or the other pays 3-1. But it’s lower than other one-roll oppositions.

To make it a really attractive bet in line with some of the better bets on the table such as the pass line (1.41 percent) or place bets on 6 or 8 (1.52 percent), you’d need to be more generous. A 211-1 payoff, with the house keeping just \$4 per \$216, brings an edge of 1.85 percent.

No casino that would offer such a streak bet would build in a house edge that low. It would target jackpot hunters willing to pay a premium in the house edge to have a chance at a big payoff.

QUESTION: A bunch of us play poker once a month, and one of the other guys razzes me about video poker. He said it was poker lite, poker for dummies, that any good live poker player knows the strategy, and video poker players don't have to go anywhere beyond that. I tell him video poker is different, and he laughs. What would you tell him?

ANSWER: Video poker is different, and less complex than live poker. In live poker, any hand can be a winner and almost any hand can be a loser in the right situation. So we have to take measure of the situation and of the competition. There’s a psychological game that video poker players don’t face.

However, there are subtleties to video poker, it’s sometimes counter-intuitive, and it’s not at all true that any good live poker player knows the strategy. Video poker strategy weighs the likelihood of drawing a winning hand against the payback for that hand, and these things change from game to game and pay table to pay table. Dealt King-8-3 of hearts along with a 4 of clubs and 9 of diamonds, you’d hold just the King in 9-6 Jacks or Better, but hold all three hearts in 10-7-5 or 9-7-5 Double Bonus Poker, where flushes pay 7-for-1.

Playing live poker well requires more skill than any other common casino game. The chance element is much stronger in video poker, but really, live poker and video poker are just two different games.
Recent Articles
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.