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Craps and wild symbols

27 July 2014

QUESTION: I need to learn a little something about craps in a hurry, for a work outing. I don’t want to go through all the rigmarole of those bets that take more than one roll. Isn’t there a way to play where I can just make my bet, and it wins or it loses, but then I can just move on? Is there a best way to play that way?

ANSWER: There are many one-roll bets in craps, but none of them are among the best bets at the table. Multi-roll bets – pass, don’t pass, come, don’t come, and place bets on 6 and 8 – have the lowest house edges at the table, especially when you back pass or come with free odds or lay the odds on don’t pass or don’t come.

However, if what you want is to make one-roll bets, then your best bet is the field, especially on tables that pay 3-1 if the roll is a 12.

There’s a large area on the table marked “Field,” and you can bet by placing your own chips in the field area. You win if the roll is 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11 or 12, and lose if the roll is 5, 6, 7 or 8.

When the shooter rolls 2, you’re paid at 2-1 odds. If the roll is 12, you’re paid 2-1 in some casinos, and 3-1 in others. All other winners pay even money.

That may sound like a good deal, with you getting seven numbers and the house getting only four, but the house numbers come up a lot more often than yours. With two six-sided dice, there’s only one way to make 2, one way to make 12, while there are two 3s, three fours, four 9s, three 10s and two 11s. That gives you 16 winners among the 36 possible combinations. The house gets the other 20 combinations.

All that leads to a house edge of 2.78 percent if you’re getting 3-1 on 12, and 5.56 percent if you’re getting only 2-1 on 12.

Other one-roll wagers have higher house edges. The “any craps” bet, where you’re wagering the next roll will be 2, 3 or 12, usually pays 7-1 and has a house edge of 11.11 percent.

Bet one number at a time and you’re seeing house edges of 13.89 percent 2 or 12, which usually pay 30-1, along with 11.11 percent on 3 or 11, which pay 15-1, and a whopping 16.67 percent on any 7, with its 4-1 payoff.

I do recommend that anyone who plays craps learn the multi-roll bets. Without even considering free odds, house edges of 1.41 percent on pass or come, 1.36 percent on don’t pass or don’t come and 1.52 percent on place bets on 6 or 8 give you a better chance to win than any of the one-roll bets. But if this is a one-time social thing and you’re determined to play this one roll at a time, look to the field.

QUESTION: Can you explain something about slot payouts to me? The game I was playing not only showed the winning paylines, it lit up the symbols that were winners on the line. That was pretty cool, but one pay confused me. I had a really lucky spin, and had wild symbols on the first four reels. On one payline, I was a little confused when it lit up the four wilds, but not the 10 that was the fifth symbol on that line. With all the wilds, should that have been five of a kind and all the symbols lit up?

ANSWER: Without knowing the specific game you were playing, I can tell you what probably happened. The machine gave you the highest payout available from the symbols on that payline, and the four wild symbols were worth more than five 10s.

Getting wild symbols on the first four reels is a rare event, but having four of the highest-paying symbols worth more than four of the lowest is common. To make up an example, if four Aces are worth 100 coins and five 10s are worth 20, then I want four wilds and a 10 read as four Aces and not five 10s.
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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.

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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.