Stay informed with the
Recent Articles
Best of John Grochowski

# The reason you can take down don't bets

24 April 2016

QUESTION: My buddy and I were playing craps, and a guy across the table looked at his watch and said he had to leave. He was playing don’t pass, and they just took his bets down for him and gave him his money. When I’m playing pass, they won’t let me take my bets down. OK, the odds I can take down, but not the line bets. How come he gets to take his bets down, and I don’t?

ANSWER: If casinos allowed craps players to take down pass line bets whenever we wanted, we’d be stuffing our pockets with profits — at least until the casinos changed the rules, eliminated the games or closed their doors.

On the comeout roll, pass line players have eight ways to win – the six rolls that total 7 and the two ways to make 11 – and only four ways to lose – the two rolls that total 3, the one way to make 2 and the one way to make 12. The casinos make their money after a point number is established, when the players become the underdogs.

If we could take down our pass bets at will, the smart play would be to bet pass on the comeout, collect our winnings on 7 and 11, accept our losses on 2, 3 or 12, and take down our bets if any other number was rolled, establishing a point. We’d win two-thirds of bets played to a decision.

Obviously, the casinos aren’t going to let that happen. If we want our edge on the comeout roll, we have to accept our place as underdog on subsequent rolls.

So why is it different for a don’t pass bettor? Because a don’t pass bettor who takes down his bet after a point is established is passing up the portion of the wager on which he, not the house, has an edge. For a don’t pass bettor, the danger period is the comeout roll, with only three ways to win (one way to make 2 and two ways to make 3) and eight ways to lose (7s and 11s). After that, when a point is established, the don’t pass bettor becomes the favorite. Naturally, the house will allow the player to take down a bet when the player is the favorite.

QUESTION: You write about everything — blackjack, craps, roulette, slots — everything. Do you actually play all those games yourself? What are your favorites?

ANSWER: I have played every game I write about, but I’ve not necessarily played them all for money. When I write about new games after Global Gaming Expo each fall, many of the featured games are not yet on casino floors, but I play sample hands at distributors’ booths at the expo to get a feel for the games.

The same goes for slot games. I tour gamemakers’ booths and get demonstrations of how the bonus events work, and usually circle back to play a few minutes on each game I intend to feature. They are in demo mode, and there is no money involved.

However, any game I write about that has a niche on casino floors, I play at least a short time for money. I want to know the ins, outs and pitfalls of the real casino world. So yes, I’ve played Mississippi Stud, Caribbean Stud, Caribbean Draw, Three Card Poker, Four Card Poker, Spanish 21, Double Exposure Blackjack and many more games for money.

My favorites are the strategy games, where your decisions matter. When I’m playing for myself, and not necessarily for material to write about, my main games are blackjack and video poker.
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.