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# The truth about the numbers

8 December 2013

QUESTION: I don’t get why you say the pass line is a better bet than placing 6 or 8. If you bet pass, you have to take the times that the point is 4 or 10, where it’s a lot more likely that you lose. I want the best numbers all the time.

ANSWER: The main thing you’re missing here is effect of the come out roll. On your place bets, the house edge kicks in as soon as your money is on the table. On the pass line, you have an edge on the come out roll, with eight ways to win and only four ways to lose. That offsets the effect of having to settle for less frequent numbers as your points.

For the benefit of craps novices, there are six ways of making a seven when rolling two six-sided dice. There are five ways each of making 6 or 8, four of making 5 or 9, and three of making 4 or 10. Once a point is established, you win if your number turns up before the next 7, so the odds against winning are 6-5 if your number is 6 or 8, 6-4 (or 3-2) on 5 or 9, and 6-3 (or 2-1) on 4 or 10.

However, the pass line betting sequence starts with a come out roll to establish a point. On the come out, you win on the six ways to make a 7 and two ways to make 11, and lose on the two ways to make 3, one way to make 2 and one way to make 12. If anything else is rolled on the come out, it becomes the point.

On a third of all pass line wagers, no point is established, and there are no worries about whether the point is a less frequently rolled number.

The bottom line is that the house edge is 1.41 percent on the pass line, and 1.52 percent on the place bets on 6 or 8.

That doesn’t even take into consideration that the pass line affords you the opportunity to back your bet with free odds, which pay at true odds and have no house edge. That’s a powerful attraction, but even without the odds, the come out roll effect gives the pass bet a lower house edge than place bets on 6 or 8.

QUESTION: A question about slot machines. On the three reel games, you could always see what symbols stopped just above the payline or just below the payline. You could look up the curve of the reels under the glass, and see what just missed.

On video slots, you can’t do that. Maybe if you watch carefully, you might be able to note the last symbols to go past the bottom before they stop, but you don’t see anything above the playing field.

I once got a system in the mail that depended on seeing which symbols stopped above. I don’t remember all the details. Something like that doesn’t seem possible on video slots. Is there any way to know what those symbols would have been?

ANSWER: I’ve never been remotely curious about the symbols above those on the screen. I suppose if you really wanted to know and had a great eye for a fast-moving image, you might be able to tell what’s first down the screen on the next play, but it doesn’t make any difference.

Every spin of the slot reels is an independent trial determined by a random number generator. Past results have no effect on future outcome. That’s as true on three-reel slots as it is on video slots. The system you mention wouldn’t have helped you win on reel-spinners, and it won’t help you win on video. Symbols that stop above or below the playing field are no indication what is to come. Ignore them.
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.

#### Books by 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.