John Grochowski

John Grochowski

A shuffle through the gaming mailbag:

Q. Is the field bet a good bet or a bad bet? That 2.78% house edge doesn’t look too bad. It’s a lot better than placing 4 or 10 (6.67%). It seems viable when you want to cover a lot of numbers.

A. The field is a one-roll bet, which means you have to replenish your wagers a lot more often than on multiroll bets such as pass or come, don’t pass or don’t come, and the place bets.

The effect is that you actually lose more money per rolls on the field than on the worst place bets — 4 or 10.

Let’s review the basics of the field. If the shooter rolls a 3, 4, 9, 10 or 11, you win even money. You win extra on 2 or 12. Some tables pay 2-1 on either of those numbers. Some pay 2-1 on 2 but 3-1 on 12, while a few pay 2-1 on 2 but 3-1 on 12.

If the payoff is 2-1 on both 2 and 12, the house edge is 5.56%. If one or the other pays 3-1, the edge is reduced to 2.78%.

Assume you and I are at a table with the better version of the field. For 100 rolls, I bet $5 per decision on place bets on 4, and you bet $5 per decision on the field.

It takes an average of four rolls to decide a place bet on 4, so in 100 rolls I can expect to see 25 decisions. That makes my total risk $125, and with a 6.67% house edge, my average loss would be $8.34.

The field is decided on every roll, so if you bet $5 on the field for the same 100 rolls, you’d make 100 bets for a total risk of $500. A 2.78% house edge on the better version of the field would mean average losses of $13.90.

Even with a lower house edge, average losses are higher on the good version of the field than on a place bet on 4. Placing 4 ranks among craps’ bad bets with its high house edge, but the 2.78% version of the field is a more costly wager.

Q. Is there really any such thing as a penny slot? Most of the games you have to bet on every payline. If it’s a 40-line game, you have to bet at least 40 cents. I was at one casino that had deactivated the one-coin per line option and on 40-line games advertised as pennies, you had to bet at least 80 cents.

To me, those aren’t penny slots at all. They’re 40-cent slots or 80-cent slots.

A. The public seems to have accepted “penny slots” as meaning “slots with minimum bets of 1 cent per payline, even if I have to bet on multiple lines or not at all.” There are a few older machines still in use in which you can choose the number of lines at have a minimum bet of 1 cent, but they’re rare.

That puts penny slots in a different category than three-reel quarter slots, where you can bet 25 cents at a time, or dollar slots, where you can bet $1. The terminology sleight of hand is even worse in your example of a 40-line “penny” game with an 80-cent minimum.

If we were being consistent with earlier practice, then yes, games with 40-cent minimum bets should be 40-cent games and games with 80-cent minimums should be 80-cent games. But as long as the public accepts the “penny slot” terminology, it’s here to stay.