Is there ever a right time for a pass or come bettor to skip the odds in craps?
Sure, when he can’t afford them.
At least, that was the flip answer I gave an acquaintance recently at a pizza and football party.
The occasion was a gathering of old friends, with most in touch since college days. Hayden was one of the exceptions, having recently married one of the women.
Hayden is a craps player, and he’d been giving some thought to the odds.
“You don’t have an edge on the odds,” he said. “They’re an even bet. So really, they’re kind of an extra with no real effect.”
I disagreed and told him the effect was real enough. They lowered the overall house edge on a pass or come plus odds combination and gave you a better shot to win.
“I get that they lower the house edge,” Hayden said. “You’re averaging the house edge on your pass or come bet with a zero house edge on the odds, so the overall house edge has to be lower.
“But you’re not changing your expected loss. Your expectation is to lose your percentage on pass or come while breaking even on the odds. So the odds have no real effect except to increase the amount of money you’re risking. You could lose more money if you take odds.”
True enough, I told him, provided you’re betting the table minimum on pass or come.
“Huh?” he said. “It’s all proportional. No matter what your bet size, you’re losing the same percentage on pass or come and breaking even on the odds.”
That’s true as far as it goes. But one of the key points about the odds is that they enable you to keep up the normal size of your bet while reducing your pass or come bet.
In doing so, you decrease your wagers that are exposed to the house edge and bring down not only the house edge but also your average losses in dollars.
I reached for a pen and paper to illustrate a simple example.
Imagine you’re betting $20 on pass at a craps table with a $10 minimum bet and single odds. If you play for 100 decisions, you would risk $2,000.
The house edge on pass is 1.41 percent, so your average loss for those 100 decisions would be 1.41 percent of $2,000, or $28.20.
Now imagine I’m at the same table for the same 100 decisions, but I bet the table minimum of $10 on pass. Then, whenever a point is established, I back my bet with $10 in odds.
I’m betting a little bit less than you because I don’t have odds working when 7 or 11 win on the comeout. Whenever a point number is rolled on the comeout and I put down $10 in odds, we each have $20 at risk.
The average outcome for my odds is to break even. On the pass wagers, I have $1,000 at risk.
The 1.41 percent house edge brings my average loss to $14.10.
Reducing the pass bet from $20 to $10 while making up the difference in odds cuts your average loss in half.
Hayden understood, but said, “What if more odds are available? I usually get 3x, 4x, 5x odds.”
Whether you take full odds is between you and your bankroll. But the principle remains the same. If you decrease your pass or come wager and put the difference in odds instead, you decrease your losses, decrease the house edge, and increase your chances of winning.
Look for John Grochowski on Facebook (http://tinyurl.com/7lzdt44) and Twitter (@GrochowskiJ).
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