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Craps is a table game with multiple bets, most of them awful, some are horrendous, and others are okay. Most players like to make Pass Line bets, which come out to a loss of $1.41 per $100 wagered. That means the house has a 1.41 percent edge on this bet – not bad at all.


Many players also like to place numbers (which means go right up on the numbers) and the house edges for this kind of bet go from decent (1.52 percent on placing of the 6 and 8); to terrible (4 percent on the 5 and 9) to suicidal (6.67 percent on the 4 and 10).


Many players also love to make what my mentor the late Captain of Craps called Crazy Crapper bets (see my book Casino Craps: Shoot to Win!). These are bets that come in with extremely high house edges ranging from single roll bets such as the Field (5.55 percent) to the Yo and 3 (11.11 percent) to the Big Red, also called Any Seven (16.67 percent) to multi-roll bets such as the Hard 4 and 10 (11.11 percent) and the Hard 6 and 8 (9.09 percent). These are just some of the many Crazy Crapper bets that lurk to undo the unwary, unwise and unaware craps player and as the Captain said, “You have to be crazy to make these bets.”


The most prevalent system used by craps players falls into the “trend betting” realm. There are positive and negative trend betting schemes, neither of which can give the player the advantage over the house.


The positive scheme, sometimes called the “hot number wager,” has the player looking for numbers that have frequently been hitting in the immediate past. Say you see a bunch of 6’s being rolled, you figure the 6 is a hot number and you then bet it. If you have noticed some Hard 6’s being rolled, then you throw your money out on the Hard 6. This form of betting can be used on any proposition (Any Craps, Field, Horn, Whirl) or single number (2, 3, 11, 12, etc.).


The negative scheme, sometimes called “the law of averages” or “due betting” postulates that numbers which haven’t been hitting are “due” to hit in order to make the probabilities work out. The detective Monk always wanted the universe to be balanced and that is what “due” theorists want as well. If the 11 hasn’t been hitting then it is going to come up soon to set everything in balance.  Therefore, the player puts his money on the 11.


Sadly, such betting systems cannot overcome the house edges on any bet a player makes. Each roll of the dice (unless the roller is a controlled shooter) is a random event. There is no force of nature telling numbers “Okay, bub, your time to come up is right now!”


Numbers that have been hitting can stop hitting or they can continue hitting. Numbers that haven’t been hitting can continue not hitting or they can start hitting.


The fact that the mathematical probabilities will begin to look as theory suggests when hundreds of millions of decisions take place does not allow us to accurately predict the “hot,” “cold” or in-between numbers.


Yes, you can say that the 6 and 8 will come up more frequently than the 2 or 12 since there are five ways to make either the 6 or 8 and only one way to make either the 2 or 12. Still betting this fact does not overcome the house edge. Place the 6 and the house has a 1.52 percent edge, meaning your expected loss will be $1.52 per $100 wagered. That is an inexorable fact of gambling life.


The reason players love the idea of trends is recessed deep in our brains. We are pattern-finding creatures, and we always want those patterns to have predictability. A savage prehistoric man walks along the river and a giant crocodile jumps up and eats him. His friends see this gruesome scene. They assume (the correct assumption) that walking by this river’s edge at this spot is dangerous and they avoid it.


Or this same group is walking in some tree-shaded forest and beautiful fruit falls on the ground, they eat some, it is delicious, and they keep going back all the time to savor that forest’s delight.


Such pattern finding makes sense. So, we want pattern finding to work in casinos as well to overcome the house edge. It isn’t going to happen.


The best way to play craps is to make the low house-edge bets and forget the trends that have already happened. And that’s the truth.


by Frank Scoblete


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