PUSHING THE HOUSE IN CRAPS: HOW TO LOWER THE HOUSE EDGE EVEN MORE
by Frank Scoblete
Frank Scoblete, is the #1 best-selling gaming author in America. Frank’s books and tapes have sold over a million copies. For a free brochure call: 1-800-944-0406 or write: Frank Scoblete Enterprises, Box 446, Malverne, NY 11565. Frank’s website iswww.scoblete.com.
(Note: This article is excerpted from Frank’s book "Casino Craps: Shoot to Win!")
While craps seems to have the most bets of any game, all of them spelled out on the felt or on the walls of the table; there are still variations of these bets which do not necessarily appear on the layout or on the signs posted on either side of the table right under the dealers and box person.
In fact, with these variations in the game, smart players can get still lower house edges. The concept we are dealing with was coined by the Captain as pushing the house, which means literally pushing the casino to give you a better game than advertised.
The Captain is not the first player to push the house. This was done in Las Vegas by an anonymous player who was the first to get the casinos to accept a buy bet of the 4 or 10 for $25 at a one dollar commission – the usual buy bet had been $20 with a $1 commission. The Captain merely built on what came before him.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. Let’s look at pushing the house in various ways.
If we look at the Place bets for the 4 and 10, 5 and 9, we see rather high house edges of 6.67 percent and four percent respectively, while the 6 and 8 come in with a respectable 1.52 percent house edge. The 4 and 10, 5 and 9 are way too high a house edge to bother betting them. However, with a variation called a buy bet we can literally pay the house to give us a better game on four of these numbers.
Here’s how buy bets work: You pay the casino a commission of five percent on every $20 you wager on these numbers and then the casino will give you the true odds of the bet should you win. That means you will win two-to-one on the 4 and 10, and three-to-two on the 5 and 9. The commission for the $20 wager is $1, with this commission often called the vig or vigorish.
Casinos have two ways to handle these buy bets – they can take the vig out of both winning and losing bets (called pig vig), or they can take the vig only out of winning bets (called fig vig). Needless to say, pig vig is not as good as fig vig.
The Pig Vig
If you have to pay the vig on both winning and losing $20 buy bets of the 4 and 10, the house edge is 4.76 percent; rotten, but still better than its original 6.67 percent house edge. However, if you can push the house to accept a buy of $25 for that same one-dollar vig, then the house edge drops to 3.85 percent – still not so hot but you can see where we are going.
That $25/$1-vig bet was accepted in Vegas over 50 years ago. It was accepted in Atlantic City in 1978 when Atlantic City’s first casino, Resorts, opened. But the Captain was able to get Atlantic City to accept a $35/$1-vig buy bet and a $39/$1-vig buy bet as well. Take a look at this chart and see what happens to that bloated 6.67 percent house edge on the 4 and 10 when you can push the house to give you a better buy.
The bet is made simply. Just throw out your chips with that $1 vig and say, "Buy the 4 for $35." (Alas, many casinos won’t allow that $39 buy bet anymore.) The dealer will take the dollar (or get change) and put your chips on the number with a small marker on top which has "buy" printed on it.
Most casinos will charge you a three-dollar commission if you try to buy both the 4 and the 10 for $35 at the same time. They do this because in fact these buy bets are supposed to be made in multiples of $20 and two $35 buys equal $70. So make these buy bets in a staggered way; make one, then if you want another one, wait a roll and make the other one.
The problem now comes in as you decide to buy up the chain of bets on the 4 and 10. The next level is a $55 buy with a two-dollar vig in order to get the house edge as low as the casino will allow it to go. This bet comes in with a 3.51 percent house edge.
Here is a chart with other possible buys, none reducing the house edge as much as that $35 or $39 one-dollar buy.
Please note: In essence you are adding $15 to each level of the $20 buy ($20 + $15 = $35; $40 + $15 = $55; $60 + $15 = $75 and so on up the ladder. The highest the house edge can be on any buy of the 4 or 10 using these figures above will not be more than 4.76 percent if you go in multiples of $20. If the casino allows you to use $19 in addition to the $20 level than the house edge goes down still more. All you do is add $19 to the $20 to get $39; $19 to the $40 to get $59 and so on up the ladder. I doubt you will find many casinos that allow the addition of $19. Still, no harm in trying.
And what about buying the 5 and 9 at casinos taking the vig on both winning and losing bets? For a $20/$1-vig buy, the house edge is 4.76 percent – even worse than the normal house edge of four percent on these two numbers. I have not yet played in a casino that allows the pig-vig buy-bet to go to $30 or, at max, $38 which has a 2.56 percent house edge but these casinos may be around somewhere out there in casino-land. In those cases, the house edge would fall below four percent and the bet, while not great, would be better than its Place-bet counterpart. The result of pig vig on the 5 and 9? Don’t waste your money.
The Fig Vig
There is a much better type of buy bet that can be found in many casinos across the country. This one is called the fig vig buy bet because you don’t pay the commission unless the bet actually wins. So why is this bet called the fig vig? In ancient days and in biblical times, the fig was a most honored fruit and, indeed, many readers believe that the fig tree played an important role in the Genesis story in the bible. Recall that Adam and Eve, after they ate the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, put fig leaves on themselves to hide their nakedness. In short, the fig covered up for them.
Well, paying the vig on wins only for buy bets remarkably reduces the casino’s house edge. In fact, it covers up the rottenness of the house edges on both the 4 and 10 and the 5 and 9, making them bet-able wagers.
Here are the edges possible in the fig-vig casinos:
You can see from this chart just how terrific the fig-vig buy bets are on the 4 and 10. Paying the commission only on wins and starting with those $20 units, the highest house edge is 1.67 percent, just slightly higher than the placing of the 6 or 8. These are all good bets in the scheme of things and can be a part of a strong attack against the casinos.
It is Ripley’s Believe It or Not time when it comes to buying the 5 and 9 at fig-vig games. A $20 buy bet with a $1 vig has a house edge of two percent, which is half as much as the normal four percent Place-bet edge on these two numbers and right on the line for bets that are not too awful to make. But a $30 buy bet on the 5 or 9 paying that $1 vig only on wins comes in with a 1.33 percent house edge. So buying the 5 and 9 in "fig vig" games is also a good thing if they let you go to $30 for a $1 vig.
Check this chart out:
There are some casinos that will not let you jump to the next level without charging you more in vig. For example, you want to go from $20 to $30 for $1 but the vig becomes two dollars as opposed to one dollar at the cheaper casinos. This is still a better game than placing either the 5 or 9…but you are well over a two percent house edge in such casinos on the 5 and 9, so making these bets isn’t so good.
Pushing the House on Lay Bets
Although all Darksider lay bets are buy bets because you must pay the five percent commission, some casinos might allow you to push them into allowing a higher bet for the same vig. This is just like the buy bets at rightside play discussed above, although now you are rooting for the 7 to make its appearance and putting in the long end of the bet (i.e., you bet more money to win less money since the odds favor you). Instead of trying to win $40 on a lay bet of 4 or 10, bet $78 which then will pay you $39 which comes in with a house edge of 1.27 percent. Using a lay bet at $57 for the 5 or 9 has a house edge of 1.72 percent.
No buy bets, Rightside or Darkside, are any good on the 6 or 8 as simply Placing those numbers.
Please note: The above house edges on most of these buy bets look really good but keep in mind that you are making these bets over and over during a session (heck, during a playing career!). When you see a loss of a dollar-something on $100 wagered do not think to yourself, "Hey, I can go nuts; look how small that house edge is!" In a two hour session at a table, betting these numbers in bunches, can lose you a lot of money. So always tread cautiously even when betting decent bets. Players who make the bad bets will almost invariably lose a lot of money. But unless you are a dice controller, your expectation, even on the best bets, is to lose.
Pushing the House on the Odds Bets
As you can see with those fig-vig buy bets, pushing the house is the only way to go if you can afford the betting levels. Now, pushing the house on the best bets in the game – Pass and Come – is an extraordinary thing to do.
This chart will show you how good pushing the house can be on Pass Line and Come bets. The asterisk shows where the house can be pushed.
Please note: We are giving minimum bets generally. You can multiply these bets to get to your betting level. So on the $6 Pass or Come bet, the odds at a 1X game are $6, $6, $10. If you wish to bet $60 on the Pass or Come, then the odds would be $60, $60, $100. An asterisk and bold lettering will show where the house can usually get pushed. Around the country you might find bets we don’t have here. Some casinos will allow even more generous pushes of the house and some won’t allow any pushing of the house.
By pushing the house, the overall edges for these Pass and Come bets will go down. Here’s a look at how much:
I can hear someone saying, "Oh, come on, big deal, you go down from 0.85 percent to 0.73 percent and 0.61 percent to 0.50 percent and 0.33 percent to 0.25 percent when pushing the house. This is not at all significant. What baloney!"
On the contrary, it is significant. Let’s say you put $100,000 in action over the years (and even low rollers who play a lot will hit these figures) on any one of the above Pass Line or Come bets, either using regular odds or pushing-the-house odds. Let’s see what you save:
Is it better to have that money in your pocket than in the casino treasury? Why not save what you can when you play? It doesn’t diminish the fun, does it, when you lose less?
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