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by Frank Scoblete.

Frank Scoblete is an author of several books on craps. The following is an excerpt from his book, Casino Craps: Shoot to Win! (This book is available from our BJI store.)

Money management at random games is just a technique to save money or, as in craps; it is simply making the best bets to keep the house edge as low as possible. How much money should you have in reserve to play a session of craps? Make it 10 times your average bet. So if you are betting $24 have $240 to play with.

Now to the heart and soul of money management, proper betting!

We have to make a distinction between ploppy players, savvy players, and dice controllers in terms of betting and expectation. Competent dice controllers who bet properly will have a positive expectation over the casinos. In short, they should win over time.

If you never learn how to control the dice, you can still be a tough player for the casino to deal with if you follow the betting advice I am going to give you. Will you win if you follow this advice? Your mathematical expectation is to lose whether you are a savvy player or a ploppy player, especially if you play over long periods of time in your craps career. But the key for the savvy player is that you will lose much less money (much, MUCH less money), and have just as much fun, and youíll also know that you have given the casino the ride of its life, as the casino has given you just such a ride.

You are a gambler if you play a negative-expectation game, no doubt about that. No betting system can turn that around and anyone who says there are such winning betting systems is either a liar or a ploppy, probably both.

But you can be a smart gambler or a ploppy gambler Ė the choice is yours. If you get caught up in the hysteria of craps and make all sorts of suicidal bets whose edges are through the roof, donít be shocked when you find you lost the ranch because you bet the farm.

A good bet is a much more exciting prospect than a bad bet because you have a better chance to be ahead making such bets Ė or at least be less behind!

Ploppy bettors, while they may have a stunning night now and again, or stunning moments that imprint themselves on other playersí minds ("This guy is so hot; he hit three twelves in a row!"), will have their mushy heads handed to them big time in the long haul. Short spurts of magnificent luck will never overcome the bloody drain of time on the ploppyís bankroll.

So donít be a ploppy. Thatís my first piece of advice.

Now to the important stuff Ė what bets should you make and which bets should you avoid? In short, how should you play a savvy game of craps? How do you become a tough out for the casinos?

Hereís how:

  • Use the 5-Count on all shooters (This technique is explained in Chapter 6 of Casino Craps: Shoot to Win!)
  • Make only bets that come in with house edges under two percent
  • Understand the mathematics of the game in terms of what the house edge actually means in terms of dollars and cents
  • Use little tricks to get more in comps than you deserve
  • Play within your bankroll limitations
  • Create a 401G account (this is a gambling account separate from your normal bank accounts)

The Best Bets

The top of the line bets are not hard to figure out Ė on the Rightside are the Pass Line and Come bets with full Odds; on the Darkside/Donít are the Donít Pass and Donít Come bets with full Odds.

If I bet $10 on the Pass line or Come with no Odds and you bet $10 on the Pass Line or Come with 2X (or more) Odds our expectation is to lose 14 cents for those $10 bets. However, if you bet $10 with $20 in odds on the Pass Line or Come and I bet $30 on the Pass Line or Come, your expectation is to lose 14 cents but my expectation is to lose 42 cents Ė three times more. So the rule is less on the Pass Line and Come and more on the Odds.

For Darksiders, the rules are the same Ė Donít Pass and Donít Come, as low on those as you need to go to be able to afford full Odds. If you must put yourself in opposition to those Rightside players at least get the most bang for your bucks and ignore all those hateful stares you are doomed to receive. (Yes, yes, some Rightside players donít care what Darkside players bet but the Rightside versus Darkside is a real part of the emotional underpinnings of craps.)

How Many Bets to Make?

Every bet you make that has a house edge loses you money over time. That is an indisputable fact. One bet on the Pass Line with full Odds would be the way to go. There is no difference between two $10 Come bets (or one Pass Line and one Come) on the table or one $10 Come bet in terms of expectation per bet but in terms of time, thereís a big difference. Both will be decided as 14 cents for that $10 over time. However, with two $10 bets on the table, you lose 28 cents. The difference is the fact that with one bet it will take twice the time to lose 28 cents.

The end result is the same Ė you lose; but the time to get there is much different because you lose more slowly. You have more playing time with one bet than you do with two bets. Your time has been doubled.

Okay, letís be realistic now. Most craps players canít see themselves making just one "stinking" bet when the game is in full blossom. If you are like such players then make two Come (or a Come and Pass Line) bets or, if you canít resist, make three bets and hold them there. Three bets will give you plenty of action. More than three at the get-go can cost you a lot of money with a quick seven-out.

The Best of the Best Bets

Without question, the best bets at the game of craps are the Pass Line with full Odds and the Come with full Odds; also the Donít Pass with full Odds and the Donít Come with full Odds. No matter what comboobalations critics of these bets attempt to proselytize to dismiss them and advocate other "less-good" bets, these sad ploppies are actually the flat-worlders of craps denying that earth is a sphere and math dictates proper betting.

Please note: When I say "full Odds" it is possible that you canít afford to take those odds. No problem; just take what you can afford. You must always gamble within your comfort zone.

Some hopeless, hapless critics of these best-of-the-best bets will state such inept arguments against Pass and Come betting as these:

  1. "You have to hit the number twice on the Come to win; whereas with a Place bet you only have to hit your number once!"
  2. "You canít take the Come bet down when it is up on a number but you can take down your Place bets."
  3. "The Odds are a trick by the casino to get you to bet more!"

Number one is idiotic. You donít have to hit your number twice. The first placement of both the Pass Line and Come is not looking to hit a number Ė it is desiring a hit on the 7 or 11, two numbers that give the Pass Line and the Come bettor a two-to-one edge over the casino at that moment before a Point/Box number is established, while the Place bettor is facing a 6.67 percent house edge on the 4 and 10; a four percent house edge on the 5 and 9, and a decent edge of 1.52 on the 6 and 8 (decent, yes, but not better than Pass Line or Come) at that moment. Who is better off? Do not listen to the ploppies.

Number two is somewhat less idioticÖsounding, that is. The problem comes in with the fact that youíd have to turn-off or take down, say, your 4 about 80 percent of the time to make it the equivalent monetary loss of the Pass Line or Come bet over time. The house edge doesnít change, of course, but by turning off or taking down your Place bets the house edge has less money to work on, thus reducing your overall loss. But we know of no one who takes down his Place bets 80 percent of the time on the 4 or 10, or 65 percent of the time on the 5 or 9. So while it sounds good that you can take down the Place bets and thus lose less money, you wonít see many players doing it. Itís a shadow argument, not a real one.

Number three could be true to an extent if you actually do put out more money in Odds if you are playing on a tight bankroll. But we advocate small Pass Line and Come bets with maximum Odds in direct proportion to what you would have bet otherwise. That is, $10 on Pass with $20 Odds ($30 total = 14 cent loss) rather than $30 on the Pass Line ($30 total = 42 cents loss) with maximum Odds. Thereís no trick involved here if you actually know how to play the game and utilize the Odds bet properly. Again, just bet within your bankroll.

For Darkside players the advice is exactly the same as for Rightsiders. Make Donít Pass and Donít Come wagers, keeping those bets low, and lay full Odds on them. Again the best way to do this is to just go with one number. Interestingly enough, many Darksiders actually do prefer to go up on only one number. You can also use a money-management strategy to save you from getting hurt by one shooter.

If you get up on a number and the shooter knocks you off; then you go on another number and if he knocks you off again, stop, and then wait for the next shooter. Donít ever let one shooter hit you too hard. Would this change the house edge against you? No. But like taking down bets on the Rightside, waiting out shooters will save you money over time since you are not betting while waiting for the next shooter to get the dice. It is a more comfortable way to play the Donít side of the game.

The Second Best of the Best Bets

So you donít want to use Pass Line or Come bets with full Odds; or Donít Pass or Donít Come bets with full Odds, but you still want to keep the house edge lower than two percent (the highest house edge you should ever allow yourself to buck). Then Placing the 6 and 8 at that 1.52 percent house edge is a good Place bet; as are buying the 4 and 10 at $25 for a $1 vig on wins only and buying the 5 or 9 at $30 or $38 on games with a $1 vig that also only take the commissions on wins only (follow the fig-vig charts to handle the buying of the 4 or 10 and 5 or 9).

If you play in pig-vig casinos where you canít buy numbers on wins only, then Place the 6 and 8 Ė period. Donít let yourself get caught up in the craps mob-mania when you see other numbers hitting Ė its all luck and those numbers are not destined to continue hitting more than probability indicates. Streaks are normal in all random events and they are not (NOT! NOT! NOT!) predictable. If they were the casinos would go broke with streak players, since many casino gamblers are streak freaks.

Darkside players can Donít Place bet against the 6 and 8, a bet has a 1.82 percent house edge. All other Donít Place and Lay bets are just not worth it going against the high house edges.

Mix and Match

You can also mix and match bets, using a combination of Place bets, Pass Line and Come bets. You have to follow the above advice concerning keeping the house edge under two percent but mixing and matching is a very popular way to play Ė for savvy players and for ploppies. It all depends on what Place/Buy bets you are mixing and matching with Pass Line and Come bets.

If you are up on the 6 and 8 and you want a third number, put out a Come bet. Should the Come bet go to the 6 or 8 say to the dealer, "Full odds on the Come, down on my 8 (or 6)." You will now have a Come bet with full Odds on the number. Now Place another Come bet to try to get up on that third number. In fig-vig casinos, you can go with buys of the outside numbers if you wish.

Please note: In a book I wrote over two decades ago, I explained how the Captain advocated playing his "Supersystem" Ė a combination of simultaneously betting exact amounts on the Pass Line/Donít Pass and Come/Donít Come, and just relying on the Odds to attack the casinos. The Captain was the greatest craps player who ever lived, but in this case he was mistaken in his assumption. The house edge works on both sides of the bet so you are getting no benefit simultaneously betting the Do and the Donít (also called the Doey-Donít). You are far better off just making either a Pass Line or Come with Odds; or a Donít Pass or Donít Come with Odds than playing the Doey-Donít. Okay, so the Captain was wrongÖonceÖproves heís human.

Thatís it. Look over all the other bets on the craps layout and they are all a waste of your time and your money. Ploppy craps players will come up with all manner of reasons why they should throw their money away, but they are just excuses for poor thinking and out-of-control emotions. Donít listen to this kind of advice, be it from writers or friends. If they donít advocate the best bets, they are advocating more and bigger losses for you.

Oh, yes, I know from long experience that there is a mania at a craps table when shooters have had good rolls. You can slice the excitement with a knife Ė metaphorically speaking. There is a compulsion on the part of craps players to throw out money looking for a big score because the adrenaline flows fast and furious, and the cheering reaches crescendos you hear at no other casino game.

Youíll hear the players shouting over the din: "Give me a Yo!" "Give me a Hard everything!" "C&E my man!" "Boxcars baby!" "A Horn honey!" These shouts are really the screams of people who are thinking they can jump off the Empire State Building and make a soft landing. Squish, squash, splat!

Donít fall into the casinosí real traps for unwary players. Follow the advice in this book; itís the only smart way to play.

Note: Click here for more information on Scobleteís book, "Casino Craps: Shoot to Win!, that includes a DVD featuring step by step lessons on dice control.

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