QUESTION: I made a mistake at craps table, and now I’m wondering if it really was a mistake. I bought in, and bet on the pass line. The next roll was a 6, and I was getting ready with the odds, when the dealer paid me. It turns out I hadn’t noticed it wasn’t the come-out, that there was already a point, and it was 6.
I didn’t know you could bet pass when it wasn’t a come-out. So why not just bet pass when the point is 6 or 8, and skip all the 4s and 10s?
ANSWER: You can bet pass at any time. A pass bet that’s not on the come-out is called a “put.” But if you skip the come-out, you’re missing the best part of the wager. On the come-out, you win if the shooter rolls 7 or 11, and lose if the roll is 2, 3 or 12. There are six ways to make eight, two ways to make 11, two ways to make 3 and one each to make 2 or 12. That leaves eight ways to win on the come-out, and only four ways to lose.
On the come-out, you’re the favorite. Once the point is established, you’re the underdog. By skipping the comeout, you’re betting only after you become the underdog.
Besides that, if you really wanted to bet 6 or 8, skip the come-out and skip all the other numbers, there’s a better way to do it. Place bets on 6 or 8 pay at 7-6 odds, provided you wager in multiples of $6, while pass bets pay only even money.
The only reason to make a put bet is if you’re going to back the wager with enough free odds to bring the combined house edge below that on the place bets. The breakeven point on 6 or 8 is 5x odds, where put-plus-odds has the same 1.52 percent house edge as place bets. But if you’re going to take 5x odds, you’ll get a much lower, 0.3 percent, house edge by betting pass on the come-out, then taking your 5x odds after the point is established.
QUESTION: I got a coupon in the mail for five times rewards points if I play on certain days. That seems like a pretty good deal, but how good? Should I rush right out?
ANSWER: If you play your normal amount, and just shift your play from a different day to the bonus points period, then sure, it’s a good deal. Extra rewards for no extra cost is a great thing.
Is it worth an extra trip to the casino? That’s a different matter.
You didn’t say how much your rewards points usually are worth, so I’m going to make a couple of assumptions. Let’s say you can redeem for free play, worth 0.25 percent of your play on slot machines, and 0.125 percent of your play on video poker.
Slot payback percentages vary from casino to casino and jurisdiction to jurisdiction, but let’s say penny games typically return 88 percent, quarter machines 93 percent and dollars 95 percent. On your five times points days, you’re getting 1.25 percent in free play. Add that to the game paybacks, and that turns the overall returns to 89.25 percent on pennies, 94.25 percent on quarters and 96.25 percent on dollars
None of those are flipped into player profit territory by your rewards, not even on five times points days.
Video poker can be another matter, if the casino offers certain high pay tables. With five times points, a casino that normally gives back 0.125 percent in free play gives 0.625 percent. That flips 9-6 Jacks or Better from a 99.54 percent game with expert play to 100.17 percent. That’s an attractive opportunity.
Note that even with payoffs enhanced by extra free play, both slots and video poker are volatile games. Sometimes you’re going to lose your money rapidly, no matter how strong the theoretical payback. As always when approaching casino games, don’t bet money you can’t afford to lose.
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