Most gambling writers, me included, love to discuss house edges as if these are the be-all and end-all of what you need to know to play the games. If the house edge is higher than 2 percent I generally tell players not to make the bet.
Superficially not making bets that have house edges over 2 percent is a good thing but what if you have a bet that has a 1.5 percent edge for the house and a bet that has 9.1 percent for the house – is there any way for those bets to reverse themselves? That is, can the higher house edge bet become a better bet than the lower house-edge bet?
Yes, such a thing is not only possible but it happens all the time, usually without the players realizing it.
There is a way of looking at house edges not in traditional terms but in money-lost-per-hour terms. We can also look at bets in terms of the number of decisions the bets have during the course of an hour and – here is the truly radical notion – how different amounts wagered affect such hourly loss rates. For some reason gamblers think they have to bet equivalent amounts to establish which bets to make. They don’t.
If we take a look at the game of craps we can see a multitude of bets coming in with house edges ranging from 1.41 percent all the way up to 16.67 percent. That is indeed some range, going from decent to totally lousy.
So let’s take a look at two bets, one in the low house-edge range and one in the high house-edge range. The placing of the 6 has a house edge of 1.5 percent, while the placing of the Hard 6 (that is a dice decision with the white pips showing 3:3) has a 9.1 percent house edge. On the surface there is no doubt that the placing of the 6 or 8 is the far better bet.
Now, many craps players will place the 6 and then throw out a Hardway bet on the number as well. They stand to lose 1.5 percent of all the money they bet on placing the 6, while losing 9.1 percent of all the money they bet on the Hard 6.
As a point of information: The placement of the 6 wins five times and loses six times when the 7 is thrown. That gives the house a 1.5 percent edge over the player. The placement of the Hard 6 wins one time when 3:3 is thrown and loses six times on the 7 and eight times on the 4:2, 2:4, 5:1 and 1:5. Therefore, you have 10 ways to lose and one way to win and are paid 9 to 1 if the bet wins. That gives the house a 9.1 percent edge over the player. The true payout should be 10 to 1.
Why do craps players make such a terrible choice as betting the Hard 6? Because there is an emotional underpinning to those Hardway bets – they pay off at great rates. The Hard 6 (or Hard 8) pays 9 to 1, so if you bet $5 on the Hard 6 you stand to win $45 dollars should that Hardway hit. Such a windfall gets the juices of many craps players flowing.
Many craps players rejoice in such payouts, not realizing they are taking a serious hit on their bankroll by doing such a method of betting. If you like making Hardway bets you can have your cake and eat it too – if you are willing to use a little discretion in placing those bets.
A place bet on the 6 (or 8) will lose you approximately 46 cents per $30 wagered. A bet on the Hard 6 will lose you approximately 91 cents per $10 wagered. Your combined expected losses making those bets will be approximately $1.37.
To me that is a somewhat bad hit on your bankroll. Why not take down the bet on the Hardway to $5 and take down the bet on the placement of the 6 to $18? You are still in the action but now you face far less risk – and you still get the thrill of going after that Hardway payout. What is your risk in my betting scheme? An expected loss of 27 cents on the placement of the 6 and a loss of 46 cents on the Hard 6 adds up to a loss of 73 cents, far better than a loss of $1.37.
By cutting back a little on how much you wager, you decrease the hourly hit on your bankroll tremendously. You still get action; you still get the thrill of going after the Hardways.
In essence, I am merely recommending reducing the total amount you bet on both good bets and bad bets to rein in your possible hourly losses. If you are the type of player that needs the thrill of a possible big payout then going with a Hardway bet at a lower rate and reducing the bet on the place bets gives you the best of both worlds.
Frank Scoblete’s latest books are CONFESSIONS OF A WAYWARD CATHOLIC. All of Frank's books are available on Amazon.com, in bookstores or mail order by calling 1-800-944-0406. Visit Frank's web site at www.frankscoblete.com.
This article is provided by the Frank Scoblete Network. Melissa A. Kaplan is the network's managing editor. If you would like to use this article on your website, please contact Casino City Press, the exclusive web syndication outlet for the Frank Scoblete Network. To contact Frank, please e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Books by Frank Scoblete:More books by Frank Scoblete