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Craps Do's and Dont's

It was a Friday night in the casino. He was well dressed in a sport coat, dress pants, lacquered black shoes. About 60 years old, he parted a space for himself with ease at the crowded craps table. With the dice on the hop, he reached into his jacket and pulled out two wrappers of $5,000 each, and launched them toward the stickman. Buy the four.

The dice settled. Seven out. Take the Line, Pay the Donts. New Shooter; place your bets. He was unfazed. Didnt shuffle or sweat. He removed another two wrappers from the same pocket, with the marker black up, off, and the come out roll to follow. Buy the four, once again.

The table is packed. Coming out, C & Es, Play the Field, Okay shooter, hands away, here we go...five! No field five. Fives the number, Mark the five. The stack of chips on the four with the buy button attracted most of the attention at the ten dollar table.

Okay shooter, fives the number. Place your bets, come bets, hardways, field bets...dice are out, watch your hands, here we! Line away, pay the donts.

I watched this scene repeated for about fifteen minutes. In that time, the high roller lost $80,000. He was betting that the shooter would roll a four, before he rolled a seven. If he had succeeded, with the odds of 2 to 1, he would have turned each of his $10,000 bets into $30,000 (and owed some back to the house for its 5% commission, but a nice payday, nonetheless).

Instead of checking the temperature at the table, acting like a big shot, he plunged in and hit one cold run losing eight times in a row. In craps, as in life, timing is truly everything. No one there had the nerve to tell the big shot that a mere half-hour previously, the table was red-hot, the same shooter making pass after pass, chips flying across the felt, money pouring out of the racks.

Now, if our high roller had taken the opposite tack, and played the Donts, betting that, following the come out roll (where the point is established), the shooter would roll a seven before he rolled the point, (or his layed number), he would have, without taking odds, doubled his money. Turned his $80,000 into $160,000. But that wasnt the way he played.

The essence of craps, its soul and beauty lies in its eternal speedy elusiveness and streaks. Im certainly not the first to note that most folks feel much more comfortable playing on the pass line, with the shooter, hoping for hot streaks, hosts of numbers made, with the crowd yelping, clapping, screaming, urging him on, pushing for more. You might say theres comfort in numbers.

It takes a certain personality and understanding of the game to appreciate the beauty of playing the dont pass and dont come. You are not playing against everyone at the table, but with the house. Part of the house edge in craps is derived from the simple, undeniable fact that there are more ways to make a seven than any other number. This style is called, playing wrong. Not a judgment call, it is merely the opposite of playing the pass line, or playing right.

By putting your initial bet on the dont pass line, you are entering the Twilight Zone of dice. The first and most dangerous obstacle is the come out roll. If there are more ways to make a seven after the point is established, it is also true before. Any seven or eleven on the come out roll means the pass line gets paid in the amount of the bet, and the dont pass is lost and removed from play. Conversely, if a two or three (craps) is rolled on the come out, the dont pass is paid with the pass line lost. A twelve means the pass line loses as well, but the dont pass pushes (ties), with no money exchanged (thus the bar double six on the craps table layout).

Any other number: 4, 5,6,8,9,10 establishes the point or the number the shooter needs to roll without hitting a seven, in order to get paid and stay on the roll. The dont pass player is now betting the seven will be rolled. At this point the marker or black and white disk is moved from the black off position, and placed white side up, on in the middle of the number on the layout to signify the point.

You can look at a craps table and see the progress of any game. Generally, if there are stacks of chips sprouting like ocean front high rises on the flat beach, it is a fair assumption that the table is hot, the shooter(s) are making their rolls (or passes) , and the players are adding to their bets, parlaying or pressing.
If you see mournful quiet faces scattered in different corners of the table, youre probably looking at a cold game, where the shooter makes a number and on the next pass, its seven out.

Lets return to our game. The point is established. Both the pass line and dont pass bettors can now take odds on their initial bets, as well as place or buy any of the other numbers or proposition bets inside the dice layout. The amount of times the odds will be paid is different at each property, with the higher numbers more potentially profitable for the players, whether right or wrong. Single odds on the dont pass line lowers the house edge from 1.40 to 0.69. 2x odds reduces the house advantage to .46 or less than half a percent for your total bet.

At this time, the wrong player can also opt to make a dont come bet. This is identical to a dont pass bet with the provision that it can only be made after the come out roll with the point established.

Sam Grafstein, author of the classic book on Craps, The Dice Doctor Revised and Expanded, put it this way, In contrast to Dale Carnegies goal,you as a wrong bettor are not there to win friends and influence people. I have as yet to hear a wrong bettor say, He is playing for fun. You are there for one reason only. To win the money!
The psychology ,style, and betting philosophy of the true dont bettor is entirely different from that of the pass line player. It is a patient, grind-it-out style, quite opposite from the hot, action-oriented popular bet. Remember, there is no good or bad involved. Just a difference in style and betting philosophy. To attempt to jump back and forth from the pass and dont pass, depending on the last shooters success (or lack of) can be suicidal. If you are a casual observer, watch the flow of the game and see which betting style suits you best. Remember, when you bet on the donts it is not the most popular position to be in, but dont take the comments personally, and remind others youre not betting against them. Youre just betting with the house, and its just possible youre making the smarter bet.

A dollar won is twice as sweet as a dollar earned. - Paul Newman, The Color of Money

"You cannot beat a roulette table unless you steal money from it."- Albert Einstein

It is the mark of an inexperienced man not to believe in luck. - Joseph Conrad

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