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Best of John G. Brokopp

Gaming Guru

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A Lesson from the Dark Side of Craps

21 June 2006

The vast majority of gamblers who play craps bet that the dice will pass. In other words, they hope that the shooter will make the point before rolling a seven.

But there is another dimension to the game known as betting the "Don't", sometimes referred to as the "dark side" of this fascinating table game. When you wager on the Don't, you're betting that the dice won't pass. You're hoping the shooter will roll a seven before the point number.

Be forewarned that betting the dice won't pass is definitely not a team sport. That's why Don't bettors generally stand inconspicuous at the table, usually at one of the corners, patiently waiting for a seven to be rolled. When their victories come, they must celebrate in silence.

But gamblers who exercise this betting option shouldn't be looked upon as casino mercenaries. The ability to capitalize on both hot and cold streaks is one of the true beauties of craps. No other casino game affords you that luxury.

When you're getting beat hand after hand at the blackjack table, there's no way to bet that the dealer won't bust. All you can do is pick up your chips and retreat. You can't win at a cold blackjack table, but you can win at a cold craps table.

Betting the Don't is opposite of betting the dice will pass. You'll win even money on the come out if the shooter rolls a 2 or 3 (12 is a push). You lose if the roll is 7 or 11. Any other number is the point. In order for you to win the bet, the shooter must roll a seven before repeating the point.

The Don't on the come out roll is a tough hurdle to jump. Eight combinations of the dice make you a loser and only two a winner. But if you survive that, the odds of winning your bet shift dramatically in your favor. If the point is 4 or 10, the odds are 1 to 2 in your favor; if it's 5 or 9, 2 to 3 in your favor; 6 or 8, 5 to 6 in your favor.

Compare that to a pass line bet. On the come out roll, eight combinations of the dice make you a winner and only three a loser. If the point is 4 or 10 the odds are 2 to 1 against you; it it's 5 or 9, 3 to 2 against you; 6 or 8, 6 to 5 against you.

The casino knows that once a point is established, Don't bettors are in command of the game's mathematics. That's why you can pick up the bet at any time if you so choose. The Pass line, on the other hand, is a contract bet. Once you place it and the point is established, you can't pick it up.

Betting the dice will pass or betting that they won't represent two of the best bets in the casino. The house edge against a Pass line bettor is 1.41; with double odds it drops to just 0.60. The house edge against a Don't bettor is 1.40; with double odds it dips to 0.59.

The majority of craps players cheer for the shooter to make the point. It's human nature to want to play the game that way. But there's nothing wrong with considering a Don't bet once in a while, but only if you're willing to be a maverick.

If you learn to play the game from both sides, you are taking full advantage of the freedom of craps and the opportunity to win even when the dice are cold.

John G. Brokopp

John G. Brokopp's gaming column appears in Chicago Sun Times (Chicago, Illinois), The Times (Northwest Indiana), The Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa), The Courier News (Elgin, Illinois), The Gazette (Southwest Suburban Chicago) and Senior Wire (Denver, CO). He's also a regular contributor to The Colorado Gambler, Midwest Gaming & Travel, Casino Player and Strictly Slots. John possesses 28 years of experience as a professional handicapper, publicist, freelance writer, and casino gaming correspondent. He is also the author of two very popular books, The Insider’s Guide to Internet Gambling and Thrifty Gambling.

Books by John G. Brokopp:

> More Books By John G. Brokopp

John G. Brokopp
John G. Brokopp's gaming column appears in Chicago Sun Times (Chicago, Illinois), The Times (Northwest Indiana), The Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa), The Courier News (Elgin, Illinois), The Gazette (Southwest Suburban Chicago) and Senior Wire (Denver, CO). He's also a regular contributor to The Colorado Gambler, Midwest Gaming & Travel, Casino Player and Strictly Slots. John possesses 28 years of experience as a professional handicapper, publicist, freelance writer, and casino gaming correspondent. He is also the author of two very popular books, The Insider’s Guide to Internet Gambling and Thrifty Gambling.

Books by John G. Brokopp:

> More Books By John G. Brokopp