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Confessions of a Craps Player

26 June 2001

By John G. Brokopp

I'll admit it right off the bat: I've never, ever made a "Don't" wager during all my years of playing craps. Not even once. But that situation will change in the near future. First, allow me to digress for the sake of explanation. Players may wager from two standpoints at the craps table, the "right side" and the "wrong side". When you bet right, you're betting that the point will be rolled before the number seven. When you bet wrong, you're betting that seven will be rolled before the point is made.

The vast majority of players are right players. They're always rooting for the point, cheering when the number hits, high-fiving one another as the roll gets hotter, and heaping praise on the shooter the longer he holds the dice. It's basic human nature to want to play the game that way. There is really nothing quite like a craps table when the dice are hot. The synergy of warding off the dreaded number seven and the stickman's call of "seven out" is contagious.

Wrong or "Don't" bettors are generally despised by right bettors. They usually stand at one of the corners of the table, silent and inconspicuous. I've always taken delight in watching them lose. Nothing makes me happier than to watch a shooter make his point when there's a stack of chips sitting in the "Don't pass" section of the layout. Don't bettors wait patiently for seven to be rolled. When and if it is, they must celebrate in silence and collect their "ill gotten gains" without fanfare.

Right betting is a team sport. Wrong betting is for loners. Yet the true beauty of the game of craps lies in the fact that players may capitalize on both hot and cold playing situations. Is there another game in the casino that affords you that luxury? When the blackjack dealer is beating the table hand after hand, the only only escape is to quit playing or move on. Can you bet that the dealer's hand will beat yours? In some ways the insurance bet allows you to do this, but only when the dealer is showing an ace. Even then, it's generally a bad bet percentage wise.

In craps, cold tables are regarded as ones where the seven is popping up with regularity. They're the kind of tables where shooter after shooter rolls a point, pops a number or two, and then sevens out. Right bettors are getting killed, but if there's a maverick Don't bettor in the corner he's having a field day and fattening up his rack of chips while those of his fellow players are evaporating faster than a drop of water on the sidewalk on a 100 degree day.

I wonder why craps players are categorically labeled right bettors or wrong bettors. Why can't you play the game from both sides? Why can't you be a "right-wrong" bettor or a "do-don't" bettor? If you can play from both sides, you are taking complete advantage of the freedom of the game and the opportunity it gives you to win even when the dice are cold. Instead of quitting or going broke, suffering through seven out after seven out, you have the option to jump to the other side and try to win money when the dice are ice cubes.

You needn't fear that wagering wrong is a bad bet percentage wise. Both Pass and Don't Pass are two of the best bets in the casino. The only thing a Don't bettor must overcome is the stigma of silently rooting against the shooter that he won't make his point. It means subjecting yourself to being an outsider, the "bad guy", the casino version of a mercenary.

I bring this subject up today because I have been compelled of late to accept the craps table invitation of making money when the sevens are frequent instead of just retreating and waiting for things to heat up. This doesn't mean it's bad to wait. In fact, it's probably the smart thing to do. The more frequently you put your money in jeopardy on the layout, the more you subject yourself to the constant grind of the house edge.

In recent years I have played the game quite successfully using the system devised by the legendary "Captain" in gaming author Frank Scoblete's books. In essence, it means sitting on the sidelines until a shooter has proven himself. This "system" is really a cleverly disguised money management technique, but it does ward off being clobbered by quick seven-outs.

It has been my empirical observation, however, that there are certain situations in which you can "smell" a seven. For example, have you noticed that after a hot roll is completed, the next shooter always seems to seven-out? Or that the person who has no method to his dice rolling technique and just flips the cubes down the table, giving them little chance to tumble and bounce, never seems to last very long as a shooter?

Under these and other circumstances I can see the advantages of placing an occasional Don't wager. I can see sticking with Don't bets as long as the dice are cold. As soon as there are signs of things heating up, such as an enthusiastic shooter making a point, then it's time to jump back to the "right" side of playing! Will it work? I'll let you know. Hey. Maybe Don't bettors aren't such bad guys after all!

Next week I'll get into some of the particulars of betting the Don't.

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.

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