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Best of John G. Brokopp

Gaming Guru

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Many virtues of craps often overlooked

6 June 2007

Whenever I'm asked for advice from recreational gamblers about the best casino table game to play, it's difficult not to put blackjack at the top of the list. Simple basic strategy keeps the house advantage attractive (1.5 percent or lower) plus there's the added advantage of the game's unique skill (card tracking) factor.

However, when the question is: "Which is the best AND the most fun?" my vote always goes to craps as the hands-down winner.

Craps was the first community gaming experience and has always afforded astute players "time on device" whereas slot machine manufacturers have just begun to emphasize those trends in new product development.

The game is the ultimate interactive gambling opportunity. The players themselves have the power to create the synergy that comes with a "hot roll", oftentimes making a craps table the sensory focal point of the casino floor.

The dealers may very well run a craps game, but it's the players who are in control. Each wagering decision rests literally in the palm of the shooter's hand. In fact, it's only the fleeting seconds between when the dice are sent flying to when they come to rest on the layout that the players aren't in charge.

Craps cannot be compared to blackjack on a skill level as it applies to playing decisions, however the game more than makes up for its deficiencies in that department with its myriad of wagering options and the knowledge required to take best advantage of the freedom and flexibility of play.

One of the biggest advantages of the game is the fact you can play at your own pace. You can feel comfortable not having money at risk on every roll, unlike blackjack where if you sit out a hand you always draw attention from the other players.

The rules of the game permit you to increase or decrease your wagers at any time, even take them down entirely if you so desire. There's even the option of calling your bets off for a roll or two. It's strictly up to the player.

Deriving the best value from your craps-playing experience is simply a matter of avoiding the game's bad bets, such as many of the gimmicky one-roll propositions, and concentrating instead on what are the very best bets you'll find in any casino, such as betting on the Pass Line and exercising an option known as "taking the odds".

You bet the Pass Line at the start of a new roll. A 7 or 11 is a natural winner and you're paid even money. Craps (2, 3 or 12) is a loser. Any other number (4, 5, 6, 8, 9 or 10) establishes the point which the shooter must roll again before a 7 in order for the dice to "pass" and for you to collect even money on your bet.

When you take odds you place a supplemental wager behind your Pass Line bet in varying multiples depending on the house rules. This is THE very best bet you can make in a casino, the only one which has no house advantage. You're paid at true odds (2 to 1 on the 4 and 10; 3 to 2 on the 5 and 9; 6 to 5 on the 6 and 8).

A Pass Line bet combined with odds keeps the house edge miniscule. When you take double odds the edge is just 0.6 percent. Five-times odds brings it down to 0.3 percent, and at casinos which offer 100-times odds, you're playing the house almost dead even at 0.02 percent.

CASINO NEWS: We haven't checked up on the slot pay back percentages at Chicago area casinos in a while, so let's see how the properties stack up according to the latest statistics from the Illinois Gaming Board (March 2007) and the Indiana Gaming Commission (April 2007):

1) Grand Victoria - 93.55%, 2) Blue Chip - 92.20%, 3) Argosy's Empress Joliet - 92.17%, 4) Hollywood Aurora - 92.05%, 5) Harrah's Joliet - 91.93%, 6) Majestic Star II - 91.70%, 7) Majestic Star - 91.66%, 8) Horseshoe Hammond - 91.33%, 9) Resorts East Chicago - 90.43%.

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