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The Mechanics of Betting from the "Dark Side"

4 July 2001

By John G. Brokopp

Last week I explored the possibility of delving into the "dark side" of craps, or betting from the "wrong" side of the game instead of the more popular "right" side. When you bet "wrong," you're known as a "Don't" bettor. You silently root for the seven to be rolled before the point is made. If that happens and you win your bet, by the unwitten rules of protocol you express no emotion and collect your chips with no fanfare. Don't bettors are members of the silent minority of people who play craps.

When you bet from the "right" side, you are hoping the point will be rolled before a seven. You can be as vocal in rooting for the point as your inhibitions will allow. If the shooter "bangs" out the point, loud shouts of joy erupt, there are high-fives all around, and players collect their winnings with gleeful self-satisfaction and a primal sense of victory. They represent the boisterous majority of this most fascinating of all casino games.

I questioned why craps players are categorized as either right or wrong bettors. Why not a mercenary approach to the game? Attempting to capitalize on whatever side happens to be winning is a unique beauty of casino craps. It's also the easy part of this approach. The hard part is guessing which side! It's my empirical theory that craps runs in streaks. There are trends of hot dice and cold dice. There are also "choppy" trends of hot and cold. Attempting to ride streaks of hot and cold is our goal. Choppy dice are a break-even proposition at best no matter how you play the game.

Just what are the mechanics of playing the Don't? First let's take a look at what it means to bet right: A Pass Line bet on the comeout roll means that you win even money if the shooter rolls a 7 or an 11. You lose your bet if the shooter rolls "craps" (2, 3, or 12). Any other number becomes what is known as the point. The shooter must roll the point a second time before a seven in order for a successful pass of the dice. If the shooter makes the point, Pass Line bettors are paid even money.

Betting "Don't Pass" is just the opposite. You win even money if the comeout roll is a 2 or a 3. A roll of 12 is a draw (that's what is meant by the "bar 12" designation in the Don't section.) You lose if the roll is 7 or 11. Any other number is a point. In order for you to win your bet, the shooter must roll a seven before repeating the point number. If the seven comes, Don't bettors win even money.

To further illustrate the mechanics of this aspect of the craps, let's go back to betting the Pass Line. There are 36 possible combinations of the dice. There are six ways to make a seven and two ways to make an 11. There is one way to make a 2, two ways to make a 3, and one way to make a 12. All the other possible combinations constitute Point numbers. On the comeout roll, therefore, there are only four combinations out of 36 that lose, eight that win, and 24 that must be decided.

On the other hand, betting Don't Pass means that eight combinations lose (7 or 11), three win (2 or 3), and 24 that must be decided. (Remember that 12 is a draw when betting from the Don't). Even though it seems on the surface of things that Don't bettors are getting a raw deal on the comeout roll, consider this tempting reality: If a Don't bettor survives the comeout roll by avoiding a 7 or an 11, the odds of winning the bet shift dramatically in his favor.

How? Remember that there are six ways to make a seven, the most combinations for any number. There are three ways to make a 4 and three ways to make a 10; four ways to make a 5 and four ways to make a 9; and five ways to make a 6 and five ways to make an 8. If you've got a Don't bet out there and a point number is rolled on the comeout, the odds are 1 to 2 in your favor if the point is 4 or 10, 2 to 3 in your favor if the point is 5 or 9, and 5 to 6 in your favor if it's a 6 or 8. Yet if you win the bet you're going to be paid even money!

Now consider the same situation if you have a Pass Line bet working. If the point is 4 or 10 the odds are 2 to 1 AGAINST you, if the point is 5 or 9 the odds are 3 to 2 AGAINST you, and if the point is 6 or 8 the odds are 6 to 5 AGAINST you. Yet if you win the bet you're only going to be paid even money. So you can see the only disadvantage to Don't betting as opposed to Pass Line betting is on the comeout roll. After that, Don't bettors are in the driver's seat.

The casino knows this, too. That's why a Pass Line bet is a "contract" bet with the house. Once you place it and the point has been established, you can't pick it up. It has to remain on the layout until a decision of the dice is reached. "Of course," you say. The odds of winning the bet are for the house and against the player. Don't bets can be picked up at any time. The casino is only too happy to see a player retract a bet that has the possibility of paying even money when the odds are against the house!

Next week we'll continue our exploration of betting the Don't by expanding our discussion to include betting "free odds."

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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