Learn to Play Craps – Tips and Strategies – Variance

Be smart, play smart, and learn how to play craps the right way!

If the casino has such an advantage over the player, why on Earth does anyone play the game? My guess is that most people don’t have a clue they’re playing a losing game. Others are so arrogant they think they can outplay the casino and turn a negative expectation into a positive, even over the long term. Others know they’ll lose, but play anyway for fun and excitement. As a knowledgeable player, why should you even bother playing a game you know will beat you? As a knowledgeable player, is there any hope you can walk away a winner, at least once in a while, even though you’re at a statistical disadvantage?

Craps is a game of numbers and statistics, with the house having a built-in advantage. Since craps is based on statistics, let’s find a way to use statistics to our advantage. You’ll never beat the casino over the long haul, but you can, indeed, beat it in the moments of time when the distribution hiccups and things go your way.

Let’s talk about “variance,” which is the average squared deviation of each number from the mean of a data set. Huh? Don’t worry; we don’t need a Harvard math degree to understand this. It’s simply a measure of how spread out the data is. Let’s consider the familiar coin-flip example.

Suppose we flip a coin 10,000 times. We expect heads to appear about 5,000 times and tails to appear about 5,000 times. Suppose we bet $1 on heads for each flip. If these are even-money bets, we expect to break even–or close to it–after those 10,000 flips. As illustrated in one of my other articles, the house doesn’t give us even money when it loses. In our coin-flip example, instead of paying us $1 for each loss, suppose they pay us only $0.96. With this built-in house advantage, our negative expectation is to lose about $200 after 10,000 flips. Here’s the math. If we expect about 5,000 heads and about 5,000 tails to appear, then we expect to lose 5000 x $1 = $5000; and win 5000 x $0.96 = $4800. $5000 – $4800 = $200. This is called “negative expectation.”

Now, of those 10,000 flips, suppose we focus on only 30 of them, and we continue betting on heads. Of those 30 flips, we might see heads 25 times and tails only 5 times. This data fluctuation shows that, for a limited number of flips over a short period of time, we can get lucky and experience Nirvana where things go our way. I call it a “Nirvana hiccup” in the distribution that causes a relatively high variance. In this example of only 30 flips, we win $24 for the 25 heads (i.e., 25 x $0.96 = $24), and lose $5 for the 5 tails (i.e., 5 x $1 = $5), which gives us a net win of $19. This short-term variance temporarily removes the long-term negative expectation, which means there are, indeed, times when we can walk away a winner.

Although you’ll lose in the long term, there are times when you’ll win because of variance. Suppose you take a three-day vacation in Vegas once a year and play four one-hour craps sessions each day (i.e., a total of 12 hours for the trip). You could conceivably get extremely lucky and hit that Nirvana hiccup during each session, and then go home a big winner. In that case, you go home thinking you’re a genius, a craps god, invincible, a world-class gambling stud. Yeah, sure, okay. I don’t recommend quitting your day job.

Now, suppose you’re a Vegas local who plays an hour every day after work. In this case, it’s clear that whatever few Nirvana hiccups you experience will be properly adjusted over time such that you’ll lose your shirt in the long term.

Therefore, the infrequent craps player can, indeed, consistently win if she’s lucky enough to hit those Nirvana hiccups. However, the frequent long-term player has no chance of coming out a winner at the end of his craps life. Part of the secret to craps is knowing how to be around for those occasional Nirvana hiccups where the dice fall your way.

If you don’t want to lose your shirt, you must learn the secret to craps. Don’t fall for bogus winning systems or ridiculous dice-setting claims. Distribution variance is the only thing that makes you a short-term winner. Nothing else. No silly dice-setting technique. No bogus winning system. It’s the distribution variance and nothing else. Got it? Be smart. Play smart. Learn how to play craps the right way.

Now you know!


Learn to Play Craps – Tips and Strategies – Craps Terms (Part 1)

Huh? What did he say? What does that mean? As a novice standing by the table watching, too nervous to jump in, you give up trying to understand this wacky game. Your Chinese language class in college was easier to understand than all this craps jargon. So, instead of having a blast at the craps table, you take your $100 and pee it away in a slot machine. Twenty minutes later, you stare at the machine thinking, “That was stupid. Why am I so afraid to play?”

It shouldn’t be like that. Craps is so easy and so much fun. Trust me; you don’t have to be a brain surgeon or math professor to play. Don’t let your fear of the unknown keep you away.

You don’t have to speak craps fluently to play. You just need to know a few basic words and phrases. As you play, your command of the language will develop quickly. Don’t waste time trying to memorize every term before deciding to play. Always remember, if you don’t understand something, just ask the dealer for help.

The following terms cover the letters A to B in alphabetical order. Craps terms beginning with other letters are defined in my other articles.

Aces = Two one’s. Known as snake eyes or eyeballs.

Action = Bets that are in play or live. Also, how busy a table is.

Any Craps = A bet that the next roll will be a 2, 3, or 12.

Any Seven = A bet that the next roll will be a 7.

Apron = The outer edge of the table layout. The plain, unmarked area closest to the player.

At Risk = Cheques (money) that are in play or live.

Australian Yo = The number 3. When a 3 shows, the opposite number (i.e., the number on the bottom of the dice) is 11, which is “down under.” On dice, 1 is opposite the 6, 2 is opposite the 5, and 3 is opposite the 4. So, when a 1-2 shows, the opposite side (i.e., the bottom of the dice, “down under”) is 6-5.

Back Line = The Don’t Pass line.

Back Wall = The inside end of the table against which the shooter must roll the dice for the roll to be considered valid.

Bank = All the casino’s cheque stacks on the table in front of the boxman.

Barber Pole A stack of cheques with a variety of denominations mixed together. Cheques should be stacked with higher-denominations on the bottom and lower-denominations on top.

Big Eight = An even-money bet that an 8 will appear before a 7.

Big Red = A bet that the next roll will be a 7 (same as Any Seven).

Big Six = An even-money bet that a 6 will appear before a 7.

Black = $100 cheques.

Bones = The dice.

Bowl = The plastic, wood, or metal bowl the stickman uses to hold unused dice.

Box Number = The numbers 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, and 10 that can become a point on the come-out roll. All other numbers (i.e., 2, 3, 7, 11, and 12) are called naturals because they result in a decision on the come-out roll. Also, called point number.

Boxcars = The number 12. A bet that the next roll will be a 12. Also called midnight.

Boxman = The person supervising the game who sits between the two dealers and across from the stickman.

Boys, the = The dealers.

Broke Money = Money the casino gives a broke person for transportation home.

Brooklyn Forest = Two three’s. A Hard 6.

Buffalo = A bet on all of the Hardways and the Any Seven.

Buffalo Yo = A bet on all of the Hardways and the number 11.

Bump = An extra break for a dealer because the shift is overstaffed relative to the number of tables/games in play.

Buy = A bet and paying a 5% vigorish (or tax) for the privilege of getting true odds that a number will show before a 7.


Learn to Play Craps – Tips and Strategies – Craps Pros and Their Winning Systems

Be smart, play smart, and learn how to play craps the right way!

In my other article, Winning Systems, I address the fact that there’s no such thing as a long-term craps “winning system” for the player. It’s a mathematical fact that a player cannot gain an advantage over the house using any combination of bets or bet amounts. Period. Yet I see book after book and article after article explaining a wide variety of systems that so-called “craps pros” use to consistently beat the house. It irritates me knowing that the gambling world recognizes some of these authors as craps “experts.” It irritates me when I read something from a well-respected so-called craps expert who, in reality, spreads false hope instead of fact. It irritates me knowing the Industry acknowledges and flaunts these people as skilled and knowledgeable players. It all boils down to money. False hope and dreams of hitting it big sell books and magazines. The reality that the game is designed for the player to lose doesn’t sell squat. In other words, in the gaming world, B.S. sells and reality doesn’t. One can only conclude that some of these authors either aren’t the experts that Industry acknowledges them to be, or they’re selling manure for an easy buck.

Search the Internet for craps articles and you’ll find tons of them. Some factual, some full of bull. Some by unknown authors, some by well-known Industry leaders who have multi-book titles to their credit and routinely write for magazines and newsletters. Some authors do, indeed, explain game facts honestly and correctly. However, too often, some so-called experts apparently feel no shame in spreading false hope.

For example, I just finished reading a series of articles by a well-known author with several book titles in print and a long list of other writing credits. He talks about using wacky systems to make a profit for almost every bet on the table, even those with high house advantages. The fact is that none of those systems can guarantee the player long-term wins. As explained in my article, Variance, distribution variance is the only thing that allows a player to win in the short-term. Let’s examine one of these so-called winning systems that so-called pros use to make money: Place betting the 6 and 8.

The author’s scheme is to Place bet both the 6 and 8, then wait until one of them hits and turn them both off (i.e., make them not working) because a 7 is more likely to appear before another 6 or 8. If five rolls go by without hitting a 6 or 8 and without hitting a 7, then turn both bets off because the 7 is due to hit. After a 7 appears, then Place bet the 6 and 8 again. The author ends his article by offering false hope that this system will be profitable for the player only if the player has discipline to stick to the method without making any other bets.

Your first clue that the author clearly isn’t the expert that his credentials imply is the reliance on the “Gambler’s Fallacy” (see my article, The Gambler’s Fallacy). This system considers a 7 is “due” to hit if it doesn’t show in five rolls or if a 6 or 8 shows first. We know this is absurd because the odds of any number appearing on the next roll are the same whether the number hasn’t appeared after five rolls or after a million rolls. Since the odds never change, it doesn’t matter how many times you turn off your Place bets. You can leave them on constantly, or turn them off and back on every other roll. It doesn’t matter, the odds never change. Let’s look at the math associated with Place betting the 6 and 8.

Over many rolls, results tend to resemble a perfect distribution. Assuming a perfect distribution over 36 rolls, we expect a 7 to appear six times, a 6 to appear five times, and an 8 to appear five times. Because the odds for any number appearing on the next roll never change, the odds of your Place bets winning and losing are the same whether you leave them on constantly or whether you randomly turn them off and on.

Assume you bet $6 on the 6 and $6 on the 8 for a total of $12. Assuming a perfect distribution, the 6 will appear five times in 36 rolls and you win $35 (5 x $7 = $35). The 8 will appear five times in those 36 rolls and you win $35 (5 x $7 = $35). Therefore, in a 36-roll perfect distribution, you win $70 by Place betting the 6 and 8 for $6 each. (Note: for a $6 Place bet on the 6 or 8, the Place odds are 7:6, which means you win $7 for your $6 bet.)

However, on six of those 36 rolls, a 7 will appear and you lose $72 ($6 on the 6 and $6 on the 8 = $12; then $12 x 6 = $72).

The negative expectation with this system (i.e., Place betting the 6 and 8 for $6 each) is that you lose an average of $2 for every 36 rolls (i.e., you win $70, but you lose $72).

This is actually a good system, in terms of the player, because of the low house advantages of the Place 6 and 8 bets. However, it’s clear that this system cannot guarantee long-term success. It’s statistically impossible. In other words, despite the author’s claim that this system will prove to be very profitable for you, the statistical fact is that it won’t over the long-term.

So, the question you should ask yourself now is: If this system relies on the false notion of the Gambler’s Fallacy, and if this system is statistically proven to result in a player loss over the long term, why is this so-called craps expert feeding me such bull manure by saying it will prove to be very profitable for me? I think I know the answer to that question, and I think you do, too. Could the answer have anything to do with selling books and articles?

Remember, be smart and play smart. Don’t fall for bogus claims of winning systems or wacky dice-setting schemes. Learn how to play craps the right way.

Now you know!