We just returned home from a nice Las Vegas escape where a craps table adventure gave me and the wife something to smile about.
We both enjoy playing the game and strategizing together during our infrequent Las Vegas visits.
We play conservatively, sticking to a fairly strict $200 nightly budget. When it’s gone, we’re gone too. If we win, we can play longer, bet more aggressively and maybe make a little money.
Consider that a couple can easily drop $300 or more on a Las Vegas show and drinks. We usually see one show per Vegas visit and spend the rest of our entertainment bucks on craps.
Confession: On this trip we played a total of about 12 hours in four casinos over three days. Our bankroll was $600 dollars. We lost $100 of it on our trip. We believe it was a fair price to pay for the hours of entertainment, interaction, waitress tips for free drinks and for the craps table crew when we encountered a few good dice rolls.
Five Count System
We use a slightly modified Five Count system. The system helps separate good and bad craps shooters. We generally bet on the 6 and 8, backing our pass line bet with higher odds if we begin to win.
The Five Count system is described by gaming author Frank Scoblete. He says craps shooters most likely to seven out on any given night will be eliminated by the Five Count system.
In other words, weaker shooters will roll a seven with the dice and lose their bets to the house before hitting five consecutive points. If you’re betting with these shooters, you lose your bets too.
The idea behind eliminating weaker shooters is that it gives craps players a chance to stay on the table longer.
“Since one is betting on fewer shooters,” writes Scoblete, “this helps the player to save some of his bankroll so he can stay at the table longer before hitting his loss limit.”
I also buy into Scoblete’s theory that some people use a repeatable, consistent style of holding, releasing and rolling the dice. It’s called “rhythmic rolling.” Scoblete believes rhythmic rollers get slightly longer rolls on the craps table; slightly increasing the shooter’s odds of winning money as well as the craps players who bet with rhythmic rolling shooters.
Scoblete ran this theory by a mathematics professor. Computer simulations done by Dr. Don Catlin, Professor Emeritus of Mathematics at the University of Massachusetts found this dual system ( Five count system and betting on rhythmic shooters) increased a craps bettor’s odds between .08 and 1.14 percent.
Do I believe this? I’ve tried it. It may not work for everyone. It does work for me.
When a craps table is cold we last longer before our bankroll is gone when we use this system. By lasting longer, we also have a better chance of watching a cold craps table get hot when a shooter goes on longer roll and wins more bets.
Suddenly, losers turn to winners; unless you’re a craps players who has drifted to the dark side of the game.
Dark siders emerge
Two high-rolling shooters sporting wads of cash played the role during our last night at a craps table in the beautiful, new Aria casino. Dark side players bet with the house and against most other craps players at the table.
For most people who play craps, one of the biggest thrills of the game is when players cheer a hot shooter to make their point when they go on a long roll. The longer the roll without hitting a 7, the better the odds of winning money.
In moments like these, the shared experience of a hot roller will see women dressed in evening gowns and guys wearing suits cheering along side leather-clad, tattooed bikers and dust covered farmers. I know because I’ve been in the middle of these impromptu cheering sessions.
We’re all hoping for a winning roll of the dice. If it happens, it’s not unusual for spontaneous high-fives to break-out between everyone who backed the hot shooter.
You don’t get to experience this thrill of the game if you’re betting against the shooter.
This is what dark side players do. They are casino mercenaries in the eyes of many. They play a contrarian craps game that aligns them with the casino against the 85 percent or so of other craps players who play against the house.
Scoblete writes: “Dark side bettors exist in a lonely world where they must of necessity root for shooter after shooter to seven out – and quickly at that.”
There is logic to being a dark sider- If they only bet against the point once it’s been established, the odds of winning shift dramatically in favor of the dark sider. If the point is 4 or 10, the odds are 1 to 2 in their favor; if it’s 5 or 9, 2 to 3 in their favor; 6 or 8, 5 to 6 in favor of the dark sider.
Author John Brokopp writes:
“Be forewarned that betting the dice won’t pass is definitely not a team sport. That’s why “Don’t” ( dark side) 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.”
So, that’s what these dark siders were doing. Both, I guessed, were in their early 40’s and apparently friends. They quietly approached our table, decided the house was regularly beating the players, and made a pact to go with a dark side betting strategy.
One of these gentlemen was tall, tanned and lean. Perhaps he was an investment adviser, I imagined, with a lifestyle that allowed him to casually drop $1,o00 bets against the rest of us $10 table bettors.
The other dark sider was short, pasty and a bit pudgy. He had an upturned nose and slicked back long brown hair. I imagined this guy to be in real estate development. He quietly placed $1,000 bets against each new shooter who rolled the dice.
For the first 20 minutes or so, new shooters established their point and quickly shot sevens.
By the time the dice made its way to my side of the table, the dark siders were up several thousand dollars and turning a nice profit. Meanwhile, us right bettors were steadily losing money to the house on a very cold craps table. We had only compassion to share with each other for our unlucky fate.
When it was my turn to roll the dice, I went with the 3-V set. I placed the two 3’s facing up with the point of the V facing me. I then use a left-handed release, trying to keep the dice on axis as I aim for a soft bounce just shy of the back of the table.
Here’s the probability part from About.com- Craps Dice Control
“With a random roll the mathematical probability of a seven appearing will be once in every six rolls, which is a Sevens to Rolls Ratio (SRR) of 6. The house edge is calculated with this ratio. If you throw the dice 42 times and roll seven 7’s you have a Sevens to Rolls Ratio of 6. (42/7 = 6) If however you have one non-random roll and throw seven 7’s in 43 rolls you have an SRR of 6.14 this is enough to negate the house edge on the 6 and 8 place bets. Just one controlled throw out of every 43 rolls of the dice would eliminate the house edge and yield a break-even game.”
On my come out roll I rolled a 6. I pressed the odds to $20 behind my $10 pass line bet. I also placed a $12 bet on the 8. I did this because, after the 7, the two most likely craps numbers you can roll are a 6 and 8.
This time, the dark siders doubled their bets to $2,000 against me on the 6.
On my second roll I tossed a 9. My third roll was a five. My fourth roll was a 3. My fifth roll was an 8, paying me $14 on my $12 bet.
My sixth roll was another 8, yielding us another $14 dollars. I used $10 of it to press my pass line odds bet to $30.
On my seventh roll I hit the 6 making me a winner. Clapping erupted around the table from all but the dark siders.
If my math is correct, our $10 pass line bet was doubled by the house. The $30 pass line odds bet we placed paid off at $45. For this series, we turned an $83 profit. The dark siders each lost their $2,000 bets.
On my second come out roll I rolled a 10. The odds were 2-1 against me this time that I would roll a 10 before rolling a seven. The dark siders apparently knew this. They doubled their bets to $4,000 apiece against me.
We again pressed the odds to $20 behind my $10 pass line bet and placed a $12 bet on the 6 and 8.
On my second roll I rolled a 4. My third roll was an 8, winning us $14.
My fourth roll was a 9. My fifth roll was a 6, winning me another $14 dollars.
I increased my odds bet to $30 and rolled a 5 for my sixth roll. I had been using the 3-V set to roll the dice. I felt relaxed and confident. I could tune out the distractions around me. I felt as if I was in a mental zone where it was easy to focus on softly releasing each roll of the dice.
On my seventh roll I rolled an 11. Some groans went up from my right side betting companions who knew I’d just missed rolling a 10.
On my eighth roll I rolled a 6 and got another $14 pay.
On roll number nine, I rolled a 10. This winning roll sent cheers up around the table- with the exception of our dark side betters. This time our bets earned us another $112 in winnings. My wife and I, along with many other table bettors, were back in the winning column and could savor the moment.
The dark siders meanwhile had lost a total of $12,000 during my 10 minute roll. I glanced in their direction. No eye contact. They glowered and stared towards a far corner of the casino.
My next come out roll was a 3, a $10 loss to the house. I placed another $10 bet on the pass line and rolled a 7. Since 7 and 11 pay on the come out roll, I won $10. My next come out roll was a 5.
Again, I had $10 riding on the pass line with $20 in odds bets behind the pass line and $12 bets riding on the 6 and 8.
The dark siders apparently had enough of me. They kept their bets off the table.
On my second roll I rolled a 6, winning $14, and pressed $10 of it into my odds bet. To me it all seemed to be in slow motion now.
On my third roll, my dice bounced off the back of the table, clipping a stack of chips. One die came to a rest showing a 5. The other die spun like a top for a second or two. The second die settled into a 2. I had sevened out out.
There was a moment of silence, followed by a few groans from around the table. Then came compliments from some of the players who had shared in the profits my nice rolls had generated.
In this series, we had lost my $10 pass line bet, my $30 odds bet and the $24 dollars we had riding on the 6 and 8; a total of $50 when you subtract the $14 we won on the 6 in this series.
Subtract that from the $195 we won on my first two rolls and we profited to the tune of $145.
And on it went..
Three other shooters had nice rolls too over the course of the next hour or so. This allowed me and the wife to increase our winnings another $300.
Along the way, we placed $1 hard 6 ( 3 and 3 dice rolls) and 8 (4 and four dice rolls) bets for the casino’s stickman, boxman and two dealers. It’s one way to tip the crew for their work when you’re winning at the craps table. When these bets hit, and they hit several times on this night, they pay 9-to-1 odds.
Towards the end of our evening, I looked up and noticed that the dark siders were no longer at our craps table. They had vanished more quietly than they had appeared.
They had apparently given up hope they could win at this table, at this time, against these players.
I estimate these dark siders lost a combined $40,000 playing craps on a table that turned hot.
Their defeat, to me, was a visible point of redemption for us right side craps players. On this memorable night, we celebrated our brief craps table success with a few magical winning moments.
As author Don Brokopp wrote of dark side players: “When their victories come, they must celebrate in silence.”
I might add: “When dark siders are defeated, they must quietly fade into the dark casino recesses from which they came.”
Addendum: See the excellent comments below from JD about playing a dark side strategy for the past 15 years. My wife and I tried it during a recent visit to Las Vegas and it changed my thinking about betting the “don’t come” line when the craps table is cold. It also made our overall gambling experience more enjoyable.