Craps against the high-rolling dark siders

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.”

Some people use a repeatable, consistent style of holding, releasing and rolling the dice. It’s called “rhythmic rolling.”

Rhythmic Rollers

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.

Dark side players are casino mercenaries, in the eyes of many. They play a contrarian craps game aligning them with the casino against the 85 percent or so of other craps players who bet against the house.

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 was tall, tanned and lean. Perhaps an investment adviser, I imagined

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.

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.

Game on

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.

I use a 3-V set when I roll the dice. I place the two 3’s facing up with the point of the V facing me.

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 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.

Here are the various combinations for dice rolls. You can see why the number 7 is most commonly rolled.

Getting hot

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.

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.

About Bernard McCoy

My views are my own and not a reflection of my employer. I'm a professor of Journalism at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. I've also been a working journalist for the past 29 years. I have covered news stories in war zones, reported on human and natural disasters, presidential conventions, a presidential inauguration and the September 11th, 2001 attack on the World Trade Center in New York City. My career experiences include work as an award-winning documentary producer, television news reporter, photographer, producer, and anchor. I worked at WIBW-TV, Topeka, KS., KCTV, Kansas City, MO, WKBD-TV, Detroit, MI., WILX-TV, Lansing, MI. and WBNS-TV, Columbus, OH. I have also worked as a contributing reporter for The Columbus Dispatch, Associated Press, CBS, CNN, the Ohio News Network and lecture at the Kosovo Institute of Journalism and Communications. I have a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Kansas and a master’s degree in telecommunications management from Michigan State University.
This entry was posted in Aria, Casino, Craps, Gambling, Investing, Las Vegas, Stock market, The United States, Uncategorized, University of Nebraska. Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to Craps against the high-rolling dark siders

  1. Joel Geyer says:

    Redemption in “craps.” I like it.

  2. Pingback: Craps against the high-rolling dark siders « JournalCetera | The Gambler's Toolbox

  3. Hardway says:

    Do you ever feel obligated in a sense to lose if a dark side bettor puts down a few thousand dollars vs your 5$ table min bet on the pass line? I used to bet don’t passes but now it has become a conflict of interest for me since I believe in energetics affecting reality and such. If a table turns cold I will most likely just stay out instead of betting don’t pass unless all the players are making min bets. A good sign too is if the shooter don’t passes on themselves after knowing their trend then I can conscientiously join in the dark side madness 😀

    • barneymccoy says:

      Good point Hardway. I’m like you. I just don’t like betting “don’t pass.” Call it karma or whatever, I’m a social gambler and much prefer the fun of riding a hot craps table with other betters against the house.
      Thanks for writing.

  4. Legacy6 says:

    I look at dark side playing as putting one’s self in the best possible position to win money. It’s really about playing the percentages more than it is playing against right players. Given an understanding of odds, I don’t see why any student of the game wouldn’t at least partially integrate dark side playing in to their game. If one depends solely on hot shooters, he or she is likely to give more money to the casino before winning. If that’s a price one is willing to play for camaraderie, I get that. But that’s not why I play.

    • barneymccoy says:

      Thanks for your comment Legacy6- I agree with your assessment. When a craps table is cold, I’ll bet with the house and play on the dark side. Since I play for entertainment mostly, my preference is to try and beat the house most of the time and enjoy the camaraderie of the other like-minded players around me at the table. Thus, I want to beat those players who almost exclusively bet on the dark side.

  5. Agree. I dont look at it as betting against the shooter, im betting on the 7 which comes up most often. Sometimes i will stay away from shooters i know are good and will always compliment them on a nice roll. A guy hit 7 points today. Im happy that people make money on the right side also. Its fun to see the right side bettors have success also. Luckily i didnt bet against the guy that hit 7 points today.

    • barneymccoy says:

      Good point Mike- The five-point qualifying system I learned, and play, is designed to minimize bets until a qualified shooter is rolling the dice. Which brings an interesting thought to mind: If one bets against the unqualified shooters will it improve their odds of winning even more? I’ll have to try that the next time I’m shooting craps.

      • Legacy6 says:

        I’d say yes, barneymccoy. I bet that probability (and a 7) will catch up to the random shooter quicker than a qualified shooter using a hard way set for example. Of course, there are exceptions, but in my experience it’s been rare.

    • Legacy6 says:

      Yes. If I see a shooter who sets the dice and throws on axis, I’ll most likely make pass line and come bets. When playing the don’t, I rarely if ever bet against the 6 or 8. That’s one of the things I like about the don’t pass – you can pick it up if you don’t want to bet against a number. To me, integrating dark side playing really opens up the table and makes it more interesting to play.

  6. barneymccoy says:

    Well said Mike. I totally agree with your strategy and plan to give it a try when my wife and I visit Las Vegas for an April convention. Regards- Barney

  7. barneymccoy says:

    Good advice. Thanks for sharing your experienced views. I look forward to incorporating your strategy when I next roll the dice in Vegas. I will say that I have had much better rolls using a 3-V set and the rhythmic rolling philosophy gaming author Frank Scoblete describes in his book on craps “Beat the Craps Out of the Casinos.” One reason my wife and I enjoy the entertainment part of craps is because of all the fascinating people we’ve met and bet with on craps tables. Everyone from Los Angeles gang bangers and high rolling defense contractors to an octogenarian Chinese immigrant restaurateur who handed out candy and asked me to watch her $30,000 rack of chips while she ran to the ladies bathroom.

  8. JD says:

    Been playing Dark side craps for 15 years. I often partial hedge my don’t pass on a Lay 4 or 10 on the come out roll and a partial hedge on the Yo (Stats say not to hedge but I do a partial hedge anyways). I never back up my don’t odds on a 6 or 8. I back up heavy don’t odds on 5 and 9 and I temper my don’t odds on 4 and 10, because of the limited true odds payout (bankroll management). I never cheer if I win and I often tip the Pass shooter player and dealers if I win a big bet. Remember, we Dark side players are NOT playing against you, we are still playing against the house. I have often gotten threats and almost had violent encounters with irrational Pass players. I do believe in controlled shooting (yes, it is real) and I do use it. I also warn Pass players when I’m rolling that I’m shooting for an outside number on the come out and then shooting for a 7-out on the point. Not being a blow hard, but I’m up way more in winning than losses over 15 years through controlled shooting, bankroll management and waiting for extended trends to flip. I also do not mind being pointed on every once in awhile when I see a Pass player put up a 25+ roll, have to give props when they are due. Btw, not to be nit-picky, but people will correct you in the future, so to save you any grief, when you roll a 7 against the point, it is a 7-out not a crap out. If people stick to pass/dont pass craps, banker bet in baccarat and basic strategy and/or count cards (without being obvious) in blackjack, they will extend their bankroll a long way. Slots should be outlawed 🙂 Cheers, JD

    • Bernard McCoy says:

      Hi JD,
      Excellent commentary. Thanks for your views and advice. I waited until now to respond because I wanted to try your Dark Side craps strategy at the Luxor in Las Vegas last month while I was attending a convention. Your observations were on the money. Great advice. Like you I avoided taking odds on the 6 and 8 “don’t come” bets. I took odds on the 5,9,4 and 10 and usually won as long as I didn’t encounter a hot shooter. When I did see hot shooters I switched to the come line bet if they hit their winning come out point twice. I also tried your Dark Side strategy at the Golden Nugget where I won and at the MGM where I lost. I lost at the MGM because I tried switching too much between shooters who rolled five times without hitting the 7 and playing Dark Side bets. Question: How many rolls do you give a shooter before you bet with them?
      I learned that Dark Side betting takes more patience but gives better winning odds, that it’s a slower grind but generally a more successful way to win. Like you I encountered one player who was hostile towards my playing Dark Side bets and was losing on a cold table. On the other hand, when I explained to several curious players why I was playing “don’t come” bets (I keep it low profile too.) they too tried the technique and thought it another interesting strategy to employ while playing craps.
      When I play “don’t come” strategy I usually pass on throwing the dice because I’d rather let the other players at the table control the rolling action. Also: I don’t crash a table while a hot shooter is rolling the dice to play the Dark Side strategy because people tend to think of me as the Grim Reaper when the shooter sevens out and might think I’m the one who brought bad karma to the hot table.
      I agree with you…slots took my wife’s money on this trip. Better odds at the craps table.
      Thanks too the the 7-out correction. I’ll go back and edit that in my original post.

  9. Andrew says:

    Good story, it played like a movie to me. I’m new to craps and am already seeing the benefits to the dark side. It’s funny how the don’t pass line is demonized also calling it the wrong side; the casino’s got to pay the electric bill somehow I guess. Anyway, I’d like to add another dimension to your knowledge of this game and please tell us if it at all helps with spotting a hot shooter or a cold shooter. I noticed that those who disrespected the dice are guaranteed to 7-out. This fellow who shook the dice very rigorously and cussed 7-outed 100% of the time. Those who rolled the dice and touched a chip 7-outed close to 100% of the time (as in your story). Those who rushed and didn’t care what the number was going to be were pretty cold rollers too. Blowing on the dice? Sorry, might need a breath mint. On the other hand, those who took their time, often lining up the dice, and were very relaxed (as in your story) were the hot shooters. With that, I tried both sides and they seemed to work for now. On the pass line, I hit the point 4 times and that’s got to be above average. On the dark side I may hit the point once, in which case I’d bet bigger the next round and 7-out. Dice are people too.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s