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3 May 2016
By Frank Scoblete
The number 4 at craps can give you the “best of times” and the “worst of times” (to quote Charles Dickens). Everything depends on how you bet the number.
All craps players know — or should know, or better know — that the best way to bet the 4 or any other point number is going by route of the pass line and come bets with full odds (or as much as you can afford in odds). Of course, betting this way does not mean you select betting the 4 directly as the dice determine which number becomes the point – the 4, 5, 6, 8 , 9 or 10. But the house edge on this style of betting is a mere 1.41%.
Let us start from here. If the point or come bet winds up as the 4, you have the option of putting a certain amount of money in odds behind it. So let us say you are betting $10 and the point is 4. You are at a 5x odds game and you therefore can put $50 in odds. You are now risking $60.
The four has three chances out of 36 possibilities to appear, and it is a 2-1 underdog to the 7, which has six chances to appear out of those 36 possibilities. The odds bet will give that exact return on a win, 2-to-1. Therefore, a win on the 4 will pay $100 for the odds bet and a flat $10 for the point/come bet for a win of $110.
For those who (for some reason) do not like to use the pass line or come bets to get on the numbers, these players can place the 4 straight up. They just put their money down and say, “Place the 4.” The house edge on this place bet is a whopping 6.67%; a loss of $6.67 per $100 wagered. Not a good bet at all. Avoid it.
The 4 can also be wagered as a “buy” bet. By paying a 5% commission on the amount wagered, the casino will pay you 2-to-1. The buy bet starts at $20. There are two types of buy bets; the buy where you bet up-front before the dice are thrown – whether the 4 wins or loses is irrelevant, you’ve paid the commission (also called the vig) on the bet. The house edge on this buy bet is a large 4.76% – a loss of $4.76 per $100 wagered.
The second type of buy bet has you pay the commission only on the wins. This bet is made after the decision is rendered. There is a huge difference between these two types of buy bets. For a $20 buy you will face a rather small house edge of 1.64%; a loss of $1.64 per $100 wagered.
Atlantic City, along with some Vegas and Midwest casinos, have the first type of buy bet, where you pay the commission before the decision. However, these casinos will allow players to “push the house” by allowing a player to pay the same commission on larger amounts of bets. So you can buy the 4 for $20 with a $1 commission, but you can also buy the 4 for $25, $30, and $35 paying that same $1 commission.
This betting scheme is helpful as it reduces the house edge remarkably. The $25 bet has a house edge of 3.8%; $30 goes down to 3.2% and $35 hits a low of 2.8%. These are not the greatest house edges, but they are far better than the place of 6.67% and the buy of $20 at 4.76%.
Now the buy bet where the commission is paid only on a win deserves serious consideration. If you buy the 4 at $20 for a $1 commission, the house edge is 1.67%; at $25 it goes down to 1.3%. These are decent house edges.
There are other methods of betting the 4. You can hop it, which means you make a one-roll bet on the number based on what pips show on each die. Awful bet not worth thinking about. You can also place the 4 to lose or buy the 4 to lose. These are bets that you will not see made by many craps players.
In some cultures, 4 is a magic number. For example, in Chinese the 4 sounds very similar to the word for “death,” and you will note that many baccarat tables do not have a seating space marked 4. The seats will be numbered 1, 2, 3, 5.
In numerology, the 4 represents practicality and inner wisdom. It also relates to the great archangels of western religions. The 4 is thought to be the number of great intelligence and wisdom – unless you place bet it and face a 6.67% house edge. Then you are forsaken!
And remember this too: One of the greatest superhero teams is the Fantastic Four. You can bet on them!
Frank Scoblete’s latest books are "I Am a Dice Controller: Inside the World of Advantage-Play Craps," "Confessions of a Wayward Catholic" and "I Am a Card Counter: Inside the World of Advantage-Play Blackjack." Available from Amazon.com, Kindle, Barnes and Noble, and at bookstores.
This article is provided by the Frank Scoblete Network. Melissa A. Kaplan is the network's managing editor. If you would like to use this article on your website, please contact Casino City Press, the exclusive web syndication outlet for the Frank Scoblete Network. To contact Frank, please e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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