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Craps Crap and Craps Gold - Part 220 April 2002
False-Truths: Systems, Systems, Get Your Systems Here!
When someone creates or buys a "system," he is looking to overcome the math of the game by utilizing some kind of betting scheme that outwits the game's probabilistic theoretical underpinnings. In craps, some systems have a kind of compelling though superficial logic behind them. Some systems are absolutely ridiculous. And some seem to actually work until you realize they aren't saving you money, they are losing you even more money.
Ridiculous systems are usually poorly thought-out exercises in "the gambler's fallacy," which just means if something hasn't happened for a while it must be "due" to happen soon. You'll find that many people who bet the hardways and those one-roll Crazy Crapper proposition bets will tend to fall for this type of thinking. "Hey, the yo-eleven hasn't come up for awhile, it must be due!" Crazy Crapper bets have edges bordering on 10 percent or higher. The "yo-eleven" (which actually means eleven-eleven) has an uncanny 11.11 percent edge (who says God doesn't work in mysterious ways?). You'll lose $11.11 for every $100 wagered on the "eleven-eleven."
Here's another fallacy, the term for which I just invented: It's called the "Fallacy of the Small Wager-Big Payoff." This fallacy was eloquently stated by one craps player thusly: "Man, I only bet a stinkin' dollar on the hardways and dem other bets and look how much I can win!" Slot players fall for this fallacy all the time. They think because they only play, say, three quarters per spin that they are betting " a little" but they can win a lot.
It is just the opposite. They are betting a lot to win a lot less. Here's why: Take that bet, yo-eleven, from the department of redundancy department. Let's say our wagerer bets it on every single roll of the dice but only for one "stinkin'" dollar.
In an hour of play, it is not unusual for 120 rolls to take place. That's $120 dollars wagered into that 11.11 percent house edge. That's a loss of $13.33 -- per hour! If this person is looking to get a full range of comps and plays for four hours in a day, his expected loss for one "stinkin'" dollar over that time is $53.32, often the cost of a room for one day in Las Vegas! Yes, occasionally you'll win these bets, but make them enough over a long enough time and the house edge will cut your bankroll to ribbons.
The second type of system relies on a kind of superficial logic. These systems are often sold by scammers because they are "technically" correct in the claims made for them. I saw one such mailing that purports to show me how to win 80 percent of my bets at craps. I bet $64, or multiples of this number, on six numbers. Yes, by betting $64 across ($10 on the 4, $10 on the 5, $12 on the 6, $12 on the 8, $10 on the 9 and $10 on the 10) I will win a whopping 24 times for every six times I lose (80 percent). In those 24 wins, I will accumulate $360. Wow! Unfortunately, here's the fine print that doesn't appear in the scammer's flyer. In those six losses I will lose $384 (6 X $64 = $384) for a net loss of $24. Not good.
Some of the more outrageous systems purport to show how to win 99 percent of our "betting sequences" at craps. And, in fact, these systems do just that -- but we still wind up losing just the same. Here's why:
By utilizing a Martingale betting system which calls for doubling up a bet after a loss, you can win 99 percent of your "betting sequences." Generally, the pamphlet writer recommends making a Pass Line bet of $5 and then doubling it each time it loses until we finally win a bet. The logic is that we have to win a bet sooner or later and, when we do, we get all our losses back plus the initial $5 wager. This is true, as far as it goes, except that the house does not allow wagers to exceed a certain amount. This usually stops a Martingale player somewhere around the eighth or ninth step as the table maximums are $1,000 or $2,000 when the table minimum is $5.
Since the above bet only has a slight edge for the house, it is very close to a 50-50 proposition. So we'll pretend that it is a 50-50 proposition for the purposes of simplicity.
Your first bet is $5. Now, here are the probabilities and the odds of a run of losses.
The above shows why the pamphlet writer can claim that I will win 99 percent of my "betting sequences" as an eight-step Martingale will be achieved, on average, only once every 256 decisions. Still, at 60 decisions an hour at craps, I can expect to hit the ceiling once every four or five hours. That's an average.
It is possible that I could walk up to a table and go to an eight-step the very first time or, conversely, I could play for days without hitting eight losses in a row. The problem is that sooner or later I will hit my share of eight consecutive losses and I will wind up losing all my wins back and then some.
However, the casino's edge on all the money I bet utilizing the Martingale will still be only 1.41 percent, which is the Pass Line bet's house edge without taking full odds. While the total loss (in the long run) will be the same as if I had bet $5 on each and every Pass Line decision, the patterns of the wins and losses will be different. For a Martingale player, there will be a lot of little wins and a few devastating losses when you hit the ceiling and get your head handed to you.
Next time: "Some gaming experts who write books and articles are convinced that there is a mathematical way to overcome the house edge at craps."
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 email@example.com.
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