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Best of Frank Scoblete
The grinding25 November 2014
In point of fact, I once received an irate e-mail from a player who was adamant that the house could not have a 1.41 percent edge on the Pass Line and Come bets in craps because he never lost $1.41 on them. He said, “I win a bet; I lose a bet. I never lose $1.41 on a bet.” (Based on a $100 bet.)
Obviously no one loses $1.41 on a Pass Line or Come bet. A player wins 244 times and loses 251 times on them. That’s 495 decisions. The difference is that the player loses seven more bets. Divide 495 into those seven bets and the house edge comes to 1.41 percent, or a loss of $1.41 per $100 wagered.
The casino wins slowly on the Pass Line and Come bets. The game will go back and forth, win some, lose some, but the “lose some” will be slightly more than the “win some.” This is called “grinding.” And such grinding does exactly what it sounds like — it slowly eats your bankroll the way the constant grinding of the ocean can eat away boulders.
The other way the casino grinds out wins at craps has to do with “false” or short payouts on winning bets. Take a look at the placement of the 6 or 8. You put up six dollars to win seven dollars. You win some; you lose some. In fact, over time you win the number of times what the odds say you should win and you lose the number of times what the odds say you should lose. (I’m talking long-run figures here.)
So how does the casino grind away at the player if the number follows its probability of showing up correctly over the long run? It’s actually pretty simple. When you win the bet, that seven dollar win is less than a player should win based on the true odds of the bet. The true odds of 6 to 5 would dictate a win of more than seven dollars for a six dollar bet — in fact, the win should be $7.20. But the casino can’t make any money if it pays off at true odds.
Since the casino is keeping that 20 cents, the house now has an edge of 1.52 percent edge on the placing of the 6 or 8. And this placement of the 6 or 8 is considered a good bet with that house edge. The other place bets of the 4 and 10 come in with an edge of 6.67 percent, because these two pay off at $9 for $5 when the true odds are 2-to-1. The casino keeps a dollar for every win.
For the 5 and 9, the true odds are three to two. However, for a $5 place bet, the payment is $7 for $5 instead of $7.50, giving the house an edge of 4 percent.
Yes, on all these place bets you will win some and lose some over time based on their true probability, but the casino will pay you less than the true odds. And that’s where the house gets its edge. You might not notice it, but over time you will notice the casino ahead and you behind.
You can take a look at all the bets in craps, and the casino either wins slightly more of them or takes a tax on the winning bets by not paying true odds. Either way, the casino will grind you down — the lower the house edge, the slower the grind; the higher the house edge, the faster the grind.
The grinding principle works at all the casino games — from slot machines, where the total wins will not make as much money for you as your total losses will make money for the casinos, to blackjack, where the house will win 48 percent of the hands and tie on 8 percent of the hands with the player winning 44 percent. In blackjack, to make the game competitive, the casino will allow the players certain larger wins (blackjack pays 3-to-2) or strategy opportunities (i.e., doubling on the first two cards; splitting pairs) that will reduce the house edge to around one-half of a percent.
On any given session, players can have good luck or bad luck. That goes without question. However, the casino does not use luck as its method of winning money. Luck is way too unstable. Instead, the casino relies on the math of the games (winning more decisions) or on taxing a player’s win.
Looked at clearly, when a player loses he loses his total bet but when a player wins, he often has a partner taking part of that win for itself. That partner is the casino.
Frank Scoblete's newest books are "Confessions of a Wayward Catholic" and "I Am a Card Counter." Available from Amazon.com, Kindle or at bookstores. Join Frank on his website at www.frankscoblete.com.
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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