Find an edge

Jul 3, 2007 2:51 AM

Probabilities of events, best adapted to the gaming tables, will prove out over an extended period of time. There are no surprises here — the dice will roll a seven one-sixth of the time. That probability has become as close to a certainty as we can get it.

The betting propositions, framed by the casino, eventually insure the predetermined "vigorish" or house edge. And this is a number that players should know.

If you were to shoot dice constantly, most certainly the house edge would get to you. However, if you hit and run, catch fortuitous patterns, you can temporarily defeat (at times) the inevitable long-term losing grind.

It’s done every day. Slot jackpots are hit every day, too, despite an often exorbitant house edge.

The correct anticipation of the next roll is not a certainty, but of the next many, many rolls, it approaches it with infinitesimal variation. The law of large numbers prevails. You can bet on it.

If you were the only customer in a casino, whether it won or lost would depend on whether you won or lost. But when the casino has five craps tables, each with 20 players, they have increased the "you’s" a hundredfold. Volume assures the long-term house grind.

Craps-shooting bets typically hold 15 percent. That means, for every $100 "dropped" in the table’s money slot, about $85 gets paid out.

Now, the craps vigorish is only 1.4 percent on every bet. Whether you bet your entire bankroll at once or portion it out, in the long run you’ll lose 1.4 percent.

Now, churn that bankroll size about 12 times and you have a negative compound interest effect. That cuts your bankroll 15 percent of its original size.

There was once, in bygone days at the Dunes, a charter junket that had their boys in the lobby ready to depart about noon. A slight delay and the players hit the craps table. The table got hot and the dice started hitting. Soon the casino was stuck for over a half million.

Oops, the word came down, the charter plane developed hydraulic problems and would be delayed. It took until 4 p.m. before the casino got its money back, just coincidentally, the time the plane was fixed.

No, the casinos aren’t your enemy, they just want you to pay your dues for their amenities and hospitality.

So, let the math work for you, rather than against you. Hopefully, the result is called winning.