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No fine print, but these odds are just the same

Oct 16, 2007 12:54 AM

My friends Stephanie and Bob have read a lot of craps books. They said they had found a system for choosing the very best casino. I’d heard about this for months and was afraid they stumbled across something relatively unimportant, like whether the layout had a big six and eight or not.

Now we were finally in a casino. I looked down at the craps table and wondered aloud if we should play there.

They both looked at the layout and said together, "No."

Shaking my head, I asked, "Why? I’ve always played here!"

They looked at each other and nodded. "We’ll tell you our secret," Steph said.

I sighed. "OK. I can’t wait."

Bob took over. "Look down at the table. See where the proposition bets are? They all pay off ”˜for-one.’ For example, the hard way six says ”˜10-for-one.’"

"Yeah, so?"

"Well, one of the books I read said the casino is unfair in its payoffs because the ”˜for’ notation means you get paid off including your bet. If the bet said ”˜to’ instead of ”˜for,’ you would get more money!"

"This is your great system?" I asked.

"That’s it," Bob said triumphantly.

"So you go to all the casinos and play only in the ones that say ”˜to’ instead of ”˜for’ on the proposition bets?"

"You got it."

"Let’s go across the street to another casino."

We did and found another casino’s craps tables. We looked down and, sure enough, the felt said ”˜to’ instead of ”˜for’ in the payoffs for the proposition bets.

I smiled. "Want to play here?

"Yes!" they said together.

"Um, did you happen to notice the payoff for the hard six in the evil, cheating casino across the street?"

Bob thought for a second and remembered. "The hard six and eight paid 10-for-one!"

"Oh." I pointed down at the layout. "And in this nice, friendly, fair casino that says ”˜to’ instead of ”˜for,’ what are the payoffs?"

They looked. Now Steph replied. "The hard six pays nine-to-one."

"Oh?" I asked helpfully.

"Hmmmm," they said together. They always seem to talk at once.

I pointed out the door. "So over there, across the street at the ”˜10-for-one’ casino, if we put $1 on the hard six and win, we would win $10. This is nine dollars plus the returned $1 of our bet. Want to guess what we would win here at the ”˜nine-to-one’ casino?"

"Hmmmm ”¦ same thing?" asked Steph.

"Yep, 10-for-one odds is the same as nine-to-one. Look, the casinos aren’t out to gyp you. They make enough just on the house edge on most of the bets. They’re all pretty honest. Maybe you should find a different way of choosing the best casino to bet at."

"Oh," said Steph. "How about whether they have the big 6 and 8?"