Doin’ the Don’t in craps

Jul 16, 2001 11:19 PM

Craps players who bet on Pass typically take Odds after the point is established. And they add Place, Buy, or Come bets during the course of a roll. Most solid citizens who favor Don’t Pass are a different breed of cat. More tabby than tiger, they’ll forgo Odds and other secondary action, waiting wistfully for a seven-out.

The slow pace and mild bankroll swings marking this playing strategy may be just what a person wants. Solitary flat bets on Don’t Pass give a gambler with a modest stake a good shot at a small profit or, if not, at staying in the fray for a lengthy session before asking for a comp to the all-you-can eat buffet.

Some Don’t bettors crave more action yet hesitate to boost their exposure. They know that increasing the money on the layout relative to bankroll size can be exciting and rewarding, but aren’t willing to pay the consequences when things go awry.

For instance, make believe you start with $100 and drop $5 on Don’t Pass. Laying a mere double Odds means squeezing out another $12, $15, or $20 for points of six or eight, five or nine, or four or 10, respectively. One roll of the dice can cost you $17, $20, or $25. A few such rolls can derail your gambling train.

Likewise, laying a back-line wager directly against a number ”” the “wrong” counterpart of a Place or Buy bet ”” can be perilous. In most casinos, even at games with $5 lower limits, the minimum “no” bet has to be enough to win $20. This requires $24 behind the six or eight, $30 behind the five or nine, and $40 behind the four or 10 ”” plus $1 vigorish in each case. Despite these bets being favored to win (with odds of 6-to-5, 3-to-2, and 2-to-1, respectively), one hot shooter can decimate a $100 budget and kill plans for several hours of thrills and chills at the rail.

There’s an alternative. You can bet on the Don’t Come.

Again, say you start with $5 Don’t Pass. After a point is established, bet $5 on Don’t Come. Here’s what can happen immediately. a) On a two or three: the Don’t Come wins $5 and the previously established Don’t Pass gets no action. b) On an 11: the Don’t Come loses and the previously established Don’t Pass gets no action. c) On a seven: the Don’t Come loses but the previously established Don’t Pass bet wins, so the net is a push. d) On a 12: neither bet gets action. e) On the point: the previously established Don’t Pass loses; the Don’t Come moves behind the old point and will subsequently win on a seven and lose if the number repeats. f) On a number other than the point: the Don’t Come moves behind whatever is rolled, subsequently winning on a seven and losing if the number repeats; the previously established Don’t Pass gets no action.

Results a) through e) position you to go through the procedure again or to stop and wait. Result f) leaves two active wagers, each favored to win; if you make no further Don’t Come bets, you’re up to grab $10 on a seven or drop $5 on either number.

You can keep going all the way, making new Don’t Come bets on every roll. In the extreme, this can get you to $35 in play with all numbers covered and $5 in the Don’t Come box. In such a situation, each throw has chances of six in 36 to win $30 (a seven), three in 36 to win $5 (a two or three), 26 in 36 to lose $5 (an 11 or any number), and one in 36 to get no action (a 12).

Back line wagers achieved through the Don’t Come can be restored one-by-one, or not replaced, if they lose. They can also be taken down at will. Having “paid” the price of 8-to-3 overhead on the roll that moved money to the number from the Don’t Come, however, players are statistically well advised to leave it there.

Flat Don’t Pass and Don’t Come bets have a house advantage of 1.4 percent. Not as low as you can get by taking Odds. But tied with flat Pass and Come bets for second best at craps. And far below the edge almost everywhere else in the casino. The social stigma of Don’t betting must still be faced, of course. But this may be what the prominent poet, Sumner A Ingmark, intended in the idyll:

The world oft sullies
with disdain,
An enterprise it can’t explain.