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‘Buy’ bets and the vig

Apr 6, 2004 1:58 AM

Have you ever been confused by the term "vigorish?" Do you know how to use the vig to actually make more money?

Let’s find out.

Almost 100 years ago a dicemaker named John Winn came up with a new craps layout, which he began to sell to the bars and casinos in New York City. His selling point was that the establishment could offer the game to their patrons in return for a 5% charge.

This way, gamblers could bet for or against the dice. The casino could bank the game, and they would still make a profit whether the players won or lost.

This caught on quickly and soon the 5% charge became such a strong and vigorous part of the casino’s coffers that they referred it as giving "vigor" to the bottom line. The dealers liked the term, and to make it more insider-friendly, they started calling it "vigor-ish," which soon was shortened to vig.

Today, the vig is different for most bets, ranging from less than 1% (for multiple odds) to 16% (for any seven). Let’s look at one bet in particular, called the "buy" bet, for which the vig is 5% of the bet.

If you were to buy the four (or ten) for $40, you would pay 5% of $40, or $2. In return for this buy bet, the casino pays you true odds, or 3-2, as compared to house odds of 7-5. On a $40 buy bet you would win $60 at 3-2. If you placed the five (or nine) for $40, you would win $56 (at 7-5), so even with the extra $2 subtracted from your total, you would still win $2 more ($58-$56).

Finally, if you were to buy the six (or eight) for $60, you would pay 5% of $60 or $3. In return for this buy bet, the casino pays true odds, or 6-5, as compared to house odds of 7-6. On a $60 buy bet you would win $72 (at 6-5). If you placed the six (or eight) for $60 you would win $70 (at 7-6) so with the extra $3 subtracted from you total, you would lose $1 ($69-$70), so you should only be buying the four/ten or the five/nine, and not the six/eight.

When you do buy a number, the vig is always fixed at 5%, but sometimes you can ask a friendly dealer if you can vary the bet amount and still pay the same vig. If you were to refigure the vig amount compared to the total bet, this method can reduce the vig from 5% to a little over 2%, making these buy bets a lot more attractive.

For example, you can ask if you can buy from the four/ten or five/nine for $58 and still pay the $2 vig. This $58 is just short of the $2 vig limit because at $60 they will charge you $3.

And just remember, never buy the six of the eight.

So, have you ever wondered how to make more money using the casino’s vig system?

Well, now you know!

And always, good luck at the tables.