Q. OK, I’ll admit it. I sometimes make the craps bets you and others think are nuts. I only do it when I’m winning and the shooter is on a roll. Then I try to spice up a nice session with some long shots. Hit a couple of 12s and a nice win becomes a big one.
What I want to know is about payoffs. I’d always gotten my 30-1 on 12s, but my wife and I were visiting friends and went to the casino by them. The shooter made a few points, I put a dollar on 12 and it won, but instead of $30, I only got $29, along with my dollar staying out for the next roll.
The felt said 30 and I asked the dealer, but he said that’s how they do it there. I asked me friend later and he said he didn’t know, he didn’t play much craps.
Any idea what was going on?
A. You found a casino that pays odds-for-1 instead of odds-to-1. In fact, if you went back and looked at the table layout, it probably lists the bet on 12 as paying 30-for-1.
When a casino pays 30-to-1, the situation is the one you’re used to. If you bet $1 and win, you keep your $1 wager and get $30 in winnings. When a casino pays 30-for-1, it’s telling you the entire amount you’ll receive on a winning bet. If you bet $1 and win, you’ll get $30 back, consisting of your $1 wager plus $30 in winnings.
It makes a difference in the house edge. With a 30-to-1 payoff, the house edge is 13.89 percent. With a 30-for-1 return, the house edge rises to 16.67 percent.
Both are much too high for my taste. A couple of winners may give you a nice bankroll boost, but with a house edge that high, such bets far more often will erode your winnings.
As an aside, the most common odds-for-1 payoffs are in video poker. If the pay table says a five coin bet brings you five coins on a pair of Jacks, then that high pair just gets your money back. When a royal flush pays 4,000, you just get the 4,000. You don’t get your money back, too.
Q. What’s the best way to choose a slot machine to play? Look for one where other players are winning?
A. Look for one that you think will be fun to play.
All slot machines have hot streaks, but over the long haul, the odds of the games will pull the payback percentage toward an expected norm. There is no tendency for a hot machine to stay hot, and watching for games where other players are winning will not improve your results.
My recommended approach to playing the slots is to play for fun and entertainment, to take the wins when they come, but to accept there will be losses. Set limits on how much you’re willing to lose.
If you play very much, you’ll develop criteria for the kinds of slots you enjoy playing. Some players like progressives and others don’t. Some like free spin bonuses and others like pick’em bonuses. Some like Reel Power, 243-ways-to-win games with no paylines, and others prefer traditional paylines.
There are so many options on today’s slot floors that I can’t give you a one-size-fits-all recommendation for which games you should play. What I can tell you is trying to scout winning machines doesn’t work, and your best option is to choose games that you’ll enjoy playing even if the wins aren’t coming often enough.