Q. I’ve been looking at tables of house edges on craps bets, and for some I see different house edges per roll and per decision. The edge on a place bet on 6 or 8 is 1.52 percent per decision, or 0.46 percent per roll.
Now I’ve been playing craps for 30 years and have read a lot about it, and you, Frank Scoblete and everyone else always lists the edge at 1.52 percent. Why? Why don’t you ever use the lower edge?
A. In most circumstances, the house edge per decision is the more useful information. If you’re making the bet, chances are you’re going to leave it on the table until it either wins or loses. The house edge per decision tells you the most about your expected outcome.
Per $1,200 worth of place bets on 6 or 8 — betting in multiples of $6 to take advantage of 7-6 payoffs — what is your expected loss? It’s 1.52 percent of $1,200 or $18.24.
You can take a place bet down at any time, so you could leave after one roll. That’s not the case with pass bets, which after the comeout must stay in action until there is a decision. If we want to compare place bets to pass, with a 1.41 percent house edge and average losses $16.92 per $1,200 wagered, then the most useful information is house edge per decision.
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There are instancs in which edge per roll is useful. A player who plans to make one bet and leave might want to know his or her chances of winning on a single roll. Or if you want to know average losses or a specific number of rolls, then then house edge per roll is the number you need for your calculation.
However, given that two of the most common wagers — pass and come — may not be taken down after one roll, the best measure for comparing bets usually is house edge per decision.
Q. You’ve written about managing money with a system of floating win goals and loss limit. If I get it right, you start with a hard bottom limit on losses, then, if you’re winning, your win goal rises, but the loss limit also changes so you’d walk away with smaller losses than your original limit.
What about card counters or players who have an advantage in other games? Does that apply to them, too? Do they have limits like that?
A. No, such money management techniques are for players who face a house edge. That’s almost everybody, and there’s a need for such players to guard their bankrolls, make sure they don’t lose more than they can afford, and walk away with at least a portion of any winnings on the good days.
Advantage players have different needs. The most likely session outcome for a blackjack player with an edge is profit, although losses happen. The most likely session outcome for a blackjack player who faces a house edge is loss, although profits happen.
In terms of money management, instead of win goals and loss limits, it’s more important for an advantage player to avoid betting too large a percentage of their bankroll to avoid risk of gambler’s ruin.
There are other considerations. Card counters need to minimize their bet or walk away when the deck turns in the house’s favor. They need to keep sessions short to avoid detection. They need to avoid playing while tired, because nothing will erode an edge like fatigue-induced mistakes.
But in the absence of those factors, they’ll keep playing as long as they have an edge rather than setting limits.