A shuffle through the Gaming mailbag:

Q. I’ve played craps a little bit, but I have to admit most of what I know is from reading online instead of being hands-on.

I don’t quite get why odds make a difference. OK, they’re an even bet with no edge, but you have to make them in addition to a pass or come bet. So you’re stuck with the house edge on pass or come, and the odds don’t make any of that back. They just leave you in the same place.

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A. The odds make a difference on a couple of levels.

First, they enable you to shift much of your normal wager from a bet with a house edge into a bet with no edge.

Imagine you’re betting \$25 on pass at a \$5 minimum table. Per 40 decisions, you have \$1,000 on pass, and the 1.41 percent house edge means your average result is a loss of \$14.10.

Now imagine I’m at the same table, betting \$5 on pass and putting the rest of my normal wager in odds.

The average result on the odds is no wins and no losses, as you say. But I’d have only \$200 at risk on pass, so my average result is a loss of \$2.82 – one-fifth of your average loss.

We can be betting equivalent amounts. I can be betting more than you if enough odds are allowed. But my average loss is less than yours because I have more of my money in a better wager and expose less of it to a house edge.

Winning sessions happen when you win more often than the average results. Because my average loss is less than yours, flipping losses to wins on point numbers can make a bigger impact on my results.

If you have \$25 on pass and I have \$5 on pass and \$20 in odds on 5 or 9, for example, an extra win on one of those numbers brings you \$25 win – a big step from your \$14.10 average loss. The same win brings me \$5 on pass and a \$30 win on the odds – an even bigger step from my \$2.82 average loss.

Shifting your wagers from a bet with a house edge into a bet with no house edge reduces your average losses and improves your chances of leaving with a winning session.

Q. I see a lot of fuss about games that pay 6-5 on blackjacks. I guess I’m lucky. The casinos near enough for me to drive all still pay 3-2.

I’m wondering if anyone ever decided to go the other way, and maybe pay 2-1 on blackjacks. That seems like a great way to set yourself apart and attract players.

A. That would be a great way to attract blackjack players, but casinos wouldn’t like the outcomes. Paying 2-1 on blackjacks adds a 2.27 percent player edge. If you’re playing a normal game with a house edge of 0.7 percent or so against basic strategy players, 2-1 blackjack pays turn the game into a player edge of 1.5 percent-plus.

It’s been quite some time, but 2-1 pays have been tried. In the 1990s, an Illinois casino was chagrined to find players from across the country crowding their tables with max bets, eager for their 2-1s. Needless to say, the game was shut down quickly.

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One of my favorite Las Vegas Advisor casinos used to bring an hour of 2-1 blackjack at the Golden Gate on Fremont Street. As a short-term promotion, that can bring extra business in the door. As a steady payoff, 2-1 blackjacks are hazardous to a casino’s bankroll.