John Grochowski

John Grochowski John Grochowski John Grochowski John Grochowski

A shuffle through the Gaming mailbag:

Q. I don’t quite get why the house edge is so much higher in Crapless Craps. I’ve seen that the house edge on pass or come is 1.41 in regular craps and 5.38 percent in Crapless Craps.

I understand that the house edge should be higher because 2, 3, 11 and 12 are point numbers, and they’re hard points to make. But they’re also hard points to put up in the first place. You just don’t see that many of those numbers on the comeout, so that should lessen their effect on the house edge.

A. The addition of difficult points to make isn’t the only change that increases the house edge in Crapless Craps.

The elimination of 7 and 11 as winners on the comeout makes a huge difference. In regular craps, you win on the comeout on the six ways to make 7 and the two ways to make all, and lose on the one way to make 2, one way to make 12 and two ways to make 3.

That’s eight ways to win and only four ways to lose on the comeout in regular craps. In Crapless Craps, you can neither win nor lose on the comeout.

A third of all pass wagers in regular craps are settles on the comeout, and players win two-thirds of those. Eliminating that very favorable situation for players drives up the Crapless Craps house edge.

You might ask, “If eliminating comeout wins and losses hurts pass players, wouldn’t it help don’t pass players?”

Indeed it would. On don’t pass or don’t come in regular craps, the 7s and 11s represent eight ways to lose on the comeout, while 2 and 3 represent only three ways to win, with 12 being a push on the don’t side.

That’s why don’t pass and don’t come are not offered in Crapless Craps.

Q. I was having a friendly argument with my dad about busting in blackjack. We agree that the house has its edge because of busts, but he thinks players bust a lot more often than the dealer, maybe even twice as much.

I don’t think it’s the number of busts, but the timing. Players can bust first, but probably don’t bust any more often than the dealer. Who’s right?

A. Players don’t bust anywhere near as often as dealers. For basic strategy players, busts happen on about 16 percent of hands. For dealers, it’s closer to 28 percent.

The reason is the hit/stand rules for dealers. Dealers must hit any 16 or lower.

On hard 12, 13, 13, 15 or 16, you have the option of standing. Basic strategy players do just that on 13 through 16 if the dealer has a 2 through 6 up and on 12 against a dealer’s 4, 5 or 6.

Dealers don’t have that option, so there are many more opportunities for them to bust than there are for players.

You are correct that it’s the timing of busts, rather than the number of them, that gives the house its edge in blackjack.

Players complete their hands before the dealer, and any player bust is a loss regardless of what then happens with the dealer hand. If a player and the dealer bust in the same hand, the player loses.

That’s just a huge advantage for the house that other rules favoring the player are necessary to make the game playable. That’s why options to double down and split pairs exist, and why blackjacks pay 3-2 in better games and 6-5 in poorer ones.

But for sheer number of busts, dealers have the larger share.

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