Way back in the 1990s, I met Brett at a seminar. He was a slot player — strictly three reels in those days — and he wanted to learn something about table games.

It took him a couple of decades, but he’s finally giving craps a try. He contacted to ask about hop bets.

“You probably don’t remember this,” he said, “but when you taught us the pass line, I was the only one who couldn’t get it at all.”

I had to admit I didn’t remember. Most of the players I taught picked up the pass line after a few minutes of instruction and 15 minutes or so of practice play, but some needed extra help.

“I get it now,” Brett said. “A work friend finally convinced me to try. We played together a couple of times and had fun. The second time I even won some nice money.

“What confuses me now isn’t pass and come and the basics, but the extra little bets people sneak in there because they know what they’re doing and I don’t.”

Often, its better not to know what your doing in regards to those bets, I told Brett. They include some of the worst bets on the table.

“Maybe, but what happened is this guy put $5 down and said, ‘4-4 on the hop.’ The shooter rolled a pair of 4s, and this guy got a lot of money. Another player had hard 8 where the same pair of 4s is a winner, and he got a lot less money.

“Explain, please. What is this ‘hop’ business and should you bet that instead of hardways?”

Hop bets require the next roll to bring two specific numbers. You choose which two numbers. If you wanted to bet the next roll will bring a 6 and a 5, you’d put your chips down and tell the dealer, “6-5 hopping” or “6-5 on the hop.”

You can break hop bets down into two types: hard hops and easy hops.

On hard hops, both dice must land on the same number. They’re called “hard” because there is only one winning combination. If you call “5-5 hopping,” then both dice must land on 5. The other 35 possible combinations of two dice are losers.

Easy hops give you two ways to win. If you call “6-5 on the hop,” you can win with 6 on the first die and 5 on the second, or with 5 on the first die and 6 on the second.

That’s reflected in the payoffs. The common returns in American casinos are 30-1 on hard hops and 15-1 for easy hops.

The house edge on hard hops is 13.89 percent — the same as the one-roll bet on 12, which is a 6-6 hard hop that is commonly enough made that it has a betting space marked on the layout. Easy hops have an 11.11 percent edge that is the same as the one-roll bet on 11, which is just a commonly made easy hop on 6-5.

“One thing you haven’t explained,” Brett said. “Why did that hard hop on 4-4 pay so much more than the hard 8?”

That’s because hard 8 is a multiroll bet. As long as the shooter doesn’t roll a loser 7 or an easy 8, you get multiple chances at making the hard 8. The payoff is 9-1 with a house edge of 9.09 percent.

“All those edges seem high,” Brett said.

They are, I told him. The best thing to know about hop bets are to steer clear.

Look for John Grochowski on Facebook and Twitter (@GrochowskiJ).

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