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Deal Me In


What’s in your wallet?

Dear Mark: My usual betting system in craps is to play the pass line with full odds and then follow it up with two come bets with full odds. On a recent trip to Las Vegas, I tried a new system after having read a book that recommended playing the pass line with odds, and then placing the 6 and 8. (If the point is 6, place the 5. If the point is 8, place the 9). After two sessions with the place bets, I realized I did much better with my come system. My question is, in the long run, which betting system do you prefer? Michael F.


Gambling is a tricky gig, Michael, and the shrewd gambler should always be on the lookout on how to improve on sound gambling. Your initial option, a Pass line bet with full odds followed by two Come bets with full odds, is the best way to go, mathematically. I also believe that option two has a sizable shortcoming, especially if what you wrote was NOT a typo.

You penned, “If the point is 6, place the 5. If the point is 8, place the 9.” Hopefully, you meant if the point is 6, place the 8, and if the point is 8, place the 6. The reason, Michael, is that odds of any Place bet change depending upon which number you place. The house edge for placing the 6 and 8 is 1.5%, whereas placing the 5 and 9 it is 4.0%. My advice here is to scrap “placing” the 5 & 9 and stick only to placing the 6 and 8.

When playing craps, the predominant bet on the game is the Pass line wager. Although most players at a crap table have some action on the Pass line, taking odds is an auxiliary wager to your Pass line bet that you make after the point is established.

What’s great about taking odds, Michael, is that this wager is distinct from all the other casino wagers in that odds carry NO casino advantage. All bets are paid off at true odds, paying 2 to 1 on points of 4 and 10, 3 to 2 on a 5 and 9, and 6 to 5 on the points of 6 and 8. Without taking any free odds, both the Pass Line and Come wagers have a 1.4% casino advantage. When you package it with odds, the house edge in now substantially under 1%.

That said, there are two good reasons to go with option two and complement your one Pass line wager and odds with a Place bet on the 6 or 8. First, a Place bet has a relatively small casino advantage, 1.5%, and second, it is downright cheap. A Place bet can be had for as little as $6.

Obviously, option two is NOT the vanguard of faultless play on a crap game as it is costlier edge wise than your initial preference. However, everything depends on the amount of cash you have in your billfold. Taking odds, Michael, can be an expensive proposition, especially when dealing in multiples of 10X, and taking full odds on three separate wagers means you will need to be well capitalized.

 If you have the wherewithal, conventional gambling wisdom says a pass line bet with full odds, followed by two come bets and full odds is the smarter play. If you are light on funds, a Pass line bet with full odds and placing the 6 and 8 is not a bad second choice.


Gambling Wisdom of the Week: “I've always played cards. I can't remember when there wasn't a gambling game going on somewhere, even if it was a craps game in a wheelbarrow on the backside of the racetrack.” – Wilford Brimley


Armed and fueled by alcohol is not a good mix

Dear Mark: Any time you go to a casino, there always seems to be a security guard at the door to greet you. My question is, are there any restrictions about taking firearms into a casino? We hope there are. Sally F.


In Belle Starr’s Cowboy Wisdom (1955), “A pair of six-shooters beats a pair of sixes” might make for good prose, but luckily, today’s casinos are not the gambling halls of the 19th-century American West. I am with you, Sally. As one who has brought the tidings of a seven-card 21 to many an inebriated player, the last thing I want to see is a holstered Glock 9mm while I’m pitching cardboard.

In reality, there are far too many nuances in the laws regarding firearms between states; the best I can do is “wing it” here. No matter what I write, some gun enthusiast that knows far more about firearms than I do will challenge my answer. My following reply is open to scrutiny, so readers, fire away! (But not with your guns blazing!)

Let’s take Nevada as an example. Although the state has a liberal open carry policy, you cannot open carry in a casino or establishment that has gambling. Likewise, most casinos, but not all, do not allow concealed weapons. Even if you do have a concealed weapons permit, you can still be refused entry because it is a private business. Under most state's trespassing laws, private property owners have the right to prohibit a person from carrying firearms – concealed or not, regardless of whether the person has a concealed weapons permit – onto their property.

Visually over the past three decades, I have never seen anyone openly carry a firearm into a casino. To the contrary, I have seen signage, specifically stating that firearms, both concealed and open carry, are not permitted.

If security notices that you are carrying, you more than likely will be asked to leave the premises. If you refuse to comply, you are inviting trespassing charges.

As for tribal casinos, any time you go onto a reservation, you have effectively entered onto sovereign land and are subject to tribal law. Even if you are carrying a firearm with a permit or license that is valid in the state where the reservation is located, that permit/license might not be valid on the reservation.

The law on this subject, Sally, is complicated at best. The answer depends upon each tribe’s treaty with the state, federal laws that govern that tribe, and specific laws within each tribe. One lawyer I spoke with on this matter categorically stated that the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act prohibits firearms in all casinos on tribal property. Another attorney was firm in his conviction that no federal regulation prohibiting firearms in Indian casinos exists. He believes the federal government left this decision to the individual tribes or states. Are you confused yet, Sally?

The general rule here, Sally, is that there is no general rule. There is simply no way I can make a blanket statement about carrying a firearm into a casino. Personally I believe that most casinos ban the carrying of firearms as a matter of policy, with signs prohibiting firearms posted at all entrances of the casino. Those who enter with a firearm will most likely cross the Rubicon of criminal trespass, and be treated accordingly.


Gambling Wisdom of the Week: “When you go to a casino, always carry a concealed weapon... your brain.” – VP Pappy