Free Odds - the Gravy on the Table

Every craps author worth his salt will tell you the best bet on the table is the Free Odds bet.  Why?  Because the house has no advantage on that bet.  He’ll also tell you that you should always take max odds.  That’s where I part ways with the mainstream writers.  Why?  Because of a little think called Bankroll Volatility.  Don’t get me wrong.  volatility is what wins you big money when the dice are rolling your way.  But when they’re rolling the other way volatility will gobble up your bankroll in a heartbeat.  Particularly if you have a limited bankroll and you’re playing 10X odds, 20X odds, or God forbid, 100X odds.  Imagine playing a 100X $10 minimum game with a $1000 bankroll.  Add $10 to your bankroll and you can make one Pass Line bet with max odds.  Lose that one and you’re session is over.  Finis. Terminado.

Nevertheless, I’m a huge fan of the Free Odds bet for systematic play, and my favorite system-type play utilizing the Free odds bet is based on the Fibonacci progression.  Like all “systems,” this one comes with some “rules” that those same craps “experts” I mentioned above will scoff at.  That’s fine.  We can discuss their strategies versus mine at the casino cage.  Personally, I like having “rules” to play by because they help me avoid what we refer to as “gambler’s ruin,” aka going broke.  The rules in this case are fairly simple:

1.  Look for a game that offers a minimum of 10X odds.  20X odds is better.  100X odds is fantastic.

2.  Wait for three consecutive seven-outs before placing any action.  Trust me on this.  You won’t have to wait long.  In fact, on average you have six bad hands for every one good one.  We’re going with the “mean” here and taking a shot after three seven outs.

3.  Begin with a minimum Pass Line bet.  Pass Line bets will only be increased if the next Fibonacci odds progression will exceed the max odds allowed.

4.  Pass Line naturals and craps losers are ignored.

5.  The objective is to score two consecutive Pass Line and Free Odds winners.

6.  After two consecutive Pass Line and Free Odds wins regress to a minimum Pass Line bet and take single odds.  Continue to play at this level until you have a Pass Line loser (excluding Come Out craps losers).

7.  After your regression, a Pass Line and Free Odds loss is your queue to cease betting until there are three consecutive Pass Line losers.  Then you begin the progression again.

There’s a lot to like about this strategy.  First off, while I am not big on “due number” theory the fact that you wait for three consecutive miss-outs before betting logically puts you three hands closer to a win.  Secondly, running your Fibo progression on the Free Odds bet instead of a flat bet such as the Pass or Don’t Pass supercharges the payoffs and generates larger overall wins.  By regressing after two consecutive wins you get to stay in the game with little, if anything, at risk on a net basis.  Last of all, you’re still on the comp clock when you’re standing there waiting for the table to qualify for your next betting opportunity.

On the down side, systems are by their nature quite boring.  It is not easy to stand there during a hot hand and watch number after number being tossed while you wait for a decision on your lowly Pass Line bet.  And, as with any negative progression, things can get out of hand.  To that end, you absolutely must have a loss limit and stick with it.

The Fibo odds progression we’ll use here assumes you are playing in a 10X odds game.  The initial progression is 1X, 1X, 2X, 3X, 5X, and 8X.  Remember, if you score a win on any number then your next wager is the “same bet” as the one before.  You only increase your Free Odds wager on a loss.  If you win one bet then lose the next one you continue with the progression, taking the next step in the series.  Last of all, in a 10X odds game, if you reach the 8X odds level without two consecutive wins on the Pass Line you will find yourself up against max odds if you want to take your bet up another level or two.  To get there with room to spare, increase your Pass Line wager to $15 on the next bet with $150 Free Odds.  If that wager loses in all likelihood you will have exceeded your $500 loss limit for the session and it will be time to call it a session.  However, if you want to take one more step then go to $25 with $250 Free Odds.  Under no circumstances would I “chase” beyond that level.  The strategy gives you a total of eight shots at a win.  If you don’t lock one up by that point it will be time to pull the plug.

Let’s run through some numbers to see where it all spills out.  As usual, we’ll head down to Heavy’s Perfect World Casino – where numbers have a way of working out for us. We’ll buy in for $1000 in a $10 – 10X odds game.  We’ll use a loss limit of $500 for the series.  After buying in the first three shooters promptly go point-seven.  That’s your queue to make a $10 Pass Line bet.  The next shooter tosses an eleven on the come out. You lock up a $10 win in the back of your rack and wait for the next toss.  On the next toss the shooter establishes the five as the point.  You take $10 odds and wait for a decision.

The shooter sevens out without making the five.  You’ve won $10 and lost $20 so you’re down $10 at this point.  Make another $10 Pass Line bet.  This time the shooter tosses a three-craps on the come out.  You lose $10.  Remember, Pass Line Come Out wins and losses are ignored in this system.  Place another $10 Line bet and wait for a point to be established.

The shooter establishes the four as the point and you take single odds.  Once again the shooter sevens out without making his pass.  You are now down $50 for the session.

Time to make the next bet in the Fibo progression.  Once again you make a $10 Pass Line bet.  The shooter tosses the dice and establishes the six as his point.  This time you take $20 in Free Odds.  Remember, in a Fibo progression the next bet is the sum of the prior two losing bets.  Now let’s assume the shooter makes his Pass.  You are paid $10 for your Pass Line wager and $24 for the Free Odds bet – $34 total.  You are still down $16, but because you won that last wager your next bet is “same bet.”

You make a $10 Pass Line wager and the shooter tosses as Come Out seven.  You lock up $10 but ignore the win as far as your progression is concerned.  Next the shooter tosses the nine, establishing it as his point.  You take $20 odds and wait for a decision.  Unfortunately, the shooter promptly sevens out and find yourself down $36 net.  Since the shooter sevened out without scoring two consecutive Pass Line wins you progress to the next step level in the progression.

You place a $10 Pass Line wager and the shooter establishes the eight as his point.  This time you take $30 in Free Odds.  In short order the shooter repeats the eight and you are paid $10 for your Pass Line win and $36 for the Free Odds bet – $46 total.  Suddenly your $36 net loss has turned into a $10 net win.  But you must score two wins in a row at this level before regressing, so your next bet is again $10 on the Pass Line with $30 Free Odds.

Let’s say the shooter sets the nine as the point this time and, after a few trash numbers, tosses it for a Pass Line winner.  This time you are paid $10 on the Pass Line and $45 on the Free Odds – $55 total – and you are ahead $65 for the session.  Now it is time to regress to a $10 Pass Line bet with single odds.

Continue to play at this level as long as this shooter continues to toss Pass Line winners.  But if he sevens out then you sit out the next few hands until there are three consecutive Pass Line losers.  Then you run the series again.

Feel free to check my math on the example above.  If I made a mistake it won’t be the first time I’ve misplaced a chip in the rack.  Essentially we’re just trying to get the concept across here.

Strategies like this don’t really improve you chances of winning.  They do, however, provide a systematic approach to the game that should extend table time and give you a fair shot of walking with a profit if you take a disciplined approach to the game.  Remember, whenever playing systems – especially on random rollers – you should never risk more than you are willing to lose.