Heavy from the Don’ts

I’d been playing craps for over fifteen years before I finally took time to learn the other half of the game – the Dark Side. Up until then I played “the Right Way” one hundred percent of the time. And as the math of the game would dictate, I lost about fifty percent of the time. That single fact really cuts to the chase as to why you should learn to play the Don’ts. Taking dice influencers and the small vig you give up on other shooters if you bet properly – craps is essentially a fifty-fifty game. That means if you only play it one way you are pretty much guaranteed to lose at least fifty percent of the time.

With that in mind I learned about the Dark Side. In fact, I learned to love the Dark Side. So much so that for a while it became my favorite way to play. But again, I found myself winning only about fifty percent of the time.

Eventually I settled on a middle ground – a strategy I refer to as “follow the trend.” When the dice are passing – I bet the right way. When they’re not – I bet against the dice. And sometimes I play an amalgam of both the right way AND the wrong way. You might see me with a \$30 Don’t Pass bet, for example, combined with a \$30 six and eight place bet – a play my pal Shoot-it-All calls the “One Hit – Can’t Miss” system. This type of play, combined with a common sense approach to money management, discipline, and controlled rolling, has helped push my session win rate up to 86% in recent years.

Now, some folks will say that it makes no difference which way you play the game. They’ll spout things like “the dice have no memory” and talk in terms of the “law of large numbers.” And they would be absolutely correct. But winning at craps is not about history or a million rolls of the dice. It’s about staying in the game until a trend or streak develops – then jumping in and capitalizing on it. The fact that you’ve watched three point-sevens in a row does not mean you’re going to have three more. But before you can get to the sixth one you have to have seven out number four and five. And when it happens it’s a beautiful thing.

Basic Don’t Play:

Okay, admit it. You’ve watched those darksiders down at the end of the table for years and you still don’t understand what they’re up to. Relax. You’re not alone. And the good news is it’s not as complicated as it looks.

The Don’t Pass bet in banker’s craps is the exact opposite of the Pass Line bet. Some people frown on Wrong Way players at the table. They think the darksiders are betting against them and cooling off a hot table. In actuality, the Wrong Way players are betting against the house – just as the Right Way players are. They’re simply taking a different angle of attack by betting against the dice.

Don’t Pass wagers are played out as follows: On the come-out roll a 7 or 11 is a loser while a 2 or 3 is a winner. A 12 on the come-out roll is a “push” or tie, and neither you nor the house wins. If the dice roll a 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10 the number rolled becomes your point. Once the point is established the 7 must roll before your point is repeated in order for your Don’t Pass bet to win. If your point is rolled before a 7 shows your bet loses.

There are a lot of other variables that can be added into the mix. The player can hedge against the possibility of losing his Don’t Pass Bet to a Come-Out seven by hopping the sevens, playing the Big Red, or laying against one of the point numbers. Once the point is established the player can lay Free Odds on his Don’t Pass wager. If he chooses to he take his bet down and call “no action.” If he wishes he can follow it up his Don’t Pass action with additional Don’t Come bets. There are literally dozens of options available for the savvy Don’t player.

Here’s an example of how a typical Don’t play might work out. Let’s say our pal Darth steps up to the table and decides to play a Don’t Pass bet on the next Come Out roll. He places a \$5 chip on the Don’t Pass line and the shooter throws a 2. Surprise! He’s a winner right off the bat. Darth locks up a \$5 win and leaves his bet on the Don’t Pass for the next come-out throw. This time the shooter throws a 7 and Darth loses his Don’t Pass bet. Unfortunately, Darth slept through the part of the class where he was told never to lose more than one Come-out wager on a shooter, and never EVER try to get back in the game by playing a Martingale. So, he replaces his \$5 Don’t Pass bet with a \$10 Don’t Pass bet and hopes to recoup his loss by doubling up his wager.

This time the shooter tosses a six. The six is now Darth’s point. Of course, Darth wants to take Free Odds on his Don’t bet because he’s heard that it will bring the house’s edge down. Since the casino allows up to 5X odds on the six or eight Darth takes the maximum Free Odds available – in this case \$60 in Free Odds – on his Don’t Pass bet. Why \$60 and not \$50? In this case you lay sufficient odds to win 5X your flat bet – or \$50. Since the correct odds are 6-5 the correct lay is \$60.

Now, if the shooter sevens out before repeating the six Darth will win a total of \$60 – \$10 for his Don’t Pass wager and \$50 for the Free Odds bet. But Darth doesn’t like the fact that there are five ways to lose his bet versus just six ways to win – so he partially hedges his action by tossing out a \$10 Hard Six wager. Now if the six is thrown hard Darth will collect \$90 from the hardway wager to offset the \$70 he will lose on the Don’t Pass and Free Odds bet.

What happens? Three tosses later the shooter repeats the six – easy – and our pal Darth loses a total of \$80 on the hand.

Well, that wasn’t a lot of fun, was it? And perhaps that won’t go a long way toward convincing you to play the don’ts. But the fact is, these things are going to happen – just as shooters will seven out when you have a \$60 Place bet on the six and eight working. We’ll give Darth another chance a little later. But for now let’s wrap up basic don’t play.

On most shooters you will probably want to limit yourself to just a single Don’t Pass bet or, on occasion, one Don’t Pass Bet and a single Don’t Come follow up. But you will probably want to steer clear of playing multiple Don’t Come bets after establishing a point. Yes, it is sound mathematically, but from a bankroll standpoint it doesn’t make sense for most players. Plus, it gives the shooter too many targets to knock off.

Are the Don’ts for you? Like playing the “right side,” you have to have a few personal rules. But at the end of the day it’s a great way to play.