Hedging Craps Carnival Bets

In recent years we’ve seen a spate of what I refer to as “carnival bets” at craps and other casino games. Carnival bets are essentially high vig side bets designed to separate the player from his money in what we used to call the old “suck and pull.” They suck you in with the promise of some ridiculously high payoff, then pull your money out of your pocket a few bucks at a time until it’s all gone. The faster they can pull all of your money – the quicker they can open another slot at the table for another sucker. Sound a little mercenary? Welcome to the casino.

As dice influencers we look at such carnival bets a little differently than other players. For some of us they are just an “entertainment” bet. But for others it goes beyond being the craps equivalent of a buck spent on the Lotto. Some DI’s actually have a track record for winning Fire bets and Bonus bets on those particular layouts. And for many of them it’s become a steady source of income.

One of the questions I get asked a lot is whether or not you should hedge the Fire Bet or Bonus Bet. My answer, as usual when it comes to these things, is “depends.” Rather than try to discuss every carnival bet variant on the market, this month let’s just consider the Fire Bet first.

The Fire Bet is available with different payout tables. The most common one traditionally played offers a $25 – $1 payoff for four different points established and rolled, $250 – $1 for five different points won, and $1000 – $1 for all six points are established and won.

Now let’s take a trip to Heavy’s Perfect World Casino and look at this based on an assumption of a $5 wager on the Fire Bet. We’ll assume the shooter has made three passes on three different numbers and has established a fourth number – let’s say the nine – as the point. If he makes the nine you stand to win $125 on the Fire Bet. That’s a decent enough win for a $5 wager, but if you lost your previous 25 Fire Bet wagers you’ll still be in the hole. To that end, a measly $125 might not be big enough of a win for you. Nevertheless, the question arises as to whether you should hedge that potential $125 win and how you should do it. The second part of that question is easy. You’d lay against the nine. But do you really want to?

If you’re the shooter you have the nine on the Pass Line – most likely with odds. Does it make sense to take odds and lay against the point at the same time? Not to me. And yet the free odds bet is, in my opinion, one of the strongest bets on the table at this stage of the game. Add to that the negative side of laying against the point – it inserts thoughts of the dreaded seven in between the shooter’s ears – and frankly, I just don’t think it’s worth it at this level. Sure, you could lay $62 against the nine to guarantee a $40 win, but if you win the Fire bet you only score a net $63 win. I’m essentially risking my money on the equivalent of an even money bet! My personal choice is just to quit trying to out-think the dice, throw the damn nine and move on for the fifth number in the sequence.

Since we ARE playing in Heavy’s Perfect World Casino, let’s say you’ve done just that and now you’ve set the fifth number you need – the eight – as your point. If you make the eight the Fire bet is going to pay you $1250 in bonus. That’s pretty sweet. And that, in my opinion, is worth doing at least a partial hedge on. In fact, I did just that on my last five number Fire Bet win – and lost the hedge bet. I didn’t mind losing that bet at all.

Once again, you’d hedge by laying against the point. That means I’m not going to take odds on the Pass Line. That $1250 Fire Bet pay off will make up for anything I don’t make on Free Odds. Instead I’m going to do a partial hedge of the Fire Bet. With a point of eight I’d probably lay the eight for $250. That’ll pay me $200 if the seven shows. That, combined with whatever I won up to that point on that hand will see me coloring up a very nice win and I’ll leave the table completely satisfied. You could, of course, go up to – say $750 lay and guarantee yourself a larger win on the Don’ts – but give up the larger win on the right side. My personal preference is to go with the smaller lay and remain mentally focused on the larger amount.

Suddenly a miracle occurs. The table goes wild as you toss the eight – hard. Then on the Come Out you somehow manage to set your sixth and final number – the four. If you repeat the four you’re going to win $5000. Yes, I’m absolutely going to lay against the four to hedge some sort of win. The problem in this case, though, is that you have to lay 2 – 1 on the four or ten, so if I want to guarantee myself a $1000 win on the Don’ts I’m going to have to lay $2000 plus the commission. The sad fact is, not everyone who bets the Fire Bet is not going to have an extra $2000 in their rack to hedge it with at this point. If that’s your situation you have a choice to make. The first choice is to bet less on the Fire Bet to begin with so the hedge requirement will be smaller. Another choice is to bring more money to the table for situations like this. But be a boy scout when it comes to these situations and be prepared.

The last time I was on a table where I scored a six number Fire Bet win I had $3 on it. The payout was going to be $3000 when the sixth point was made. The last point was the six. I opted to lay $600 against it because that was all of the black chips I wanted to take out of my rack. It did not bother me at all to lose that $600 bet because in addition to the $2400 net from the Fire Bet win – I won another $3000 on the hand itself. There’s more than one way to score a win.

Does it make sense to hedge a potential Fire Bet win? Absolutely. But be prepared. Know in advance how much you are willing to lay on each number in order to give you the amount of protection you feel comfortable with – then be sure to bring that much cash to the table with you. You never know when you’re going to need it.