Two weeks ago, I published the video of the craps game I played at Borgata. In this video, a place bettor sets his rather significant bets at several points and loses his place bets very quickly.

Reader Averell Golub made the following comment:

‘The Whale would have lost much less $ if he bet PL with one come bet….’

Averell’s comment is something which I have been constantly preaching for a very long time. It is something I refer to as the ‘counterbalancing effect’ of the place bet.

THE COUNTERBALANCE EFFECT

The counterbalancing effect is a term that I coined for gambling which states that nothing is free without an opposing equalizing factor. For every effect, benefit, or cost, there is another opposite effect, benefit, or cost that offsets the first effect, benefit, or cost. The offset is not always perfectly weighed on both sides, but there is usually some degree of offset.

Just think of a seesaw with weights on both sides. Both sides of the seesaw must have a weight that balances out the other end.

This same principle applies to any gambling game, such as craps, blackjack, or roulette.

Game developers use this effect to develop new casino games. For example, take Spanish 21, which has a bunch of different rules in favor of the player. You didn’t think those rules came without a cost to the player, did you? The house took out all the 10 cards (meaning the decks only have the jacks, queens, and kings). The removal of the 10s balances out the benefits given to the players.

Every variation of an existing game uses some sort of counterbalancing to make up for the benefit. Crapless craps removes the come out 2, 3, and 12 loser, but that benefit is counterbalanced by making 11 the point on the come out. There’s balance.

Remember, nothing in gambling is free. There is a cost somewhere that balances out everything. Everything.

Having said that, let’s now talk about the place bets and come bets + odds.

THE ARGUMENTS IN FAVOR OF PLACE BETS OVER COME + ODDS

One of the common arguments of the place bets is that if a number rolls, the player will be paid immediately. Compared to the come bet + odds, the player will not be paid the first time that a point number rolls.

For example, let’s pretend there are two players at the Borgata table, Bob and Mary. Bob is a place bettor, and Mary is a come + odds bettor. Both players bet roughly the same amount per number; they just distribute their bets differently.

Come out roll

On the come out roll, the point is 8.

Bob and Mary make bets after the come out

Bob makes a $30 place bet on the 6.

At the same time that Bob makes his place bet on the 6, Mary makes a $5 come bet with the intention of making an odds bet of $25. In other words, when Mary has her full $30 in play, she will have $30 in play, just like Bob (not counting their pass line bets, if they have one).

Notice that if they both win their bets on the 6, they will both win $35 for the $30 they risked.

First Roll After Come Out and results

The shooter grips the dice and rolls a 6.

Bob now wins his $35 for his place 6 bet.

Mary now takes her $25 and adds it to the come bet. She now has $30 total on the 6, comprised of a $5 come bet and $25 odds.

Bob now looks at Mary and says, ‘you shouldn’t have listened to RoadGambler because I got paid my $35 already and you didn’t win anything yet. Actually, now the 6 has to roll again for you to win. You’re in bad shape’.

On the face of it, Bob appears to be correct, which is why at most craps tables, the vast majority of players prefer place bets over come bets + odds.

At this point, RoadGambler.com has produced quite a few hours of craps videos. As you watch through them, notice that the RoadGambler is almost always the only person making come bets + odds. Everyone else is making place bets. That’s because of the thought process I described between our hypothetical players Bob and Mary. The hypothetical I described is quite common. Players hate the thought of ‘I just missed out on a payment’.

The fear and annoyance of missing out are understandable. However, let’s explore a very common event that was in full display in the Borgata video.

HOW THE COUNTERBALANCE EFFECT APPLIES TO THE PLACE BET AND THE SITUATION ABOVE

Let’s now go back to Mary and Bob, who are playing craps at the same table.

Come out roll

On the come out roll, the point is 8.

Bob and Mary make bets after the come out

Bob makes a $30 place bet on the 6.

At the same time that Bob makes his place bet on the 6, Mary makes a $5 come bet with the intention of making an odds bet of $25. In other words, when Mary has her full $30 in play, she will have $30 in play, just like Bob (not counting their pass line bets, if they have one).

Notice that if they both win their bets on the 6, they will both win $35 for the $30 they risked.

Also, notice that this is exactly the same as the situation above; however, the difference begins now…

Roll and results

The shooter grips the dice and rolls a…7 out.

Bob now loses his $30.

Mary wins $5 on the come bet, and more importantly, Mary did not lose her $30 combined total like Bob did.

This is the counterbalance to the ‘I got paid and you didn’t get paid’ argument that Bob has needled Mary with.

Counterbalance…because remember, nothing is free. There is always an offsetting factor.

THE REAL WORLD COST OF NOT UNDERSTANDING

The above play between Mary and Bob might be hypothetical, but you can see it in action in the Borgata video.

Let’s talk about the real world cost by using the Borgata video.

At 3:30 [time stamp] in the video, the player puts his bets out. The black chips in the pic below are his bets.

At 3:55, RoadGambler rolls a 9, which the player then presses to $500.

At 4:23, the dice 7 out, costing the place bettor his entire bet of black chips across the board.

The player lost $1800 worth of black chips (let’s ignore his single press on the 9 for illustration’s sake).

If the Player Had Used Come + Odds

If that same player had made come bets + odds, the player would not have had his rather large bets wiped out right away. His stack of black chips would have been saved.

Let’s do a hypothetical break down of his play using come + odds.

At 3:30, instead of $300 across, he puts down a $75 come bet. On a 3, 4, 5x game, $75 would be about right because all his odds can be $225 or $230 for the 5 and 9 (to keep the amounts even).

At 3:55, the 9 rolls so the come bet travels to the 9. He now has $75 flat and let’s say he bets $230 odds, for a total of $305.

At 4:23, the 7 out rolls. To be fair, most come bettors will have a pass line bet, so the player would have lost $75 on the pass line plus odds of $225. He would also lose the come + odds bet of $75 +$230 on the 9.

So the total loss would be $605.

In other words, a come + odd bettor would have saved $1195.

The savings is the counterbalance to the ‘you would have been paid’ argument of the place bet. The place bettor has $1195 in his pocket that he wouldn’t have if he had been place betting.

Of course, nothing is free, so the counterbalance to the ‘I saved $1195’ argument is that if there is a hot roll, the place bettor would have been paid once more than the come bettor. There is a counterbalance to everything, even the good strategies.

The expected cost of place betting versus come + odds betting

If you don’t believe in the counterbalancing effect and you still believe that place bets are better than come + odds bets, this is the price you will pay:

  • $300 place bets across on each number
    • Buy bet of 4 and 10, house edge of 1.67% (paid after win)
      • Total expected loss per resolved bet is $5.01 per number. Total on both numbers is $10.02
    • Place bet of 5 and 9, house edge of 4%
      • Total expected loss per resolved bet is $12 per number. Total on both numbers is $24
    • Place bet of 6 and 8, house edge of 1.52%.
      • Total expected loss per bet resolved is $4.56. Total on both numbers is $9.12

His total expected loss the moment he makes the ‘across’ bet is $43.14

Compare this to come + odds bet. For the same comparison, let’s say he makes six come bets. Sometimes the bets will win, and sometimes they will lose, but the above place bettor has made six bets, so let’s have our come + odds bettor also make six bets.

Unlike the above betting scenario, the come + odds bettor will always have the same house advantage and same expected loss per bet. He might be at a different disadvantage when the 4 rolls versus the 6, but overall, he will be at the same average house edge the moment he makes his come bet.

  • $75 place bets to be backed up by $225 (or $230) odds for a total of $300 or $305 in action.
    • House edge on 3x odds is .471% on a bet resolved basis.
      • Total expected loss per come + odds bet is $1.41 per bet.
        • Over six bets, total expected loss is $8.47

So would you rather pay $8.07 or $43.14 to the casino? The place bet strategy costs over 5 times the come + odds strategy.

The cost of not understanding counterbalance and thinking that ‘I would have been paid if I had a place bet’ is to lose, over the long run, over 5 times the cost of come betting plus odds.

COUNTERBALANCING IS PSYCHOLOGICALLY TOUGH TO ACCEPT

I could explain this counterbalancing concept until I’m blue in the face. Very few craps players are going to accept it simply because psychologically, place bets are better than come bets + odds, the math is damned.

The place bet is what I call ‘happy’ bet. By that, I mean that when players think about their bets, they want to see the wins manifested in additional money. In most players’ minds, a ‘win’ is defined as starting with a bankroll of $1000 and walking out with $1500 or $3000 or $10,o00; in other words, anything larger than the initial bankroll. Players are happy because of the positive results.

Very few people think of starting off with $1000 and then walking out with $800 as a ‘win’.  In my come bet + odds example between Bob and Mary, using the ‘RoadGambler’ strategy still resulted in a whopping loss of $605. It’s hard for most people to think as losing $605 as a ‘win’. Calling a ‘loss’ a ‘win’ doesn’t meet expectations.

But again, would you rather lose $1800, like the player did in the actual video, or lose $605?

Think of how many times you’ve been to the casino and lost your entire bankroll or a big part of your bankroll. If you had the option of winning back half your bankroll, you would take it, even if it meant leaving with an overall loss.

If you want to be a successful gambler, you have to accept that sometimes, a bet saved is just as good as a bet won.

TL;DR

I’m not here to tell you how to bet. I’m not going to state that your betting strategy is bad, or that my strategy is better than yours. I am simply pointing out a cost associated with ignoring the counterbalancing principle.

At the end of the day, thinking that a win is a loss is a tough pill to swallow. Very few people could look at a loss of $605 and think positively.

Alternatively, it’s easy to be happy when you’re paid $420 because you only risked $300 on the point of 5 or 9. When the player is paid $420, he is only thinking of the $420, not the $30 that was taken out because the casino needs to pay their mortgage.

That’s the way it’s supposed to work, if you win, you’re happy, if you lose, you’re sad. That thought process meets the expectations of winning and losing.

Very few people ever say ‘I lost $605, that’s the same as a win.’ Such a statement is not consistent and doesn’t meet expectations. That’s like biting into a steak and then realizing that the steak was really a cake.

Gambling, if done as a form of entertainment is all about being happy and meeting expectations, so if it makes you happy, there’s nothing wrong with place betting. I just want you to know the cost.

Place betting isn’t the worst form of betting. To the contrary, it’s actually quite a decent form of betting. Even at it’s worst – which is a 4% house edge on the 5 and 9 – it’s better than double zero roulette and way better than slots. It’s cheap entertainment.

You decide how you want to play. It’s your money.

Posted in: Casino, Craps, Gambling

8 thoughts on “Craps: Counter Balancing of Place Bets and Why Place Bets Are Psychologically Better than Come Bets + Odds”

  • Yeah, place betting was a very good innovation. They didn’t exist originally. In the old Jesse James days, it used to be you could “put” your bets up instead of waiting for them to come. In other words give the dealer $30 right away and make it a $5 flat with $25 odds on the 6/8. The house wins in that situation even though you are getting free odds because the come bet would have won on 7/11 (which is 2 to 1 over 2, 3, and 12 losers), so this is sacrificed by the player’s desire to “get the bet up” right away. The house came up with an even better way – the place bet – which still gives the house better money than flat/odds while also saving the player a little over the put bet.

    Same psychology, maybe a better way of convincing people that it is costlier and no better in the long run. But I see people come in right away with, say, $2200 inside on their very first series, take the first winner and making it their new bankroll – not making many place bets but doing it the “right” way. Which keeps them in the game longer.

    What I love about craps is there’s basically an unlimited way to play – some cheaper, some more expensive. Some downright stupid. But sometimes the stupid guy walks away with a jackpot.

    Duffer

  • I’m probably the only person that will say this but I dig the math and your right. I don’t post, I don’t share because no one likes you telling them how to play or protect their “investment”. However I’ve seen the full video when you posted and I’ve had not that guy and not at that casino step right up next to me just like that and drop 4 times as much while I stuck to what I share with my friends is the plan and a way to enjoy our time and probably end up making a nice profit.
    My time isn’t free. I remind my friends “what’s your time worth to you”. Enjoy yourself but keep yourself in a position to protect the wealth.

    GTEOC
    XXii
    Guardian

  • Very Good read. Great information. I used to be a strictly pass and come better now I often take a pass line with 2x odds and place the 6 and 8. I started doing that due to my small bank roll my nearest casino often has a $15 min bet so if I took my pass line and 2 come bets my bank roll was pretty thin. Maybe I should reduce the number of bets and increase the bet size? The casinos that I stay at also don’t count my odds bets towards comps not saying that is why you should play but its nice when they pay for everything and you win. You sure don’t see many come bettors out there anymore but I know that it is the correct play. I’m a life long student of the game and always looking to learn more. I believe you can be a winner at craps it has a lot to do with money management. Maybe that could be a up coming blog (money management) because I know that you don’t want to bring up influence. You are the best keep up the good work this has got to be a ton of hard work.
    Cheers
    Ron

  • In either situation, the smart bettor knows the 7 is always coming. So if a hot shooter is racking up some wins for the bettor, it is best to regress down one’s bets to avoid having too much on the table when the 7 comes.

  • Many casinos still have put bets but u need the following odds to make it a proper bet…

    6 and 8: Bettor must combine a put bet with 5X odds to have the same overall house edge of 1.52% as a place bet.
    5 and 9: Bettor must combine a put bet with 4X odds to have the same overall house edge of 4.00% as a place bet.
    4 and 10: Bettor must combine a put bet with 19X odds to have the same overall house edge of 1.67% as a buy bet, assuming the commission is paid on a win only. If the commission is always paid then the bettor must combine a put with with 6X odds to match the 4.76% house edge.

    At casinos that offer 3-4-5X odds, or worse, there is no reason to make a put bet, because you will do equal or bettor to make a place or buy bet. ( copied and pasted from Wizard of Odds site )

  • I am a place better but im not going to be on but two numbers to start(I hate seeing anybody on all numbers rihgt away) I know im giving up a little percentage but i would rather have my money on the 5 and 9 or 6 and 8 than to have the point on ten and my come bet on 4. I can’t stand the back and forth on the pass line come out. Im only on the line to shoot.
    Its hard to argue your success!
    Thanks for all the good info.

    • RoadGambler says:

      YW, glad you enjoy the content, James.

      Rarely is there a right or wrong way to play. As long as you enjoy the game, there is nothing wrong with playing and betting whatever way makes you happy. I have weaknesses in my game that cost me a higher HE – namely, turning odds off on the come out – but I pay the price just because it makes the game more enjoyable for me.

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