In medieval times, philosophers hated Fortuna, the fickle goddess of chance with her Wheel of Fortune. In his book Consolations of Philosophy, the philosopher Boethius says that only when Fortunia “shows herself unstable and changeable, is she truthful”. In other words, Fortuna is only consistent when she’s inconsistent. The idea of a universe controlled by chance was a nightmare for philosophers who craved order in a world filled with violence and chaos. Boethius himself was executed by order of the King of the Goths shortly after he finished writing his book in prison. Today, though, Fortuna is actually a friend of science. That’s because it turns out that the world of science is closer to a casino online than you maybe think. Since the beginning of modern science in the seventeenth century, probability theory has become essential to law, insurance, sociology, physics, biology, psychology – and gambling, of course.
Suckered by a coin
The basic concept of probability is the simple coin toss. Flip a coin, and there’s a fifty-fifty chance it’ll land heads or tails, right? Actually, it’s not quite so simple. Researcher Persi Diaconis discovered that the real odds of a coin toss are more like 51/49. The bias depends on which side was up when the coin was flipped – so insist on seeing which side is up if you don’t want to be sucker! At the end of the day, though, nobody goes to the casino to toss coins. If you want a practical lesson in how probability really works, the game of craps is an excellent place to start. It’s all about understanding how the odds work – and where to place your money. Once you’ve got your head around how the most important bets work, you’ll know how to make the odds work in your favour. You might even become a pro.
Pass, don’t walk, the line
The pass line is the most basic element in craps betting, so it’s not surprising that the pass line bet is the most important bet for the craps player to understand. To make the bet, put your chips on the pass line before the come-out roll. The bet pays even money for a roll of 7 or 11. If the shooter rolls a 2, 3 or 12, he “craps out” – and you lose. Any other number rolled becomes the “box point” – if the shooter rolls the same number again before rolling a 7, you win! The great thing about a pass line bet is that the house advantage is as low as 1.41%. The opposite bet – “don’t pass” – has an even smaller house advantage, but it’s best reserved for online casinos: other players don’t like to be bet against and they might get hostile.
Take the odds
Once you’ve cottoned on to how the box point works, you’re ready to develop your strategy one step further. You do this by “taking odds” – betting that the shooter will roll the box point number before rolling a 7. This bet pays true odds, meaning that the house has no advantage. No wonder that it’s known as the best bet on the casino floor. True odds are the actual odds of winning the bet. The difference between the true odds and the payoff odds is where the house gets its edge against the players. This is the single best bet on the casino floor because it pays true odds – the house has no edge on this one!
Come one, come all
Feeling like a pro already? Extend your strategy with “come” bets. The key difference between a pass line bet and a come bet is that instead of betting before the shooter establishes a point, you make a come bet after the shooter establishes a point. Place your chips on the come line before the shooter rolls. You can also take odds on the come bet, with the same advantages.
Using probability to calculate the odds in the game of craps is very worthwhile and educational. You can put the knowledge you pick up to good use in many other areas of life apart from gaming. However, it’s more fun to learn while you’re winning, so give these tips a go and tackle probability head on at the craps table.