February 6th, 2008


By Charles Jay

What is important to know about craps is that there are two identical dice that are used in the play of the game. Each of these dice are six-sided, with values, naturally, of 1 through 6. When you look at the sides opposite each other in each die, you will find that the opposite sides add up to seven; for example, the 1 will be opposite the 6, the 2 will be opposite the 5, and the 3 will be opposite the 4. All of these combinations add up to 7.
On any one roll, there are thirty-six (36) different dice combinations that can come up.

* Of these combinations, there are going to be six of them that add up to seven (7), which makes 7 the key number in the game of craps, since it is the one most likely to occur. As we do our arithmetic, seven comes out to six combinations out of 36, which translates to a ratio of 6-to-30. Therefore, the odds against a seven being rolled are 5-1.
* Five of the dice combinations add up to six (the 4-2, 1-5 and their reverses, plus the 3-3 combination), and five of them also add up to eight (the 2-6, 3-5 and their reverses, plus 4-4); these constitute 5 out of 36, which comes out to a ratio of 5-to-31, so the odds against either of those totals being rolled are then 6.2 to 1.
* Four of the combinations add up to five (1-4, 2-3 and their reverse), and four of them also add up to nine (4-5, 3-6 and their reverse), making it 4 out of 36 combos, constituting a ratio of 4-to-32, which means there are 8 to 1 odds against a five or a nine being rolled.
* Three combinations add up to four (1-3 and its reverse, plus 2-2), and likewise three of them add up to ten (4-6 and its reverse, in addition to 5-5), bringing either of those totals to 3 out of 36, which is a 3-to-33 ratio, and 11 to 1 against either of those numbers being rolled.
* Two of the combinations add up to three (1-2, either way), and it is the same for eleven (6-5 either way). That translates to 2 out of 36 combinations, a 2-to-34 ratio, and 17 to 1 against either the three being rolled or the eleven being rolled.
* Only one of the combinations adds up to two (this is the 1-1, or “snake eyes”), and only one adds up to twelve (6-6, or “boxcars”). For both the 2 and 12 combination, it’s one combination out of 36, which translates to 35 to 1 odds against either of the combos being rolled.

The odds of rolling a seven before the combination of six is rolled comes out to 5 to 6 (representing the number of 7’s out of the 36 possible combos against the number of 6’s in the 36 combos). The odds of rolling a 6 before a 7 is 6 to 5. The odds of rolling the 5 before rolling the 7 is 6 to 4, which of course is then reduced to 3 to 2. The odds of a four being rolled before a 7 is rolled are 2 to 1. The odds of a 3 being rolled before a 7 is rolled are 3 to 1. And the odds of the 2 being rolled before a 7 is rolled are high – at 6 to 1. There is a lot of significance to these numbers, and they take on additional meaning as one progresses along the way to learning more and more about the way the game is played.

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January 23rd, 2008

General Gaming
By Charles Jay

Some years ago, there was a basketball bettor I knew who had made a wager on a Sunday televised game, taking the home team and giving up (laying) six points. The home club was ahead by five points when one of its players was fouled in the act of shooting, literally at the final buzzer. The road team was in the “penalty” situation, which meant that the opponent was going to have extra foul shots. Thus, and as it was in those days in the NBA, the player who was fouled had three chances to make two foul shots.

It was actually a pretty bizarre scene. Since time had run out, and the winner had been decided, the player was all alone on the court, with everyone else having departed for the locker room.

Nonetheless, my friend was feeling pretty good at that point, because the player going to the free throw line was shooting close to 90%. He needed to make one of the three shots to force a “push” (or tie) and if he hit two shots in his three chances, my friend would win the game. Well, by now, you must know what happened.

The guy missed all three free throws.

That is the perfect illustration of what we call a BAD BEAT.

I guess the most simple definition of a “bad beat” is one that happens to YOU. But the more clinical definition is that it is a situation where you have a very high expectation of winning, and something comes out of nowhere to take that win away from you. It sometimes happens in dramatic fashion. And you are left feeling helpless.

Maybe some of this has happened to you several times. If it has, I feel your pain. And how’s THIS for pain – you’re at the Hold’em table, with a pair of aces in the hole. You FLOP an ace, so you figure you’re in excellent shape. Somebody else at the table has drawn a two and a four. A five comes out on the flop alongside your ace, then it’s the three and the six on the river and Fifth Street respectively, and all of a sudden you’re losing to the straight.

There goes your money.

It can get worse after that.

Suffering a “bad beat” can have devastating residual effects. You know that there is no way in the world you should have lost, for one thing. So you are angry beyond measure. You feel as if you are at the mercy of the gambling gods, who are undoubtedly against you. To top it off, if it’s at a poker table, for example, the player who beat you is probably ecstatic, and showing it. That would piss anybody off.

It’s like having the air sucked out of you, and beyond that, it represents a significant swing in your bankroll. If you had $200 invested in a pot, for example, and there is five times that in the middle, you have a negative swing of $1200. There is no underestimating the potential psychological effects of something like this. Experiencing a bad beat can rattle you to an extent that you are still thinking about it many hands, or many hours, down the road. That invariably affects your play.

You’re not a freak. It’s human nature. So what can you do about it, to prevent the after-effects from happening in the future?

Well, one of the things you can do is to RATIONALIZE what has just happened to you. You know you didn’t get beat because you weren’t good enough, or because you did something wrong, but because you were beaten by horrible, awful luck. It is very important that you take the pressure off yourself this way.

INTELLECTUALIZE your situation. In games like blackjack, poker, even sports betting, where you have the chance to overcome house odds with skill, you must understand and believe that your skill can win out in the long run. An example – often the best player at the poker table can win out over the others over the course of time. Are you confident you’re the best? Then don’t worry about bad beats in the long run.

If you are a Basic Strategy blackjack player or a card counter – in other words, if you are very skilled – you know that things operate as a long-term proposition and that things work themselves out in the direction of the skill player over the long haul.

UNDERSTAND the pattern of events. You are going to win by way of someone else’s bad beat as much as you’ll lose by your own. No, the forces aren’t against you. Maybe it will even have the effect where in future pots, those other players will “give” you more money when they think they have a winning hand, but don’t.

If all else fails, maybe a good idea would be to TAKE A BREAK and get your head together while you take stock of the above methods for dealing with bad beats.

Then go back out there and go get ’em.

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