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Cutthroat Craps

Feature Frank Scoblete


Cutthroat Craps

You’ve got everyt
hing to gain

Most gambling writers are cautious, timid souls–and with good reason. We don’t want to offer information that might lead players to jump off the deep end of the casino diving board, whooping and hollering as their bankrolls go “splat!” on the concrete floor of the empty pool below. And so, we are very careful to recommend only the very best mathematically proven bets, the very best mathematically proven systems, and the very best money management models in the hope that we won’t lead any of you into the deep, deep waters of strong negative expectation.

We prefer that you put your big toe in the water, not take a wild belly flop. We prefer splashing in the kiddie pool over the attempt to swim the English Channel.

And that’s a good thing.

Each and every issue of Casino Player magazine has article after article explaining what are the best and, invariably, most cautious, ways to play this or that game. I’ve written many of these articles myself. When it comes to caution, I’m a yield-right-of-way, stop-sign, red-light kind of guy.

This is especially true in craps, where the traditional thinking has been to make a Pass Line bet, back it with full odds and then do the same with a few Come bets. And this is good advice, because it’s based on the sound mathematical proposition that you will lose less in the long run playing this way than by playing any other way.

Still, the choice for casino players is not merely “either/or” as in, “either I play cautiously betting Pass, Come and Odds, or I go completely berserk!”

Folks, there is a great in-between–an area of craps play that can be rather daring, yet still based on sound principles of both math and logic, and can, when things are going right, yield much more in the way of return than can traditional approaches. All this, without more risk. In fact, all this, in most cases, with substantially less risk.

It’s called “Cutthroat Craps.” It’s played to win money at the tables and drain the casinos dry with comps.

What makes it different from all the other advice on craps you’ve read in magazine articles? Just this: Cutthroat Crappers are more interested in betting on selected shooters than they are in betting the lowest possible house-edge bet–and with good reason. In fact, Cutthroat Crappers are banking on select shooters changing the actual odds on the game to favor betting other than the traditional Pass and/or Come with Odds.

The Assumptions of the Cutthroat Crapper

Certain assumptions are inherent in any system of craps play. Cutthroat Craps is no different. There are three fundamental assumptions the Cutthroat Crapper makes:

1. Certain shooters can change a slightly negative game into a slightly positive game for certain players who know to bet these shooters. These shooters are dubbed “rhythmic rollers” or, more recently, “Golden Shooters.”

This is a highly controversial issue in gaming circles, as it postulates that some shooters can and do control their rolls to the extent necessary to achieve this shift from slightly negative to slightly positive. Many gambling writers do not believe, as I do, that these Golden Shooters exist or that rhythmic rolling takes place at a craps table. They give sundry reasons for their skepticism. And that’s fine. Their belief is not a prerequisite for utilizing Cutthroat Craps methods, as these methods have no substantial downside for the craps player using them. (For a full discussion of the “Golden Shooter” concept, I refer you to my new book, Forever Craps: The Five-Step Advantage Play Method.)

2. Golden Shooters will tend to be consistent in their dice rolling and in the resultant dice faces that show. This consistency will be seen with their dice-sets, delivery and style of betting.

3. To take advantage of a Golden Shooter, you must adapt your betting style to the Golden Shooter as “one size does not fit all.” That will often mean deviating from the mathematically best bets.

A Tale of Two Shooters

You are watching a craps game in action. Shooter A is on the come-out roll. Everyone places his or her Pass Line bets except for one weaselly looking guy who’s betting on the Don’t Pass. Shooter A picks up two dice and flings them unceremoniously down the table where they hop, skip, jump and careen all over the layout until finally coming to rest several feet from each other. He establishes his point; let’s say it’s a 6.

He immediately calls over the cocktail waitress and orders another seven-and-seven, guffawing as he does so: “Heavy on the Seagram, honey, and light on the Up, ha! ha! ha!”

Shooter A then throws out some chips and says: “Oh, give me, like, all the hardways and, ummm, I don’t know, all the numbers I don’t have and, ummm, a yo-eleven and boxcars.” The stickman now passes Shooter A the dice and he fires them down the table again.

Here’s a question for you: Would you bet on Shooter A?

If you said: “Yes, of course, craps is a random game and this guy has as good a chance as anyone else to make me money,” then you’re a typical craps player. If you bet Shooter A by making the Pass and/or Come with Odds, then you’re a typical good craps player, as you’ve made the mathematically best bets at the game.

But you aren’t a Cutthroat Craps player.

If, by the way, you just went berserk and started betting hardways, hops, yo’s, boxcars, snake eyes and Big Reds, then you aren’t a good craps player or a Cutthroat Craps player–you’re just a dumb craps player.

Now, you’re watching a different shooter–Shooter B–on his come-out roll. The Pass Line bets are down, the weaselly looking Don’t bettor has taken his chips and skulked away from the table, and the stickman passes the dice to the shooter. Before the shooter picks up the dice, he puts $170 on the table and says: “Sixty dollar 6 and 8, buy the 4 for $50, everything off on the come-out.” (The casino we are at only takes the vig on the 4 if it wins.)

Shooter B now picks up the dice and carefully sets them with the 3-spots facing him in a “V.” Then he carefully positions his fingers on the dice, checks a spot at the end of the table that he seems to be aiming for, and gently lofts the dice down the table. Once in flight, the dice do not rotate or even separate, but move rather languidly in the air, side by side, with the 3-spots staring at the ceiling. When they land, they land together, just touching the back wall, where they come to rest without much movement, a few inches apart. The point is 6, made the hardway–3,3.

The shooter points to his Place bet and says: “Down on my 6 and give me the odds behind the point.” The dealer does so.

You now notice that Shooter B throws down a red chip and says: “Five dollars on the hard 6 for the dealers.”

So I ask the same question as I did above: Would you bet on Shooter B?

Obviously, if you would’ve bet on Shooter A, you’d bet on Shooter B, because to you, it doesn’t matter who rolls the dice. You make no distinctions among shooters, as you believe every shooter is the same.

However, if you were the type of player who said: “I’m not betting Shooter A because I don’t like the way he rolls them bones, but I am betting on Shooter B because he seems to take great care with his roll,” then you are indeed on your way to becoming a Cutthroat Crapper.

The Golden Shooter

Is Shooter B really a Golden Shooter? Is he really capable of changing the nature of the game so that an astute bettor such as yourself can take advantage of his roll?

From the above scenario, you could not state definitively one way or the other. In fact, some pundits would say that you could make a strong argument from the above information I have given you that “you can’t make any argument at all from the above information!”

I think those pundits would be wrong.

Here’s what the above information tells us:

1. Shooter A is definitely a random roller, not a rhythmic roller. If controlling the dice is possible (and, as stated, I believe it is), he couldn’t possibly have any control over the dice at all. You bet on all the shooter A’s of the world and craps can’t possibly be anything more than its mathematical underpinnings–which is to say, you’ll lose in the long run that percentage of your total action based on the types of bets you make. Period. Shooter A is a waste of your time.

2. Shooter B has a chance to be a Golden Shooter, as he seems to be very careful with his dice set, delivery and betting. As you watch Shooter B, it’s obvious that he thinks he has some effect on the dice or he wouldn’t take such deliberate care with his roll.

3. If both Shooter A and Shooter B have absolutely no control whatsoever over the dice, or if rhythmic rolling does not exist and Golden Shooters are merely a figment of my overactive imagination in unholy alliance with my wishful thinking, betting only on Shooter B and avoiding Shooter A is still a smart move!

Why? Because you’ve cut your exposure to the house edge.

4. Shooter B is also very much aware that he’s playing two distinct games against the casino when he rolls. He’s playing the game of craps and all that that entails, but he’s also playing the comp game. That’s right. His deciding to Place his numbers before his come-out roll; leaving them off during the come-out roll indicates that he’s aware the floorperson will record his maximum spread–$170 plus his Pass Line wager–and not his spread when his Pass Line bet might bump down the Place bet. Bumping down the Place bet and taking Odds usually reduces the comp spread because most casinos do not give you credit for the Odds bet–an important thing to consider. Another important point: his bets are not working, not at risk, yet are still earning him comp credit.

You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by assuming that Shooter B is a Golden Shooter. If he isn’t, so what? You’ve cut your exposure to the house edge, so you’re actually reducing your losses. That’s a gain. But if he is a Golden Shooter, then you have a chance to play a positive-expectation craps game! And that could be a terrific gain, indeed.

Betting On Shooter B

Since you have nothing to lose and everything to gain by avoiding Shooter A and betting on Shooter B, the next question is, how should we bet on him? Should we go the traditional Pass/Come with Odds, or should we figure some other method of betting?

I’d like to propose that in Shooter B’s case, we deviate from tradition and mimic his bets. Those are the numbers he’ll tend to hit. If he is indeed a rhythmic roller and our longed-for Golden Shooter, he will be inclined to hit certain dice combinations more often (slightly, moderately, or greatly more often as the case may be) and he’ll tend to bet on what has made him money in the past. It makes sense, then, to bet with him. That would mean Placing the 6 and 8 and buying the 4 (if you can afford it).

Would the casino have a significantly greater edge on you if you did mimic Shooter B? Not really. Placing the 6 and 8 comes in with a house edge of 1.52 percent, while buying the 4 for $50, and only paying the vig if you win, comes in at 1.28 percent. Essentially, you’re making a bet that has a combined house edge close to that of the Pass Line or Come when you don’t take odds.

Of course, skillful, professional, rhythmic rollers such as “Sharpshooter” (I wrote about him in a previous Casino Player article) have different dice sets and deliveries for different parts of the game. For example, on the come-out where the 7 is a desirable number, you might see Sharpshooter use one set and delivery and, once the point is established, you’ll note he sets and delivers an entirely different way. You’ll discover that he does this every time it’s his turn to roll–come-out roll, one dice set and delivery; attempting to make the point or other numbers, a different dice set and delivery.

Still, most Golden Shooters will not be that accomplished. Indeed, you’ll probably discover that the overwhelming majority of players will be more like Shooter A than Shooter B. Even those players who do take care with their dice sets will often just fling the dice down the table once those sets are completed. Conversely, those who take great care with their shooting style will often not care how the dice are set before they shoot. Neither of these types is a Golden Shooter. They have just developed a bit of style in their shooting.

Cutthroat Question: How Much Time Do You Have to Kill?

If you’re a frequent visitor to casinos, making daily or weekly visits, you might want to go all out and only bet on the potential Golden Shooters. Your patience will be rewarded as you’ll only bet on those shooters who have a chance to change the nature of the game in your favor. All other shooters, you’ll save your money on. In fact, if you really want to become proficient in shooter selection, you might want to apply the “5-Count” as well. In such a case, you’d only bet on those Golden Shooters who have successfully made it past the 5-Count. (This, I cover in detail in Forever Craps.)

However, many players don’t have the luxury of going to casinos daily or weekly and/or don’t have the patience or desire to hang around waiting for just the right prescription of dice set and delivery before they plunge into the fray. Such players are understandably anxious to get into the action. If that characterizes you, then there is still a way to put into effect the Cutthroat Craps principles above: Bet more on the Golden Shooters and much, much less on the other shooters.

If you’re normally a $60 bettor when you’re fully spread out, drop down to a $30 spread on all Shooter A types. But when Shooter B types come along, go to $90 and take your shot. In fact, you’ll save yourself some money doing this as Shooter B’s don’t make up anywhere near half of all shooters.

When you are on your low bets, play a traditional, tight game of Pass/Come with Odds. But when you’re going on the Shooter B types, mimic their betting with this caveat: avoid any bets that have a house edge of 4 percent or higher. That leaves you essentially betting the Place numbers in accord with the shooter (if the shooter does this) or going up on the Come if the shooter prefers this style.

Of course, I can’t write about craps without strongly urging my readers to also play the 5-Count on all shooters, regardless of what category they fit into.

Cutthroat Comps

Casinos are ready, willing, happy and able to give a variety of comps to craps players for their play. The Cutthroat Crapper knows how to maximize those comps without increasing his or her risk. Here are three Cutthroat ways to drain the comps from the casinos:

1. If you are using Place bets, always put them up on the come-out roll and have them “off.” You’ll get maximum comp time without any risk whatsoever.

2. When you tip, do not place a separate bet for the dealers either next to your Pass Line bet or on the hardways, etc. Place the dealer’s bet on top of your own. Dealer’s bets that are on the side or placed separately generally don’t earn the player any comp points, but those placed on top do. That extra five or ten dollars could mean the difference between a free or a discounted room, a buffet or cafe meal. So tip on top!

3. Make sure that your maximum bets are noticed by the raters. When the Golden Shooter has the dice, you must make sure that the floorperson is aware of your big bets. The best way to do that is before the come-out roll. When (or if) you make Place bets, do so loudly!

Luck Helps Those Who Help Themselves

I’ve been playing craps a long, long time and it never ceases to amaze me how many long-term players, when it’s their chance to roll, just fling the dice and hope for the best. Some shooters don’t even look as if they want to win. Some don’t look where they are throwing the dice; they look away. These shooters have no style, no panache, and no real chance of beating the game in the long run of their own individual rolling careers.

While it might be argued that my craps notions are wrong, it cannot be argued that the only possible way to beat craps is by physically altering the nature of the game. With the exception of the Captain’s “Oddsman’s Bet” and the buying of Don’t bets from other players, every bet at craps has a negative expectation for the player. Even the Odds bet can only be made if you have a negative-expectation Pass or Come bet to place those Odds on.

Once again, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain by attempting to utilize a controlled dice set and delivery. You have nothing to lose by concentrating on making yourself a Golden Shooter. If you love to play craps anyway, why not give yourself a chance to win on your own rolls? At the very least, taking great care with your form will slow the game down a bit and will engage you more than just chucking the dice down the table.

The Cutthroat Craps players can cut their overall risk by not betting every shooter (or by betting less on the random rollers) and cut into the casino comp coffers by tipping the right way and betting at the right times.

Why bother playing any other way?

Frank Scoblete is the number one best-selling gaming author in the country. He also publishes his own magazine, Chance and Circumstance and has his own website at at RGT Online. For a free catalog call: 1-800-944-0406 or write to: Paone Press, Box 610, Lynbrook, NY 11563.

Cutthroat Craps.

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