If I bet $20 on the Horn and the dice roll is 12, how much do I win?

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We received the following question from a reader “If I bet $20 on the Horn and the dice roll is 12, how much do I win?”

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Let’s review the Horn bet to help make it easier to see the math. The one-roll Horn combines the numbers 12, 11, 3, and 2. Technically, the Horn bet is not a single bet with a single payoff odds. Instead, the Horn is actually four separate bets with each having its own payoff odds. It’s like tossing two chips to the stickman and saying, “I want a bet on the 2, and another bet on the 12, please,” and then deciding at the last second before the shooter rolls the dice, you toss the stickman two more chips and say, “I’d also like to get the 3 and the 11, please.” The stickman has multiple options for positioning your Horn bet on the table, depending on the table’s layout and the stickman’s mood. If the table layout has a box for the Horn (some tables don’t), he can stack all four chips in that box. If the layout has separate boxes for the 2, 3, 11, and 12, he can position one chip in each of those boxes. It doesn’t matter how the stickman positons your bets (as long as he does it correctly) because the end result is the same. Because the Horn is actually four separate bets, if a 12, 11, 3, or 2 shows, that’s the only bet that wins and the other three bets lose. So, now that we correctly understand the Horn, let’s do the math.

Suppose you toss the stickman $20 and say, “Horn, please.” Since the Horn is actually four separate bets on four separate numbers (i.e., the 12, 11, 3, and 2), divide your total bet amount by 4. (NOTE: We explain in our other article about the Horn why it’s important to make your Horn bet a multiple of 4.) This means you have four bets: a $5 bet on the 12, a $5 bet on the 11, a $5 bet on the 3, and a $5 bet on the 2. As we know from our other articles, the payoff for the 2 or 12 is 30:1, and the payoff for the 3 or 11 is 15:1. Suppose the shooter rolls a 12, the results are as follows:

  • Your $5 bet on the 12 wins. The payoff is 30:1. 30 x your $5 bet = you win $150.
  • Your $5 bet on the 11 loses. You lose the $5.
  • Your $5 bet on the 3 loses. You lose the $5.
  • Your $5 bet on the 2 loses. You lose the $5.
  • The net result is calculated as follows: $150 win on the 12 – $15 loss on the 11, 3, and 2 = $135. Your net win is $135 for your $20 Horn bet.

Keep in mind that the Horn is a terrible bet in terms of house advantage, which is about 12.5% (that’s huge!). The true odds for the 3 or 11 are 17:1 (i.e., 2 ways to roll either a 3 or 11, and 34 ways to roll anything else, which reduces down to 17:1), but the casino payoff is only 15:1 when you win. The house advantage for the 3 or 11 is about 11.1%. The true odds for the 2 or 12 are 35:1 (i.e., 1 way to roll either a 2 or 12, and 35 ways to roll anything else), but the casino payoff odds are only 30:1. The house advantage for the 2 or 12 is about 13.9% (that’s a killer for the player!). If you combine the house advantages for the 3 or 11 and for the 2 or 12, you get an overall casino advantage on the Horn bet of about 12.5%. In our opinion, there only two reasons to bet the Horn:

(1) the 2, 3, 11, and/or 12 are coming up every other roll so there’s an obvious trend that we might want to play for the very short-term; or

(2) we’re filthy rich and don’t care about flushing money down the toilet.

If you play the Horn and happen to win with it during a particular session, do not expect to continue winning with it. Over time, the casino will take all your money.

Good luck at the tables!

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