hedge bets

Hedging your Bets: Don’t Do It!

“Hedging” is when a player makes one bet with the false belief that it can “protect” another bet.  The player’s naive logic is that it’s like diversifying his investment portfolio when he buys bonds to “protect” against losses he might experience with stocks (i.e., if his stocks go down and his bonds go up, then the net effect is no loss).

One of the most common hedge-bet methods is making a $1 Any Craps bet to “protect” a $10 Pass Line bet from losing.  That’s why the Any Craps bet is also called a “craps check.”  The payout (i.e., casino odds) for a winning Any Craps bet is 7:1, which means for every dollar you bet, you win $7 (e.g., if you make a $3 craps check and win, you win $21).  As you know from our other articles, a roll of 2, 3, or 12 is called a “craps.”  You also know that the Pass Line bet loses if a craps appears on the come-out roll.  In this example, if the shooter rolls a craps on the come-out, the player loses his $10 Pass Line bet, but wins $7 for the $1 Any Craps bet, resulting in a net loss of only $3.  The player doesn’t care as much about losing $3 as he does losing $10, so he feels good that he made such a “smart” hedge bet.  If the shooter rolls anything but a craps on the come-out, the player loses the $1 Any Craps bet, but it’s only $1 so he doesn’t care much about losing it.  With his $10 Pass Line bet, all he cares about is getting past the come-out roll without a craps showing.

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Another familiar hedge bet is when a player makes a $2 Hard 8 or $2 Hard 6 bet to protect his Flat Don’t Pass and Odds bets.  Suppose the player makes a $5 Flat Don’t Pass bet and the shooter rolls a 6 on the come-out to establish 6 as the point.  The player adds to his Flat Don’t Pass bet by making a $12 Odds bet.  In this example, the player has a total of $17 bet against the point.  That’s a big bet for most people.  Thinking he’s a craps wizard, the player then adds a layer of protection against losing by making a $2 Hard 6 bet.  The payout (casino odds) for the Hard 6 is 9:1.  In this example, if the Hard 6 hits, the player wins $18 (i.e., $2 x 9 = $18).  By making the Hard 6 hedge bet, the player removes one of the ways that he can lose his $17 Don’t Pass and Odds bets.  As you know from our other article, the Don’t Pass loses if the shooter rolls the point, which in this case is 6.  One of the ways to roll a 6 is the “hard way,” which is a 3 on one die and a 3 on the other die.  If the shooter rolls the point the hard way, the player loses the $17 Don’t Pass and Odds bets, but wins $18 for the Hard 6.  By removing the hard way to roll the point of 6 (i.e., a 3 on one die and a 3 on the other die), the player believes he has given himself some protection against the shooter rolling the point.  He believes a measly $2 Hard 6 bet is a good price to pay to help protect his $17 Don’t Pass.  The player accepts the fact, if the shooter makes her point by rolling a 6 the “easy” way (i.e., the dice show 6 with either 4-2, 2-4, 5-1, or 1-5), then the player lose both the $17 Don’t Pass and the $2 Hard 6.

Hedging your bets when playing craps sounds like a pretty smart way to play, doesn’t it?  Maybe.  You might win in the short-term, but you’ll go broke in the long-term.  If you’re going to hedge, do it smartly by doing it infrequently.  For example, if the table is cold and you see a temporary trend where a craps is being rolled every few rolls, then a $1 or $2 craps check might work a few times to protect a Pass Line bet.  (But if the table is cold, why would you still be betting the Pass Line?  Refer to our other article about adapting to a cold table.)  You might occasionally win a few Any Craps bets and you’ll feel good about it, but if you continue to make those craps checks, you’ll lose overall in the long-term.  The anomaly in the distribution variance won’t last long and all those craps that you’ve been seeing every other roll will dry up like Death Valley.

Remember, every bet on the craps table (except the true odds bet with the Pass Line and Don’t Pass) is against you (i.e., the casino always has the advantage).  There’s no possible recipe of mixing different bets together that will result in you gaining an advantage over the casino.  If you use a bad proposition bet like a Hardway or a craps check to protect a good bet like the Pass Line or Don’t Pass, then the only thing you accomplish is making the good bet worse by increasing the overall house advantage.  If you want any chance of beating the casino, then you must learn to play smart by reading and learning the material in our articles, and then applying discipline at the table.

If you have a lapse in your discipline for whatever reason and you just can’t stop yourself from making a hedge bet (e.g., you had one too many beers or you see everyone else making those bets so you foolishly want to join the crowd), at least be smart enough to limit how often you make them.  Those $1 and $2 losing hedge bets may not seem like a lot individually, but after two or three hours at the table, they can add up. Check out some safe reviewed casino such as Sun Palace, Casino Max, or Slots Plus to play craps for real money. We also have a bonus guide, and some Craps FAQ.

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Written by John Nelsen in partnership with the team of craps pros at Crapspit.org