hedge bets

Hedging your Bets: Don’t Do It!

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“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.

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.

You can now head over to the table of contents to find more great content.


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

Comments 4

  1. I don’t 100% agree with you here. I am a dark-sider (I play the Don’ts) and I always back up my bet on the come out. I always run a $10 Don’t Pass bet unless the table minimum is higher and hedge it with $5, $3 on “ANY 7” with 4:1 odds, $1 on 11 with 15:1 odds and $1 on 12 with 30:1 odds. If anything other than a point is rolled I either break even or make money. All of those bets cost me $15.

    If 7 comes up I lose my Don’t Pass, 11 and 12 for a total loss of $12, but ANY 7 pays 4:1 on $3 so I break even
    If 11 Comes up I lose my Don’t Pass, ANY 7 and 12, but $1 on 15:1 odds puts me +$1
    If any craps come up the ANY 7, 11 and 12 lose for -$5, Don’t Pass pays and I am +$5 overall
    Should 12 roll out, my ANY 7 and 11 go away for a loss of $4, the Don’t Pass pushes, and at 30:1 that roll puts me +$25

    Now, yes, if a point is established I lose all $5 but it’s easier to make that money back with place and lay bets. Me losing money is never a result of the come out, I can only lose money once a point is established

    1. Hi Brewski, thanks for your comment. Sorry, but to put it bluntly, you’re wrong.

      With all its various bets and assigned payoff odds, the game of craps simply does not allow the player to gain an advantage over the house no matter how badly you want to believe that you’ve so cleverly figured out what the world’s smartest Harvard mathematicians and statisticians have never successfully discovered. Period.

      There’s one key sentence in the article that we want you to focus on, which is, “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.” That’s a simple mathematical fact that you must accept. If you can’t accept our word, then do the math and calculate it yourself (refer to our other articles that explain how to do this). If you can’t accept our word, then we leave it up to you to run the numbers instead of us doing it for you–that way, it’ll stick in your brain better.

      It’s like the player who argues that the Doey-Don’t system protects the come-out for the Don’t player. The problem is, the game’s inventor built in the Bar 12, which is a push for the Don’t. The Don’t player thinks, “The 12 hardly ever shows on the come-out, so once I get beyond the come-out I have the advantage after a point is established.” The flaw in that logic is that the player doesn’t understand that the 12 shows on the come-out just enough over the long-term so the casino maintains its edge and, therefore, still makes money off the Doey-Don’t player over the long-term.

      The same is true for your hedge system. No matter how much protection you think you have on the come-out, the simple statistical fact is that enough points are established instead of naturals rolled on the come-out such that you are guaranteed to be a loser over the long-term. To be a smart, strong, solid player, you must make your brain accept the mathematical fact that there’s no combination of bets or bet amounts, no matter how logical the combinations may seem, that will give the player an advantage over the casino.

      Math doesn’t lie, math has no emotion, math is pure fact. And the pure fact is that there’s no hedge method that ever has been or ever will be discovered (including yours) that gives the player an advantage in a legitimate game of craps. Period.

      If you can’t and won’t accept that, then nothing else we say will change your mind, so all we can say is good luck and have fun at the tables.

  2. I play the don’t pass for $10 dollars and usually hedge it with a field bet. I know the field isn’t the greatest bet, but it has a much lower house edge than the prop bets (I only play the field if the 2 is double and the 12 pays triple.) I only loose money if a 7 comes natural, 5,6,8 is the point and then the shooter makes it. If an 11 rolls out on the come out roll, I break even. if a 2 or a 12 rolls out, i make 30 dollars.

    1. Subzero, thanks for your post. Without going into all the math, the simple mathematical fact is that using a “bad” bet (such as the Field) only makes a “good” bet (such as the DON’T) worse. Despite the ill-placed logic that hedge bettors use, it’s always flawed, always. No combination of bets and bet amounts exists that will reduce the house advantage to zero, and certainly not swing the advantage to you. Don’t listen to the Internet nitwits who claim to have figured out a way to beat the game or eliminate the house advantage using hedge bets. Hedge bets do only one thing—they move money from your pocket to the casino’s pocket quicker than if you only play the DON’T. The DON’T with Odds has the lowest house advantage of any other bet and any combination of bets, period. Most people don’t want to see the math; they don’t understand it; it gives them a headache. If that’s you, then at least take the time to test your system and track the results. I wouldn’t use a video game to test it because I’d be unsure if it’s programmed to be as random as it could be (i.e., it may be programmed to win more than it should to give the player more fun and excitement). Instead, test your system manually by rolling dice on your dining table. You might think, “That’ll take forever, forget that!” Before you give up without even trying, let me ask—isn’t it worth the time to see what kind of results such a system actually produces? You risk hundreds or maybe thousands of dollars at the table on a system you believe and trust is valid, but you have no basis for believing in it. So, sit at your dining table and roll the dice. Do it. Play 5,000 games and record the results in a notebook. Take your time over a few weeks to do it so you don’t lose interest. 30 minutes today, 10 minutes tomorrow, 20 minutes the next day, an hour on Saturday, etc. Eventually, you’ll accumulate data on at least 5,000 games. For each game, record the win or loss amount and keep a running track. After 5,000 games (10,000 would be better), see what your net loss is. I already know what the outcome will be, but you need to see it for yourself. That’s the only way you’re going to be convinced that, as the saying goes, “…hedge bets do nothing but make a good bet worse.” Good luck and have fun at the tables!

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