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Hedging Your Craps Bets
“Hedging” is making one bet to “protect” another. You will frequently see players make a $5 (or $10) Pass Line bet and then hedge it with a $1 Any Craps bet. If the shooter rolls anything but a craps on the come-out roll, the Any Craps bet loses (but it’s only $1, so it’s not too painful). If the shooter rolls a craps on the come-out, the $5 Pass Line loses, but the $1 Any Craps wins (except for the “bar” number, in which case it’s a push). The casino odds for Any Craps are 7:1, so the player wins $7 for the $1 bet. When hedging, the player believes that the $1 Any Craps bet “protects” the $5 Pass Line bet from losing on the come-out roll.
Another less common hedge bet is using a $1 Hard 6 or 8 to help protect the player’s Don’t Pass with Odds. For example, suppose you make a $5 Don’t Pass bet, the point is 8, and you then lay $12 in Odds against the point (i.e., with the $5 Don’t Pass and $12 Odds, your total bet is $17). You then make a $2 Hard 8 bet to essentially take away one of the ways you can lose the Don’t Pass. If the shooter makes her point by rolling 8 the Hardway (i.e., 4-4), then your Don’t Pass with Odds lose. However, in this example, the shooter made her point by rolling 8 the Hardway, so your $2 Hard 8 bet wins. casino odds for the Hard 8 are 9:1, so you win $18. Therefore, your $17 Don’t Pass and Odds bets lose but you’re “protected” because your Hard 8 bet wins $18. The bad news about this hedge bet is, if the shooter makes her point of 8 the easy way (i.e., 6-2, 2-6, 5-3, or 3-5), then you lose both your Don’t Pass with Odds and Hard 8 bets.
Hedging sounds fairly smart, right? In the short-term, maybe. In the long-term, definitely not. If you hit a 20-minute stretch of time where the distribution goes crazy and every other roll produces a 2, 3, or 12, then maybe a $1 Any Craps is a good hedge to protect your Pass Line bet. Maybe. If it works and you win a few Any Craps bets, then the table will think you’re a genius. But in the long-term, you’ll lose. The crazy variance in the distribution that shows a 2, 3, or 12 every other roll won’t last long. Therefore, if you consistently hedge your bets, you’ll lose over time. Why?
For the player (i.e., not the casino), craps is a negative expectation game. Everything on the table (except the true odds bet) is a negative for the player. No possible combination of negative-expectation bets exists that yields a positive expectation. In other words, you can’t mix two or more negative-expectation bets into something that’s in your favor. You just can’t. It’s important to understand that concept. Using a bad bet (e.g., Any Craps or a Hardway) to hedge a good bet (e.g., Pass Line or Don’t Pass) only makes the good bet worse.
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