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Best of The Midnight Skulker

Gaming Guru

 

The Oddsman's Bet Revisited

4 September 2010

With the exception of those rare positive expectation video poker machines, the best bet in the casino is the odds bet at craps because the house has no advantage on it. Unfortunately, in order to take or lay odds the player must make a Pass, Don't Pass, Come, or Don't Come bet on which the house does have an advantage. To circumvent this requirement a player can take or lay odds on the flat bet of another player when that player does not take/lay any odds or less than the maximum odds allowed.

For example, at a double odds table (i.e., where players are allowed to make odds bets of twice the amount of their flat bets), suppose Player A makes a $10 Pass Line bet, the shooter establishes a point of 4, and Player A takes only $10 odds. Theoretically Player B could take odds of up to $10 more on Player A's bet. The legendary Captain dubbed this bet The Oddsman's Bet.

I say theoretically because The Oddsman's Bet does not officially exist. There is no way for either the player or the dealer to set it up to indicate that the player who owns it is not the same player who owns the flat bet. Consequently, Player B in the example above is trusting Player A not to claim the bet and its payoff as his/her own, and any dispute will surely be resolved in Player A's favor. Hence, I personally would never consider making The Oddsman's Bet without the permission of a flat bettor with whom I was at least somewhat acquainted.

The Oddsman's Bet also has the potential for generating hard feelings. The flat bettor may at some point come to resent the fact that he/she is paying the vigorish, the house edge, to give the Oddsman's Bettor a free ride. A no-odds front-side flat bettor may also notice that the Oddsman's Bettor is getting paid better than even money while he/she is not. Consequently, were I to make The Oddsman's Bet I would strike a bargain with my "partner" to alternate flat bets.

Frank Scoblete recently fielded a question from a reader about making The Oddsman's Bet for the dealers. Three scenarios for such a bet come to mind.

Scenario 1: Take/lay odds on someone else's flat bet. This is virtually the same situation as the classic Oddsman's Bet, and carries the same baggage. The other player may be less likely to claim the bet for fear of alienating the dealers, and the dealers may develop an unofficial way to separate their bet from the other player's, but officially the other player still owns the bet.

Scenario 2: Take/lay odds on your own flat bet. (I believe this is the scenario Frank was thinking of in his response to his reader's question, for he suggested simply making the bet in silence, then handing in the proceeds.) I have done this in two ways.

Scenario 2A: When I'm betting the Don'ts I will frequently go behind multiple numbers with single odds. To make a bet for the crew I will then ask the dealer to pick one of my numbers and add another odds increment to it, announcing that its payoff is to go on the rail. Of course, I actually have to hand in the cheques, but the dealer often separates them from the rest of my bet and winnings to facilitate my doing so with a simple wave of the hand.

Scenario 2B: With $15 flat front side and a point of 6 or 8, I typically take $25 odds. If bets for the dealers have been the Kiss of Death I might take $30 odds, but say nothing. If the bet wins, which requires a three-color payoff, which in turn requires a little extra effort by the dealer, I then hand in the "extra" $6 with a comment like, "You folks are taking this Oath of Poverty business so seriously I had to resort to stealth betting for you."

Scenario 3: Take/lay odds on a flat bet someone else has made for the dealers. This technique also all but eliminates the problem of bet ownership; the dealers own the flat bet and so own the odds bet as well. When I make the bet this way I toss the cheques to the flat bettor with a comment like, "Put some shoes on that bet for the boys," which can encourage other players to do likewise, and maybe even to toke the crew with other bets.

On paper the Oddsman's Bet is a great way to neutralize the house advantage, but it does have the potential to make enemies when one makes the bet for oneself. I therefore advise a heavy dose of tact and diplomacy when doing that. On the other hand, toking the crew is a really good way to get friends in the right places, particularly with a bet known by the knowledgeable as the best on the table.

The Midnight Skulker
The Midnight Skulker has been playing craps for over three decades and has played almost everywhere in the country. He is a computer expert and a frequent contributor to Internet newgroups, where his opinions and observations have earned him much respect.
The Midnight Skulker
The Midnight Skulker has been playing craps for over three decades and has played almost everywhere in the country. He is a computer expert and a frequent contributor to Internet newgroups, where his opinions and observations have earned him much respect.