Oh Craps!

            There was an article a few months ago in some of the industry newsletters about how the Wynn in Macau had 'tweaked' their gaming floor to increase margins.  The headline piqued my interest so I decided to read about what they did.  There were two main components.  The first was that they rearranged the table games on the floor.  It didn't go into much detail, but it seemed like they put the more profitable games in more prominent places and put some of the lower margin, slower games more off to the side.  This seems reasonable enough.  It is up to the Player to find the games he wants to and should (for his bankroll's sake) be playing.


            The second change was a bit different.  Apparently, they lowered the amount that is allowed to be wagered on the 'Odds bet' in Craps.  The article did not make it clear just how much so I can't determine the absolute impact to the Player, but this change is in a very different category than the first one.  This is more akin to the casino going to 6 to 5 blackjack from 3 to 2 blackjack.  Let me explain why.


            First, you need to understand what the Odds bet is.  For those that don't play Craps, but perhaps has glanced over at the tables, you might have noticed a sign that says 2X Craps (or 3X or 5X).  Some casinos in downtown or for the locals will do 10X or more.  The Odds bet is a 'sidebet' for Craps.  Of course, just about every wager is a sidebet for Craps!  The most common wager on a Craps table is the Pass Line.  This means that the Shooter will either roll a 7, an 11 or will roll a point (4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10) and then roll it again before rolling a 7.  Once a point is established, the Player may make this Odds Bet.  At that point, the Odds bet is a wager that he will roll the point again before rolling a 7.  What is unusual about this wager is that there is NO HOUSE ADVANTAGE.  The Player is paid true odds for a 100% payback.  So, if the point is 8, he has 5 ways to make an 8 and 6 ways to make a 7 (all other rolls are meaningless).  So he is paid 6 to 5 if he rolls the 8 before the 7.


            2X Odds means that the Player may make an Odds wager equal to 2x the amount of money he wagered on the Pass line.  This greatly reduces the house edge of the overall wager.  The initial pass line wager has a house edge of about 1.41%  But if you can wager 2x the wager at 0% house edge, the overall edge is reduced by 2/3 to just under 0.5%.  Of course, the loss rate doesn't change as you are tripling your overall wager.  But, it makes more sense to wager $5 on the Pass Line and play 2X Odds than it does to wager $15 on the Pass Line and skip the Odds Wager.


            If you find a table that is 10X Odds then the house edge can be dropped to a tiny fraction (below 0.15%).  But again, this doesn't change how much you're going to lose vs. skipping the Odds wager altogether.  It just means you're paying off playing $5 Pass line and $50 Odds wager instead of $55 on the Pass line.  The interesting thing here is you have to decide just how much you are willing to risk per roll (well, likely multiple rolls).  You better have a much bigger bankroll to play $55 per come out roll vs. $5.  In may regards, it is an interesting gimmick that the casino offers to increase the amount the Player is willing to wager.  They are not giving you a winning proposition.  They are just not giving you a losing one either.


            So, back to the Wynn in Macau.  What does it mean when they have lowered the amount you can wager on the Odds Bet?  It means you have less opportunity to wager on a 100% payback game.  If it makes the Player wager more on the Pass Line because he can wager less on the Odds Bet, then the net impact is to increase the Player's loss rate and increase margins for the casino.  Is it as drastic as paying 6 to 5 on a blackjack vs. paying 3 to 2?  No.  That is clearly taking money out of the Player's pocket - and a significant amount at that.  That change costs the Player about 1.2% in payback and clearly increase his loss rate (more than triple it!). 


            In the case of the Odds bet in craps, if a Player simply chooses to keep his Pass Line wager the same and lower his Odds wager to the new maximum, his payback will decrease slightly(the exact amount depends on the change in the maximum Odds wager).  But, the loss rate remains the same.  Overall, the amount the Player can expect to lose per hour remains unchanged.  If, on the other hand he shifts money from the Odds Wager to the Pass Line, then he will impact his loss rate as well.  This would be a double bonus for the casino.