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Play The Don't Pass Just Right

3 March 2013

By John Grochowski

QUESTION: On my last trip to the craps table, the table was cold so I switched from playing the pass line to playing the don’t pass line. Of course my friends hated me. When a point was established I did not lay the odds. My friends told me I was stupid for not laying the odds. I disagreed and gave them this reasoning:

When you play the pass line and you establish a point the odds are in the casino’s favor. Let’s say the point is a 4 or a 10. The odds are 2:1 against you. All (smart) players will then proceed to place a “natural” odds bet behind the original bet to increase their overall odds. The more you place on the "natural" odds bet (1x, 2x, 10x, 100x....), the closer your overall odds approach 1:1, increasing your odds and decreasing the house’s advantage.

Of course my friends understood this and asked what my point was.

I then said the don’t pass is just the opposite: When you play the don’t pass and the point is a 4 or a 10, the odds are 2:1 in your favor. By laying the odds you reduce your 2:1 advantage. The more you lay the closer your advantage over the house is reduced, getting closer to 1:1. I asked them, “Why would one do that?”

They replied that your odds of winning are 2:1 in your favor so get as much money out there as you can.

The debate raged all night.

Can you help us settle this dispute?

ANSWER: My position is that you should keep the don’t pass bet to the minimum, then make up your desired bet size by laying the odds.

The reason is the come-out. You only have three ways to win and eight ways to lose on the come-out, so making your full bet on don’t pass exposes all your money to that big disadvantage.

If I’m at a $5 table and want to wind up with about a $25 bet, then I want $5 on don’t pass. That minimizes the portion of the bet exposed to portion of play where the house makes its money. Then I lay the odds for the rest, meaning that at the point I’ll win more often than I lose, I have the most money at work.

Expressed as house edges, the house edge on don’t pass with no odds is 1.36 percent. The house edge on don’t pass plus laying the odds drops to 0.7 percent with single odds, 0.3 percent at 3x, 4x 5x odds, 0.2 percent at true 5x odds and 0.1 percent at 10x odds.

QUESTION: I have two slot questions. I know you receive a tax form when you have $1,200 worth of credits in the slot machine. My question is, if you let credits build up to $1,200, does the machine lock up if you try to cash out, so the slot attendant is alerted to come there with a tax form? I cash out often when I am accumulating credits.

Also, I was playing a Blazing 7 machine, three-coin, quarters. You could change the denomination to dollars on that machine. While playing quarters, I hit the jackpot for $250 (1,000 credits). My question is, if I had been playing dollars, would the same jackpot still have come around? Or are they programmed differently.

ANSWER: The IRS requirement that you sign a tax form before receiving a $1,200 payout applies only to jackpots, not to accumulated credits. If you have a winning combination worth $1,200 or more, the machine will lock up and an attendant will have you sign a form before you can be paid. If, on the other hand, you have a number of smaller wins and accumulate $1,200, the machine will not lock up. You can just cash that out without receiving a tax form.

As for the Blazing 7s machine, you almost certainly would have received a different outcome if you’d been playing a different denomination. Each coin denomination on a multi-denominational slot machine usually has its own random number generator. Just as dollar machines usually pay a higher payback percentage than quarter machines, dollar games usually pay more than quarter games on multi-denominational machines. In order for that to hold up, the games have to have separate RNGs. Your results throughout your play would have been different had you been playing the dollar version.
John Grochowski
John Grochowski is the best-selling author of The Craps Answer Book, The Slot Machine Answer Book and The Video Poker Answer Book. His weekly column is syndicated to newspapers and Web sites, and he contributes to many of the major magazines and newspapers in the gaming field, including Midwest Gaming and Travel, Slot Manager, Casino Journal, Strictly Slots and Casino Player.

Listen to John Grochowski's "Casino Answer Man" tips Tuesday through Friday at 5:18 p.m. on WLS-AM (890) in Chicago, with podcasts at Look for John Grochowski on Facebook ( and Twitter (@GrochowskiJ).

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