September 2007
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Crapshoot #3

The Vic has a dice table.  Just the one tucked away in the corner, but nevertheless it’s the first I’ve seen in a UK casino, amid the gazillions of electronic roulette stations.  The roulette there has two video feeds from separate wheels and you can pick which one to bet on.  This gives punters a reason to play on two adjacent machines at the same time – for the multi-tabling professional.

Vij had come along on Saturday to watch me set fire to his 5% and clearly had the urge to lose more money after he’d seen me bust out of the poker.  Craps was going to be his game of choice, although he’d mostly forgotten how to bet – and how to keep the dice on the table!  So Vij concentrated on trying to shoot while I got to call the bets with his money.

The thing with craps is that it has to be a busy, rowdy table to be fun. Well, the two of us made it three (although that miserable bastard wouldn’t bet unless he was shooting) and at one point there were as many as five people standing around the table.  We didn’t quite reach critical mass to keep the game going and hi-fiving and shouting were unsurprisingly not present, but if there was even a little bit of a vibe I’d probably have wanted to stay longer.  The game wasn’t that bad at all.

They only allow single odds but with 50p and 20p chips in play you don’t get penalised for only betting the minimum.  Place the 6 and 8 for £3 each and you win £3.50 when it hits.  If you can still find a $3 craps game in Vegas (clue: it’s not on the Strip) you won’t get any change when you press a winning place bet to $6.

Without the change, there’d be no point taking odds on a £3 line bet for any number other than a 4 or 10, but a 6-5 true odds bet pays £1.20 for every pound behind the line.  The English denominations actually work out pretty well for the small-timers.  They definitely don’t let you bump up the bet to get a round payout – I tried! – and when I only put £2 down for 3-2, the dealers really didn’t know whether that was allowed.  To prevent all hell from breaking loose, just make sure your odds bet is the same amount as your line bet.

Frustratingly, hardways had the same £3 minimum as all the other bets, so there was no chance of a heroic parlay with loose change.  The odds were pretty good though (for sucker bets) giving 9.5-1 on the hard 6 and 8 and 7.5-1 on the hard 4 and 10.  The deliberately confusing 10-for-1 and 8-for-1 in Vegas actually mean a payoff of 9-1 and 7-1 respectively for a house edge of about 9% or 11% – one of the worst bets in the casino.  These adjustments halve the edge, and if only they had made it a quid minimum I’d play a hard six or eight with 4.5% juice all day long.

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