The “KISS” Theory of Craps

We’ve all heard of the KISS Theory as applied to many things in life. If you’ve been off-planet for the last thirty years and are not familiar with the KISS Theory – it stands for Keep It Simple Stupid. And I suspect that there’s no were that this theory can be applied better than at the game of craps.

Let’s start with the simplest of decisions. Do you bet the Pass Line or the Don’t Pass Line – or both at the same time – or do you by-pass the Pass/Don’t Pass entirely and just Place bet or Lay bet? Hmmm. So much for keeping it simple. So let’s look into this decision a little deeper.

Both the Pass Line and the Don’t Pass line carry a house edge of approximately 1.41%. Bet $100 on the Pass Line or Don’t Pass Line for 100 decisions and you will have wagered $10,000. According to casino math, over the long run you’ll lose $141 over the course of those 100 bets. That assumes a random game, of course. Add in the fact that the Pass Line wager is a contract bet – once you make it and a point is established you cannot take it down until it wins. It gets taken down by the house when it loses. You can, of course, take down a Don’t Pass bet at any time, but why take it down once the point is established, since you’ll have an edge over the house on the bet at that point.

So, I’ll play the Doey’ Don’t – you think. Some people will attempt to do the math on this play and tell you that the house has a 2.82% edge on the wager. That is not correct. It has a 1.41% edge on each of the two wagers. Yeah, it totals up to the same amount. I’m just trying to adhere to the KISS theory here. Bottom line – you’re paying a higher vig on your wagers when you attempt to hedge with the Doey-Don’t. Plus you kill your casino rating. Unconvinced? No problem. Bring your significant other to the casino with you. One of you can play $100 Pass Line bets while the other plays $100 Don’t Pass bets. But don’t be surprised at the end of your 100 decision session if you are down a combined $282.

That takes us to passing on the Pass Line and Don’t Pass Line wagers and just Place or Lay betting. But which numbers to choose? The math of the game tells us that Place Betting the six or eight is the best bet unless the casino only collects the commission on Buy bets a win – in which case the Buy bet on the four or ten is marginally better. But just as important as which numbers to bet is the question – how long do I leave my bets open? Then there’s the question about regressions, progressions, et al. The list goes on and on. And, of course, if you don’t have a positive EV then it probably doesn’t matter much over the long run how you handle your bets. Over the long run you’re still going to lose.

So let’s REALLY talk about keeping it simple and think in terms of how to gain an edge at casino craps. Well, the only guaranteed way to do that (assuming you can do it and keep out of jail) is to cheat. Since that’s not an option in my book let’s think in terms of something a little less likely to run us afoul of the law. I can see a couple of ways to achieve this, but the one that makes most sense to me is to gain an edge through my ability to influence the dice. But that brings up another set of problems. Do you toss the dice backhanded, underhanded, or side-handed. Do you set the dice side by side or stack them? Do you shoot from next to stick, the hook, or straight out? Do you land the dice close to the back wall, far from the back wall, in the middle, or in the hook? Yeah, it puts you in another quandary.

Perhaps the real key is to do what’s simplest for YOU. We’re all wired differently, and some people function better tossing underhanded from stick right while others are naturals backhanding the dice from straight out. Some of us are completely comfortable making Pass Line and Come bets with max odds. The thought of using anything other than Place bets with early steep regressions scares the hell out of others. The only persons who don’t seem to be bothered by much of any of this are the Don’t players – who stand quietly at the end of the table and play the same game over and over and over. Come to think of it – that’s pretty simple as well.

The real “KISS Theory” of craps? If you toss the dice down the table, then they bounce up and “kiss” each other before tumbling off in opposite directions – well, you’re going to feel pretty stupid when you hear the stick call. Or maybe not. Maybe you’re playing the Don’ts.