In the previous 3 posts in this series of blog posts about winning at craps, I’ve written about the difference between good bets and bad bets in craps and what the house edge means. I also alluded briefly in the last post about a 5 step system for becoming an advantage player at craps.

I’m skeptical about how possible this is, but I’m studying this 5 step system presented in Forever Craps by Frank Scoblete. I’m sharing what I’m learning here in the blog.

The 1st step he suggests is to use the “5 count” to decide which shooters to bet on and which shooters to not bet on.

How the 5-Count Works

Scoblete himself explains that the 5-count is controversial. Also, he didn’t create this method himself—he credits it to “The Captain,” a supposedly legendary craps player who has mentored Scoblete. Here’s what he says about it in his introduction to the chapter explaining how the 5-count works:

“Since the publication of Beat the Craps Out of the Casinos: How to Play Craps and Win! more has been written, both pro and con, about the 5-Count than about any other aspect of the Captain’s methods of play. Not a day goes by on the Internet message boards of gambling sites when someone doesn’t praise it or damn it or analyze it or wonder about it. That makes sense, of course, since the 5-Count is at the root of all the Captain’s methods of play.”

It’s paragraphs like this that make me skeptical of some of Scoblete’s complains. It smacks of hyperbole. I’m sure that there has been discussion of the 5-count and of the Captain’s methods on Internet message boards. I doubt that these discussions are going on heatedly every day, though.

At any rate, Scoblete goes on to say that there are basically 3 camps among the people discussing this system. The first group consists of people who have tried the 5-count and discovered that it works. The 2nd group either hasn’t used it or only used it for a little while. In either case, this 2nd group hate it. The 3rd group consists of “craps agnostics.” (I’m firmly in the craps agnostic category, by the way.)

Here’s how the 5-Count works:

The purpose of the 5-Count is to locate shooters who are skilled at rolling the dice in such a way as to get an advantage over the casino. Some of these shooters might just have a natural knack for this. (I think this is a dubious claim.) Some have probably practiced.  In other words, it’s the craps equivalent of clocking a roulette wheel.

According to Scoblete, roughly 50% of the shooters at the craps table will be eliminated from contention by this system. Most of these shooters, he says, are horrendous, and if you bet on them as well as the “rhythmic rollers,” you’ll lose money. This makes sense, because when you’re putting 3 numbers into action at a time—which is the method Scoblete suggests—you can only win one of those numbers. But if the shooter is awful and rolls a 7, you can lose on all 3 of those numbers at the same time.

If you really could identify which shooters were more likely to 7 out and avoid them, you could definitely improve your probability of getting an edge over the casino. You could also spend more time at the table where you’re “not in action,” increasing the amount of comps you’re getting in exchange for your time at the table. The idea behind the 5-count is that you only bet on a shooter after he’s demonstrated that he can go 5 rolls without rolling a 7.

Here’s an example of how that might work in an actual craps game:

The shooter establishes a point on the come out roll. That’s the 1-count. On the 2nd roll, as long as the shooter doesn’t roll a 7, you have the 2-count. This is true for the 3rd and 4th rolls, too. That’s the 3-count and the 4-count. But on the 5th roll, the shooter must roll any of the point numbers for it to count as the 5-count. If it’s any other number, you ignore the result of that roll.

So if the shooter rolls any of the following numbers, you’ve reached the 5-count:

  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10

A roll or 2, 3, 11, or 12 doesn’t count at all. And any time the shooter rolls a 7, you have to start over. The shooter could theoretically continue to roll several times before hitting the 5-count.

You don’t start the count over when the shooter makes his point, either. The count continues. And if the shooter rolls a 7 or even multiple 7s on the come out roll, he’s still in contention as a 5-count shooter.

Once you’ve identified a 5-count shooter, you can start to bet on him. You shouldn’t bet on any shooter until he’s succeeded at getting to the 5-count.

How to Bet Once You’ve Found a 5-Count Shooter

Scoblete suggests 3 major ways to bet once you’ve found a shooter you’re confident in:

  • Place bets
  • Pass and come bets with odds
  • “The Captain’s Supersystem”

If you’re going to use place bets, you just place the 6 and 8 in multiples of $6. IF the casino offers you the option to pay the commission after winning, you can also place 4 and 10 for $20 or $25, assuming your bankroll is big enough for that kind of action.

In fact, if your bankroll is small, you might not be able to make place bets on both 6 and 8. If you have a small bankroll, you might just pick one of them. If you have a big bankroll and like to bet aggressively, you can bet on all 4 place bet numbers.

If you’re going to make pass and come bets with odds, you must 1st decide on how many numbers you want to have working at a time. Scoblete usually suggests being up on 3 numbers at a time, but there’s nothing magical about that number. You could just as easily decide on 2 numbers or 4 numbers.

Here’s how you would do that in actual play:

The shooter rolls a 4, then a 6, and then a 2. That’s the 3-count. Now the shooter rolls a 9, which is your 4-count. Now you place a come bet. Now the shooter rolls a 6. This is the 5-count. You now place another come bet, so you have 2 numbers working—the 9 and the 6. On the next roll (the 6-count), the shooter rolls an 8. You can now place another come bet, so you have 3 numbers working. Of course, you also put up odds on those come bets every time you can.

You can also combine place bets with pass and come bets. This way they can have pass or come bets on some numbers and place bets on the other numbers. The house edge on the place bets make this a riskier proposition, though.

Please Note:

On the other hand, the casino dealers and pit bosses will rate you higher for purposes of determining comps when you’re making place bets than when you’re making pass and come bets with odds. The casinos don’t count the action on the odds bets toward your rating, because they have no edge on the odds bet. (In the long run, they don’t win any money on the odds bets.)

If you’re going to do this, stick with the place bets on the 6 or the 8. Don’t place bets on the other numbers, because the edge is too high.

Of course, Scoblete has a 3rd option he calls the “Supersystem.” This is a more complicated way to bet, and he admits that it’s not as attractive mathematically as the other 2 ways of getting into action with the 5-count. He also calls it “controversial,” but I think that’s just more marketing gobbledygook.

The Supersystem consists of making simultaneous bets on pass/don’t pass and/or come/don’t come. When the wagers go up on those numbers, the Supersystem player also takes maximum odds. This is supposedly apparently foolproof, as the bets seem to cancel each other out.

When a 7 or an 11 is rolled on a come out roll, the do bet wins, and the don’t bet loses.  When a 2 or 3 is rolled, the don’t bet wins, and the do bet loses. The casino gets its edge in this situation from the times when a 12 comes up. In that case, the Supersystem player loses his pass line bet and pushes on his don’t pass bet. This will happen once out of every 36 rolls, too. But according to Scoblete, not only does the Captain advocate this betting style, but some casinos forbid it.
Here’s why:
When a shooter gets past the 5-count, he’s hot. The 7 is supposedly not going to come often at all. (It normally comes up once out of every 6 rolls.) This means that the pass and come bets go down in value, because they win immediately less often. But the odds bets go way up in value for you, and those bets pay off at true odds. During those situations, you’ll be raking in more than even money more often than not when the shooter makes his point. The premise is that a shooter who can influence the dice can reduce the likelihood of getting a 7 from that 1 in 6 to 1 in 7, 1 in 8, or even 1 in 9.

The other numbers come up more often as a result, including the 12. But there are so many of those other numbers that they offset the appearance of the 12. The Supersystem would be worthless if the game were entirely random. But when you’re using the 5-count, you’re theoretically identifying shooters who are controlling the dice, either consciously or unconsciously. (Some people, apparently, are able to influence the dice just based on innate talent. I’m skeptical of both premises, by the way, but I’m more skeptical of the premise that some people just naturally control the dice somehow.) The Supersystem is also a low variance system. You won’t see wild bankroll swings using this system.

Questions and Answers

Scoblete answers some other questions about how this works:

Why doesn’t the 5-count use any 5 rolls? Why does it have to use a 5th roll that’s a point number?

The idea is that a good shooter not only rolls his point early, but also that he rolls points consistently. Some controlled shooters specialize in rolling certain numbers, in fact. Your goal with the 5-count is to eliminate shooters who also roll a lot of 2s, 3s, 11s, or 12s. The house edge on those numbers is too high, so you don’t want to get into the habit of putting money on those. Controlled shooting only eliminates the house edge when it’s small; if the house edge is large, controlled shooting will reduce it. Your goal is to turn it around, though—not just eliminate it.

Why can’t you just bet on every other shooter if your goal is just to increase your time at the table for comp purposes?

Your goal is to do more than just get more comps for less risk. You also want to save money from the cold rolls. You’ll need that money to bet with when a shooter gets hot. It’s not enough to just randomize which shooters you bet on. You need to eliminate the weak shooters.

How well does the 5-count work in actual practice as opposed to in theory?

The worst case scenario using the 5-count is this: You put less money into action per hour and get more comps for that money than you would normally. This assumes that the shooters who succeed in getting to the 5-count are just getting there because of variance. That’s the worst case scenario. In the best case scenario, you stand to win a lot of money.

Why don’t more players use the 5-count?

Most people don’t play the 5-count because they want to be in action more often than that. In fact, according to Scoblete, most people who play craps are “Crazy Crappers.” (That’s his term for craps players who make bets with a high house edge. He also points out that this method of play isn’t for everyone.


Scoblete closes his chapter on the 5-count with these words:

“The bottom line, gentle reader, is this: The 5-Count either works or it doesn’t work in the real world of casinos just as I’ve written it. You either play it or you don’t. That’s your choice. In truth, it is better for those of us who play it to have no one else play it so that we can largely go unnoticed.”

After studying the 5 Count for craps closely, I’m still undecided, but I’m in the skeptical camp. I don’t think there’s any harm in this method. I’m just skeptical as to whether it can help you get an edge in craps.

It seems harmless enough, though. As long as you’re playing with money you don’t need for anything else, which should be doing anyway. See any of my posts about money management for reasons why.

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