I think any gambler who has spent time playing craps in a casino would agree – betting the Pass Line at a lively craps table is some of the most fun you can have. Betting the Pass Line means betting with the shooter. Almost everyone at a boisterous craps game bets on the Pass Line. It’s the closest thing to a standard wager that craps offers.
So when the craps table goes cold, and Pass Line bets start losing, there’s nothing that feels worse. The same is true for the Don’t Pass bettor who suddenly has to deal with a hot shooter.
So-called cold streaks are frustrating in any game, but in craps, where the majority of the table is betting the same way, they can be really devastating. So how is a craps player meant to deal with the effects of a blizzard at their table?
Hot and Cold Streaks in Craps
Would it help any if you knew that “hot and cold streaks” in craps are a total myth? A craps table that has turned cold is just experiencing a totally normal streak of results that doesn’t jibe with the standard betting pattern of the game.
Don’t forget that hot and cold are really relative terms. If you’re betting the Don’t Pass Line (betting “against the shooter”), that same losing streak would be seen as a winning streak. If I had to define a cold table, I’d say it’s any table that’s seeing more 7-outs than the players expect.
The truth is, these streaks are standard variances from the norm, totally within the realm of possibility considering the mathematics behind the game.
Keep in mind – this same variance is responsible for winning streaks, too, not just cold tables. A variance producing fewer 7-outs than expected is exactly the result Pass Line bettors want.
Some Thoughts on the Don’t Pass Line
I’ve noticed a lot of craps players just won’t bet on the Don’t Pass Line. This is understandable – by craps custom, Don’t Pass bettors are “wrong-way bettors,” and they generally win when the crowd loses, and vice versa.
I find Don’t Pass betting is a lot of fun for its own reasons. There is a certain appeal to winning when two or three shooters in a row 7 out. I admit to getting a thrill out of winning when the crowd loses. It appeals to the loner in me.
Betting Don’t Pass is appealing for a lot of reasons, but none as much as the fact that it is a better bet than the Pass Line. The difference in odds for Pass and Don’t Pass bettors is small – the house has an edge of 1.41% on Pass Line bets and an edge of 1.36% on Don’t Pass bets – but for advantage gamblers and people who want to get the absolute most out of their bankroll, it’s a significant difference.
How to Handle a “Cold Craps Table”
Before I share a few tips for surviving a series of cold outcomes, there’s something I want you to remember the next time you’re experiencing a cold table: all you’re seeing is a totally normal distribution variance that happens to be going against your betting style. Rather than wringing your hands (and losing money), you have to be able to recognize the two kinds of variance and learn to adapt to them when they pop up.
If you’re experiencing a losing streak, whether you’re betting with or against the shooter, you have three basic options:
- Stand your ground, keep betting the way you have been, and wait for the variance to end. This approach is most common among “right-way bettors” who just can’t bring themselves to bet on the Don’t Pass Line. After seeing the results trend away from their Pass Line wagers, they react by sticking to those bets waiting for the streak to end. This is a mild form of betting on tilt, since emotion is keeping them from switching sides or walking away from the table.
- Switch your betting style. If you’ve been betting against the appearance of a 7, and you experience variance against your bets and the shooter, start betting on the Don’t Pass Line. If you’ve been betting for the 7-out and it isn’t coming, switch to Pass Line bets. Just remember, variance goes both ways, and switching sides may not be the best move strategically. Still, the option remains.
- Take a break. My favorite of all my suggested responses to a cold craps table is to just walk away. Taking breaks while gambling is a good way to stay on top of your game. It allows you to regroup, check your finances, get some much-needed nourishment, stretch your legs, and get back in the game refreshed. Experiencing a series of bad beats at a table game is as good a time as any to take a break.