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Hedging Your Craps Bets

“Hedging” is making one bet to “protect” another. You will frequently see players make a $5 (or $10) Pass Line bet and then hedge it with a $1 Any Craps bet. If the shooter rolls anything but a craps on the come-out roll, the Any Craps bet loses (but it’s only $1, so it’s not too painful). If the shooter rolls a craps on the come-out, the $5 Pass Line loses, but the $1 Any Craps wins (except for the “bar” number, in which case it’s a push). The casino odds for Any Craps are 7:1, so the player wins $7 for the $1 bet. When hedging, the player believes that the $1 Any Craps bet “protects” the $5 Pass Line bet from losing on the come-out roll.

Another less common hedge bet is using a $1 Hard 6 or 8 to help protect the player’s Don’t Pass with Odds. For example, suppose you make a $5 Don’t Pass bet, the point is 8, and you then lay $12 in Odds against the point (i.e., with the $5 Don’t Pass and $12 Odds, your total bet is $17). You then make a $2 Hard 8 bet to essentially take away one of the ways you can lose the Don’t Pass. If the shooter makes her point by rolling 8 the Hardway (i.e., 4-4), then your Don’t Pass with Odds lose. However, in this example, the shooter made her point by rolling 8 the Hardway, so your $2 Hard 8 bet wins. Casino odds for the Hard 8 are 9:1, so you win $18. Therefore, your $17 Don’t Pass and Odds bets lose but you’re “protected” because your Hard 8 bet wins $18. The bad news about this hedge bet is, if the shooter makes her point of 8 the easy way (i.e., 6-2, 2-6, 5-3, or 3-5), then you lose both your Don’t Pass with Odds and Hard 8 bets.

Hedging sounds fairly smart, right? In the short-term, maybe. In the long-term, definitely not. If you hit a 20-minute stretch of time where the distribution goes crazy and every other roll produces a 2, 3, or 12, then maybe a $1 Any Craps is a good hedge to protect your Pass Line bet. Maybe. If it works and you win a few Any Craps bets, then the table will think you’re a genius. But in the long-term, you’ll lose. The crazy variance in the distribution that shows a 2, 3, or 12 every other roll won’t last long. Therefore, if you consistently hedge your bets, you’ll lose over time. Why?

For the player (i.e., not the casino), craps is a negative expectation game. Everything on the table (except the true odds bet) is a negative for the player. No possible combination of negative-expectation bets exists that yields a positive expectation. In other words, you can’t mix two or more negative-expectation bets into something that’s in your favor. You just can’t. It’s important to understand that concept. Using a bad bet (e.g., Any Craps or a Hardway) to hedge a good bet (e.g., Pass Line or Don’t Pass) only makes the good bet worse.

If you can’t control the urge to use hedges, then do it carefully. You might think, “What difference does it make? It’s only a buck. A measly buck is worth it to protect my $5 Pass Line.” That kind of thinking will take you straight to the poor house. Those measly $1 chips quickly add up over a few hours of play. Before you know it, you’ve tossed away $50 on hedge bets and you’re scratching your head wondering where your money went.