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Tootsie Pop Craps....

Do you remember this Tootsie Pop commercial?

Boy: Mr. Owl, how many licks does it take to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop?
Owl: Let’s find out.  1 – 2 – 3 ~CRUNCH~  Three!

Similarly, when we speak of the dice probabilities, table trends and systems, we speak of the "short term" where most say anything can happen and the "long term" where probability theory predicts that everything will be mathematically as it should be.

For now, let’s ignore dice influencing as that further muddles this discussion.  If I were to observe one million rolls of the dice at a craps table, (actually, let’s make it one million and eight rolls so we can work with whole numbers) dice probability theory tells us that the seven should appear 166,668 times.  I would assume that the seven would indeed appear statistically so close to that number such that the variance would be insignificant.  Most would agree, that one million rolls would qualify for being “The Long Term.”  (At 120 rolls/hour, a million rolls would take over 347 days straight of observing dice rolls)

O.K.  Now let’s observe 100 rolls of the dice (actually, 108 to again work with whole numbers).  The same probability theory tells us that the seven should appear 18 times.   We’ve all observed 100 rolls of the dice and we’ve all seen wild fluctuations from the predicted probabilities in that 50 minute timespan.  Again, most would agree that 100 rolls would qualify for being "The Short Term."

In discussions on newsgroups and message boards, there are those who say to throw out any discussion of the House Advantage in your betting strategy because again, in the "short term"  anything can happen and the House Advantage will only affect you in the “Long Term.”    On the flip side, there are those who are so married to the mathematics of craps, that they can’t see PAST the House Advantage.

So, how long does one have to play craps in order to be affected by the House Advantage?    Like time itself, the “Long Term” is an abstract.  So then, the question then becomes:

Is every session at the craps table mutually exclusive of other sessions, or is every session merely a fraction of a lifetime total of sessions?


What are the implications of each of the possibilities?

Like many things, the answer lies somewhere in the gray middle ground.    If you view each session at the tables as an isolated period of time, in all likelihood you will ignore the House Advantage and feel you have carte blanche to make any crazy wager on the table.   Over time, these Boom-or-Bust players will occassionally have great nights at the table, but more frequently they’ll leave their entire bankroll in the hands of the casino.  On the other hand, if you live and die by the mathematics of the game and the House Advantage, you’re likely to miss out on opportunities that emerge at the table.  

So what’s a craps player to do?  Certainly as many of you know from my previous articles, I lean toward the more prudent side of the scale.  Certainly I don’t wear math blinders when I play but I do let the House Advantage guide me.  For random rollers (non-precision shooters) I make an effort to stick to the more sensible wagers and strategies, even in the "Short Term." No whacky bet the 7 progression systems, or mathematical systems like Fibonacci, or Labouchere for me!  Because of this, and sound money management, I have a pretty strong track record at the tables. 

Craps will always be a “negative expectation” game of independent trials but a little respect for the House Advantage and strong money management skills will keep you at the tables longer in the “Short Term” and have “Long Term” benefits for your bank account as well.

If your table strategy is NOT one where your wagers are the more prudent bets on the table, at what point WILL you be affected by the House Advantage?

Just like the Tootsie Pop,

“The world may never know…”

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