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The Question of Risk

3 Sep 2020

By John Grochowski
House edges give us a basis for comparing one casino game to another, and for comparing different bets within the same game.

But the edges by themselves don’t always give us a complete picture. Understanding your risk also must include speed of play. Some games play faster than others, and in craps, some bets are decided in fewer rolls and require more wagers per hour to stay in action.

An answer to a reader in a mailbag column a few weeks ago touched on that. In a common version of the field bet in craps with a 2.78 percent house edge, average hourly losses higher than on place bets on 4, with a 6.67 percent edge, if the same amount is at risk per roll. The field is decided on every roll, the place bet on 4 an average of once per four rolls, and that makes a huge difference.

Since that appeared, I’ve received requests for more examples. Let’s try two, one in craps, and one comparing different games.

Craps first. Hardway bets work in a similar manner to place bets, except that winners come only when the same number rolls on both dice.

If you bet on 10 the hard way, then you win a 7-1 payoff if the shooter rolls two 5s. You lose if the roll is 10 rolled as a 6 and a 4, and you lose if the roll is 7. If the roll is anything other than 10 or 7, it’s essentially a push. The bet can stay in action or you can take it down.

Some players see a little extra excitement in the 7-1 payoff instead of the 9-5 on place bets on 10. But the bigger payoff is costly. The house edge on 4 or 10 the hard way is a whopping 11.11 percent.

That equals the house edge on several one-roll bets, including any craps in which you win 7-1 if the roll is 2, 3 or 12 and lose on any other number.

Hard 10 and any craps have the same 11.11 percent house edge. But any craps is decided on every roll, while it takes an average of four rolls to decide hard 10.

If you bet enough to have $5 in action for each of 100 rolls, you’d average $125 in wagers on hard 10 and $500 on any craps. Average losses would be $13.89 on hard 10 and $55.55 on any craps.

Losses mount faster on the one-roll bet.

Speed in different games makes a difference, too. Mini-baccarat moves very fast. It’s not uncommon to see 200 decisions per hour.

Roulette is a slow game as players take their time spreading bets over the layouts. Spinning the wheel takes time, and so does settling bets afterward when players make multiple bets per spin. A chart at put roulette spins down to 35 per hour with six players.

Assume you’re betting $10 per had on player in roulette. In an hour with 200 hands, you’d risk $2,000. The house edge is a low 1.24 percent, so average losses would total $24.80.

In double-zero roulette, the house edge is high at 5.26 percent. But if you bet $10 per hand on black for an hour, 35 spins would bring an average risk of only $350. Average loss: $18.41.

Despite a much higher house edge, average hourly losses at the same bet size are lower in double-zero roulette than in baccarat.

Lower edges bring a better shot to win, but when thinking in terms of average hourly risks, speed matters.

Look for John Grochowski on Facebook ( and Twitter (@GrochowskiJ).

This article is provided by the Frank Scoblete Network. Melissa A. Kaplan is the network's managing editor. If you would like to use this article on your website, please contact Casino City Press, the exclusive web syndication outlet for the Frank Scoblete Network. To contact Frank, please e-mail him at

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