When my financial advisor, investor, guru comes to my house to give me a rundown on what I own, what I sold, what I made, what I lost, and what it all cost, I go into an alpha state of relaxed, meditative awareness or, rather, unawareness. I know he is talking intensely about a multitude of important things but I hear very little as I am transported to another state of consciousness. Here is what I hear:
?In this fund, om, ah, om, hedging, ohm, oohmmm, we took the, ohm, ahhh, ohm, and transferred, om mani padre hummm, to these funds because, ah ing, we hedged our bets, ah in ah innn.?
I?ll rouse: ?No, no it?s as clear as the nose on the face of the Sphinx.?
Then I?ll say: ?Uh, did I make money??
To which he?ll say either ?yes? or ?no? with a quick, real-world explanation like: ?Because the market was good,? or, ?The market was awful.? Then I?m perfectly content as I found out what I wanted to know.
Many craps players go into altered states of consciousness when assaulted with the mathematics of the particular bets they love to make. We gaming gurus love to throw around formulas that speak volumes about the outcome of various betting styles, when all the craps player is really interested in is this: ?Will I make money betting this way?? If the craps player is really savvy, his question will actually be: ?Will I lose less money betting this way?? A simple ?yes? or ?no? with some backup proof is all that most craps players want. All else is befuddlement.
Nowhere is befuddlement more, well, befuddling than concerning the question of hedging bets at craps. Spend some amount of time at the craps tables and you will see and hear a host of hedges, the most common of which are hedges that increase or decrease your chances of winning or losing on the Pass Line. Some craps writers are advocates of hedges as they believe it protects players from variance and volatility. But are hedges really worth it?
The Quintessential, Classic Craps Hedge
A classic craps hedge consists of utilizing one bet to offset another bet. For example, you place a $5 Pass Line bet and then ask the dealers to give you a one-dollar ?Any Craps? -- 2, 3, 12 -- in order to offset the possible loss of that Pass Line bet when any of the craps numbers appear. Thus, there is no way to lose on the Pass Line be utilizing such a scheme. You?ll win $40 on the 7 and 11, which will show up eight times (on average) in 36 rolls, but you?ll lose $8 on the Any Craps, for a net gain of $32. However, when any of the craps numbers appear-- and they?ll appear four times for every 36 rolls on average -- you will lose $20 on the Pass Line but win $28 on the Any Craps (which pays off at 7 to 1). So the hedger is ahead of the Pass Line game at this point to the tune of $40.
However, when a point number -- 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10 -- is rolled, the Pass Line bet does not win or lose. The shooter now has to make that point before he rolls the dreaded 7. And what of all those Any Craps bets you?ve been making for a buck? What happens to them? The 24 times on average that a point number rolls is a loser for the Any Craps bet. So the Pass Line win is now reduced by $24. Still, by the end of the betting sequence, and in the long run, the hedger is guaranteed a win on the Pass Line come-out rolls of $16. Has our hedger successfully protected his Pass Line bet from being diminished by the craps numbers? No.
Why the Classic Hedge Increases the House Edge!
At first, advocates of hedging will be delighted to look at the above figures and see just how ?protected? their Pass Line bet is by the Any Craps hedge. But can hedging advocates answer the following question in the affirmative: ?Will I win more or lose less by betting this way?? Sorry, you?ll lose more. Here why:
If you merely played the Pass Line sans hedging, you would have won $40 on the eight times the 7 and 11 appeared, lost $20 when the 2, 3 and 12 appeared; yet, you would have been ahead $20 for the full sequence in the long run. Contrast that with our hedger who wins only $16. The cost for hedging is a 20 percent reduction in our overall Pass Line come-out win in the long run. In this case hedging is a bad investment.
So, my advice is to take a pass on the Pass Line hedges.
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