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Frank Scoblete - Part Four: A Hedge Bet that Really Does Work

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  • Frank ScobleteIn the last three issues, I have clearly shown that hedge betting ? using one bet to offset the negative probabilities of another bet ? is a poor method of wagering at craps. In short, you can?t take a high house-edge bet and expect it to make a low house edge bet better.

    So, are all craps hedges such that they invariably increase house edges? Not at all. Actually, the most popular bet at craps, Pass Line followed with Odds is a hedge bet, although not the usual hedge of equal and/or opposites. If we expand the definition of hedge to include any multiple bets that work ?together? in the sense that they are made with that ?togetherness? in mind, then surely the Pass Line with Odds fits the bill.

    If you have $25 to wager and decide to put it all on the Pass Line, you will face a smallish 1.41 percent house edge and an expected loss, on average, of 35 cents each time you make it. However, if you decide to break the bet up into two different ones, the Pass and the Odds, then you would put, say $5 on the Pass Line and, once up on a point number, back it with $20 in Odds. The Odds bet is a separate bet, albeit one that can only be made if you have the requisite Pass Line bet in action. Your expected loss is now reduced to seven cents each time you use this as your mode of betting. That?s a healthy hedge!

    The Philosophy of Hedging

    Hedge bettors want to have it both ways. They want tp protect themselves at one point of the game, but they don?t want to be hurt at the other end of the game. But this is impossible. In real life hedge betters are like this guy named Sammy who has two girls on the hook, Susie and Sally. Since he worries that he won?t ever get married, he juggles both girls hoping one finally says: ?Yes, Sam, you are the man!? Unlike most men, Sam faces a double burden for his supposed security. He must give two sets of presents at holiday time; he must pay for twice as many dinners out; he must smile at two wary, potential mothers-in-law who are scrutinizing his every raised eyebrow. This ruse does give Sammy a false sense of security while he can afford it. He doesn?t feel that everything is riding on the line each and every time he?s with one or the other of his ladies.

    Unfortunately, given time, what invariably happens to guys such as Sammy is that Sally or Susie discovers his scamming (and tells the other, as women do talk) and both then scram, leaving him with nothing but memories and lingering doubts that maybe he should have played the game of love in a straightforward fashion. He is also out a lot of money as neither of his honeys will give back any of his presents!

    Hedge betting serves a similar purpose. It is the gambling equivalent of juggling girlfriends. It is meant to insure that a player can win small amounts frequently at the expense of a greater house edge on one?s money. In the long run, hedging your bets is a foolish thing to do in most cases, as the bets that are often used for hedging purposes are high house-edge bets. High house-edge bets can?t protect low house-edge bets -- just as dating Susie can?t increase the likelihood that Sally will marry you (or vice versa).

    If you find yourself falling for hedge-betting?s allure, perhaps you should ask yourself if you are betting too much money in the first place. The need to hedge often comes from a sense of insecurity in the bets you want to make. If a Pass Line bet of $50 makes you tremble at the thought of a loss, perhaps a more modest $10 should be your bet, and forget about trying to ?insure? your $50 bet with an Any Craps hedge.

    Craps has scores of individual bets that can be made during the course of play -- from Hardways to Crazy Crapper proposition bets, to the Field, to all varieties of Place bets on the ?Do? and the ?Don?t,? to the Pass Line, Come, Don?t Pass, Don?t Come, Odds bets to Hop bets, and then every possible combination of each. The totality of the betting possibilities would be staggering.

    So what? The overwhelming majority of bets at craps -- to put it delicately -- stink! So, the bottom line on hedging is this: With the exception of the Odds bet at craps, trim the hedges from your game!

    Some of Frank's most popular books can be purchased by clicking one of the image links below:

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