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Frank Scoblete - The Numbers of Craps: The 5, 6 and 7

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  • Frank ScobleteIn a previous article I discussed the probabilities, bets, mystiques and mistakes of betting the numbers 2, 3 and 4 at craps. This issue we take a look at the 5, 6 and the pivotal 7.

    The 5, sometimes referred to as the ?fever? by dealers, can be made four different ways with two six-sided dice: 1:4, 4:1, 2:3 and 3:2. When you are betting on the 5, you are a three-to-two underdog since there are six ways to make the 7 and only four ways to make the 5. Six to four is three to two. The 5 is also considered one of the ?inside? numbers, along with 6, 8, and 9. Many ?action? players like to bet it as part of a four-way inside bet. You?ll hear them call out: ?Give me $44 inside.? That means $10 on the 5 and 9, $12 on the 6 and 8.

    When you place the 5 in increments of $5, a winning wager will pay $7. At first this might sound great, but the true odds of the bet would be $6 for $4. You?re betting an extra dollar but that extra dollar is only being paid off at even money. The house edge on a placement of the 5 is four percent.

    Perhaps the reason 5 is called ?fever,? has to do with its religious connotations. Five is considered the number of the flesh and is therefore somewhat naughty. It was also the number of wounds Christ suffered on his flesh when he was on the cross. People whose names add up to 5 are often said to be sexually promiscuous, sociable, willing to take risks, clever, erotic and amusing. Some are also debauched. We have 5 senses and some ancient Greeks believed that there were 5 basic elements in nature. The 5 is made up of the male number 3 and the female number 2, so if you?re androgynous, it?s probably a good number for you at craps, although it will still be difficult to overcome that four percent edge on placing it!

    One of the two most powerful numbers (after the 7) at craps is the 6. There are five ways to make a 6 (1:5, 5:1; 2:4, 4:2 and 3:3) and thus the 7 is merely a six-to-five favorite over this number. Placing the 6 is not a bad bet as craps bets go since the house has only a 1.5 percent edge. You bet $6 to win $7. However, if you are going for that longshot of a hard six (3:3) be aware that the casino has a nine percent edge over you. Ouch! Many craps players like to place the 6 and the 8 together as these are the two most-frequently appearing numbers (again, after the 7).

    Unlike the sexy 5, the 6 is a settled, relaxed, passive, and normal number but it has a powerful love component as well ? it represents a mother?s love. As such it?s clean and unselfish. Although it is considered a female number and somewhat passive, it is not a bad luck number (in Western thinking, most things associated with femaleness are unlucky or not good ? just tell your 10 year-old son he ?throws like a girl? for verification of this thesis), in fact it is a ?perfect number? as its divisors, other than itself, add up to it: 1 + 2 + 3 = 6. Of the first 10 numbers it is the only such number.

    Now we come to the central number in all of craps, the 7; sometimes called ?the devil,? sometimes called ?big red,? sometimes called ?that number? so as not to say it aloud and bring down bad luck on the table. The 7 is the most powerful number at craps and the most pivotal. It can be made six ways (1:6, 6:1, 3:4, 4:3, 2:5 and 5:2). If you take a look at a single die, you will notice that all the opposite sides add up to 7. Take a look at the side that has the six-spots, flip it over and you?ll see the one spot; the four-spots, opposite the three-spots; the two-spots opposite the five-spots. Every time a single die lands, we?re halfway to seeing a 7 appear.

    The 7 is a boon on the come-out roll. If it hits, you win your Pass Line bet immediately. It?s a bane on the ?point? side of the game, however, since a shooter must make his ?point number? before a 7 to win. During the point cycle of the game, the 7 is a two-to-one favorite to beat the 4 and 10, a three-to-two favorite to beat the 5 and 9, and a six-to-five favorite to beat the 6 and 8. And don?t think that betting a 7 straight-up is going to help you loot the casino coffers. The Any Seven bet is the single worst bet at craps. It?s a one-roll bet that the next number will be a 7. You get paid four-to-one if it is. This might sound like a decent payoff but when you realize that the true odds of the bet are five to one, you soon discover that the casino has a 16.67 percent edge. If the 7 is the devil, then the Any Seven is a legion of fallen angels.

    The 7 in numerology and religion has both good and bad connotations. There are 7 pillars of wisdom but also 7 deadly sins. There are 7 heavens but also 7 virgins get hacked up to feed some ancient monsters such as the minotur. Seven is considered the number of completeness, as there are 7 days in a week, and then we start all over again. In craps, a 7 wins in the beginning and loses in the end for Pass Line bettors; it?s just the opposite for Don?t Pass bettors. (Check out the exclusive interview I did with the 7 in a past issue of Midwest Gaming and Travel.)

    For craps players, the 7 is a god ?it is feared, it is loved, it is supreme and we sacrifice a lot of money to gain its favor.

    Next issue: 8, 9, and 10.

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