The Importance of Positivity at the Craps Table

Legendary Dice Controller Dominic LoRiggio says “Nobody Likes a Don’t Player!”

I don’t usually start articles in the first person, but I want to tell you about the first time I ever played craps. It was at the Wynn in Las Vegas, one of my favourite poker rooms to sit in, and after a few hours I decided to take a break and wander the casino floor. Like a magnet, I was instinctively drawn to this one particular craps table. People were surrounding the table, both players and spectators, all cheering loudly and having fun. They seemed to be winning too. The atmosphere was appealing. With the screams and hollers, with the sound of chips rattling, you could sense the action. The vibe was good.

Now, I had never played craps before but that wasn’t going to stop me from joining the party. I reached into my pocket and pulled out four $5 chips and enthusiastically plopped them down on the ‘Don’t Pass” line. In hindsight, I should have known better. The ‘Don’t Pass’ segment stood out, alarmingly so, it’s pitch black within its borders, almost a warning sign to proceed with caution, and it actually has the word ‘don’t’ right in its title. I did anyway and the second my chips hit the table I could feel the mood change. When I turned to concentrate on the shooter, who was standing directly to my left, I was met with an expression of scorn.

“I’m going to roll for an hour kid, that’s a terrible bet,” he barked sternly, with a look that said, “I’ll show you!”

He seemed angry and why wouldn’t he be? I was betting against him. Talk about making a first impression, I wasn’t there two minutes and the whole table hated me.

Nobody likes a ‘Don’t’ Player

When I shared this story with Dominic LoRiggio, during our exclusive interview for Team Maple, all he could do was laugh. You will not find the ‘Dominator,’ as he is known in gambling circles, making don’t pass bets but there are people who do. The thinking is simple; nobody’s going to roll forever, right? If the casinos bank on it, why wouldn’t you bet your money on it as well?

Nobody likes a don’t pass player. Most people are wagering on the pass line, and they want the shooter to roll for an hour. It’s all about the math. The negative edge on a minimum pass line bet is 1.4. If you put your money on don’t pass, the casino’s edge is 1.41%. So, there is basically no difference, hundredths of a percentage point, in casino edge against you whether you are playing the do or the don’t, none whatsoever. The difference goes back to the psychology at the table.

Pass Line & Don’t Pass Wagers

What are pass line and don’t pass bets? Think of them as opposites with exactly the same odds. Pass Line bets are made for the shooter to win, while don’t pass bets are made for the shooter to lose. They are usually the very first bets made in a craps game.

Pass Line Bets

  • If the come-out roll is a 7 or 11, the bet is a winner
  • If the come-out roll is a 2, 3 or 12, the bet is a loser
  • Any other number will establish the point
  • If the point number is rolled again before a 7, pass line bets win
  • If a 7 is rolled before the point number, pass line bets lose

Don’t Pass Bets

  • If the come-out roll is a 2 or 3, the bet is a winner
  • If the come-out roll is a 7 or 11, the bet is a loser
  • When the come-out roll is 12, the bet is a push
  • Any other number will establish the point
  • If a 7 is rolled before the point number, Don’t Pass bets win
  • If the point number is rolled again before a 7, Don’t Pass bets lose

Craps Tips from a Legend

LoRiggio is one of the all time great gamblers. The world’s #1 dice controller and a craps legend, who’s taken hundreds of thousands of dollars off the casinos, if not millions, in a legendary career that has spanned some 40 years. He’s been in televisions shows, documentaries and books and has even written a few books as well, including Casino Craps: Shoot to Win and Cutting Edge Craps: Advanced Strategies for Serious Players. He is banned from playing at most casinos now, they just don’t want his business anymore, so he spends most of his time running his website, goldentouchcraps.com, and giving seminars on dice control. And, consider this, to book a seminar you have to call this number — 1-866-SET-DICE!

He taught us three things:

  1. The secrets of setting the dice & throwing them.
  2. The importance of becoming a come bettor.
  3. The 5 Count Rule.

Always Play the Positive

In blackjack, players are playing individually and only if the dealer busts does everybody at the table win. Instead, with craps,  LoRiggio views it as a team game.

“I’d never write this in any book but I do believe in positive thoughts. I do believe, as the old saying goes, ‘we only use 10% of our brain,’ and we can sometimes make things happen. Positive thoughts are a pretty fantastic thing and that’s what the craps table is all about. Craps is a team game. If you’re playing the pass line, the positive side of the game, which 95% of players at the table are, if the shooter wins everybody wins. It really becomes a ‘raw, raw’ type of atmosphere and when everybody’s on the same page, and cheering on the shooter, that’s when good things happen. That’s what makes it so exciting. Having those positive thoughts and playing the positive side are crucial to your overall experience and enjoyment of the game.”

After I shared my story with LoRiggio, he shared one with me. He talked about the time a high roller at the Bellagio pulled out a $20,000 marker. He then began to bet the don’t pass line. The man was wagering $500 on the negative side, with max odds each and every time. Even the dealer was saying, ‘you don’t want to bet against this shooter,’ because LoRiggio had the dice.

To make a long story short, within 15 minutes he left the table with no money and with his tail between his legs. As a dice controller, when I see a don’t player, I want to do that because that’s just not how the game is supposed to be played. Craps is about trying to have the entire table win money.

If the math and odds are virtually identical, why be be the black sheep at a craps table? Go with the flow, enjoy the vibe and stay positive. Take it from me, I learned the hard way, always put your money on the pass line.

Derrick Oliver

Derrick Oliver

Derrick Oliver Dewan is the founder of High Roller Radio and has interviewed a number of the world's top poker players and gamblers. A former radio and television broadcaster, Derrick was brand manager for Poker Pro Canada magazine and has written for a variety of publications, including the Toronto Star & Windsor Life.

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