Those who do not remember history….
I was wrong, I did get to play some more poker in Vegas before I left town. And I played some craps, which I won’t do again.
My colleague who joined me in Vegas for the conference is a craps fan, and doesn’t really enjoy poker as it’s played in a casino, so for us to hang out in a casino together we were going to have to play some craps. So after a fabulous sushi dinner at Caeser’s (we hit an industry party there), we went to Treasure Island to play some $10 minimum bet craps. I pulled out $200 and kissed it goodbye, mentally writing it off as an entertainment.
In truth, it wasn’t that bad. I placed simple bets on the pass line, then maxed out my true odds bets and did the same for come bets. I practiced some simple bankroll management by taking my money down when I won, and slowly increasing my bets until I was playing purely on profit. Finally there was a cold streak on the dice, and when it was over I had won $40.
I’ve clearly been ruined for casino gambling by poker, because afterwards I felt as if playing craps is simply a series of making statistically incorrect decisions of varying degrees of wrongness. For those that don’t know, craps is basically a game where you and the casino bet on the outcome of two dice. The odds of the dice producing what you think they’ll produce never pay out exactly commensurate to your risk. If they did the casino wouldn’t make any money. You can only make money by betting on the fact that you’re there for a streak of the dice that’s beneficial to you and betting.
We took our winnings and went back to our hotel. Since it was 11pm, I hit the poker room to find two $1/$2 no limit hold’em tables going. No limit hold’em cash is not my strong game, so I always like to find tables with weak opposition so I can practice my hands without immediately going broke.
I sat down at one and proceeded to watch an older man in his 60’s constantly rebuy. The maximum buy in was $200, and I’m pretty sure he went through $800 while I sat there for 90 minutes. He was a very dependable player: if he missed the flop and you didn’t fold to his first bluff before the flop, or his next sizable bluff on the flop, he’d go all in on the turn to try and get you out of the pot. As new players sat down at the table and didn’t know how he played, they would fold to him, and then they’d simply wait for cards, as I did when I got into this hand, my last for the night.
He had just rebought, and I hadn’t played more than 3 hands. We each had $200.
I looked down at a pair of 4’s and called his $15 preflop raise. I had position on him, so I was going to get a lot of advantage in acting after him every time. The flop came 236, all rainbow and he bet $30. I’d watched him for an hour and had read him for Ace high with a big kicker. I called again. The turn came a 4 and putting two diamonds on the board. He said I’m all-in and I called. The player across the table from me, a smart one, said, "Ace-five?"
"Against you," I thought, "Yes, but against him, any two pair or better would do." I turned over my set and he turned over Ace-nine suited (clubs). An Ace came on the river and I doubled my stack, minus the rake. I played a few more hands and realized that I was likely to misplay that set the same way against a stronger player and lose my money, so I went to bed.
The Don’t Pass line has ever so slightly better odds.
The downside of betting the most statistically sound bet at the table is everyone hates you for betting on the Don’t Pass line and rooting for people to crap out.
Myself, I just bet on the Don’t Pass line when the shooter looks unlucky. 🙂