Wednesday, June 18, 2014

If It’s Too Good To Be True . . . Street Dice!

I’m usually the last person to criticize something for only having fun value so I may be out of line here but Street Dice is all fun and no equity. If you do not enjoy losing money in a practically no win situation then, in fact, Street Dice may not even be fun for you.

Before I get too deeply into this subject let me explain that Street Dice may not be what you think it is. First of all it is not like any game your father played up against a wall with his army buddies during World War II.

 That was a game where someone took the dice, made a bet that the dice would “pass” or not and other players “faded” a part or all of his bet. Seven, eleven, or a number that then repeated before a seven were winners for the shooter. Snake eyes, three, or twelve were immediate losers and rolling a seven before the “point” number also lost the shooter his bet. The excitement of that game – where dice were literally thrown up against a wall – came mostly from the side bets that could take on any form whatsoever. Odds on bets, which most players had a basic understanding of, were close to or right on the payoff odds you get in a casino craps game these days.

Street Dice is not Cee-Lo, the street game played with three dice that is very popular among young people who have little access to commercial casino environments.
 Cee-Lo (or See Low, or 4-5-6 and many other names) is also a betting/fading game where a player risks a certain amount of money and the other players fade or take a piece of all his action or a part of his action. There are combinations that win automatically (4-5-6, trips, and others) and there are immediate losing combinations (1-2-3 being the most important). Points can also be established and bets are paid off accordingly. Some combinations may pay off as high as 5-1 but the rules allow the players to set the payoff rules beforehand at any level they like.

Last but not least, Street Dice is not casino craps, the fast action, well monitored casino game played on a green (mostly) table layout that accommodates any number of bets for and against the shooter.

The payoff odds of casino craps are well established with only very slight variations by casino throughout the world. The established payoffs allow the house a margin of victory so that, in essence, when you win, they win. When you lose they win big but remembe, they are winning all the time.

A clear example of the “I win/they win” arrangement is when a player makes a straight up, one roll bet on 11. An eleven can only be made two ways – one die comes up 5 and the other comes up 6 (one way) or one die comes up 6 and the other comes up 5 (the other way)! The real odds of that happening are 17 – 1 or 5.56% of the time. When you bet $1 for an eleven to come out on one roll and it does, you win and the casino pays you $15. Notice they didn’t pay you based on the true odds (17 – 1). So, every time you win $15 they also win $2. You win once in a while; they win on every roll. 

I could go on and on but most of you understand that craps, like many other games on the casino floor, is a negative equity set up – the house is always winning. Smart players try to minimize the house edge in these kinds of games and then rely only on luck, a hot streak, or a lucky charm. Good players know how to reduce the house advantage and do so regularly.

Then, let’s get back to Street Dice. About a year ago a newly proposed downtown casino in Las Vegas, the Downtown Grand, promised in promotions preceding their opening that they were bringing gambling out to the street. Their initial proposal promised casino games on the sidewalk outside the casino, intimating that playing on the street is much more fun than playing inside the casino. Rather than just bring their traditional games out, they invented a new game for those who craved out-of-doors gambling – that’s how Street Dice was born.

Setting up for an evening of action!
Exciting? Not really. Initially proposing to use the already existing outer wall of their building as a backboard for their proprietary game, they ran into some blow back from the Casino Control Commission. Instead, they built a low-walled enclosure that looks like a brick wall but isn’t. Anyone who was expecting big, fuzzy dice will also be disappointed since the game uses regular, somewhat larger, casino dice. So far there is nothing too good or too bad about this venture but once you hear about the flow of the game and the payoffs, you quickly realize that your “fun” comes at a very high price.

I’m not going to go into detail on the terrible odds of winning at this game since it is no different from any other new casino game that promises fun but costs way more than traditional games in the end. I will tell you though that the initial wager says it all. Make a bet, roll a 2, 3 or 12 on the first roll and you lose (just like craps!), roll an eleven and you win (just like craps!), roll a 7 and it’s a PUSH! Let me repeat that – ROLL 7 ON THE COME OUT ROLL, THE MOST LIKELY NUMBER TO ROLL (5 – 1), AND IT’S A PUSH! Can you visualize your money flowing toward and down the closest storm drain! It all goes south from there.

The bottom line, and this is probably why they only roll out the fresh-air games on weekends, is Street Dice is a great game for tourists wandering by on a Saturday evening after having had too many cocktails and noticing the action on the sidewalk. Having no idea what the game promises, in all likelihood not even knowing where they are, they plunk down their money to have a good time, only to ask themselves the next morning just how much fun was it losing all their cash up against that pretty faux red brick wall.

My advice – stay away from Street Dice. Or, if you enjoy a good train wreck or multi-car pile up, stand by and watch the suckers keep the sharks in business.

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