Someone is always coming up with exotic plays based on “due numbers,” the “law of averages,” or the “law of large numbers.” Often these plays involve placing all of the box numbers on the layout – leaving that action up for a specific number of rolls, then taking it all down. Of course, the seven is the killer on that action. You can risk $64 across in an effort to win, say, $14 – $18 a toss for two or three tosses, then bring it all down. Of course, that’s rarely what happens. More frequently player discipline fails and the bets stay up for the third, fourth, or fifth roll before the seven shows and takes them down for you. Perhaps you win $7 – $14 net when it’s all said and done. Or maybe the seven shows early and you find yourself down $50 – $64 right off the bat. When that happens most people quickly reevaluate their strategy and try to find a less expensive way to cover all of the numbers. The Anything but Seven strategy – known by some as the Iron Cross – is one of the most popular. Let’s take a look at it.

The ABS system calls for the player to place the five, six and eight in combination with a Field bet. This combination of wagers not only covers the box numbers, it also covers the horn numbers. Placed in the right denomination – every roll will yield some sort of win. Let’s assume we’re using $10 units. Your wager will be $34 inside – no nine – plus a $10 wager in the Field. If the five, six, or eight roll you’ll collect $14 on the place action but lose $10 on the Field bet. Net gain – $4. If any other box number or the eleven roll you’ll collect $10. If the two or twelve roll you’ll collect $20 – or perhaps $30 if the casino triples the field on either of these numbers. Every roll is a winner – except when the seven shows. Then you drop $44. Unfortunately, if you go by the math of the game you’ll discover that the seven shows up early and often enough to make this system a loser the majority of the time.

In order to avoid the long-term exposure to the seven some players bypass the come out roll and bet on all of the place numbers for one roll only. Let’s say you’re using $5 units. You bet $5 each on the four, five, nine, and ten, and place the six and eight for $6 each. You’re total action will be $32 across. On your one roll of the dice you’ll either win $9 on the four or ten , or $7 on the inside numbers. However, there’s still a one-in-six chance you’ll lose all $32 if the seven rolls. And if that happens, you have to win five more decisions just to get back even.

Here’s an interesting variation for folks who want a shot at a one roll win. With this strategy you place all of the box numbers before the come out roll and have them “working.” But you also play a Pass Line bet to hedge your working action. Let’s take a look at it playing $10 units.

Prior to the come-out drop $64 on the table and tell the dealer you want $64 across – working. Then you play a $65 Pass Line bet. If any point number rolls you’ll win from $14 to $18, depending on the point established. If a seven rolls you win $1 net. Nothing wrong with that. But if a point number rolled you’re stuck with a $65 contract bet on the Pass Line. What do you do about that? Well, let’s think about it. After you net out the previous win you have $51 “at risk” to the seven. Let’s assume the point established is the six. Is there a way we can hedge that $51 at risk on the five? Absolutely. You can lay the six for $75. Now what is the worst that can happen? IF the six rolls you win $65 on the Pass Line – but lose $75 on the lay for a combined $10 loss. However, since you collected $14 earlier on the come out roll you are a net $4 winner for the series. If the seven should show you would lose the $65 on the pass line – but win $60 on the don’t pass – a net $5 loss until you factor in the earlier come-out win. Do the math and you turn out to be a net $9 winner for the series.

A heck of a lot of work for a $4 – $9 win, huh? Especially since there’s another fly in the ointment. Our initial $65 Pass Line bet was exposed to a potential loss at the hands of the two, three or twelve craps. The cost to hedge that – too much over the long haul. That’s the problem with hedge systems. You end up hedging your hedges. Then things just get silly.

Systems are fun to play around with, but the simple fact is that without influencing the outcome of the roll there is no way to mathematically overcome the house’s edge at craps. Anyone who tells you there is – is wrong. Hedge bets may feel like they soften the blow of a loss, but by and large they don’t work. The smart play? Play within your bankroll, practice good money management and discipline, limit your hedges, and focus on the bets with the lowest house edge – the Pass or Don’t Pass, and placing the six and eight.