Transition Moves

The transition move is one of the most powerful weapons in the crapshooter’s arsenal. It is also one of the most difficult to master. Simply put, a transition move is your pre-planned strategy to ease your bets from one side of the line to the other, allowing you to capitalize on the table’s ever-shifting trend. It can also be a dangerous move. Read the table correctly and you are positioned to win. Read it wrong and you are chasing your losses.

Most popular craps strategists advocate approaching the table with a pre-determined method of play; playing the pass line with odds plus placing the six and eight, for example. If this were your plan, then you would begin by charting for a table where shooters were making points and throwing sixes and eights, then play that table until you hit your win objective or lost a pre-determined number of bets – say three consecutive seven-outs. While this style of play can be a strong money-management strategy, it can also lead to table-hopping and endless hours of charting with minimal opportunity for play. The transitional player, however, sees opportunity in a shifting trend. Instead of changing tables, he simply changes his strategy and follows the dice to the other side of the line.

Using the above example, let’s assume there have been two consecutive seven-outs. When the next shooter gets the dice the transitional player by-passes the come out roll. Let’s say a point of five is established. The player then places the six and eight for $12 each, and lays $31 against the five. At this point the player has ten ways to win on the six and eight compared to four ways to lose on the five. Thanks to the hedging effect of his bets, exposure to the seven is limited to $4 plus the $1 vig on the lay. It’s a very strong move.

Suppose we’re in that magical place I call the “Ideal Casino” and the six shows next. The player wins two things – a $14 payoff and a regression opportunity. After the bet is paid he simply tells the dealer to “Make my six and eight look like $6 each.” At that point he has a profit locked up for that shooter and the seven can no longer hurt him. He also has a world of options open to him.

Let’s assume the player decides to keep the place action on the six and eight up and working at $6 each – while placing a $5 don’t come bet and continuing his transition to the dark side. He has $17 action exposed to the seven on this roll, but it is well hedged by the lay against the five. For the sake of this example, the nine rolls next and the DC bet travels. The player then has the option to remove the $31 lay bet on the five and lay odds against the nine. Suppose he lays $15 odds. Once again, the seven cannot hurt him. If the six or eight roll next he will collect another $7. Should the seven show he will have a net $3 win on the DC and odds bet.

But what if our player is not satisfied with just the no-nine bet? No problem. By increasing his free odds wager to $21 he can hedge a second $5 Don’t Pass bet. Once again, a hit on the six or eight will kick off a $7 win. This time, if the seven rolls the player will have a net $2 win. Now imagine the next roll is a ten. What next? Well, the Don’t Come bet travels to the ten and again the player has a decision to make. Since ten is a “harder” number to roll than nine, the smarter play would be to remove the lay odds on the nine and lay $20 odds against the ten. At that point the player completes his transition to the don’ts by telling the dealer to “Bring me down on my six and eight.”

He now has a $14 win locked up from the earlier hit on the six. The player also has a $5 flat behind the nine and a $5 flat with $20 odds behind the ten. That’s a net of $16 at risk to win $20, and the seven is working for him instead of against him. He simply sits back and waits for decision on that game.

Let’s assume the shooter sevens out and our player locks up an additional $20 win for that hand. What is his next move? He is now a Don’t bettor and should play his dark-side strategy of choice. With a little luck he may catch a streak seven-out shooters and grind out a nice win. Of course, that’s not always the way it works out.

There are few things more frustrating that sitting on a single Don’t Pass bet while the roll of the day passes you buy. To guard against that, the transitional player is always ready to make his move back to the Do side. How do you manage that? Pretty much by doing the opposite of what we did when transitioning to the Don’ts. Let’s look at an example.

Imagine our player has a $25 Don’t Pass bet established on the 4, and has laid $50 in odds against the point. He has $75 at risk to win $50, and is in a very powerful position. But as the shooter passes the five count, the six count, and the seven count our Don’t player starts to sweat it. Rather than take his Don’t wager down, though, he places the six and eight for $24 each. A hit on the six or eight will kick off a $28 win and afford him another regression opportunity. The seven will pay off as well, with a net $2 win. Once again he is in a very strong position.

Let’s pretend we’re in the Ideal Casino again, and the shooter tosses an eight. Now our transitional player makes a power play. He collects $28 for the hit on the eight. He returns $3 to the dealer and asks for a hard four, while picking up his odds bet on the Don’t Pass. Then tells the dealers to, “Bring my place action down to $22 inside.”

How did his position improve? He is now risking one $25 unit on the Don’t Pass to win one unit – where previously he was risking three units to win two. He has a partial hedge against the four with the $3 hardway bet. And he has $22 in place action working for him – all paid for by the hit on the eight. The seven cannot hurt him, and it only takes one more hit on any inside number to give our player a guaranteed win for the shooter. After that he can begin an up-and-pull press strategy or – if it suits him better – start going through the come and progressively increasing his odds by one unit on every subsequent hit. The Don’t Pass bet, however, should not be taken down. Since the odds favor the player on that bet it should be left up for a decision.

Here are the three keys to the transition move:

(1) Have a pre-planned strategy that incorporates hedges while taking advantage of the three most powerful numbers on the table – the six, seven and eight.
(2) Chart continuously for the current table trend and follow the trend.
(3) Avoid chasing your bets by setting and adhering to a strict loss limit.

Can you master the transition move? Absolutely. Will it help you win more? That depends. One system is about as good as another when facing a choppy table. As far as the mathematics of it goes, it is not better or worse than sticking with the Pass Line or Don’t Pass bet. But if you master the hedge moves, incorporate low vig bets into your strategy, and adhere to your loss limits you will certainly lose less. And losing less keeps you in the game longer – which gives you more opportunities to catch a streak. That ain’t necessarily a bad thing.