Zigging When You Should Have Zagged

How many times have you heard someone at the craps table say “I zigged when I should have zagged.” I’ve said it many times myself – especially on a choppy table. It’s one of the reasons strategies that incorporate changing sides from the Do’s to the Don’ts – or playing both sides at once- are popular with System Sellers.

In their simplest form these strategies call for the player to alternate between making Pass and Don’t Pass bets. In and of themselves, these strategies are not bad ways to bet the random rollers. Neither the Pass nor the Don’t Pass give you any specific advantage over these players, and systematically switching back and forth between sides using a specific betting unit may give you some minor protection against chasing bets.

That protection wanes as these plays become more complex. One strategy I looked at recently called for the player to by-pass the Pass and Don’t Pass, then make a seemingly endless stream of wagers alternating between the Come and Don’t Come. It seemed to me like a long way to go to remain relatively even.

Another system I looked at once required you to bet the Pass exclusively until you lost a predetermined amount of money – ten units in this case. Then the player had to bet the Don’t Pass until he lost another ten units before switching back to the Do’s. To my way of thinking it looked like a good way to lose twenty units.

A few of the serpentine plays require extensive tracking before entering the game. One such system we’ll call the “Even Steven” strategy requires the player to look at the last three Pass/Don’t Pass decisions, then bet on what the next one SHOULD be if everything were Even Steven. In other words, if there were two Pass decisions and one Don’t Pass decision, the next bet would be Don’t Pass since that is what it would take to bring the decisions back into balance. Likewise, if there were two Don’t Pass decisions and one Pass decision then you would bet the Do’s.

Of course, if the last three decisions were all the same, say Pass, then you would not place a bet at all. You have to wait until a Don’t Pass decision, then bet the Don’t Pass in hopes that the Don’ts will win again and bring everything back Even Steven. This means the player is standing at the table and not betting about a third of the time, which means you while you may not win, you may actually lose less when playing this strategy.  Hey, if you don’t bet – you don’t lose!  There’s a concept!

My personal preference for “serpentine play” is to simply follow the trend. If the table is giving you seven-outs then bet the Don’ts. If the dice are passing, bet the Do’s. And if the table is choppy my suggestion would be to zig-zag right on out the casino door.