The Captain’s 5-Count and Smart Betting Strategies

My craps mentor, and the man who taught me everything I know about gambling and advantage play, was the late Captain, the legendary Atlantic City player who has taken on mythic proportions over the decades I’ve been writing about him. His ideas and playing philosophies, his discovery of how to control the dice on a modern casino table, and his amazing 5-Count method are legacies that have stood craps players in good stead over the years, and these concepts should now become second nature to you, as they are to me.

The 5-Count

When the Captain first analyzed the game of craps, he wanted to handle three things:

  1. Reducing the number of random rolls a player bet on, to preserve the player’s bankroll
  2. Increasing the likelihood that the shooters player bets on will win him money
  3. Increasing the player’s comps based on body time at the table as opposed to risk time

We now understand in no uncertain terms that the 5-Count accomplishes all three of the Captain’s imperatives, based on mathematical studies. (Go to to read these.)

  1. The 5-Count eliminates almost 57 percent of random rolls. The player will only bet on about 43 percent of the random rolls.
  2. It gets the player on the controlled shooters (rhythmic rollers) at a higher frequency than bet-all players who wager on every shooter. If there is a controlled shooter at the table, the 5-Counter will be on him 11 percent more often than bet-all players.
  3. It increases comp value because of “body time.” The 5-Counter is often (though not always) given credit for 100 percent of the time he is at the table, although he is only risking money 43 percent of the time.

How to Bet with the 5-Count

How should we bet on the shooters who get through the 5-Count? The best way is to make minimal Come bets and take the full Odds. The Odds bet is a wash between the casino and the player. If you can afford to take the Odds, do so—if you are a frequent player, the Odds bet will wind up being an even proposition between you and the casino. And that is a very, very good thing.

What About Going Up on the Don’t Right Away?

Some players think that going up on the Don’t Pass or Don’t Come before the 5-Count is finished is a way to play almost every role with little risk. Not so. The very moment you put up that Don’t Pass or Don’t Come bet, the casino’s edge is 8-to-3 over you, because the casino will win eight times on the 7 and 11 while the Don’t bettor can only win three times on the 2 and 3. So you are just giving the casino more cracks at your bankroll going up on the don’t before the 5-Count is finished. In fact, going up on the Don’t Pass or Don’t Come right away is the same as betting on all shooters and all rolls. It is truly a waste of your money

What to Do When You Are the Shooter

We’ve talked about the “shooter” in all the above scenarios, but we have not discussed how to play and bet when you are the shooter. And you should definitely shoot because that is one of the great joys of the game—rolling dam bones! (Oh, yeah, the origins of those dice were bones—sheep bones…and perhaps human bones too.) It feels as if you are taking fate into your own hands when you shoot the dice, although in truth, in a random game with no dice control, all you are doing is merely taking dice into your hands. Still, it feels good.

What the 5-Count Isn’t

Some plop pies mistakenly think that the Captain used the appearance percentage of the 7 to the other numbers as the foundation of the 5-Count. He wasn’t looking at averages or short-term results…not at all. He was looking at the totality of the game to save us money over extended periods of time. These poppies then state, “How stupid the Captain is. With five rolls or more before your bet, the 7 is more likely to occur.”

No, it isn’t. These poppies are, well, poppies, and such thinking proves they are poppies!

Lastly Comment

The “due theory” of betting is based on the “Gambler’s Fallacy,” which advocates that something will occur if it hasn’t occurred in a while. Sounds great, sounds logical, but it is not applicable to games of random chance. “Great” and seemingly “logical” don’t always fit in with the real world of gambling…or the real world of life, for that matter.

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