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Craps

CrapsDon't worry, craps is not as complicated as it looks. To get started playing craps the least you need to know is how the pass line works, and preferably taking the odds. Most of the other bets are for suckers anyway.

I have explained all the bets to show how bad some of them are. All the beginner needs to know is about the pass line and the odds. When you are ready, other bets with a low house edge are the don't pass, come, don't come, and the respective odds on these bets. Most other bet should be avoided.

 


The Pass Line

The pass line is the most fundamental bet in craps, almost every player at the table bets on it. The house edge on the pass line is only 1.41% which is not bad compared to most other bets on the table and other games in the casino.

The pass line is an even money bet. You start by placing your bet on the pass line area on the table on a 'come out roll.' If the come out roll is a 7 or 11 you win. If the come out roll is a 2, 3, or 12 you lose. If the come out roll is anything else then what was rolled that number is called the point. A white disk will be placed on the table to show what the point is. In the picture above the point is a 4. Then the dice will be rolled over and over until either a 7 or the point is rolled. If the point is rolled first you win, if a 7 is rolled first you lose. Never place a pass line bet after the come out roll. This is allowed but only a fool would do so because the odds of winning on the come out roll are much greater than those of losing. When you first step up to the table you may wonder if the next bet is a come out roll. If you see the white disk on the table you will know that there is an active point. Wait until either the point is thrown or a 7, after which time wait for the dealer to either collect bets or pay people off and then you can place your bet.

 


Buying the Odds

Have you ever wanted a bet with no house edge? Craps offers just such a bet, as long as you bet on the pass line first. Once a point has been thrown you may bet up to some multiple, usually 2 times, your pass line bet on the 'odds.' The odds are simply an additional wager that the point will be rolled before a 7. Because the probability of the point being rolled first is less than 50% you win more than you bet if it happens. Specifically if the point is a 6 or 8 the odds pay 6:5, if the point is a 5 or 9 the odds pay 3:2, and if the point is a 4 or 10 the odds pay 2:1.

The multiple you may bet on the odds is usually twice the pass line bet for points of 4,5,9, and 10, and two and a half times the pass line bet on the 6 and 8. The reason you may bet more on a point of 6 or 8 is so that you can place a $5 odds bet on top of a $2 pass line bet. A $4 odds bet on a 6 or 8 would win $4.80 and nobody likes to deal with small change at the craps table. A $5 odds bet on the 6 or 8 wins an even $6.

The table below shows the house edge when you combine the pass line and odds:

 

Combined house edge on the
pass line and buying odds

1X odds

0.848%

2X odds

0.606%

Full double odds

0.572%

3X odds

0.471%

5X odds

0.326%

10X odds

0.184%

20X odds

0.099%

100X odds

0.021%

 


Don't Pass

The don't pass is almost the opposite of the pass line bet. If the come out roll is a 2 or 3 then you win, a 7 or 11 you lose. A 12 is a push. Otherwise the dice are rolled over and over until either the point or a 7 is rolled. If the 7 comes before the point you win.

A person betting on the don't pass is called a "wrong" bettor and is usually winning when everyone else is losing, and vise versa. You definitely want to keep a low profile if you take this bet, nobody is going to want to see you boasting about winning if everyone else just lost.

 


Laying the Odds

This is the opposite of laying odds, in other words betting that a 7 will be rolled before the point.

If the point is a 4 or 10 the don't odds pay 1:2.
If the point is a 5 or 9 the don't odds pay 2:3.
if the point is a 6 or 8 the don't odds pay 5:6.

The amount you may win by laying odds is the product of your don't pass bet and the multiple of odds allowed per the table rules. If the table allows five times odds then you can win five times your don't pass bet by laying odds. Note that the multiple applies to how much you can win, not how much you can bet. For example if you bet $2 on the don't pass and the table allows full double odds then you can bet $8 to win $4 on a point of 4 or 10, $6 to win $4 on a point of 5 or 9, and $6 to win $5 on a point of 6 or 8.

The following table shows the combined house edge on both the don't pass bet and laying odds:

 

Combined house edge on
don't pass and laying odds

1X odds

0.682%

2X odds

0.455%

Full double odds

0.431%

3X odds

0.341%

5X odds

0.227%

10X odds

0.124%

20X odds

0.065%

100X odds

0.014%

 


Come

Have you ever become bored waiting for a point to be thrown and didn't want to waste your money on the sucker bets to guarantee a money flow on every throw? If so then thy the come bet. It is like the pass line bet but may be made at any time. Like the pass line bet you may also put money on the odds if a point is thrown on the first roll after the come bet is placed and has a house edge of 1.41%.

There is a nuance to the come bet the player should know about. If a point is thrown and there are still active come bets on the table waiting for a different point then special rules apply for the following come out roll. The come out roll will still apply to active come bets but it will not apply to their respective odds bets, unless it is requested to leave the odds "on." In the event a come bet is resolved on a come out roll then the odds bet will be returned.

A good strategy for the player who likes constant action is to have a new bet on either the pass line or come on every throw, and to always take the maximum allowable odds.

 


Don't Come

What the don't pass is to the pass, the don't come is to the come.

 


The Place Number Bets

In craps the 4,5,6,8,9, and 10 are known as the "place numbers." For the player who must have money on some or all of them immediately they may make certain bets to cover any place number(s) they desire. These bets work just like the odds but pay worse odds, with the exception of the "hard way" bets which are described below. Like odds bets on top of come or don't come bets, place number bets are turned off on a come out roll.

There is a high price for impatience in craps in the form of a higher house edge. To further exploit the impatient or ignorant player there can be two or three different bets on the exact same thing, and they will all pay different odds. You might think players would only bet on the option with the best odds but you would be quite wrong, it is routine to see players throwing their money away on the higher house edge versions of the same bet. For example the place bet on 6, the buy bet on 6, and the big 6 all are betting that a 6 will be rolled before a 7 but pay 7:6, 24:21, and 1:1 respectively, for house edges of 1.52%, 4.76%, and 9.09%. Specific descriptions of the various bets are below.

  • Big 6: A bet that a 6 will be rolled before a 7. Pays even money. house edge of 9.09%. Note that this is exactly the same as a place bet on 6, only the place bet pays 7:6 and has a house edge of only 1.52%. Only a fool or someone ignorant of the game would bet on the Big 6.

     

  • Big 8: The same as the Big 6 only that an 8 will be rolled before a 7.

     

  • Buy bets This is essentially the same as the place bet, only with a different payoff. The player may "buy" any of the points (4, 5, 6, 8, 9, and 10), which means to bet that the number will be rolled before a 7. When making a buy bet you must pay a 5% commission and your bet will pay fair odds if it wins. Fair odds are 2:1 on the 4 and 10, 3:2 on the 5 and 9, and 6:5 on the 6 and 8. A buy bet should be an increment of $20 so that the 5% commission can be an even dollar amount. Another way to look at it is that the buy bet pays 39:21 on the 4 and 10, 29:21 on the 5 and 9, and 23:21 on the 6 and 8. If the bet is not divisible by $20 the commission will be rounded up or down to the nearest dollar. The house edge on all buy bets is 4.76%. The house edge on the 5, 6, 8, and 9 place bets are all lower than the buy bet, thus the buy bet on these numbers should be avoided.

    Note: If the commission is rounded down the player can cut down the house edge by betting just under $40 for a commission of $1. A buy bet of $39 on the 4 or 10 has a house edge of 2.5%. A buy bet of $38 on the 5 or 9 has a house edge of 2.56%. A buy bet of $35 on the 6 or 8 has a house edge of 2.78% which is still not as good as the place bet.

     

  • Hard ways: There are four different hard way bets. For example a hard 4 bet is betting that a pair of twos will be rolled before a 7 or any other way to roll a total of 4. This is called "the hard way" because it is harder to roll two twos than a one and a three. Likewise you can bet on a hard 6,8, or 10, each of which is a bet that the hard way of rolling the given number will occur before a 7 or any "easy" way.

    The casino pays 7:1 on a hard 4 or 10 with a house edge of 11.11%.
    The casino pays 9:1 on a hard 6 or 8 with a house edge of 9.09%.

     

  • Lay bets The lay bet is the opposite of the buy bet and the same as the place bet to lose but with different paybacks. The lay bets may be placed on the 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10. The bet itself is that a 7 will be rolled before the number you choose. Because the 7 is the most likely number to be rolled you will wager more than you can win. The player must pay a 5% commission on the possible winnings and the fair odds are paid on the bet itself. Fair odds are 1:2 on the 4 and 10, 2:3 on the 5 and 9, and 5:6 on the 4 and 8. Another way to look at it is that lay bet pays 19:41 on the 4 and 10, 19:31 on the 5 and 9, and 19:25 on the 6 and 8. Bets on the 4 and 10 should be in increments of $40, bets on the 5 and 9 should be increments of $30, and bets on the 6 and 8 increments of $24, so that the 5% commission will be divisible by $1. If the commission is not divisible by $1 it will be rounded up, thus increasing the dealer's edge. For example if you want to bet on the 10 the least bet should be $40 (not including the $1 commission) and if a 7 is rolled before a 10 you will win $20. The house edge on the 4 and 10 is 2.44%, on the 5 and 9 it is 3.23%, and on the 6 and 8 it is 4.00%. Note that the house edge on the lay bet is lower than the place bet to lose on the 4 and 10 only, if you want to make a lay bet on the 5, 6, 8, or 9 you would be advised to make a place to lose instead.

    Note: If the commission is rounded down the player can cut down the house edge by betting so that the winnings will be just under $40. A lay bet of $78 on the 4 or 10 has a house edge of 1.27%. A lay bet of $57 on the 5 or 9 has a house edge of 1.72%. A lay bet of $42 on the 6 or 8 has a house edge of 2.33%. All of these are better than the place bets to lose.

     

  • Place bet (to win): This is very similar to laying odds. You may bet on a 4,5,6,8,9, or 10. If the number you bet on is rolled before a 7 then you win according to payoff schedule below. Unlike laying odds you don't need to have a pass line bet, you don't have to bet on the point, but there is a house edge. I personally often make a place bet on the 6 and 8, which have the lowest house edge.

    A place bet on 4 or 10 pays 9:5 with a house edge of 6.67%.
    A place bet on 5 or 9 pays 7:5 with a house edge of 4.00%.
    A place bet on 6 or 8 pays 7:6 with a house edge of only 1.52%.

    When a place bets wins the dealer will return your winnings but leave the original bet on the table, essentially establishing a new place bet. You may request that the original bet be returned of course. In fact you may take back an active place bet at any time or you may "turn them off" temporarily.

  • Place bet (to lose): The opposite of the place bet. You are betting that a 7 will be rolled before a number of your choice among 4,5,6,8,9, and 10.

    A place bet (to lose) against 4 or 10 pays 5:11 with a house advantage of 3.03%.
    A place bet (to lose) against 5 or 9 pays 5:8 with a house advantage of 2.5%.
    A place bet (to lose) against 6 or 8 pays 4:5 with a house advantage of 1.82%.

The table below is a summary of the various place number bets for quick comparison. Cells that are in red indicate that there is an identical bet that pays better odds.

 

Bet

Description

Pays

House Edge

Big 6

6 before 7

1:1

9.09%

Big 8

8 before 7

1:1

9.09%

Buy (4)

4 before 7

39:21

4.76%

Buy (5)

5 before 7

29:21

4.76%

Buy (6)

6 before 7

23:21

4.76%

Buy (8)

8 before 7

23:21

4.76%

Buy (9)

9 before 7

29:21

4.76%

Buy (10)

10 before 7

39:21

4.76%

Hard 4

Hard 4 before 7 or easy 4

7:1

11.11%

Hard 6

Hard 6 before 7 or easy 6

9:1

9.09%

Hard 8

Hard 8 before 7 or easy 8

9:1

9.09%

Hard 10

Hard 10 before 7 or easy 10

7:1

11.11%

Lay (4)

7 before 4

19:41

2.44%

Lay (5)

7 before 5

19:31

3.23%

Lay (6)

7 before 6

19:25

4.00%

Lay (8)

7 before 8

19:25

4.00%

Lay (9)

7 before 9

19:31

3.23%

Lay (10)

7 before 10

19:41

2.44%

Place to win (4)

4 before 7

9:5

6.67%

Place to win (5)

5 before 7

7:5

4.00%

Place to win (6)

6 before 7

7:6

1.52%

Place to win (8)

8 before 7

7:6

1.52%

Place to win (9)

9 before 7

7:5

4.00%

Place to win (10)

10 before 7

9:5

6.67%

Place to lose (4)

7 before 4

5:11

3.03%

Place to lose (5)

7 before 5

5:8

2.50%

Place to lose (6)

7 before 6

4:5

1.82%

Place to lose (8)

7 before 8

4:5

1.82%

Place to lose (9)

7 before 9

5:8

2.50%

Place to lose (10)

7 before 10

5:11

3.03%

 

 


The Proposition Bets

Proposition bets either win or lose on the next throw. In general these have the highest house edge of all the craps bets and for the player with any sense are to be avoided completely. Specific descriptions of the various bets are below.

  • Craps 2: A bet that a 2 will be thrown on the next roll. Pays 30:1. house edge 13.89%.

     

  • Craps 3: A bet that a 3 will be thrown on the next roll. Pays 15:1. house edge 11.11%.

     

  • 7: A bet that a 7 will be thrown on the next roll. Pays 4:1. house edge 16.67%.

     

  • 11: A bet that an 11 will be thrown on the next roll. Pays 15:1. house edge 11.11%.

  •  

  • Craps 12: A bet that a 12 will be thrown on the next roll. Pays 30:1. house edge 13.89%

  • Any craps: A bet that the next roll will be a 2, 3, or 12. Pays 7:1. house edge 11.11%.

     

  • Field bet: This is a one time bet that the next roll will be a 2,3,4,9,10,11, or 12. The 3,4,9,10, and 11 pay even money. The 2 pays 2:1. The 12 usually pays 3:1 but some tight casinos only pay 2:1. Another web page says that sometimes the 5 pays instead of the 9 but I have never seen this. If the 12 pays 2:1 the house edge is 5.56%, if the 12 pays 3:1 the house edge is 2.78%. On the surface this seems like a great bet because 7 numbers win and only 4 lose. However the 4 that lose are much more likely to be rolled.

     

  • Hop Bets: These are among the worst bets on the craps table. There is no specific place on the table for these but the dealers will broker your bet if you ask. At any time you may bet on what the next roll will be, exactly. For example you can bet that the next roll will be a 5 and 3. If you take two different numbers as in the 5 and 3 example the payoff is 15:1 with a house edge of 11.11%. If you take two of the same number, for example 5 and 5, the payoff is 30:1 with a house edge of 13.89%. Note that there are already proposition bets for 1 and 1, 1 and 2, 5 and 6, and 6 and 6.

     

  • Horn Bet: This is a combination of the proposition bets on the 2, 3, 11, and 12. The player is betting that the next roll will be any one of these numbers. The bet pays 27:4 on the 2 and 12 and 3:1 on the 3 and 11. Bets must be made in increments of $4. The house edge is 12.5%.

     

The table below is a summary of the proposition bets for quick comparison.

 

Bet

Description

Pays

House Edge

2

2 on next roll

30:1

13.89%

3

3 on next roll

15:1

11.11%

7

7 on next roll

4:1

16.67%

11

11 on next roll

15:1

11.11%

12

12 on next roll

30:1

13.89%

Any craps

2, 3, or 12 on next roll

7:1

11.11%

Field (loose)

2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11, or 12 on next roll.

see above

2.78%

Field (tight)

2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11, or 12 on next roll.

see above

5.56%

Hop (two numbers)

Any specific two numbers on next roll

15:1

11.11%

Hop (one number)

Any specific pair of numbers on next roll

30:1

13.89%

Horn

2, 3, 11, or 12 on next roll

see above

12.50%

 

 


Miscellaneous Advice

  • Most bets can be removed, added to, or deducted from at any time. Exceptions would be the pass and come bets, and you can not exceed the maximum bet on the odds. With the place number and proposition bets the dealers will often give you your winnings only if you win and let the original bet ride, unless otherwise requested.

     

  • The players take turns throwing the dice. In general the same person will throw until they lose on the pass line bet. The player may pass the dice if they want to.

     

  • Know the rules and what to do before you arrive at the table, especially a busy one. Try not to rely on the dealers for answering questions.

     

  • Craps has a language all its own. It is beyond the scope of this page to define all the terminology but you can pick it up as you go. For example "Two way yo" is craps slang for a bet on 11 in which half is for the player and half is a bet for the dealers. Although there are a lot of sexual overtones in craps terminology, try to keep a straight face when using words like "come" and "hard 8."

     

  • When you throw the dice they are supposed to rebound off the other side of the table. A throw that doesn't make it that far looks very wimpy and the dealer may make you roll over. However overthrowing the dice off the table will make you look klutzy and slow down the game while there is a search for the missing dice and the dealer examines it to make sure nobody switched them with loaded dice. There are two main styles of throwing the dice, a high lob in the air or a low throw that bounces along the felt across the table.

     

  • Don't put drinks on the table. There is a little shelf under the chips for glasses and bottles.

     

  • Don't sit or lean on anything. Except for some sit down tables I have seen in Laughlin players must stand.

     

  • Don't listen to the advice of the other players. Most craps players are fools who waste their money on the sucker bets. Unless you tip, the dealers usually also give bad advice.

     

  • You are not obligated to tip the dealers. A good policy is to tip modestly if you are winning and the dealers have been friendly or helpful. If you do tip don't make a bet for the dealers on a sucker bet as most players do. I would suggest giving them the tip, making a bet for them on the pass line, or asking the dealers how they would like the tip to be used. The dealers will appreciate that you're not wasting their tip on a bet with a high house edge.

     

  • Blend in with, but do not interact with, the other players. The players at the craps table tend to be a tough and superstitious crowd who prefer to be left alone. Do not rebuke anybody for making sucker bets, especially if they are bigger than you are. Do not do anything that can be interpreted as being unlucky, like saying a number that would cause the table to lose. I know this sounds irrational but don't forget that gambling should be for fun so don't take from anyone else's experience.

     

  • If you are playing for the first time don't announce this if you are male. Male virgins to the game are said to be unlucky, and the opposite for females. This is evidently because virginity is despised in men and valued in women.


 

 

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