Tips before taking on Las Vegas craps tournaments

Jul 23, 2013 3:09 AM

I’ve been noticing a lot of craps tournaments popping up in Las Vegas recently and decided to take a look at them. Craps is my favorite casino game so maybe I’ll pop in for a tournament to see what it’s like in person.

A few months ago when I went over blackjack tournament strategy there was one main takeaway – tournament gaming is different than playing against the casino. Craps is fun and has a small house advantage for the casino but the house advantage doesn’t matter.

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In theory, in tournament play you’re not playing against the house, you’re playing against other players. Craps tournament strategy comes in two phases – pre-tournament and in-tournament.

Pre-Tournament Strategy: For craps it’s important to know your tournament structure because that will affect your play at some point. If you are only paid for winning you won’t play with the exact same strategy as if your tournament pays the top 5 finishers.

Knowing your game is important. If you tend to roll a lot of fours you may want to bet heavy on that number when you’re rolling. If you seven out quickly you may want to play that number.

Practicing your roll at home or at casinos before the tournament will help you know how to bet. If you’re into computer simulation and really want to prepare for different outcomes based on chip stacks, etc., you can download WinCraps for anywhere between $10 and $22.

Tournament strategy: Knowing your game in advance will allow you to study the betting and rolling habits of the other players. If you plan on playing heavy on the 6 and 8 or inside/outside you can sort your chips in advance so you’re ready to go each roll. This extra time will come in handy to study the other players.

Many people play craps because it has almost zero house advantage for the casino. It’s very important to remember you are not playing against the house so normal smart strategy matters a little less.

You’re playing against the chip stacks of other people in the tournament. Knowing the odds of each wager matters but what you need to be concerned with most are the other chip stacks.

Unlike blackjack tournaments, you do not want to sit back and wait before stalking the leaders. You want to go out strong quickly because it’s more difficult to catch up when playing craps than it is in blackjack.

Bets with long odds have them for a reason. You’re also going to want to change your betting strategy to score big early. This doesn’t mean you want to go all in on one roll, but you may want to make some larger-than-normal wagers and place some bets that have longer odds.

Here’s a helpful non-game tournament tip: Many tournaments will disqualify you if you leave the table mid-session, so empty your bladder before or in between rounds.

The more I think about craps tournaments the more I want to play my first.

Marc Meltzer covers Las Vegas, gambling and men’s lifestyle for various outlets. Follow Marc on twitter @eastcoastgamblr. Check out his blog at Contact Marc at [email protected].

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