Craps can be one of the most exciting games in the casino
October 01, 2013 3:09 AM
by Pesach Kremen
For a change of pace I thought I would give you some insights on craps this week.
The game of craps can be one of the most exciting games in the casino. It can also drain your bankroll quite fast. The trick is to take advantage of the fact that not every roll need be a decision roll for you, thus stretching out your time at the table without using more of your bankroll.
If you bet with the dice (Pass Line) you win initially when a 7 or 11 is thrown and lose initially if a 2, 3 or 12 is thrown. Thus 12 of 36 possible dice rolls you have an initial win or lose decision.
Should a 4, 5, 6, 8, 9 or 10 be thrown on the come out roll no money changes hands yet but you are still at the table. If the 4, 5, 6, 8, 9 or 10 repeats before a 7 you win; if the 7 shows first you lose. This takes, on average, a few rolls and thus slows down the speed of the game for you and the exposure of your bankroll with this particular bet.
Most casinos require at least a $5 minimum bet, and at a busy table you would have about 20 decisions an hour. The house edge on the pass line bet is about 7 cents for your $5 (1.4%). Thus, in an hour your average loss is about $1.40.
Of course show your slot card when buying in to get comp credit and further reduce the house edge. Keep in mind that even if craps is not your main game, showing an interest in and playing other games can only help your overall casino rating in the majority of casinos.
For example, if you are mainly a video poker player and you ask your host for a comp and it is a borderline decision, when he or she sees you also played some craps it is likely to have a favorable influence on that decision.
Now of course, you are apt to get bored just having one bet on the pass line while many other players are betting all over the table. As in any game, there are good bets and bad bets.
Any decent craps book will tell you the best bet is the “odds” applied to your Pass, Don’t Pass, Come and Don’t Come bets. The next best bet is placing (accepting artificial casino odds instead of the true odds) the 6 and the 8 (for either to show before a 7, about 1.5% house edge), and the next best bet is buying the 4 or 10 (get true odds for a fee) if, and only if, the fee is collected only on a win. Some casinos offer this latter option.
The other bets do have a much higher house advantage and generally, with one exception, I would avoid them. That exception is a bet used as a dealer tip, where you tip the dealer by placing a “hard way” bet. The bet often stays on the table for a few rolls (it is not usually a one roll decision bet) and the dealers see you have placed a bet for them for more rolls.
Now to avoid being “bored,” a very good way to increase your action is to take the “odds” behind your pass line bet. This bet, if placed in the correct amount, has no house advantage at all. The correct amount is any allowed amount for 4 or 10, an even amount for 5 and 9, and a multiple of five for 6 and 8.
The bet simply increases the volatility of your play. That is, if you win you win more; if you lose you lose more.
The standard practice in most Las Vegas casinos is to offer double odds, which means double the amount of your pass line bet is allowed to be bet in odds.
Another popular offer is 3, 4, 5 times odds, which means triple odds on the 4 and 10 are allowed, quadruple on the 5 and 9 allowed, and five times on the 6 and 8. This is offered to promote play but also to make it easier for the dealer to pay you with fewer types of chips.
The 4 and 10 with triple odds pay combined $5 bet and odds ($15 in odds) a total of $35. The 5 and 9 with quadruple odds for a $5 bet ($20 in odds) pay a total of $35. The 6 and 8 with five times odds ($25 in odds) pay a total of $35 as well.
If you have a hot table for pass line bettors, playing the odds can significantly increase your win because you are paid 2:1 on the 4 and 10, 3:2 on the 5 and 9, and 6:5 on the 6 and 8.
There are all kinds of betting “systems” for craps but keep in mind that none of them will change the mathematics of the game, which favor the house. However, playing the pass or don’t pass, come or don’t come with the odds will reduce the overall house edge to less than 1%.
By playing smart, your bankroll will last longer and you might be lucky and get on a hot roll where a person rolls multiple pass line (or don’t pass, if you be that way) winners and the chips in your rack will increase quickly.
If you are timid or have limited bankroll, try this strategy. Play the first hand with single odds. If that wins, next time go to double odds. Then if it wins again – triple odds. Never increase the minimum pass line bet if you can still increase the odds. Remember, the odds have no house edge.
If you want more action you can also bet the come or don’t come, which has the same low house edge as the pass line and allows you to take odds just the same. Of course while you can win more by betting more, you can also lose more. Just play with what you can afford to lose. Avoid all temptations for poorer bets that are available.
By playing smart you will last longer than most at the table, and probably have more fun as well due to better bankroll control, giving you a greater chance to be in on that “monster roll.”
To keep the game friendly, get your bets down early and do not get in the way of flying dice! Players are very superstitious about the dice hitting someone and if the roll causes a loss as a result, their opinion of the one who got in the way will not be favorable.
If you are winning, a hard way bet or pass line bet for the dealers from time to time should be in order if the dealers have given you good service as they usually try to do.
Best of luck. And may the dice bring fortune to you!
Pesach Kremen is a former UNLV Masters Gaming student, has won and placed in multiple local keno tournaments, and has written several academic papers on Keno. You can reach him at PesachKremen@GamingToday.com.