Pass line remains foundation of craps bets

Mar 4, 2010 11:00 AM

One of the things that confuses new craps players is the myriad of bets available on the layout. But the main bets you should be concerned with are the "pass" and "don’t pass" bets, and to a lesser extent the "come" and "don’t come" bets.

When you hear those stories about players hitting it big playing craps, it’s not because they got lucky on one of those high-odds proposition bets, such as catching a "hard way" 12.

It’s usually because they hit a long series of pass or don’t pass bets when the dice are "hot," that is, the roller continues to roll point after point without hitting a 7.

To briefly recap the bets, both of which pay even money, by playing the pass line you’re betting with the shooter. An immediate 7 or 11 on the come-out roll (first roll) wins; a 2, 3, or 12 loses.

If a point is established (4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10) it must be repeated before a 7 is thrown in order to win.

The don’t pass line works in reverse, in that you’re betting against the shooter. Therefore, you would win the bet if the shooter rolls a 2 or 3 (12 is a push) on the come out, and lose if he throws a 7 or 11.

If the shooter establishes a point, a 7 must be thrown before the point is rolled again in order to win.

Come and don’t come bets are identical to pass and don’t pass bets, except they can only be placed once a point has been established by the shooter.

Both pass line and don’t pass bets have a house advantage of only 1.41 percent, one of the smallest house edges in the casino.

As with other games, such as blackjack and baccarat, that attract serious gamblers, the goal in craps is to capitalize on the relatively short cycle of streaks that invariably occur. These are marked by prolonged passes of the dice by a given shooter, who may roll for several minutes without catching a 7.

You can take advantage of these streaks by playing the pass line and come line, backed up with "free odds" bets, which we will discuss in detail next week.

Professional gamblers disagree on the number of come bets to place. The most aggressive players make come bets on every roll until all the point numbers are covered. This gives them the opportunity to win many bets in a short period of time, providing the dice stay hot and the shooter continues to roll without hitting a 7.

But for most players, especially novices, the strategy is too risky. A sound model calls for placing a maximum of two come bets, which coupled with the original pass line bet, gives the player three numbers always working.

When one of the points is made and his bet is paid off, the player can place another come bet to keep three numbers working.

By only playing up to two come bets, you’re reducing your exposure should the dice eventually turn cold.

Hopefully, that won’t happen for a long while.

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Pass line remains foundation of craps bets