Craps is
on a roll!

Mar 1, 2005 6:41 AM

Who says craps is a dying game? Last year, Nevada casinos raked in $440 million at the craps tables, a 5 percent increase over the previous year.

The win amount was also the largest since craps hit its peak in 2000, when casinos won about $490 million, and subsequently began a slide generated in part by the 9/11 terrorism attacks.

Walk into any casino today and you can sense the game of craps is suddenly enjoying a newfound popularity. There are probably a number of reasons for the rise.

A primary reason is the crackdown on blackjack. Several casinos in Nevada, most of which are on the Las Vegas Strip, have cut the payment for a natural blackjack from 3-2 to 6-5. They’ve also made some other changes, such as hitting a soft 17, that helps swing the odds slightly further into the house’s favor.

Also, the skyrocketing popularity of poker has drawn a lot of new customers into the casino. And, believe it or not, not all of them are slaves to the slot machines. Some are lured by the raucous action that usually identifies a craps table.

A lot of people turn to the craps tables because some of its bets have the lowest house edge in the casino, and because there are a variety of other bets that will quench their thirst for variety (and a lottery-like payoff!).

Here are seven reasons why craps should be your game:

1. The player controls the game. You can ask for the same (or different) dice, set them in any way you want before shooting, bargain with the dealers for better odds than advertised, ask for the table limit to be suspended, and make unadvertised "call" bets. Where else can you have this much fun?

2. Many of the bets have a casino advantage of under 2 percent. Some of the more popular bets are pass line with maximum odds, don’t pass with maximum odds, come bet with maximum odds, and don’t come bets with maximum odds. If you play at a 100-times odds table, the casino advantage is only .02 percent or less. Where else can you find a better deal than that?

3. You can increase your money 900-fold in just two rolls. Try it. Bet just one lowly dollar on the 2 or 12. If it wins you get $30. Let the $30 ride. If it wins again, you get $900! You’ve turned $1 into $900 in less than a minute. Sure, it’s highly unlikely. But where else do you even have a chance of winning this kind of money in such a short time? Royal flush seekers eat your heart out!

4. You can make money just by riding along with a good shooter. Look for someone who makes small $5 bets while other people are shooting, but increases his bets to $25 or more when he’s the shooter. Maybe he has a craps table at home and practices. Maybe he’s a psychic. Who knows? But when he bets, you should bet the same way he does. When he wins, you will, too. Where else can you make money using someone else’s talents?

5. You can get comps playing craps. Buy in with a large amount and make a big first bet. Play at a casino that gives you credit for your spread instead of your individual bets. You can end up with a free room, a free show and free meals. Where else can you get so much free stuff?

6. There are long profitable streaks in craps. A shooter can hold the dice for an hour and everyone at the table cleans up. Once you learn how to recognize these streaks by charting the tables, you can hang on and — before you know it — you’ll be betting black chips with the high rollers. Where else can you get this mix of pure excitement plus constantly increasing profits?

7. Craps is a people-oriented game. You can talk to the gamblers next to you, and the dealers, as well. Ask them how the table is going. Talk to everyone. Ask if they’re good shooters. Try to notice if there are any "don’t pass" bettors and how they’re doing, especially if you’re a "don’t" bettor yourself. Where else can you make friends and money at the same time?

More than anything, have fun at the tables and good luck.