Unscrambling the bets on a craps table layout

December 19, 2000 5:43 AM
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QUESTION: Would you explain the various bets on the craps table?

GURU: It’s helpful to understand the myriad of bets on the craps layout, although we’ve recommended in previous discussions that players stick to the Pass and Come lines, while backing up those bets with Free Odds bets. In any event, here are the bets:

Pass Line: By playing the Pass Line, you’re betting with the shooter. An immediate 7 or 11 on the come out roll wins; a 2, 3 or 12 loses. If a point is established (4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10), it must be repeated before a 7 is thrown in order to win. The Pass Line bet pays even money and, with a house advantage of 1.41 percent, is one of the best bets at the table.

Don’t Pass: The Don’t Pass bettor bets against the shooter. He therefore wins his bet if the come out roll is a 2 or 3 (a 12 is usually a push), and loses if the shooter 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. This even-money bet has approximately the same house advantage as the Pass bet.

Come and Don’t Come Bets: These bets are identical to the Pass and Don’t Pass bets, except that they can be placed only after a point has been established. That is, an immediate 7 or 11 is a winner; a 2, 3 or 12 loses, and any other number becomes an established point for the Come bettor. The reverse is true for the Don’t Come bettor. In addition, you can place as many consecutive Come/Don’t Come bets as you like, while you are limited to one Pass/Don’t Pass bet. The importance of these bets is that they allow players to increase their chances of winning during any given roll of the dice. They offer the same odds as the Pass/Don’t Pass.

Place Bets: A bet on any or all of the Place numbers (4, 5, 6, 8, 9 or 10) is a bet that the number or numbers will be thrown before a 7. The 4 and 10 pay at 9-5 odds; the 5 and 9 at 7-5 odds; and the 6 and 8 at 7-6 odds. Placing the 6 and 8 is a fairly good bet because the house edge is 1.52 percent. However, placing the 5 and 9 and the 4 and 10 are less attractive because the house edge jumps to 4 percent and 6.73 percent, respectively.

The Field: This is a one-roll bet that any number in the Field-2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11 or 12-will be rolled. If any other number-5, 6, 7 or 8-is thrown, the bet is lost. The house advantage on this bet is nearly 6 percent and too great to recommend it.

Big 6 and Big 8: A bet on either the 6 or 8, or both, can be made at any time, and either must appear before a 7 is thrown in order to win. Because the bet only pays even money instead of its true odds of 6-5, the house enjoys an advantage of 9.09 percent.

Proposition Bets: These bets, which include the Hard Ways and One-Roll Bets in the center of the layout, are all poor betting propositions. Because the house advantage varies from 10 percent to 17 percent, they should be avoided.

Free Odds: Although there’s nothing on the table to indicate the existence of this bet, it is one of the most advantageous to the player. It is available to all Pass/Don’t Pass and Come/Don’t Come bettors after a point has been established. Once the shooter establishes a point, a player can make a bet equal to his previous bet and receive true odds (instead of even money) if the point is made. This amounts to 2-1 on the 4 and 10; 3-2 on the 5 and 9; and 6-5 on the 6 and 8. If the casino offers "double odds," the player can double his previous bet. It’s always to the player’s advantage to make the free odds bet, especially at double odds, because it gives you the chance to win more money at correct odds when the shooter is on a "hot" roll. With single odds, the house edge is reduced to 0.8 percent; with double odds it’s reduced further to 0.6 percent.