Many dealers will encourage you to make additional hedge bets on craps numbers (2, 3 and 12) to protect your pass line bet. You’ll always hear "any craps" bets called whenever a new shooter is coming out.

Any craps is the most common hedge bet and pays 7-1. This means that if you have a $10 pass line bet and a $1 any craps bet, you’ll win $9 ($10 minus $1) if the 7 (or 11) rolls, and lose only $3 ($10 pass line minus $7 any craps) instead of $10 if the 2, 3 or 12 rolls.

It sounds okay, but let’s crunch the numbers.

At the end of 36 rolls, you’ve invested $36 (36 x $1) in these hedge bets. The 2, 3 or 12 will theoretically roll four times (once each for the 2 and 12, and twice for the 3) in 36 rolls. So if you win these craps bets four times, you’ve won $28 (4 x $7), and spent $36 (36 x $1) giving you an $8 loss ($36 minus $28).

You can also bet $2 ($1 each) on craps and 11 (C and E). Craps (2, 3 or 12) pays 7-1, while the 11 pays 15-1. If the 11 rolls you win $24 ($10 pass line plus $15 11 minus $1 any craps). The 7 will win you $8 ($10 pass line minus $2 C and E). If the 2, 3 or 12 rolls, you’ll lose $4 ($7 craps minus $1 11 minus $10 pass line) instead of $10.

This time, though, in 36 decisions, you’ve invested $72 ($36 x 2) in hedge bets. The 2 and 12 will have each rolled once, and the 3 and 11 twice. You would make $7 on the 2 ($1 x 7), $14 on the 3 ($2 x 7), $7 on the 12 ($1 x 7), and $30 on the 11 ($2 x 15). This totals $58 ($7 plus $14 plus $7 plus $30), but you’ve already invested $72 so you have a $14 loss ($72 minus $58). Another winner for the house!

Finally, you can make a 3-way craps bet (on the 2, 3 and 12) for $3. This is different from the any craps bet because the odds are higher — 30-1 for the 2 and 12 and 15-1 for the 3. So if the 2 or 12 roll, you win $18 ($30 minus $10 minus $2) instead of losing $10, and if the 3 rolls, you win $3 ($15 minus $10 minus $2) instead of losing $10.

This bet also means that you will win on the 7 and 11 (from your pass line bet) and on the 2, 3 and 12 (from the 3-way craps bet). In 36 rolls, however, this time you’ve invested $108 ($3 x 36). The 2 and 12 will roll once, and the 3 twice. At 30-1, the 2 and 12 pay $30 each, for a total of $60. At 15-1, the 3 pays $30 ($2 x 15). You made $90 ($30 plus $60) but spent $108 for a loss of $18.

Unfortunately, as you can see, you cannot profitably protect a $10k pass line bet by hedging it with craps bets. Some craps writers have maintained that a craps hedge bet is only profitable with a pass line bet of $25 or more, with a $4 any craps bet. Let’s look at the math.

If you bet $4 any craps you’ll win $112, which comes from $4 (bet) x 4 (number of times 2, 3 or 12 rolls) x 7 (payoff). You’ll lose $144 ($4 x 36) resulting in a $32 loss. So, it’s still not a good bet. In fact it’s worse than a $10 pass line bet with a $1 any craps bet!

Now, let’s look at the same $25 pass line bet with a C and E hedge for $4. If the 11 rolls you’ll win $83 ($25 pass line plus $60 11 minus $2 any). The 7 will win you $21 ($25 pass line minus $4 C and E). If the 2 or 3 roll you win $1 ($28 minus $25 minus $2). In 36 rolls you’ve invested $144 ($4 x 36). The 2 and 12 will each have rolled once, and the 3 and 11 twice. You would make $14 on the 2 ($2 x 7), $28 on the 3 ($2 x 14), $14 on the 12 ($2 x 7) and $60 on the 11 ($2 x 30). This totals $116. So you’ve lost $28 ($144 minus $116).

Finally, let’s look at a $6 3-way craps bet with a $25 pass line bet. If the two or 12 rolls you win $31 ($60 minus $25 minus $4). If the 3 rolls you win $1 ($30 minus $25 minus $4). In 36 rolls on this bet you’ve invested $216 ($6 x 36). At 30-1, the 2 and 12 pay $60 each ($30 x 2) for a total of $120 ($60 plus $60). At 15-1 the 3 pays $60 ($2 x 15 x 2). You made $180 ($120 plus $60) but spent $216 giving you a $36 loss.

Craps is a math game and, as you can see, there is no way you can protect a pass line bet with craps hedge bets — whether your unit is $5, $10 or $25. So, the secret of protecting your pass line bet is to save all the money you would normally use for hedge bets and use that money to make more added odds bets!

And always, good luck at the tables.