It's a crap shoot!

Jul 14, 2009 5:09 PM
by GT Staff |

Think all craps games are the same, even in Las Vegas? Think again!

Players who are loyal to their beloved dice game have deep-rooted feelings about the best way to play the fast-paced game, as well as where the best tables are located.

The players actually come in all shapes and sizes, ranging from sophisticated rollers who are savvy about maximizing the table odds to their advantage, to regular players who continue to play a certain way – even when it can be shown the house edge is against them!

GamingToday rounded up a few of the former, players who understand the game, the bets, the odds and how to manage and maximize their bank – a difficult task for many players.

"It’s easy to spot a beginner, or someone who likes to lose consistently," said Alvin Fung, a craps player who spends most of his time at the downtown dice tables. "Either they act intimidated and fail to ask the right questions, or they act bold and make all the wrong bets. Either way they’re losers."

Fung added that inexperienced players inevitably fall into the "helter skelter" pattern of betting. "They are all over the table, without any kind of strategy whatsoever," he said. "Most don’t have a clue about what they’re doing."

Most of the regular, seasoned players that GamingToday interviewed agreed that craps strategy isn’t brain surgery. The consensus is that astute players should stick to betting the pass and come lines, then sweetening those bets with odds bets.

Virtually all agree that other bets, such as the field, proposition bets, the Big Red 7, the corner 6 or 8, hard ways, or place bets on the 5, 9, 4 and 10 are destined to failure.

"The game of craps has a very low house edge, if you stay away from the sucker bets," said Jimmy Silvers, a long time player in Henderson. "Good dealers will often let you know when you’re betting against yourself, or if you’re about to fall off the deep end, but don’t count on it. Some houses restrict how much help the dealers can offer."

Silvers won’t say how much he wins or bets, but he always takes the odds on his pass line bets. "This is the only bet in the entire casino where you can get true odds," he said. "Why would you pass up this opportunity, especially when you get the bet at odds higher than your original pass line bet?"

The latter point is crucial among many craps players, who contend that the higher the odds bet allowed, the better it is for the player.

"Quite frankly, I always look for the highest odds the casino can provide," Silvers said. "I won’t take less than 5-times or 10-times odds."

Here’s a summary of craps 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 of winning 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 bets.

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 never be made.

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.

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