Players agree that dice is no craps shoot

Nov 20, 2001 8:00 AM

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 grinders 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 over 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 who likes the Eldorado Casino 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.”

Armed with a solid playing strategy, veterans recommend trying craps at low-stakes tables, such as the ones downtown.

“A good place to learn the game, and get a feel for the pace of the action, is to try it where you can play 25-cent craps,” said Fung, who suggested casinos such as the Las Vegas Club, El Cortez, and Binion’s Horseshoe as good places to start.

In Henderson, Silvers suggested casinos like Jokers Wild, Eldorado and Sam’s Town as good places to “get your feet wet without drowning.” He added that he wasn’t aware of any craps tables on the Strip that offer 25-cent games.

“If I have friends come into town and they want to play craps on the Strip, I usually take them to Casino Royal,” Silvers said. “You can often play for $2 rather than the standard $5 and higher, and you get the benefit of 100-times odds.”

Silvers said another casino that offers 100-times odds is Sam’s Town, although the $5 minimum might be too rich for some beginners’ blood.

Fung recommended Main Street Station and Binion’s Horseshoe downtown because of their 20-times odds. And, while the minimum bet is usually $2, it is often lowered during the week and slow periods.

“Besides the chance to win, you have to love craps to play it as much as we regulars do,” Fung said. “Rolling the dice is a thrill that is unmatched, even when the dice fall the ”˜wrong’ way. But we’re all optimistic. At some point we know the dice will fall right.”