Craps' odds bet is bargain for players

Sep 25, 2007 1:32 AM

In recent months, casinos have seen a resurgence of craps play.

According to the latest gaming revenue report in Nevada, casinos in July raked in nearly $48 million at the craps tables, a solid 16 percent more than a year ago.

Moreover, craps tables increased their "hold" percentage to 15.9 percent, a 28 percent increase over their hold percentage a year ago.

Perhaps one reason for the higher hold is that players — especially new and younger players — are placing their bets all over the layout. Those bets include many with a lofty house edge.

These players might be wise to take a tip from the pros and consider making an "odds" bet to go along with a pass or don’t pass bet.

The so-called 2 times or 10 times or 100 times odds you find in the casinos is merely a "times" bet as a multiple of one’s original line wager (Pass or Don’t). The fearless Binion’s Horseshoe (downtown Vegas) was the first to advertise 100 x odds bets. The Stratosphere casino, in its effort to try and attract clientele, later followed the 100x suit.

The "free" or "true" odds bet was first allowed about 80 years ago as an accommodation to high rollers. There’s no marked spot on the craps layout for "odds" bets. It’s an acknowledged bet by the craps crew, overseen by the boxman and pit supervisors.

It’s probably the only bet in the casino that pays off in true odds (zero house edge!), thus its probability of occurrence is based on making the point numbers (after the come-out roll).

An odds bettor can take the odds that the shooter will make his point (Do Pass) or will not make his point (Don’t Pass).

Here are the actual odds:

Point Do Don’t

4 or 10 2/1 1/2

5 or 9 3/2 2/3

6 or 8 6/5 5/6

As you can see, true odds are the opposite on the Don’t Pass line.

There’s no house edge or "vigorish" on the odds bet. Technically, it’s a separate side proposition bet. The house couldn’t care less, as it’s a break-even affair to them over the long haul.

After a point is established, a player can make odds bets, or even take them off, at any time before decision. In fact, he can do that as well with Don’t Pass line bets. He can also bet on the Pass line after the point is made — only, bets cannot be taken off the Pass line before decision.

Since about 85 percent of all crap table bets seem to be made on the Pass line, that’s where the house wants to take a shot, for 1.414 percent vig. So, to qualify for an odds bet as a separate proposition, its maximum bet size is controlled by the size of the original line wager. That is whether the odds bet is 1 x, 2 x, 10 x, or 100 x, the maximum size is determined by the multiple allowed, but it can be less.

Thus, if you had $10 working on the Pass line at 100 x, you could place up to a $1,000 wager as an odds bet on the space below the Pass line. If your point was 4 and you made it, you could win $10 on your line bet and $2,000 on your odds bet. If you laid the maximum odds on a Don’t 4 for a $10 original wager, you’d place $2,000 behind the line to win $1,000, etc.

If you have subsequent intermediate bets via the Come/Don’t Come line, these are moved by the dealer to the number boxes. You must hand the dealer appropriate chips to "press" an odds bet.

The house isn’t stupid. The reason they spin their wheels on the odds bet is to encourage and give incentive to the player to make larger line bets to qualify for larger odds bets.

While some players convince themselves they are reducing their vigorish by making odds bets, it’s a delusion as far as the house is concerned. They just concentrate on taking a shot at your line bet.

The house, however, does place itself at some risk. Having some shooter with a long duke throwing numbers (without "sevening" out), it may take some time to recover. A big backup bankroll is a necessity. Also, they must use constant vigilance to keep from being "past posted." That’s where a cheating player will surreptitiously drop some chips behind the line if he sees the point is made. Dealer collusion helps.

Also, you need sharp dealers. Even though the maximum odds are 100x, say a player only bet 37 x the odds and the point was a winning 6, which would pay 6/5 odds. This could entail tricky chip-counting arithmetic.

Let’s look at it this way. Suppose you’re in a bar and flipping a coin at true even odds for $1 per toss. Another guy sides in and says he’ll flip you for $10. Still another says he’ll go for $100, etc. That’s why it’s not always easy to keep track of the odds bets.

As a player, you’re better keeping to even numbers that are easy to calculate and, hopefully, get paid on.