Holy Craps, This looks Confusing

Simple Strategies for Betting Craps

There is nothing quite like a lively game of craps. When the mood is right and the casino’s hopping with boisterous, hopeful gamblers, there is a certain electricity that builds. It’s palpable. When dice fly, strangers will come together and join forces for the common good: a great roll.

It can be the standout game at any casino, especially when players are throwing around ’high-fives’ and getting loud. It’s exciting. It can also be intimidating. The rules seem daunting, the betting strategies complicated, and this can deter novices from joining the action. Don’t let that stop you. You can figure out the basics rather quickly and, if you’re playing in a live brick and mortar, the dealers are always there to help. Before slapping down some hard-earned money, you should at least take a few minutes to get comfortable with some general principles. It’s easier to gamble if you have some semblance of what you’re doing.

“According to Hoyle,” refers to Edmond Hoyle, the foremost authority on card-game rules, along with other games like Craps.

According to Hoyle, there’s a litany of rules associated with craps. It’s not for the faint of heart. There are a few unwritten rules as well, two of which are vitally important. First, in a highly-charged atmosphere like that, don’t jinx the shooter by uttering the word ‘seven.’ This gambling sin, considered bad luck, will get you dirty looks around the oval. Second, even though you’re allowed to, it’s not a good idea to place chips on the ‘Don’t Pass’ line. It says to your table mates you are rooting and betting against them. Again, bad hoodoo. Many inexperienced gamblers have learned that lesson the hard way. Let’s focus on ‘Pass’ bets only; bets where you side with the shooter.

How to Play

The action begins with the first roll of the dice, the ‘come-out’ roll, when bets are placed on the ‘Pass’ line in font of you. The dice are tossed across the table. If the come-out roll is 7 or 11 ‘Pass’ bets win. If the roll is 2, 3 or 12 ’Pass’ bets lose. Craps. Any other number becomes the ‘point.’ The object of the game, from a player’s standpoint, is to hit the point number again before rolling a 7.  If the 7 comes first all bets are lost. Craps. When a player fails to make the point, or ’sevens out,’ the dice is passed, clockwise around the table, to the next player and a new game begins.

Fast & Furious Action

Once the point is set, and until it’s either hit again or the shooter ‘sevens out,’ a variety of bets can be made on every ensuing toss. You will get better odds for numbers like 4, 5 & 10 than you will 6 or 8, because they are the two most commonly rolled numbers after 7.  With every other number or combination of numbers in play, bets are won and lost on each roll.

If you had an affinity for the number 4, let’s say, you could bet that a few ways. The most common is where combos of 3 and 1 and 2 and 2 both win. There is also the ‘hard’ way, where the dice need to land exactly on 2 and 2. The hard way earns more money because the odds are longer, considering any combo of 3 and 1 would result in a loss. Betting a hard 6 would require two 3’s, a hard 8 two fours, and so on.

Field bets can be placed on a collection of seven numbers and are one-roll wagers only, made at anytime, even before the come out. The game offers a wide range of alternatives as well, everything from place and buy bets to proposition wagers. Essentially, you can wager on any two-dice combination you can think of.

Best Craps Bets

Interestingly, the very first bet you are required to make gives you the best odds. The Pass bet is basic and offers players the greatest chance at winning. The house edge on Pass bets is only 1.4 per cent. The most exciting part about it is the come-out. On any two-dice roll you have eight chances to win. There are six ways to roll a 7 and two ways to roll an 11. (Remember, with Pass bets 7 and 11 win on the come-out) Conversely, there are just four ways to lose, one combo each for 2 and 12 and two combinations for 3.

A sound strategy for newcomers is to get their feet wet with Pass bets, giving them a feel for the game, before upping the ante. From there, Come/Don’t Come bets are a good option. They are similar to Pass/Don’t Pass but they are made on rolls other than the come-out.

There is an option for Free Odds as well and every player should take advantage of this. It’s the only dead-even bet in the casino and it pays off at true odds. It allows you to effectively back your other wagers. Coupled together, Pass or Come bets with an odds bet, and the house edge is lowered even more, to about 0.8 per cent. On top of that, most casinos nowadays offer double odds, some even more, allowing players to wager twice the amount of the original Pass or Come bet. This can push the casino’s advantage even lower, to about 0.6 per cent.

Stay Focused & Have Fun

Craps is a fast-paced game, with people hooting and hollering all around you. It can thrill, stimulate and rouse the senses and, with so many betting options available, you can easily be distracted. This is your hard-earned money we’re talking about and the house is trying to take it. It’s well worth your time to learn some the game’s nuances. Stay focussed. Keep it simple. Have fun. Enjoy the process. And, when the dice are passed to you and it’s your turn to roll, stay positive and let them fly.

Derrick Oliver

Derrick Oliver

Derrick Oliver Dewan is the founder of High Roller Radio and has interviewed a number of the world's top poker players and gamblers. A former radio and television broadcaster, Derrick was brand manager for Poker Pro Canada magazine and has written for a variety of publications, including the Toronto Star & Windsor Life.

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