If there is one table game that screams “casino!” at the audience in any movie, it may be a tossup between craps and roulette.
But my money is on roulette for one reason.
The players love to bet on single numbers.
The expression “when your number comes in” could have come from anywhere. There’s a good chance it came out of gambling on either roulette or craps. The same is true for “lucky numbers.”
Wagering in both games is propositional in nature. You’re just betting some number comes up. Maybe it’s a single number, or maybe it’s a number in a range.
Some craps players believe they have skill at throwing the dice. I would say you need more analytical skill to pick a betting system in craps, too.
Maybe it’s that slight bit of skill that makes craps a little less iconic for me. Winning on a single number in roulette just sounds more exciting.
1. Roulette Has a Lower House Edge Than a Similar Payout Bet at the Craps Table
- The best craps payoff I can think of is 30 to 1.
- The highest payout in roulette is the well-known 35 to 1.
If you ask random people what the highest payout in craps is, most won’t be able to answer. Most people will tell you roulette’s highest payout — or come close. They are willing to try.
That’s what clinches roulette’s place as the most iconic casino game for me.
The probabilities against hitting either of these highest payouts are similar.
But the player has a slightly better chance of winning 30 to 1 in craps than of winning 35 to 1 in roulette.
The house edge for a single number in roulette is 5.26%, but in craps, it’s a whopping 13.89%. (These numbers change according to the various bets and types of roulette played.)
So why else is roulette the more popular game?
It’s got to be the money. If you lay $1,000 on a bet anywhere, who would want to take $30,000 instead of $35,000?
I think most people would prefer the roulette bet, all things considered.
2. Craps’ High Payout Odds Have a Higher House Edge
The house edge on two snake eyes or two box cars is almost 14%. Compared to most other bets in craps, that’s awful. Only a payout on 7 out offers a better house edge.
Gamblers like to keep their money. The casino makes more than it needs.
- The house edge on roulette’s single-number bet is 2.7% in European (single zero) roulette.
- It’s over 5% in American (double-zero roulette).
- Sands roulette (using three green numbers) has the worst house edge on the highest payout.
Now, roulette’s worst house edge that I can think of is on the five-number bet. That tops out at nearly 8%. This bet is used in American roulette.
If your instinct is to prefer roulette over craps because of payouts and chances to win, you’re on the money. The lower the house edge, the longer your money lasts. The longer you’re in the game, the more chances you have to win.
It’s that simple, right?
3. The Roulette Table Is Less Confusing for Some
If it’s not clear by now that I’m not a hardcore craps player, I confess. Advanced craps betting still confuses me. If I have a drink in my hand, I don’t want to think about what to bet next.
All I want to do is put my chips down and see what happens.
It’s easy to pick a bet in American roulette. Even European roulette allows you to make simple bets.
Craps has a very simple betting system. If you don’t want to think, just bet Pass or Don’t Pass. And then stand around and wait…
In roulette, once all bets are in, you learn quickly if you made a good bet. Betting on a single number is high risk, but where’s the fun in always betting on black or red?
If craps is your game, I don’t want to deprive you of one moment’s pleasure. Roll the dice, baby!
Just don’t be upset if I bet against you. I have a slightly better chance of winning that way.
4. Roulette Is Less Personal
I’ve never seen anyone behave badly at a roulette table. Hey, I read about trouble at the tables like everyone else. But no one has ever said, “He bet the middle column — what a loser!” in my presence.
One reason why I don’t like to play craps is it seems like there is always a critic. The first time someone told me I was making a dumb bet, I felt my face turn red. I let it ride and lost my money.
The guy wasn’t trying to be a jerk. He was being helpful. But when you call out someone in front of the table, it’s embarrassing.
A friend of mine told me not to let it get to me. He said other players sometimes helped me decide what bets to try in craps. It’s all part of the game.
Nonetheless, I like to keep my betting personal and private. If I want to bet on 26, no one says a word to me. They’re all betting on things I didn’t want.
Only a few times have I seen people jockeying for position on the numbers. But they were polite about it.
Can you imagine someone saying to you, “Hey, buddy, don’t bet 17 — try 24.” And then they bet 17.
Maybe that’s happened to someone but not to me.
I feel like roulette is a more professional game. I’m playing with the big boys in my mind, and I mean no disrespect to people rolling the dice.
Good luck to us all, right?
5. It’s Almost like Winning the Lottery
When a single number comes in on roulette, you feel like you won the lottery. I placed a $25 chip on 15 and kept betting the number. It eventually came in.
I don’t remember how much I lost that night, but winning nearly $900 on one spin was a great feeling. It’s like winning a jackpot in slots. And I can say I’ve done it.
The most money I’ve won in the lottery was about $100. It’s not nearly as exciting as playing roulette. But I’d be happy if I won a $500 million jackpot on the lottery.
As long as I hear that ball rolling around the wheel, I know I have a chance. But half the fun of playing is waiting for the croupier to call out the number.
If I’m betting a column or row of numbers, I breathe a sigh of relief when one of my numbers comes in. But I would feel the same way if a Pass or Don’t Pass bet paid off.
You don’t feel very lucky when you’re covering half the table. We all hedge our bets. There is no shame in doing that.
It’s when you want some excitement that things really get interesting. When my stack of chips is up enough, I start playing single numbers.
You never know. I just might win!
There is a feeling of mature satisfaction when you beat the dealer at blackjack. That feeling is really good if you’ve split your cards and doubled down before the dealer finally turns over his card.
It’s a gentleman’s game indeed. The croupiers do nearly all the work.
Craps may be tarred by the rough way it’s handled in the movies. I can think of a few scenes where poor guys were playing craps in the street. That’s not fair to a game that is every bit as fun to a casino craps player.
If I had to choose between one or the other, I would always go for roulette. There is an elegance to the win that I cherish.
Also, the game feels like it is more relaxed than craps. It’s less intense than blackjack or poker. We’re in it to win it, not to have a heart attack.
The last thing I want to deal with when I gamble is stress.