Craps is, without doubt, one of the best casino games to play because it combines complete randomness with one of the lowest house edges. It’s no wonder the casinos don’t have loads of craps tables instead of slot machines because the slots make more money for them.
Craps has a wild history. Dice games have been popular for thousands of years. Only a couple hundred years ago, the hazard was the dice game of choice among aristocrats in Europe. Many wealthy families lost their fortunes to rigged games.
Modern craps are now played on the street and in casinos. I’ve never played street craps, but I’ve been told it can be as wild and risky as the old hazard games. Casino craps is a milder game compared to its cousins because it’s regulated.
Regulation won’t make you a winner. It only protects you from predatory exploitation.
If you’re still learning how to play craps, you’ve got questions. People who have been playing for a long time have their preferences. When you’re learning from more experienced people, you’ll need to keep your feet on the ground.
One man’s excitement is another man’s foolishness. In that spirit, remember that gambling should be for fun. Be as experimental as you wish, but you should understand how the game works.
1 – Play Basic Craps Strategies
Just because the game allows you to make speculative wagers doesn’t mean you should. Some players love the chance to win more money. But the probabilities change as you move past the basic craps bets.
Everyone makes a Pass or Don’t Pass bet. The Don’t Pass bet has a slightly better return to player than the Pass Bet. If you want to make a smarter bet, then bet Don’t Pass.
By the same token, the probabilities are slightly more in your favor with a Don’t Come bet than with a Come bet. If you’ve bet Don’t Pass, then you’re betting Don’t Come.
When the marker on the table is set to show “OFF,” the next roll is the Come out roll. Pass and Don’t Pass bets are made on the Come out roll.
The Pass bet pays even money if the come-out roll is a 7 or 11. The bet loses if the come-out roll is 2, 3, or 12. Any other number sets the Point (or “the point”) for that round.
The Don’t Pass bet pays even money if the come-out roll is a 2 or 3. The bet is a push if the come-out roll is a 12. The Don’t Pass bet loses if the come-out roll is a 7 or 11.
In Reno and Lake Tahoe casinos, the Don’t Pass pushes on 2 and pays even money on 12.
The shooter keeps rolling the dice until getting either a 7 or the point to end the round.
If the round ends on a 7 then the Pass bets win, and the Don’t Pass bets lose. If the round ends on the point, then the Pass bets lose and the Don’t Pass bets win.
2 – Always Place an Odds Bet
After the shooter rolls, a point players can Take or Lay Odds. The Odds bets are wagers on how likely the shooter is to roll certain numbers.
If you bet on Pass/Come, then you’ll want to Take the Odds. Place your Odds bet behind your Pass bet.
Taking the Odds means you’re betting the round ends on the point.
Payouts for Taking the Odds are:
Pay 2-to-1 on rolls of 4 or 10
Pay 3-to-2 on rolls of 5 or 9
Pay 6-to-5 on rolls of 6 or 8
If you bet on, Don’t Pass/Don’t Come, then you’ll want to Lay the Odds. Place your Odds bet behind your Don’t Pass bet.
Laying the Odds means you’re betting the round ends on 7.
Either way, you can bet multiples of your Pass/Don’t Pass bet on the Odds. The house sets a limit, which could be 3X, 4X, and 5X respective on the three-point spreads or some other combination of multiples.
3 – Make a Come/Don’t Come Bet
These bets work just like Pass/Don’t Pass, but they are made after the shooter sets the point. Players who join the round too late for the come-out roll can thus still join the game.
The house has a slightly better edge on Come/Don’t Come than on Pass/Don’t Pass.
You can Take Odds on a Come bet and Lay Odds on a Don’t Come bet.
If you’ve already made a Pass bet, you could hedge your bet and make a Don’t Come bet. Either way, you’ll win at the end of the round, but you’ll also lose – so you break even. Intuitively this makes no sense unless you bet different amounts.
Betting different amounts on Pass/Don’t Come or Don’t Pass/Come means that you’ll only lose a smaller amount of money than your basic bet.
If you’re thinking there is a catch, you’re right. You can lose your Pass/Don’t Pass bet on the come-out roll. That gives the house a very slight advantage over the combination bets.
4 – Keep the Place Bets to a Minimum
Not everyone will agree with this strategy, but you have to balance risk against potential reward.
A Place bet is like Taking the Odds. You place a bet on one of the eligible point numbers (4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10). The payout odds are slightly less on these bets than if you Take the Odds.
If the shooter rolls your number before rolling a 7 (even if it is not the point for the round), you win the bet.
You can hedge your Odds bet by making Place bets on different numbers, but you won’t win as much if your Place bet comes in. A Place bet is more expensive than an Odds bet.
If you missed Taking the Odds for some reason, you could still make a Place bet.
Place to Lose works the other way. You put a wager down on one of the Place numbers. You’re only paid if the shooter rolls a 7 before rolling that number.
If the round ends on point, then you lose the Place to Lose bet.
5 – Don’t Make Buy or Lay Bets
These are extra bets you can make, similar to Taking or Laying Odds. They cost you more, so it doesn’t make much sense to use them.
You could cover the craps table with bets during a round and win and lose money at several different times before the round ends. Some players love to do this, but they take on a lot of risk for diminishing rewards.
If a wager is “like this other wager with lower payout odds,” ask yourself why you would want to win less on a similar bet.
If you’re playing online craps against a computer, you control when the shooter rolls, you have all the time in the world to make your bets. You don’t need to make higher-risk, lower-payout wagers.
The house wants you to take those more expensive bets. They have less chance of paying off, and they won’t pay as much.
6 – Raise the Stakes on Fewer Bets
As long as you can afford to wager more than the table minimum, you’ll have a better chance of making more money with larger wagers on the Pass/Don’t Pass bets.
The smart strategy plays to the percentages: the percentage chance of winning and the percentage or multiple you’re paid back when you do win.
Instead of spreading yourself thin across the table, concentrate your wagers on the simpler, earlier bets in the round.
7 – Play as Many Free Games as You Can
This is very important when you’re just learning craps. Take advantage of the free online craps options at online casino sites by taking notes.
Compare how you bet against any strategy guide you’re using. Learn to bet by habit. Learn to recognize how the dice affect your wagers quickly.
Some people believe they can practice for live casino craps tables by throwing dice on their own time. You can do this, but if you don’t have a regulation-compatible craps table and dice similar to the casino’s, your training will be for the junior leagues, not the big leagues.
Even though some people swear they can control how the dice land, in craps, you’re required to bounce the dice off the far end of the table. That bounce is all the casino needs to ensure you can’t predict how the dice land.
You need more luck than skill when it comes to throwing the dice, but practicing ensures you won’t embarrass yourself when you are shooting in front of a dozen people for the first time.
If you can only pick one casino game to play for the rest of your life, craps would not be a wrong choice. As long as you keep it simple, the house edge is excellent.
Where players get into trouble is letting their luck go to their heads. You’ll have some runs of good luck, but it only takes one die roll to throw your hubris back in your face.
Michael Stevens has been researching and writing topics involving the gambling industry for well over a decade now and is considered an expert on all things casino and sports betting. Michael has been writing for GamblingSites.org since early 2016. ...
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