Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Craps Refresher

I have read several posts this weekend from bloggers that want to shoot Craps in Vegas and either haven't played in a while or ever, and they want to learn.

I am not a Craps expert. I haven't lost as much as TJ, but I have lost my share. Enough to know all the plays, and the difference between the good ones and the bad.

Craps is a fun game, as evidenced by all the screaming and hollering you hear from an active Craps table in a Casino. Because of odds multipliers, you can really win money fast on a hot table. But you can also lose money fast on a choppy table.

Undoubtedly you have heard that Craps offers some of the best odds in the Casino. While this is true, there's a catch. (There's ALWAYS a catch.) There are good odds on the Craps table, and there are some HORRENDOUS odds. In fact you can make the exact same bet two different ways on a Craps table, and get different odds.

Here's the basic way the game goes. The shooter places a bet on either the pass line or don't pass line and rolls the dice. Everyone else also bets on this roll. The first roll is called the come out. If he rolls a 7 (natural) or an 11 (yo) anyone who placed a bet on the pass line wins even money. Anyone on the don't pass line loses. If he rolls a 2, 3 or 12 (craps) anyone on the pass line loses, and anyone on the don't pass line wins even money (except if it is 12, the don't pass player just pushes.)

If the roll is 4,5,6,8,9 or 10, that becomes the point. The shooter continues to roll until he either rolls the point again, or rolls a 7. If he rolls the number again, the pass line wins and the don't pass loses. If he rolls a 7 first, the don't pass wins and the pass line loses.

Sounds pretty simple, and it is. What complicates things is odds bets. Odds bets are complicated, but they are what makes Craps one of the best values in the Casino.

Once the point is established, the bettor can place odds on his bet. These odds are payed out exactly even with the chance that the number will occur. So if the point is 10, and you have $5 on the pass line, you can place odds bets behind your $5 that pay true odds.

True Odds
means that the chance that a 10 will come before a 7 is the multiplier on your bet. Since there are six different ways a 7 can occur, and only three ways a 10 can occur, you get double your money on an odds bet on the 10. If you put $10 odds behind your $5 pass line bet, you will collect $20 for your odds bet, $5 for your pass line bet, plus get your pass and odds bets back.

The same odds can be played on Don't Pass bets, these are called Lay Odds and they pay 1 to 2 on a 10. If you have $5 on the Don't Pass and back it with $10 Lay odds and a 7 is rolled before a 10 occurs, you win $5 for your Lay Odds bet, $5 for your Don't Pass bet and you get your don't pass and odds bets back.

To figure the odds on other numbers, figure the number of times it can occur on two six-sided dice and divide six by that number. On Pass bets, for 6 or 8, you get 1.4 times your bet. For 5 or 9 you get 1.5 times your bet. Don't pass bets are just the opposite.

To make matters more complicated, you can make a bet EXACTLY like a pass line bet AFTER the point has been established, by placing a Come bet. If you put money into the come area, it works exactly like a Pass Line bet, winning on a 7 or 11, losing on 2,3 or 12. Otherwise, the shooter must hit the number again before he rolls a 7. You can make odds bets on these Come bets, just like a pass line bet.

Don't Come bets are exactly the opposite. You are betting the shooter will roll a seven before he hits the come number again. Odds work the same as Don't Come odds.

The amount of odds you can take on a pass line or come bet is determined by the Casino, and is displayed on every Craps table on a placard that says "Max Odds = x" Some limit it to 2 or 3x odds, many allow up to 10x, and I have seen some that allow up to 100x odds. Since these bets have NO house advantage, it is recommended to bet as much on odds as you can afford.

There are many other bets on the Craps table, and almost all of them are bad bets.

One that isn't too bad is the place bet on the 6 or 8. While true odds pay 1.4 to 1 on 6 or 8, place bets pay less(1.166 to 1). So instead of getting paid $7 on a $5 odds bet, you will have to bet $6 to win $7 on the place bet. That difference is the house edge.

You can also BUY true odds on a number bet, which is recommended for the 4 or 10. For $1 per $20 bet, you can buy true odds. That $1 fee is the house edge.

Other bets, such as the Field, the big 6 or big 8, the hardways and the hop bets, are sucker bets. All bets placed in the middle are sucker bets, especially the Any Craps, Any Seven or Eleven bets. The house edge is huge, and these bets should be avoided.

The Big 6 and Big 8 are examples of bets that can be played different ways that pay different amounts. If you put $6 on the Big 8 and it hits, you win $6. But if you place the exact same $6 on the 8 and it hits, you win $7. Same bet, different payout.

The largest single bet ever played in Las Vegas was played at a craps table. A fellow carried one million dollars into Binions Horseshoe and put it on the Don't Pass line, considered to be one of the best single bets in a Casino. If you can dodge that first 7, of which there is only a 6 in 36 chance (especially considering that in 3 of those rolls you win and one you push, and it's only a 6 in 32 chance) then you have an advantage over the house, no matter what the point is. Benny Binion himself approved the bet, and the fellow rolled a natural. Later in the day the fellow killed himself.


Chris Halverson said...

Thank you.

Grinding Away said...

EXACTLY - Along the same lines as your blog - The Book How to Beat The Craps out of the casino and Win by Frank Scobletti has become my craps bible, not only usefull strategy but in depth information regarding how the dealers and other people at the table are effect your game -tells you what's gonna happen at the table and how to react to it a great read with usefull information - logged thirty hours at the tables my first time in Vegas and had a blast after my 1st read - Loved the Blog - Jim , Tampa

sean said...

2 corrections. the 6 and 8 only pay 1.2 to 1. and 12 does not lose on the Don't Pass. it's a push.

as for that last story, that's exactly why you should never go all-in on the Pass or Don't Pass. ALWAYS save some chips for the free odds. that's how you make your money. $1M. wow.