Craps is a game of chance which means that there is very little one can do to alter the outcome of the game. However, that does not mean that there’s no competitive artistry involved. There are many skills which are needed to win regularly. Good craps players have many things in common, just as weaker ones make the same mistakes over and over again. This piece is intended for those players who are new to the game and want to have the basics reinforced in order to maximize their potential at the craps table.
In craps, it is the goal of the player to place winning bets and the house to “cover” them. The player can choose either the “pass” or the “don’t pass” bet. There are also several other types of bets, which we will get into in just a moment.
If you watch a casino craps table, you will see four people actively running the game. There is the boxman, who sits in the middle of the table and serves as the referee of the game. On either side of him are the dealers, whose job it is to pay off the winners and collect the losers’ chips. Then there is the stick man, who stands on the players’ side and collects and distributes the dice.
The players must place their bets and then one of them is singled out by the stickman to roll first. This is called the “roll out” and if the player rolls a 7 or 11, he has rolled a “natural” and wins the equivalent to the amount of chips which he placed on the pass line before rolling. However, if he rolls a 2, 3, or 12 on the roll out, he loses and his chips are collected by the dealer. This is called “craps”.
All of the remaining numbers on the first roll (4, 5, 6, 8, 9, and 10) determine the player’s “box point”. The object is to keep rolling the dice until that number is made again. If the player rolls a 7 before making his box point, he loses.
General Advice and Odds
The best odds – and lowest house edge – occur when you play the line or the come, which means to pass or not to pass. Some casinos offer double or higher on pass line bets, so be sure to take advantage of this option.
Another necessary component to a sound craps strategy involves a keen understanding of the smart bets on the table. You may think this is the difficult part but in actuality with craps there are a limited number of bets in which the house has a low edge. Read section below to see the different types of proposition bets that are available.
Generally it is a good idea to stick with pass line bets backed by free odds, come bets backed by free odds, and place bets on the six or eight. Learning to hedge your bets when making more complicated wagers can be beneficial, but it is not the be all and end all of strategies. Generally a hedge betting approach decreases the volatility of the game significantly, but at the same time it limits your potential wins. Simply put, if you are a hedge bettor there will be fewer down-spells that could bottom out your bankroll, but if you are winning you will end up with less in the end than you would have without hedging.
Craps is one of the streakiest games around. You should increase your bets when you’re winning, but never in order to chase losses.
In additional to the pass line bets in craps, there are several others which have different payouts. Here is a brief explanation of each of those:
Seven – The casino usually pays out 4 to 1 on a seven, although the true odds are 5 to 1. This makes for a house edge of 16.66%, which makes it a poor bet.
Eleven – Similar to betting on seven, the casino pays 14 to 1 even though the correct odds are 17 to 1, giving the house a significant edge.
Place Bets – Rolling a four or a ten pay off at 9 to 5. The true odds are 10 to 5, meaning a 6.66% house edge. Rolling a five or a nine pay off at 7 to 5. Here the true odds are 7.5 to 5, meaning a house edge of 4%. Rolling a six or an eight pay off at 7 to 6, with true odds at 6 to 5, meaning a house edge of 1.51%.
Buy Bets – In this case, the player pays a 5% vig in order to get true odds on all numbers. However, only bets placed on rolling a four or a ten are worthwhile, as they reduce the house edge from 6.66% to 4.76%
Hard Ways – This bet can be made on the four, six, eight, and ten, with a pay off of 9 to 1 on the six or eight and 7 to 1 on the four and the ten. The house edge is 9.09% and 11.11%, respectively – neither are very good bets.
Come Bets and Don’t Come – These are even money bets which have a house edge of 1.414% and 1.402%.
Pass Line – These bets have the same house edge as come bets.
Don’t Pass – These bets have the same house edge as don’t come bets, which makes it a good bet.
The Field – This is a one-roll bet which pays 2 to 1 on two or twelve. The house edge is 5.55%.
Big 6 & 8 – A player receives even money on this type of bet despite of the true 6 to 5 odds. The house edge here is 9.09%.
There you have it, a basic guide for players new to the game of craps.