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Craps Rules & Strategies
that the proposed origin of craps is only limited by imagination and
differs based upon whom you consult. One thing everyone agrees upon is
that some form of the game has been around for thousands of years.
Could dice games have been
birthed several thousand years BC when more primitive cultures rolled
bones to divine the will of the gods? Could that be the reason we still
use the slang term "bones" even today when referring to dice?
It does seem to be a good
bet that dice are the oldest gambling implements known to man. I make
this statement based upon reports of archaeologists uncovering games of
chance in Mesopotamia which were over 5000 years old and dice which were
thought to be even more ancient. Also, accounts of gambling were found
in the Great Pyramid of Cheops dating back to around 3000 BC.
In the Bible under the Law
of Moses, "lots" were sometimes cast to ascertain the will of God. The
Hebrew word for "lot" means pebble or small stone. Later on in the New
Testament, it was by the casting of lots that the Roman soldiers gambled
for the Robe of Jesus. It appears fairly obvious that dice were used in
the casting of lots and even Caesar referred to the game when he crossed
the Rubicon with his troops and yelled, "The die has been cast!" Of
course he said it in Latin. But seriously, the Etruscans are credited
with having introduced 6-sided dice to Rome.
We know for sure that an
early form of what we see in the casinos was played in the 18th Century
by Englishmen who called the game "Hazard". It soon began to appear in
French casinos where the game was played against the house. In the
English version, however, players competed against each other. "French
Hazard" eventually began to be referred to as "Craps" which was actually
a perversion of the slang term "crabs" and referred to a roll of a pair
of one's. Today a pair of one's is still a craps roll but the more
commonly used slang for it is "snake eyes".
Dice were brought to the New
World by explorers and settlers and the game evolved and changed
somewhat from that played in sophisticated French casinos. In New
Orleans in 1813, Bernard de Mandeville adapted Hazard into the game of
Private Craps which ultimately became quite popular on Mississippi River
Boats and in gambling halls across the country.
There was a slight problem
with Private Craps, however. Since it used only Come bets and Field
bets, it was conducive to cheating by the use of weighted or shaved
dice. Eventually a dice maker named John H. Winn developed a version in
which the player could bet for or against the shooter and this pretty
much eliminated the effectiveness of dice altered for cheating. Winn's
version of craps is basically what is now known as Bank Craps. This is
what is played in casinos today.
A casino craps table can
appear somewhat mystifying and maybe even intimidating to a novice who
knows nothing about the game. I mean, when you consider that there is
usually a cloud of cigar and cigarette smoke hanging over the table and
you hear people speaking in code shouting things like "$5 Yo!" or "Horn
High Ace-deuce!" what is a person to think? One might also observe that
craps players seem to be riding an emotional roller coaster and are
either having more fun than anyone else in the casino or they are the
Well, in the next few
paragraphs I am going to attempt to remove the cloak of mystery and let
you in on the fun as I explain the rules of the game and how to play.
I'll also touch on some of the terminology so you won't even need a
decoder ring when you finally walk up to a craps table and place a bet.
Casino Craps is played with
two dice that have a total of 36 different possible combinations. There
are 11 numbers that can be rolled with those 36 combinations (2, 3, 4,
5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12). 7 is the most frequently rolled number
since there are more combinations that produce a 7 than any other
number, six in all. There are five combinations that produce a 6 and
also five that produce 8. Four combinations produce the 5 and 9, three
for the 4 and 10, two for the 3 and 11, and one each for the 2 and the
As you view a casino craps
table, you will notice that there is an individual seated at the center
of the table on the pit side. This person is known as the "Boxman" and
he/she is in charge of the game. The Boxman settles any disputes that
may arise. Among his other duties is watching the dealers to insure they
make correct payoffs as well as keeping a sharp eye out for any
Flanking the Boxman on both
his right and left is a dealer that handles the betting action on
his/her half of the table.
In the center of the table
opposite the Boxman is the "Stickman". He calls out the result of each
roll of the dice and retrieves the dice with a long stick which is
curved on the end (thus the term "Stickman"). The Stickman also has the
responsibility of booking the proposition bets which are on the layout
in the center of the table in front of him. When a proposition bet wins,
the Stickman authorises the amount of payment and to whom the bet is
Casino craps tables come in
various sizes ranging from eight feet to fourteen feet. So the maximum
number of people that can be accommodated at a craps table varies also
but ranges from twelve to twenty or so.
Each player at the table can
take a turn at shooting the dice if he/she so desires and the dice move
around the table in a clockwise fashion. When it comes his turn, if a
player wants to throw the dice (it's not mandatory), then he/she must
place a bet either on the Pass Line or the Don't Pass Line.
The minimum bet for craps in
most casinos is $5 although there are some smaller venues that may have
minimum bets as low as $1. As with other casino table games, the minimum
bet may vary from table to table. Normal table minimums are $5, $10, $25
and $100. The minimum bet amount is posted on the inside wall of each
If a player opts to shoot
the dice, then he continues to throw them until he "seven's out" (this
term will be explained shortly). Then the dice are offered to the next
player to his left.
Come Out Roll
When a new shooter gets the
dice, his first roll is called the "Come Out" roll. Also, if the shooter
makes his point, the first roll after a made point is also a Come Out
roll. If a shooter's Come Out roll is a 2, 3, 7, 11 or 12, then another
Come Out roll is made. Come Out rolls continue to be made until a
shooter rolls a 4, 5, 6, 8, 9 or 10. When this happens, the shooter is
said to have established a point and is no longer making Come Out rolls.
The first bet we will
discuss is one of the most prominent bets shown above on the typical
casino craps layout. The "Pass Line" is the bet that most players who
are new to the game will make. A Pass Line bet is placed squarely in the
middle of the area marked "Pass Line" on the layout. It is important to
place the bet in the center of this area so that it isn't touching a
line because bets placed on the inner line or outside the outer line are
A Pass Line bet wins if the
Come Out roll is a 7 or 11. The player is paid even money or one to one
odds on any winning Pass Line bet. When a 7 or 11 is rolled on the Come
Out roll, the dice are said to have "Passed". If a 2, 3, or 12 is rolled
on the Come Out roll, this constitutes a Craps Roll and the Pass Line
automatically losses but the shooter does not forfeit the dice.
When something other than a
2, 3, 7, 11 or 12 is rolled on the Come Out roll, that number becomes
the shooter's point. The point will always be one of the six "box
numbers" (4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10). If the shooter can then roll his point
before rolling a 7, the dice have passed and he wins his Pass Line bet.
But if he rolls a 7 before rolling the established point, the Pass Line
bet losses. The shooter has "sevened out" and his roll has ended. Note
that other than on the Come Out roll, dice rolls of 2, 3, 11 or 12 have
no effect on the Pass Line bet.
A Come Bet is placed in the
large area marked "Come". A Come Bet works the same way as a Pass Line
bet, but it is made after a Pass Line bet. In other words, you can only
make a Pass Line Bet on a Come Out roll. However, if you want to
continue to make a Pass Line type bet after a point has been
established, then you place your bet in the Come area. Just like a Pass
Line bet, a Come Bet wins on a roll of 7 or 11 and loses on 2, 3 or 12.
If any other number is rolled (4, 5, 6, 8, 9 or 10), the dealer moves
the Come Bet to that number on the layout. If that number is rolled
again before a 7 is rolled, the Come Bet wins, but if a 7 is rolled
first, it losses. So you see, a Come Bet is the exact same thing as a
Pass Line bet except it is made after a point has been established. It
also pays even money like a Pass Line bet.
Pass Line bets and Come bets are said to be "contract bets" which means
that once you make those bets you cannot pick them up. You are under
contract to leave that bet on the table until it is either won or lost.
Pass Line and Come bets are
called "do side" bets because you are betting with the shooter. You are
betting that he will either win on his come out roll by rolling a 7 or
11 or subsequently win by making his point.
Don't Pass and Don't Come
A Don't Pass Line bet is the
opposite of a Pass Line bet. If you will notice on the layout above, the
Don't Pass Line is the next area inside the Pass Line and that is where
you place your bet if you want to bet against the shooter.
Winning Don't Pass or Don't
Come bet pays even money.
A Don't Pass bet losses if
the Come Out roll is a 7 or 11, but it wins when the Come Out roll is a
craps roll of 2 or 3. You will also notice on the layout that it says
"Bar 12". That means that if the Come Out roll is a 12, then the Don't
Pass bet does not win, but it doesn't lose either. For the player
betting on Don't Pass or Don't Come, it is as if the roll didn't happen.
By not paying the Don't Pass or Don't Come bettor on a craps roll of 12
the house gains its advantage over a Don't player. Otherwise, a player
could just bet Don't Pass or Don't Come all the time and be assured of
winning long term since he would have an advantage.
After a point is
established, the Don't Pass bet wins if a 7 is rolled before the point
and losses if the point is rolled before a 7. So, once a point is
established, the odds are in favor of a Don't Pass bettor but are 22%
against him on the Come Out roll.
Don't Come bets are placed
in the little box marked "Don't Come" located in the corner of the
layout next to the dealer. The Don't Come bet is exactly like the Don't
Pass bet except it is made after the Come Out roll. It wins on a roll of
2 or 3, is barred on a roll of 12, and losses to a 7 or 11. Otherwise it
moves to whatever number is rolled and is placed behind that number on
the layout instead of on the number like a regular Come bet. Once a
Don't Come bet goes to a number, if that number is rolled again, it
losses. But if a 7 is rolled before that particular number is rolled
again, the Don't Come bet wins. For example, if a Don't Come bet is
placed and a 5 is rolled, the dealer places the bet behind the 5. If
another 5 rolls before a 7 is rolled, the dealer announces "down behind"
and removes the Don't Come bet because it has lost. But if the shooter
rolls a 7 before another 5 has rolled, the Don't Come Bet wins and the
DC bettor is paid.
Before leaving the subject
of Don't Come and Don't Pass bets I should mention that neither of these
bets is a contract bet. Therefore, they can be picked up at any time
between rolls. However, once a Don't Pass or Don't Come bet has made it
past the 7 and 11 and has been established on a box number, it should
never be picked up because the odds are then heavily in favor of the
By way of a side note on
terminology, a player who is betting on Don't Pass and Don't Come is
sometimes said to be playing the "Dark Side".
Taking and Laying Odds
The odds bet is a separate
bet that can be made after the point has been established on a Pass Line
Bet, Come Bet, Don't Pass Line Bet, or Don't Come Bet. It is actually
the best bet offered by any casino any time because it is the only bet
in the casino that is paid off at correct odds.
On a Pass Line bet, after
the point has been established, the odds bet is placed behind the Pass
Line Bet (outside the Pass Line area between the wall of the table and
the outer line of the Pass Line area). When a Come bet goes to a box
number (4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10), the dealer stacks the odds bet on top of the
Come Bet but slightly askew in order to differentiate between the
original Come bet and the odds bet added afterwards.
It is not mandatory to take
odds on your Pass Line and Come bets, but it is a good bet and can
actually decrease the house percentage against you, especially if a
casino allows a player to take 5 times odds or 10 or even 20 times odds.
By the term 5, 10, or 20 times odds, what I'm referring to is the fact
that most casinos will allow you to take odds in the amount of from 5 to
20 times the amount of your original Pass Line or Come Bet. In other
words, if your Pass line bet was $5, then with 5 times odds you would be
able to take odds of up to $25 on that bet. If a casino offered 20 times
odds, you could place an odds bet of up to $100 with only a $5 Pass Line
or Come bet.
When placing an odds bet
after a point has been established or after a Come bet goes to a number,
you are said to be "taking" odds. All odds bets pay according to the
odds of a 7 being rolled before that particular number. When playing the
do side, the odds of any box number being rolled before a 7 are against
you, therefore all odds bets associated with box numbers pay better than
A six or an eight box number
pays odds of 6 to 5 because the odds are 6 to 5 that a seven will roll
before a six or an eight. So, all odds bets placed on six or eight
should be in multiples of 5. For example, if the point established on a
Pass Line bet is eight, then you should place the odds bet behind the
Pass Line bet and it should be either $5, $10, $20, etc. (a multiple of
5). So, assuming you had a $5 Pass Line bet on the eight along with a
$20 odds bet, and the shooter rolled the eight and made his point, you
would get paid even money ($5) for your Pass Line bet, but you would
receive $24 for your $20 odds bet.
A winning odds bet placed on
the five or nine pays 3 to 2 because there are 4 combinations that make
up a five or nine and there are 6 combinations that result in a seven.
Therefore, 6 divided by 4 is 1.5 or 3 to 2. Odds bets for the five and
nine should always be made in multiples of 2.
The odds paid on a four or
ten are 2 to 1 since there are 3 combinations that make up a four or ten
and 6 that make a 7.
If you are making Don't Pass
or Don't Come bets, you are said to be playing the "Don't Side" because
you are betting against the shooter. As I stated earlier, when playing
the "Do Side" you "take" the odds but when playing the "Don't Side" you
"lay the odds" or give them. The reason is obvious. Once a shooter has
established a point, the odds are in favor of a 7 rolling before any box
number. Therefore the don't bettor must give the odds else he would be
assured of being a winner over the long term.
If a player makes a Don't
Pass bet, he can lay odds by placing his odds bet beside his original
Don't Pass bet on the Don't Pass Line. If a player wants to lay odds on
a Don't Come bet, he simply gives his odds bet to the dealer and tells
him he is laying odds on the Don't Come bet (sometimes referred to as a
Odds on Don't bets are laid
in the exact opposite proportions as Do side bets. If the point is six
or eight, a player must lay $6 to win $5. The reason of course is that
there are 6 combinations that produce a seven and 5 combinations that
produce a six or eight. Once a six or eight is established as the point,
the odds are 6 to 5 in favor of the Don't bettor that a seven will roll
before a six or eight.
Likewise, you must bet 3
units in order to win 2 when laying odds against the five or nine (for
example you must lay $15 in order to win $10). And if you are laying
against a four or ten, you must lay 2 units in order to win 1.
All odds bets whether they
are Pass, Don't Pass, Come or Don't Come are non contract bets and can
be picked up at any time between rolls of the dice. They can also be
increased or decreased as long as the increase does not take them above
the maximum allowable odds bet or below the minimum. Odds bets may also
be turned off or turned on at any point between rolls simply by telling
the dealer to turn your odds bets on or off. However, if an odds bet is
"Off" or not working when its associated box number is rolled, you only
get paid even money on the associated Pass or Come bet. You do not get
paid on the odds bet. But, if a 7 rolls you don't lose a non working
odds bet on the Pass Line or on a Come bet.
In general, odds bets lose
or win when a 7 rolls (Pass and Come odds lose and Don't Pass and Don't
Come odds win). The exception is when a come out seven is rolled, Come
bet odds are returned to the player while the Come Bet itself loses.
However, a player can tell the dealer to "work" his odds on the Come Out
and in this case, the Come bet odds will also lose if a seven rolls,
but, conversely it will win and pay correct odds if the Come bet number
Another type bet that is
considered a Do Side bet because it pays the player better than even
money is a "Place Bet". A Place bet is made on the box numbers (4, 5, 6,
8, 9 or 10) and can be made at any time by giving the dealer the proper
amount of chips and telling him which numbers you want to place. A Place
bet is somewhat like a Come bet in that it wins if the number placed is
rolled before a seven and loses if it is still on the table when a seven
is rolled. The exception is on the Come Out roll. If a come out seven is
rolled, it does not affect a Place bet (doesn't win or lose) since Place
bets are automatically considered to be "Off" or "Not Working" on Come
Out rolls. The player does have the option of instructing the dealer to
"Work" his Place bets on the Come Out. In that case, if any number he
has placed rolls, it wins but if a seven is rolled, all his Place bets
You do not have to wait for
a number to roll before it can be placed. You simply decide which number
you want to place and make the bet. From that point on, as long as the
Place bet is on the table and working, it wins whenever the number which
has been placed rolls, and it loses if the shooter sevens out.
Another great advantage of
Place bets is that they can be called "Off" or "On" at any time. They
may also be increased or decreased or even taken down and returned to
the player at any time between rolls of the dice. The player must simply
tell the dealer of his intentions.
There are no limits on Place
bets other than the minimum and maximum bets posted for that particular
Place bets are paid at
different rates from odds bets. A winning Place bet on the six or eight
pays 7 to 6. Therefore, Place bets on the six or eight should normally
be made in multiples of 6 while Place bets on the other box numbers are
normally made in multiples of 5. Winning place bets on the five and nine
pay 7 to 5 while the four and ten pay 9 to 5.
A "Buy Bet" is exactly the
same as a Place bet and all rules that apply to Place bets apply to Buy
bets. The difference is that a winning Buy Bet pays correct odds (i.e. 3
to 2 for a Buy bet on the five or nine and 2 to 1 for the four and ten).
The catch is that a 5% commission must be paid on all winning Buy bets.
It is advantageous to buy
the five and nine if you are making a bet of $25 or more. Buy the four
or ten if you are betting $15 or more. You should never buy the 6 or 8.
Lay Bets are kind of like
the Don't Side equivalents of Place Bets or Buy Bets. You may make a Lay
bet against any box number at any time, even on the Come Out roll. Lay
bets are understood to be working at all times unless they are called
off or picked up. And lay bets, like any other Don't bet, may be picked
up at any time.
A lay bet wins when the
seven rolls before the box number being laid against rolls. However, if
you lay against a number and that number rolls before a seven, the
dealer will announce "down behind" and you will lose your lay bet. For
instance, if you lay against a nine, and the next 3 rolls are five, six,
seven, you win your lay bet because the seven rolled before a nine
rolled. However if the next 3 rolls were five, six, nine, you would lose
the lay bet because a nine rolled before a seven.
The proper way to make a lay
bet is to place your money on the table in front of the dealer and say,
"$15 lay against the nine." Or you could say, "Laying the nine for $15,"
or even "$15 no nine."
Winning Lay bets pay the
proper odds less a 5% commission. So lay bets against the four or ten
pay 1 to 2. Bets against the five or nine pay 2 to 3 and against the six
and eight pay 5 to 6. Therefore, lay bets against the six and eight
should be made in multiples of 6 (i.e. $12, $18, $24 etc.). When laying
against the five, nine, four or ten, use multiples of 2.
Some casinos will allow you
to make lay bets of any amount just so the amount won will be at least
equal to the table minimum but others require you to lay enough to win
at least $20.
Big 6 and 8
In the corner of the layout
next to the Pass Line and the Don't Pass Line you will see a large red 6
and 8. This is sometimes called "Big 6 and 8". This is one of the worst
bets in craps. It works exactly like a Place bet on the six or eight but
instead of paying off at 7 to 6 odds, a winning bet only pays even
money. It is basically there as a sucker bet. The only times it can be
useful is if you are down to your last one or two chips and don't have
enough money to make a proper Place bet on the six or eight, then you
might use the Big 6 or 8. Or, if you decide at the last split second you
want to bet the 6 or 8 and it is too late to give your money to the
dealer and still get your Place bet down in time, you can quickly place
a bet on the Big 6 or 8 yourself. Other than for those two reasons, you
should never make this bet.
There is a huge area on the
layout between the Come area and the Don't Pass Line marked "Field".
This is a one roll bet that covers the 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11 and 12. If any
of those numbers hit on the next roll after you place your Field bet,
you win. A winning Field bet pays even money except for the two and the
twelve which pay double. There are still a very few casinos around that
pay triple in the Field when a twelve is rolled.
C and E
As we move further toward
the center of the layout you will notice two little circles joined by a
line. Within these circles are the letters E and C. The "E" is a symbol
for the number 11. A one roll bet on the number 11 is a popular bet
among craps players and it pays 15 to 1. An often used slang term for
this bet is "Yo". When a yo bet is made, the Stickman places it in one
of the circles marked E that corresponds to the Player's position at the
The small circle marked "C"
is where a general bet on craps is placed. This bet is sometimes called
a "Craps Check" or "Any Craps" and it is for one roll. The player is
betting that the next roll will be a craps roll of some kind (i.e. 2, 3,
or 12). If the bet wins, it pays 7 to 1.
Many players make these two
bets simultaneously by saying something like, "Four dollar C and E," as
they give their money to the dealer. This means that a bet of $2 on any
craps and $2 on the number 11 has been made.
There is usually an area in
the center of the layout at the bottom of the rectangular area
containing pictures of dice combinations where an Any Craps bet may be
placed by the Stickman if the player is not making the craps bet in
conjunction with a bet on the 11.
At the top of the
rectangular area in the center of the layout which contains pictures of
dice combinations is an area marked "Seven". A player may make a bet
that the next roll will be a seven and it will be placed in this area by
the Stickman. If the next roll is a seven, the winning bet will pay 4 to
1. This bet is also known in craps slang as a "Big Red".
More Proposition Bets
The bets in the center of
the layout (we've already discussed several) are known as proposition
bets and they carry the highest house edge. Experts will tell you to
avoid these bets, yet many dice players enjoy making them because of
their higher payoffs should you get lucky and win one of them.
Beneath the Any Seven bet in
the center of the layout you will see several pictures of dice
combinations which represent special bets that can be made at any time.
The first four dice
combinations beneath the Any Seven area are the Hardway bets. You will
see a pair of three's, a pair of four's, a pair of two's, and a pair of
five's. They represent the hard six, hard eight, hard four and hard ten
As an example of how hardway
bets work, a bet on hard six will win if a pair of three's rolls before
any other combination of six (4-2 or 5-1) or before the shooter sevens
out. (Hardway bets are automatically off on the Come Out so a Come Out 7
does not affect them unless the player calls his hardways "on" or
"working" before the Come Out roll.) But if the shooter rolls any other
combination adding up to six other than the 3-3, or if he sevens out,
the hardway bet losses. A lost hardway bet may be replaced at any time.
All the other hardway bets
work the same way as described above.
Hard six and hard eight pay
9 to 1 when they win and hard four and hard ten pay 7 to 1.
Directly beneath the hardway
bets you will find the "Horn Bets". A Horn bet is a one roll bet which
covers the two, three, eleven and twelve. Whatever amount the player
bets is divided equally among these 4 bets as long as it is an even
amount. So, an $8 horn bet would mean that $2 each was bet on the two,
three, eleven and twelve. However, should the player bet an odd amount
like $5 for instance, the dealer would place $1 on each number but the
player would also have to indicate which number he wanted the extra
dollar placed on. Therefore, the player would say something like, "Horn,
high yo!" as he tossed the $5 chip to the dealer. This would indicate
that the player wanted $1 bet on each of the numbers and the extra
dollar bet on the eleven.
A Horn bet can be placed at
any time between rolls and it wins if one of the numbers in the Horn
group appears on the next roll of the dice, otherwise it loses. The
payoffs are the same as if the numbers were bet individually (which they
all can be). If the two or twelve rolls, the player is paid 30 to 1. If
a three (sometimes referred to as "Ace-Deuce") rolls, it pays 15 to 1 as
does the eleven.
As I indicated above, a
player does not have to bet the whole Horn, but can bet only on the two
or any other single number in the horn.
By way of further
explanation of terminology, a player who is betting on "Boxcars" or
"Midnight" is making a bet on the twelve.
A "World Bet" is not
generally shown on the layout but it is exactly the same as the Horn bet
and works exactly the same way with the exception that the seven is
included in the group of numbers along with the two, three, eleven and
twelve. If the seven rolls, it pays 4 to 1 just like an Any Seven bet.
The last type of bet that
will be discussed is the "Hop Bet". Up until recently this bet was not
shown on the craps layout but it has begun to appear on some newer
versions. Even though not shown, it was usually accepted by most
casinos. But there are still some casinos who do not book Hop bets.
A Hop bet is a one roll bet
that a certain combination will appear on the next roll. If a player
hops the 3-2, he is betting that on the next roll, a 3 will appear on
one of the dice and a 2 on the other.
The Hop bet pays 30 to 1 for
a winning bet on the single combinations of 1-1, 2-2, 3-3, 4-4, 5-5 and
6-6. Technically it pays 30 to 1 for all winning combinations but if you
are betting the 4-3, you must also bet the 3-4 because it is impossible
to tell whether the winning combination was a 4-3 or 3-4. Therefore,
hopping any combination other than the single combinations that make up
the two and twelve or the hard four, hard six, hard eight or hard ten
only pays 15 to 1.
As a side note, it is better to hop the seven (if it is allowed) than to
make the Big Red or Any Seven bet. A $6 bet on Any Seven would only pay
$24, but a $6 hop bet on the 7 (which would cover all 3 possible
combinations of 5-2, 6-1, or 4-3) would pay $30.
To make a Hop bet, you
announce to the dealer (as you toss your money on the table) that you
are, "Hopping the seven." This will cause the dealer to automatically
divide your bet equally among the 3 possible combinations for a seven.
Or, you can hop an individual combination by saying, "Hopping the 6-2."
This covers all the bets
presented on a typical craps layout and some that aren't.
At 1.4%, the house edge on
craps is one of the lowest of any casino game. The only games with lower
advantages are baccarat and perhaps blackjack (depending upon the
special house rules which vary from casino to casino). Craps also offers
the only bet in the casino that pays off at the correct odds. I am of
course referring to the odds bet you are allowed to make after a Pass,
Don't Pass, Come or Don't Come bet goes to a box number.
The other thing that makes
craps such an attractive game is the potential it offers for a player
with limited funds to net a big win. It doesn't happen very often, but
lightning does strike from time to time.
And, if you are a player in
search of the big score who can't be satisfied with anything less than
multiplying his stake several times over, then there are a few things
you should keep in mind. Your best chance is by making "Do Side" bets.
By that I mean Pass Line bets accompanied by either Come bets or Place
bets. But before you even start betting, there is something else you
should take into account.
Cycles and Table Selection
Craps is a game of cycles
and each table goes through cycles both long term and short term. A
table can be generally warm for a period (meaning that quite a few box
numbers are rolled between sevens), but may experience a couple of short
rolls here and there. Or it may be generally cold (meaning that the
rolls are generally short with few box numbers being thrown and few
points being made). The normal state of a table is choppy where you may
see a combination of short rolls of 2 to 5 throws of the dice, medium
rolls of 5 to 8 throws and longer rolls of 9 to 15 throws. A big money
making roll (sometimes called a "hand") is more likely to occur on a
warm or choppy table than a cold table. Therefore, table selection is a
In order to find the right
table to play, you should look for a table that is at least half full of
players, maybe more. Of course if it is the weekend during prime time,
all tables may be jammed, but I'm talking about under normal playing
conditions. Observe the players to see if they are fairly content and
generally in a good mood. Since most players play the Do Side, this
indicates that they have been winning at least enough that they aren't
discouraged. Also look for money in the player's racks as well as money
on the table in the form of Come and Place bets. You shouldn't see more
than one or maybe two players making Don't Pass or Don't Come bets. If
all these positive signs are there, you may have a table with potential.
Type of Bets
Once you have found a table
that you feel good about, you must decide upon a plan of attack. The
most mathematically sound bets you can make when going for the big kill
are Pass Line and Come bets with odds. Some casinos allow you to take
odds on Pass and Come bets up to 20 times the amount of your original
bet. Most allow at least 5 times odds and virtually all allow at least
double odds. You can significantly decrease the house edge if a casino
allows 20 times odds and even 5 times odds helps a lot. But taking
maximum allowable odds (if you can afford it) will always increase your
chances in the long run.
When making Pass Line and
Come bets you can be as aggressive as your bankroll allows. You can
begin by making a Pass Line bet and when a point is established, take
maximum odds. Then follow up by making Come bets with every roll of the
dice and taking maximum odds on those bets that go to box numbers. After
you win 3 or 4 Pass or Come bets, you can increase the size of your Pass
and Come bets by 1 unit and continue this process of periodic bet
increases until the shooter sevens out. If you happen to walk into a hot
roll of 30 to 40 numbers between sevens, you could pocket quite a bit of
cash. But don't be greedy, when a hot roll ends, leave the table and go
directly to the cashier's cage.
If you don't have enough
bankroll to make Pass and Come bets on every roll of the dice, a more
conservative approach would be to just make a Pass Line bet with odds
(even single odds is OK to start). Once a point has been established,
try to get 2 Come bets to numbers and take single odds on each. Then,
each time your Pass Line bet or a Come bet wins with odds, increase that
bet by 1 unit and make another Pass or Come bet and again take single
odds. Each time a bet wins, continue to increase it by 1 unit and take
full single odds until you make and win a bet that is 3 times the size
of your original bet. Then begin with a single unit Pass or Come bet
(whatever the situation calls for) and start the process over. When you
have gotten a bet up to level 3 and reduced it to a 1 unit bet for the
3rd time, from that point on never take your bets down again. By that
time you will have locked up a good profit and everything from that
point is reinvested toward an even larger win.
Some players prefer to use
Place bets rather than Pass Line or Come bets. The advantage a Place bet
has is that it isn't lost to a craps roll and it wins the first time a
number hits instead of having to wait for a repeat hit in order to
collect. Another advantage to Place bets is that they aren't lost to a
come out 7 unless the player is working them, but Come bets are. Place
bets don't pay the correct odds, however, so they aren't quite as
mathematically sound as regular Pass and Come bets. On the other hand, a
Place bet can be removed at any time so that gives the player more
flexibility. Pass and Come bets are contract bets and once they are
made, they cannot be picked up although the odds portion of those bets
The most commonly used
strategy for going after a big win with Place bets is to either place
all of the box numbers or just those known as the "Inside Numbers" (5,
6, 8 & 9). After the bets have been placed, the first time a number
hits, the player will put that money back in his rack. The next time
that same number hits, the player will increase his bet by telling the
dealer to press it up 1 unit. For instance, a $6 bet on the 8 would be
pressed to $12 or a 2 unit $10 bet on the 9 would be pressed to $15.
From that point, the player would alternate between taking a profit when
a number hit and pressing it up. To be even more aggressive, the player
could press his winning bet all the way up (or parlay it), thus
virtually doubling his Place bet every other time that number hits.
A more conservative approach
to this method of play would be to pocket all profits from hits on the
box numbers until the player's total investment has been recouped, then
begin to alternate between pressing and taking a profit each time a box
number hits. Also, after a number has been pressed up by 3 units, it can
be reduced to 1 unit after a win at the 3 unit level, then continue to
collect and press for the remainder of the shooter's roll.
Even though you are playing
for a monster roll with these strategies, you should never keep pressing
or increasing your bets indefinitely. You should always reduce your bets
at some point to insure a nice profit. Players who don't do this wonder
why they never win.
It is also advantageous to
Buy the 5 and 9 instead of placing them if the bet has reached a level
of $25 or more. Also, Buy the 4 and 10 if betting $15 or more. Even with
the 5% commission charged on winning Buy bets, it is still a better deal
because you get paid correct odds on Buy bets. Never Buy the 6 or 8
As I indicated earlier, when
most of the shooters are rolling only 2 to 6 numbers before a seven out,
you are on a cold table. You aren't likely to have the kind of big win
on a cold table that you might have when the table is hot and rolling a
lot of numbers between sevens. But, you can still make some pretty good
money at times by playing the Don't Side (i.e. making Don't Pass and
Don't Come or Lay bets).
A common aggressive cold
table strategy is to make a Don't Pass bet and when a point is
established, lay maximum odds against it. Then make one or two more
Don't Come bets and lay maximum odds. If these bets are lost, don't bet
again until the next shooter.
A more conservative approach
would be to make a Don't Pass bet and only lay double odds. Follow that
by two Don't Come bets with no odds. Once all three bets are
established, take the odds off of the Don't Pass bet. Then don't make
any more bets on that shooter.
There are several variations
of these strategies and it is up to the player to adopt an approach with
which he is comfortable. Comfort level would depend upon how aggressive
or conservative the player tends to be and also how much bankroll he has
to work with. Never over play your bankroll. Most players prefer a
strategy that will keep them in the game long enough for something good
When playing the Don't Side
on a cold table, some players prefer to make lay bets. There are several
advantages to making lay bets. The most obvious is that a player can lay
against any number he chooses at any time (lay bets win when a 7 rolls).
Since a lay bet is placed directly behind a number, it is not exposed to
the 7 or 11. Don't Pass and Don't Come bets lose 22% of the time on the
come out roll due to a 7 or 11 being thrown.
Another advantage of a lay
bet is that it pays correct odds on winning bets. The house does take a
5% commission, however. But the fact that the bet can go behind any
number at any time is an advantage to the player since he can lay
against a number that may be "sleeping" (not hitting) at the time. Also,
Don't Pass and Don't Come numbers will tend to go to numbers that are
hitting and as a result, will tend to lose more often (by the number
being rolled before a 7 rolls) than a judiciously placed lay bet.
Just Playing to Win
If a player is not
necessarily going after a big win at the craps table but would generally
prefer to increase his chances of just having a winning session, he
might simply use Place and Lay bets. Since the player has total control
of these bets at all times, he can Place a few numbers and just go for 1
or 2 hits then take his bets down. Or, if he feels a 7 is near, he can
make a lay bet. In The Guru's Professional Craps System I explain how to
use these bets to win consistently. I also show you what tends to occur
on a craps table and how you can often have a good idea about what is
going to happen even before it happens.
If you choose to use Don't
Pass and Don't Come bets, do not make this mistake. Even though you are
allowed to pick up a Don't Pass or Don't Come bet at any time, you
should never do it. Once you have gotten these bets past the 7 and the
11 and they have gone to a number, the odds are in your favor from that
point on. However, admittedly sometimes a table will get warm all of a
sudden or the seven out doesn't come when you expected it and you have a
bad feeling that if you leave your Don't Pass or Don't Come bet out
there and do nothing you will lose it for sure. In this case, instead of
picking the Don't bet up, simply Place it as well. That way you can't
possibly lose; you will be assured of winning something even though it
might not be much. For instance, what if you have a $20 Don't Come bet
on the 6. You can put yourself in a can't lose situation by placing the
6 for $18. If the 7 rolls and your Don't Come bet wins, you win $2. If
the 6 rolls, it pays $21 so you win $1. Either way you win. Some novice
players have noted this situation and tried to build a whole system
around it, but it won't work long term because you cannot win enough to
make up for what you will lose to the 7 and 11 as you attempt to get
Don't Pass and Don't Come bets to box numbers.