Casino Bets Explained – Craps
Craps looks like a lot of fun, but to the uninitiated, that field of numbers with chips flying every which way can be a little intimidating. Here is a guide to the various bets you can make when playing Craps.
The most important bet in Craps is the Pass Line bet. This bet is represented by a ring going around the outer edge of the table that says “Pass.” When the roller or “shooter” makes his first roll (called the “come-out” roll), the number he rolls establishes what happens to your Pass Line bet. If the shooter rolls a 2, 3 or 12, you have “crapped out” and lose your bet. If he rolls a 7 or 11, you have a “natural” and win even money. Any other number establishes a “Point.” If the shooter rolls his Point before rolling a 7, you win. If a 7 comes, you lose. If you missed the shooter’s come out roll, you can make a “Come” bet. On a Come bet, the next number rolled (unless it is a crap or a natural), becomes the Point for you alone (or anyone who bet Come with you).
You also have the option to bet “Don’t Pass” or “Don’t Come” which is simply betting that the shooter (and everyone else betting on the Pass Line or the Come), will lose. Once your Pass or Come bet is established, you have the option of “taking odds.” What this means is that you can put a bet behind your Pass Line bet. While the Pass Line bet is paid at even money, the Odds bet is paid at the true odds of your number being rolled. For example, if your Point is a 4 or 10, and a 4 or 10 is rolled before a 7, you would get even money on your Pass Line bet, and 2 to 1 on your Odds bet. If you make a Point of 5 or 9, you would get paid on your Odds bet at 3 to 2, and if your Point is 6 or 8, you would get paid off at 6 to 5. This is because there are many more ways to make, for example, a 6 (1 and 5, 2 and 4, 3 and 3, 4 and 2, 5 and 1) than there are to make a 4 (1 and 3, 2 and 2, 3 and 1). You can make the odds bet from twice your original wager to one hundred times, depending on the casino and the table limits. This is by far the best bet in the casino and you should always take as much odds as you can get. The second best bet is Pass/Don’t Pass or Come/Don’t Come, both which lay a House edge of a little less than one and a half percent. The don’t bets have slightly better odds, but you can’t take additional odds on them, and you won’t make many friends at the table if you play them.
Once you get past these bets, the odds against you increase considerably, and the “side bets” that are offered, while fun, are quite risky. First, if you don’t want to wait for your favorite number to be rolled, you can “Place” that number. If you do this and your number comes before a 7 is rolled, you get paid off at better than even money, but not quite at the true odds. The House edge for these bets are 1.5 percent for 6/8, four percent for 5/9, and 6 2/3 percent for 4/10. You are much better off waiting for a Point to be established and taking odds.
Some casinos have a “Big Six/Big Eight” box but these bets pay off at only even money and are even worse than Placing.
You also have the option to “Buy” or “Lay” a number, betting that a certain number will come before a 7 or won’t come, respectively. These bets pay off at true odds, but you must pay an extra five percent commission to take them.
Another popular but statistically poor bet is the “Hard Way” bet. This is a bet that a number will come only in a specific way-as a double. So a Hard-4 would come 2-2, a Hard-Eight 4-4, and not 5-3 or 6-2 or any other way. Since it is so infrequent to roll these exact numbers before a 7 or a “Soft” version of your number comes, these bets pay at high odds, but not nearly high enough. Though they pay off at anywhere from 7 to 9 times the amount of your initial wager, you are laying a roughly ten percent advantage to the House when you make these bets.
A Proposition bet is a bet that a certain number will come up on the next roll. You can also bet “Any Craps,” that a 2, 3 or 12 will come on the next roll, or Around the Horn” which adds the 11 to the mix. You can bet that a 3 or 11 or that a 2 or 12 will come on the next roll, or bet “The Field” which is betting that a 2, 3, 9, 10, 11, or 12 will come on the next roll. These bets offer a House edge anywhere from three percent for the Field to 11 percent for Any Craps to a gruesome 16 and 2/3 percent for the Horn.
Your best bet in Craps is to stick with the Pass Line and related bets. Still you now have a handy guide to what all those other chips being thrown around the table are all about.
Rick Stone Face Ellers started playing poker while he was a paratrooper stationed in Fort Bragg, NC. He currently writes part time for PokerListings.com where you can keep up-to-date on the World Series of Poker and Poker Tournaments around the world.