Aces Guide to Gambling

Craps Strategy & Rules :

Craps has good odds and bad -- avoid the bad

About The Author

John Grochowski is the author of four gaming books including The Slot Machine Answer Book and The Casino Answer Book.

Grochowski was recently named by Casino Player magazine as one of the 100 best gaming authors of the 20th century.

He also runs a gaming column in the Detroit News and the Chicago Sun-Times, which examines issues ranging from blackjack and video poker strategy to casino etiquette.

John Grochowski

Craps gives the player one of the best shots to win in the casino, provided the player sticks to the best bets offered.
In the last few weeks, we've dissected those best bets--pass and don't pass, come and don't come, the free odds and place bets on 6 and 8. All are among the best bets at casino games. The highest house edge of the lot is 1.52 percent on placing the 6 or 8, meaning that in the long run, the player loses $1.52 for every $100 wagered.

But if craps is a haven for the knowledgeable player, it's also a trap for the unwary. Let's check out some bets to avoid:

Field: It's tempting to bet the field. It gives you LOTS of numbers--you win if the roll is 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11 or 12. If the roll is 2 or 12, you're paid 2-1 instead of the even-money payoffs you get on other winners. (Some tables even pay 3-1 on 12).

But there are problems. The most frequent roll is 7, followed by 6 and 8, and they are not winners in the field. Neither is 5, which is tied with 9 as the fourth most frequent roll. The bottom line is that 20 losing combinations will turn up for every 16 winners.

The house edge is 5.6 percent on most tables, dropping to 2.8 percent if the 12 pays 3-1. That's either four times or double the 1.41 percent house edge on the pass line. Even worse, since the field bet is decided on every roll as opposed to the approximately three rolls it takes to decide the pass bet, you lose your money much faster on the field.

One-roll propositions: On the center of the table layout, you'll find a wide variety of wagers. You can't place these yourself--you have to put your money on the layout and ask a dealer to place the bet for you. Here's a tip: Don't ask. All the center-table propositions are bad bets.

Let's use the one-roll bet on 12 as an example. Instead of the true odds of 35-1, some pay 30-1, meaning that when a 12 is rolled you get 30 units in winnings plus keep your original wager. The house edge is an astronomical 13.9 percent. Others pay 30-for-1, meaning your bet is included in your 30-unit return when you win. The house edge steps up to 16.7 percent. Yuck.

One-roll bets include 2, 3, 7, 11, 12, any craps (2, 3 or 12) or C & E (craps and 11, which means 2, 3, 11 or 12), with house edges ranging from 11.1 percent (3 or 11, with either paying 15-1, or any craps, paying 7-1) to 16.7 percent (2 or 12, either paying 30-for-1; 3 or 11, either paying 15-for-1, or any 7 paying 4-1). That's much too much to spot the house.

Hardways: Bet hard 6, and you win if two 3s roll before a 7 or another 6. The requirement that both dice show the same number makes it a hardway.

Payoffs are 7-1 on hard 4 or 10, and 9-1 on hard 6 or 8. House edges are 9.1 percent on 6 or 8, and 11.1 percent on 4 or 10. Since these are multiple-roll bets, your money doesn't go quite as fast as on the one-roll propositions, but still, why spot the house this much when there are so many options with a fraction of the house edge?

Big 6 and Big 8: These work much like place bets on 6 or 8. Bet Big 6, and if a 6 rolls before the next 7, you win, and if the 7 rolls first, your lose. The key difference is that Big 6 and Big 8 pay only even money, while place bets on the same numbers pay 7-6 odds. If you want to play 6 or 8, bet in multiples of $6 and stick with the place bets. The house edge there is only 1.52 percent, while on Big 6 and Big 8 it's 9.1 percent. Ouch.

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