Aces Guide to Gambling

Craps Strategy & Rules :

Betting at the craps table on a roll can be a real scream

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

When a craps table is hot, there's no more raucous place in a casino. Most craps players tend to bet with the shooter, so they win together and lose together.

That makes craps a more social game than, say, blackjack. A blackjack player who wins three or four hands in a row is pleased to see the chips multiply. Let a craps shooter roll three or four winners in a row, and the place is in an uproar.

Beginners who decided to test out their new knowledge of the pass-line bet after reading about it here last week may have caught a glimpse of that. Maybe they found a table with a shooter on a roll, and the players cheering with every number. And maybe they didn't really feel a part of it yet.

That's partly because the pass line is just a start. It's a good start--a wager with a 1.41 percent house edge that makes it one of the best bets in the casino. But it's also a bet that can take a while to settle. Maybe, with a bet on the pass line and a point number of 10, you've felt a little left out as the shooter rolls 6, 9, 4, 8 another 6. The other players are whooping and hollering . . . and you're just waiting for your bet to be decided, wondering what all the excitement is about.

Why the difference? Because most of the other player have more than one bet on the table at a time. They don't stop with the pass line. They like to have lots of numbers working.

Now the sad truth is that many of the other bets are truly awful, with house edges up to 16.67 percent. But you can buy in to more of the excitement without giving away any extra edge to the house.

(A word of caution: As with any game of chance, do not bet more than your bankroll can easily handle. If you've decided $5 per betting sequence is what you can afford and the table minimum is $5, then stick with $5 on pass or its flip side, don't pass, and ignore everything else. If, on the other hand, you plan to bet $10 or $15 per sequence, you might want to break it down into two or three wagers.)

The key is a wager called "come." It's a bet that defies the gambler's maxim that any bet that's displayed big and bold on the table layout is bound to be bad for bettors. The come area is among the largest on the table, but it carries the same 1.41 percent house edge as the pass line.

Is it difficult to play the come? No more so than the pass line. In fact, the come bet is the same as the pass-line bet, except that it's made at a different point in the shooting sequence.

Remember how the pass line works from our discussion last week? Look for a plastic disk, called a "puck." If it's flipped to the side labeled "off," the next roll is a comeout.

That's when you place a bet on the pass line. If the shooter rolls 7 or 11, you win, if it's 2, 3 or 12 you lose. Any other number becomes the point, and if the shooter repeats that number before the next 7, you win, and if a 7 comes first, you lose.

The time to place a come bet is when the puck is flipped to the side that says "on," and placed in a numbered box to signify the point number. Place a bet by putting chips in the come area directly in front of you. If the shooter then rolls a 7 or 11, your come bet wins, but if the roll is a 2, 3 or 12, the come bet loses. Any other number becomes your come point, and if the shooter repeats that number before the next 7 you win. If a 7 comes first you lose.

Let's try an example. Before the comeout roll, you place a chip on the pass line. The shooter rolls a 4. The puck is flipped to "on" and placed in the box marked "4." You then place another chip on come. The shooter rolls a 6. A dealer then moves your chip from the come area into a box labeled "six," signifying you have come bet on 6. Then let's say the next roll is another 6. Your come bet wins, but your pass-line bet stays in action, waiting to see if another 4 is rolled before the next 7.

I like to follow a pass-line bet with two come bets, giving me three numbers working.

There is a faster way to get multiple numbers working, called "place bets".

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