Aces Guide to Gambling

Craps Strategy & Rules :

'Place' bets raise the risk and reward at craps table

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

In the last two weeks, we've gone over how to make pass and come bets at the craps table. Both are among the best bets in the casino, with house edges of 1.41 percent. For every $100 wagered on pass or come, the house keeps an average of $1.41.

Both are wagers for the patient, taking an average of three rolls to decide. And craps players aren't noted for their patience. Instead of waiting for the shooter's roll to determine their point number, many players want to be in action right now.

Not only that, some players don't want to take the chance on the shooter rolling a 4 or a 10 as the point. They want their money on 6 and 8, which other than 7 are the most frequent rolls.

What to do? Players often turn to "place" bets.

If you've been with me the last two weeks, you know that on a pass-line bet, the sequence starts with a comeout. If the shooter rolls a 7 or 11, pass bettors win; if the roll is 2, 3 or 12, they lose. Any other number becomes the point, and for pass bettors to win, the shooter must repeat that point number before rolling the next 7.

Place bets are similar, except that there is no comeout roll. You pick your own point. Put chips on the layout and ask the dealer for place bets on your number or numbers. If the shooter rolls your number before the next 7, you win. If a 7 comes first, you lose.

Winning bets on 6 or 8 are paid at 7-6 odds, while 5 and 9 are paid at 7-5 and 4 and 10 at 9-5. To take advantage of that, make sure your place bets on 6 or 8 are in multiples of $6. Casinos won't break down winners into fractions of a dollar. Bet $6 on 6, and if you win, you get $7. But if you bet $5, your winnings are only $5. You won't get the change.

Let's walk through a place bet. You put $6 on the table and tell the dealer you want to place the 8. The dealer moves your chips into the box on the table marked "8," at a point on the edge that corresponds to your position at the table. (That's how they keep everyone's bets straight.) The shooter rolls a 5. That doesn't affect your bet, and it stays on the table unless you choose to take it down--there is no mathematical edge in doing so. The shooter then rolls an 8. You win and are paid $7, and you may choose to also take back your $6 bet or leave it for the next sequence.

You may make more than one place bet at a time. If you want to have both 6 and 8 working, that's no problem. If you want to bet on all the point numbers, the casino would love the action-- although your wallet wouldn't.

What's the house edge? If you stick to place bets on 6 and 8, you spot the house 1.52 percent, just a little more than if you stick with pass and come. That's a little misleading because place bets are decided in fewer rolls than pass or come. On average, your money goes a little faster with the place bets.

The other place bets are wagers to avoid. The house edge nearly triples to 4 percent if you place 5 or 9, and it soars to 6.67 percent if you place 4 or 10.

Let's take a look at how the house edge on 4 is derived. Of the 36 possible combinations of two dice, six add up to 7 and three total 4. In an average nine decisions on a place bet on 4, you will win three times and lose six. Let's say you're betting $5 a pop. In nine decisions, you risk $45. Winning bets pay 9-5 odds, so each time you win, you get $9 in winnings and you retain your $5 bet for a total of $14. With three winners in the sequence, when it's all over, you have $42. You've lost $3. Divide that $3 by $45 in total wagers, then multiply by 100 to convert to percent, and you'll find the house has kept 6.67 percent of your money.

You can reduce the house edge on 4 or 10 to 4.76 percent by buying, instead of placing, the numbers. To buy a number, you pay the house a 5 percent commission. In exchange, winners are paid at true odds of 2-1 instead of the 9-5 on place bets. Buying other place numbers does not reduce the house edge.

There is a way to get true odds at craps without paying that 5 percent. Check out free odds.

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