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Craps Strategy
Craps Strategy

Craps Strategy

In reality, craps is a fairly simple game of trying to roll your point number (4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10) a second time after the come-out roll before rolling a 7. If that was the only object, and there were no other bets, players would find that the odds were quite reasonable (under 1.5% house edge), but the game would drag on for a long time because every other roll would mean nothing.

Fortunately, there are many other wagers that can be made at the game of craps so players find the game quite exciting. Unfortunately some bets have a house edge 10x higher (16.66 on a few) than the pass line. With those kinds of odds against the player it is important to understand both craps odds and some simple strategy and systems for playing the game.

Your overall winning strategy at craps is to have fun and make money when the dice roll your way, so making bets like eleven, any craps and the hardways can be incorporated into your play, but keep them to a minimum so the higher house edge doesn’t knock your bankroll for a loop. Successful craps players tend to become very aggressive when they are winning, often called playing on “house money.” Some players have also learned to reduce the house edge by practicing dice control.

Simple Three Bet Strategy

To capitalize on the low pass line and come line odds, many players stick to a total of just three bets: a pass line wager with odds and two come bets with odds. To follow this system, wait for a new shooter or come-out roll and make a wager on the pass line. If 7 or 11 rolls you are off to a good start and can take the winning payoff and start again. If 2, 3, or 12 rolls, replace the losing wager and wait for a point to roll.

When a point is established, take double odds on your pass line bet and make a come line wager equivalent to your pass line bet. Now, if 7 rolls, you lose your pass and odds bet, but get paid on the come bet. If 11 rolls, you bank the payoff and wait for a come point to roll. Obviously if a 2, 3 or 12 rolls you will have to replace the losing come bet. When a new come point is rolled, take double odds and replace the come bet with an equivalent wager and repeat the earlier steps until you have your pass line and two come bets working with odds.

When the pass line point is made you’ll get a nice payoff. If one of your come bet numbers rolls again you’ll get paid with odds and will then place a new come bet and repeat the process. If the casino you are playing in offers higher odds than 2x, start increasing them while staying with the same flat bet as your table stake increases. That’s the extent of this strategy. It limits your liability but gives you bets with low house odds, unless you opt to start increasing your bets after each payoff.

There are two downsides to the three bet strategy: your come bet numbers must roll twice for you to be paid once, and sometimes the shooter seems to make all those other numbers and not your own personal points.

Place Bets

For players who prefer to get paid as soon as a number is rolled, place bets and buy bets offer the next most reasonable house odds. After a point is established you can place a wager directly on the numbers 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, and 10 with the dealers help. Your minimum bet on any number is likely to be either $5 or $10 on the 4, 5, 9 and 10, and $6 or $12 on the 6 and 8. This will actually be less expensive than making come bets and taking odds, but carries a higher house edge.

A popular way of limiting your exposure is to make a small pass line bet and take 2x odds to start. Then, place the “inside” numbers (5, 6, 8, 9) when an inside number is the point, or place the outside numbers (4, 5, 9, 10) when an outside number is the point. This gives the player a total of four wagers in action. As the place numbers are rolled the player may take the payoff, or “press” the wager and take down the remaining few dollars from the payoff and hold on to it.

Some players refrain from pressing any place bets until they have recouped their investment on a specific hand of rolls. Once they are in the black they begin pressing and add any extra chips to their pass line odds.

More aggressive players start with a pass line bet, take odds, and then place all five numbers and thus have six total wagers after the come-out roll.

Casinos also offer “buy” bets, which are place bets for slightly higher denominations. These bets carry true odds of the point rolling before a seven, but charge a 5% commission. These are very attractive, especially on the 4 and 10, when the house only charges the commission when the number rolls, not simply when the bet is made.

Lay Bets

Another strategy for playing craps is to bet against the player making their point. Instead of making a pass or don’t pass bet, the player waits until a point is established and then lays the odds against the shooter. The good side of this strategy is that the odds are fairly low. The bad side is that any long roll by the shooter will result in quite a wait for the lay bet to be resolved.

A lay bet can be made on the same numbers as the place numbers (4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10), and, the same 5% commission is again charged just as the buy bets are charged. If the casino charges commission only after a payoff (when a seven is thrown and the point is not made), then bets on no 4 or no 10 have a very reasonable 1.67% house edge. The no 5 and no 9 bets have a house edge of 2% and no 6 or no 8 have a house edge of 2.27%.

Remember, as a don’t bettor the other players will likely scorn your play, especially when you are winning, since that means they will be losing. You have to be tough to bet the don’t side.

Optimizing Big Hands

The best thing about craps is that sometimes a shooter will roll the dice for an extended period of time and make point after point. If you have the numbers covered with place or come bets, you’ll get paid time and time again and can press your wagers until you have quite a tidy sum on the layout. Unlike other casino games where winning just a few consecutive bets is rare, a 10-minute hand at craps comes around fairly often. How you manage your money in-between those hands will make the difference between winning and losing. When the dice are choppy or all bad, limit your wagers, perhaps getting down to just a single line bet until some numbers begin appearing and the dice stop going point-seven, point-seven.

When the dice do roll hot, press your bets, taking down a few winners while letting more chips ride on your pass and place bets. When you do get a long roll, your bankroll will be pumped up considerably! Take advantage.

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