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Craps is the only game where the casino gives the player the means of winning and the outcome is quite literally in the player’s hands. The casino gives the player two dice and actually allows him or her to throw them.
The large variety of bets gives players the option of selecting high paying but rarely occurring bets, or more commonly appearing but lower-paying bets — or anything in between. However, the house edge of the bets fluctuates wildly – from a low of less than one percent to a high of about 17 percent on a standard craps table.
Some craps games allow bets with a house edge of over 70 percent! Yes, you read that right. The player loses 70 cents of every dollar bet on certain bets. Granted this is a bet that is not offered at every craps table and would not likely be made by any player, but it is possible to make a bet at craps with a better than 70 percent house edge.
The most common bet in craps is the pass line bet. Once a shooter makes a pass line bet, and if the first roll is a 7 or 11, the pass line bet is a winner and the bet is paid 1-to-1. If the roll is a 2, 3, or 12, the pass line bet is a loser and the bet is taken by the dealer. If the roll is any other number (4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10) it becomes the “point number.” The shooter must then roll that number before a 7 to win the bet. If a 7 appears before that number, the bet is lost.
Craps players also have the option of making a don’t pass bet which is essentially the opposite of the pass line bet — a 7 or 11 is a loser, a 2 or 3 is a winner, a 12 is a push (neither a winner nor a loser). Any other number becomes the point number and the shooter must roll a 7 before that number to win the don’t pass bet.
Come and don’t come bets work like pass and don’t pass bets, except they are made when a point is already established.
A free odds bet can be added to a pass or don’t pass as well as a come or don’t come bet. The amount of the odds bet is limited by the casino and varies from casino to casino and occasionally from table to table in the same casino.
Craps is among the most social of casino games. Other table games have a casino employee controlling the outcome game. They deal the cards in blackjack and other card-based games. They launch the little white ball in roulette. They deal the tiles in Pai Gow.
Only in the game of craps does a fellow gambler control the outcome of the game by throwing the dice. Because of this most players bet with the shooter making the point and cheer him or her on.
Is it the bet placed on an infrequently occurring hop bet on the 2 or 12 that pays 35-to-1 when it hits? While it can be exciting to collect a large win, these bets come with a nearly 14 percent house edge. On average these bets will lose on average $1.40 for every $10 bet. The excitement of the big win is quickly replaced by the pain of a depleted bankroll.
Place bets are very popular in the game of craps. These are bets that a particular number will appear before the 7 appears. Could these be the best bets in the game of craps?
Place bets win more often than hop bets on the 2 or 12, but they also pay less. A winning place bet pays 9-to-5 for a 4 or 10, 7-to-5 for a 5 or 9 and 7-to-6 for a 6 or 8. While the winning bets pay much less, the house edge is also lower. The house edge is 6.67 percent on the 4 or 10, 4 percent on the 5 or 9, and 1.52 percent on the 6 or 8.
The lower house edge makes the bankroll last longer allowing the player to play longer. The lower house edge also gives the player a better chance to walk away as a winner. Given that fact, for my money, the bets with the lowest house edge are the very best bets at craps.
They are the most basic of craps bets — the pass line with odds (or the don’t pass with odds).
While placing the 6 or 8 carries only a 1.52 percent house edge, the pass line with no odds carries only a 1.42 percent house edge. The don’t pass with no odds has a 1.40 percent house edge. For every $10 bet on the pass or don’t pass, the player will lose on average only about 14 cents — much better than the approximately $1.40 lost on average to the hop bet on the 2 or 12.
But the real beauty of the pass line or don’t pass bets is the availability of the odds bet. There is no house edge on the odds portion of a pass or don’t pass bet. The player is paid at true odds — 6-to-5 for a 6 or 8, 3-to-2 for a 5 or 9, and 2-to-1 for a 4 or 10.
Let’s look at an example of a $30 bet placed on the 6 and a $30 bet with $5 bet on the pass line that ultimately has a point of 6 with $25 then added as odds. The house edge of a place bet on the 6 or 8 is 1.52 percent or a loss of about 15 cents for every $10 bet. The house edge on the pass line bet with five times odds is 0.33 percent. This means the player will lose just over three cents for every $10 bet.
Now some specifics. The winning place bet is paid 7-to-6 for the $30 for a total of $35 — a profit of five dollars.
The base portion of the pass line bet is paid $5. The odds portion is paid at true odds of 6-to-5 for a total of $30 for the odds bet. The total win is $35 — the same as the place bet.
Why is the pass line with odds a better bet? In the above example, the profit is identical.
A pass line bet with odds made after the point is set, is called a put bet. Before the point is made — during the come-out cycle — there are eight ways for a player to win (six ways to make a 7 and two ways to make an 11) and only four ways to lose (one way to make a 2, two ways to make a 3, and 1 way to make a 12). There is a 2-to-1 advantage for the player that is not present with the place bet — or the put bet.
Also, the odds portion of the pass line bet has no house edge, so only the $5 bet on the line is subject to a house edge. The math of the entire cycle works out to a house edge of only 0.33 percent. This is why I consider the pass/don’t pass two of the absolute best bets in craps.
In case you were wondering about what bet has a house edge of over 70 percent, it is a put bet on the 2 or 12 with no odds. This bet is only available on crapless craps tables where any number other than the 7 can become a point.
While the pass line bet with odds may not be exciting, it has the lowest possible edge on the craps table. It gives craps players the best chance of winning. If not winning, it will allow the player to play the longest. That is what is exciting to savvy players.
Most craps players have almost no knowledge of house edges. This lack of knowledge can and almost always does cost them money. If you simply are playing for the excitement of the game and you have the money to lose, then maybe the lack of knowledge is okay. But, if you want to have the best chance of winning, knowledge is power. Learn the game and apply the knowledge. Use only the best bets in the game of craps.