Craps Bets Explained
It’s hard to believe now, but just a few decades ago, craps was the biggest moneymaker in any casino. Over the last fifty or so years, it’s gradually declined in popularity, while slots and blackjack have becoming increasingly popular. One of the reasons for this decline is the seeming complexity of the game, which features a multitude of what seem like bewildering bets.
The truth is, though, that the best bets on a craps table are the simplest bets, so you don’t even have to learn all the betting types to play. If you stick with the basics, you can have lots of fun, and your money will last a long time.
This page describes those bets along with some of the more exotic (and not necessarily recommended) other bets.
The Pass Line Bet
This is one of the most basic bets in the game. You place a pass line bet before the come-out roll, which is the first roll of the dice in a round of play. If the come-out roll is 7 or 11, the pass line bet wins. If it’s a 2, 3, or a 12, the pass line bet loses.
Players love this bet because it’s rooting for the shooter to win. It’s also one of the best bets at the table, with a house edge of only 1.41%.
The pass line bets pays out even money.
Don’t Pass Line
This is the opposite of the pass line bet. If the come-out roll is 7 or 11, the don’t pass line bet loses. If it’s a 2, 3, or a 12, the don’t pass line bet wins.
The house edge on the don’t pass line bet is marginally better than the house edge on the pass line bet. It’s 1.36%, which is 0.05% better. You’d have to be betting $2000 or more per hour to even notice the difference, and even then, in the long run, you’re only gaining $1 per hour over the pass line bet.
Players who stick with the don’t pass line bet are called “wrong bettors”.
If any number other than 2, 3, 7, 11, or 12 comes up, a point is set. We’ll discuss that more soon.
The Come Bet
If the pass line and the don’t pass line bets were the only two options available, anyone could learn craps in moments, but it wouldn’t be such an interesting game. That’s why the come bet is available, too.
The come bet basically treats the roll of the dice after a point has been set as if it were another come-out roll. It’s treated the same as a pass line bet.
So if a shooter is trying to make a point, and you’ve made a come bet, then that bet pays out just like it would if this were a come-out roll instead an attempt to make a point.
The Don’t Come Bet
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure this one out. If the come bet is the equivalent of a pass line bet, then the don’t come bet is the equivalent of the don’t pass line bet. Just like the come bet, it’s a bet against the shooter trying to make the point, but it treats that roll just as if it were a come-out roll.
This the best bet in the game. In fact, it’s almost always the best bet in the casino. The trick is that you can only take odds after you’ve made an initial pass line or come bet.
Taking odds is a bet that can be made any time a point is established. The amount you bet in this case wins if the point is rolled before a 7 is rolled.
And unlike every other bet in the casino, the taking odds bet pays out at true odds. There is no house edge.
Casinos limit the amount you can wager on taking odds as a multiple of the amount you wagered on the initial pass line or come bet. The higher the multiple, the better deal this bet becomes.
If the point is 4 or 10, taking odds pays out 2 to 1.
If the point is 5 or 9, taking odds pays out 3 to 2.
If the point is 6 or 8, taking odds pays out 6 to 5.
This is the opposite of taking odds, and it pays out when the shooter gets a 7 before rolling a point. You can only lay odds if you placed a don’t pass line or don’t come bet first, and like taking odds, you can only wager a particular multiple of that bet. The casino has house rules about the max you can bet.
The payouts for this bet also pay out at true odds, but since you’re placing the opposite bet, the payouts are different, as follows:
If the point is 4 or 10, laying odds pays out 1 to 2.
If the point is 5 or 9, laying odds pays out 2 to 3.
If the point is 6 or 8, laying odds pays out 5 to 6.
Besides the bets already mentioned, the only other good bets at the craps table are place bets. You can make a wager on a place bet on any of the point numbers at any time. The point numbers are 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, and 10. If the number you chose is rolled before a 7, then you win. If a 7 rolls before your number, then you lose.
These bets do NOT pay out at true odds. The house edge varies based on which number you make a place bet on.
If you make a place bet on 6 or 8, then the casino pays out 7 to 6, giving the house an edge of 1.52%.
If you make a place bet on 5 or 9, then the casino pays out 7 to 5, giving the house an edge of 4%.
If you make a place bet on 4 or 10, then the casino pays out 9 to 5, giving the house an edge of 6.67%.
Buy and Lay Bets
The buy bet is the same as a place bet, only it pays out at true odds instead of at the payouts for a place bet. There’s a catch, though. The house charges a 5% commission (or vig) on this bet. This makes the house edge on all of those bets the same: 4.76%.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that you should never place a buy bet on 5, 6, 8, or 9, but you should never make a place bet on 4 or 10, either. You’d have to be a fool to give the casino that much of an edge over you without getting something else in exchange.
Lay bets are the opposite of buy bets, and, like the buy bets, the casino charges a 5% commission in exchange for paying out at the bets’ true odds. You’re betting that a particular number will NOT be rolled before a 7 comes up.
Put bets aren’t allowed in all casinos. In fact, casinos in Atlantic City and Connecticut don’t even offer this option, but it’s not a big deal, because this isn’t such a great idea for the player anyway.
A put bet allows a player to bet on the pass line after the come-out roll. The player gets to choose her point. Of course, you can achieve the same effect with a buy or place bet.
Many of the bets on a craps table are proposition bets. Just as the bets listed above offer some of the best odds in the casino, the bets listed below offer some of the worst odds in the casino. Most of the proposition bets are one-roll bets–the outcome of the next roll determines a win or loss.
The Field Bet
The field bet is popular with beginners to craps, but that doesn’t make it a good bit. It only SEEMS like a good bet. A bet on the field is a bet that the next roll will be one of the following: 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11, or 12.
This seems like a good bet because it pays out on 7 out of 12 numbers.
The house usually pays out even money for 3, 4, 9, 10, or 11, and it usually pays out 2 to 1 for a 2 or 12. Some generous casinos even pay out 3 to 1 for a 2 or 12.
The house edge for the usual payout structure is 5.56%, but at casinos which offer the 3 to 1 payout on the 2 or 12, it’s only 2.78%.
Big 6 and Big 8
This is the same thing as a place bet on 6 or a place bet on 8, with one exception. The big 6 and the big 8 bets only pay even money. (A place bet on these numbers pays out at 7 to 6.) This is what gamblers call a sucker bet. This one change makes the house edge on these two bets 9.09%. Compared with a 1.52% house edge, big 6 or big 8 are such lousy bets that you’d almost think they’d be illegal.
A hardway bet is placed on an exact combination of dice, and these combinations are pictured on the betting surface of the craps table. There are four possible hardway bets:
- Hard Four (2-2)
- Hard Six (3-3)
- Hard Eight (4-4)
- Hard Ten (5-5)
Hardways are won if the combination is rolled before a 7.
The Hard Four and Hard Ten bets pay out 7 to 1, and they have a house edge of 11.11%.
The Hard Six and Hard Eight bets pay out 9 to 1, and they have a house edge of 9.09%.
This is a one-roll bet that the next total will be 2, 3, or 12. The bet has a payout of 7 to 1 and a house edge of 11.11%.
This is a one-roll bet that the next total will be 7. This bet pays out at 4 to 1 and has a house edge of 16.67%.
Eleven or Three
These are two separate bets, but they’re more or less the same. Each bet is a one-roll wager that the next total will be 11 (or 3). In either case, it pays out at 15 to 1 and has a house edge of 11.11%.
Twelve or Two
These are also two separate bets that are more or less the same. Each bet is a one-roll wager that the next total will be 12 (or 2). Either way, it pays out 30 to 1, and the house edge is 13.89%.
This is a one-roll bet on the following four numbers: 2, 3, 11, and 12. You have to place this bet in a multiple of 4, with 25% of the total on each of those numbers. If any one of these numbers is rolled, you win. The house edge on this one is 12.5%.
Horn High Bet
This is like a horn bet, but it’s made in multiples of 5 instead of 4. 20% of the bet goes on three of hour numbers, while the other 40% of the bet is placed on the high number that the players chooses. For example, if you bet $5 on this one, you might put $1 each on the 2, 3, and 12, and then put your additional $2 on the $11. The house edge is huge and depends on which of the high numbers you choose.
This is an abbreviation for “craps and eleven”. It’s a one-roll wager that the next number rolled will be 2, 3, 11, or 12.
The hop bet is a one-roll bet that the next roll will be a particular combination. For example, you might bet on a 2-2 coming up next, which is called a “hopping hardway”. You could also bet on another combination, like 6-4. Most of these bets pay 15 to 1, but the 3-3, 4-4, and 5-5 pay 30 to 1. The house edge on the former is 11.11%, and the house edge on the latter is 13.89%.
As you can see, the best bets at the craps table are the simplest bets. Stick with those, and you’re playing one of the most exciting and least expensive games in the casino. The more complicated bets are for suckers. Avoid them like you’d avoid angering a large bull.