Why Don’t Craps Players Just Use the Right Strategy?

By Randy Ray
Published on November 07, 2018
Casino Craps

Craps looks like a confusing game to new players because the table features so many different betting options.

This setup can fool gamblers into thinking that craps is a complicated game. But it’s actually one of the easiest casino games in terms of both play and strategy.

Regarding the latter, any novice can quickly learn perfect craps strategy and play like a pro. You’d be surprised, though, at how many players take the wrong approach and lose lots of money as a result.

Poor craps strategy can bleed gamblers out much quicker than other games. This is because this game features terrible prop bets, with house edges ranging up to 16.67%.

Considering the consequences of making bad wagers, why don’t players simply use the right craps strategy?

I’m going to answer this by looking at several reasons behind poor play. But first, I’ll discuss what constitutes good strategy.

What Is the Perfect Craps Strategy?

Craps strategy isn’t like blackjack, where you need to constantly analyze the situation to determine the best course of action. It’s also not like poker, where you must consider your cards and study opponents to make optimal decisions.

Instead, craps is entirely about making the best available bets. You’ll find that this is much easier than the extensive strategy used in certain other games.

Here’s a closer look at the key components of perfect craps strategy so that you can lower the house edge and boost your chances of winning.

Start with Pass Line and Don’t Pass Line Bets

The craps table features dozens of wagers that you can make. Therefore, narrowing down the top wagers should be your first order of business.

The best craps bets include pass line and don’t pass line. These wagers are made on the “come out” roll, which is the first roll of a new round.

Below, you can see the rules on pass line wagers.

  • Pays 1:1
  • 251:244 true odds
  • Wins on the come out when 7 or 11 are rolled
  • Loses on the come out when 2, 3, or 12 are tossed
  • Point number is established when 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10 are rolled
  • The point number must be rolled before 7 to win
  • 7 being rolled before the point results in a loss

And here are the rules for don’t pass line wagers.

  • Pays 1:1
  • 976:949 true odds
  • Wins on the come out roll when 2 or 3 is rolled
  • Loses on the come out when either 7 or 11 are tossed
  • Pushes when 12 is rolled
  • Point number is established when 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10 are rolled
  • 7 must be rolled before the point to win
  • The point being rolled before a 7 results in a loss

You want to stick with pass line and don’t pass line because they both feature low house edges. Pass line and don’t pass line have 1.41% and 1.36% house advantages, respectively.

Don’t pass line is the slightly better wager here. But some players still like pass line since you’re betting on the shooter winning.

In contrast, don’t pass line involves wagering against the shooter. Many players refer to this as being on the “dark side.”

Of course, none of this matters when you’re playing online craps. Therefore, you gain slightly more value by wagering on the don’t pass line every time.

Two more viable craps bets include come and don’t come. These feature the exact same house edges as pass line and don’t pass line, respectively.

Come and don’t come also have nearly the same rules. But the key difference is that you must wait for a point to be established before choosing either come or don’t come.

Add Odds Bets to the Equation

The great thing about playing craps is that you can make an “odds” bet, which pays at true odds of winning. The fact that you’re paid at true odds means that these wagers have no house edge.

No other casino bet comes without a house advantage. Therefore, it’s painful to see many craps players passing up the chance to make odds wagers.

Luckily, placing an odds bet isn’t difficult. And you can lower the overall house edge by taking bigger odds.

The process of making these wagers begins with placing a pass line or don’t pass line bet. The next step is to wait for a point number to be established.

Notify the dealer that you wish to make an odds bet and put the chips behind your pass line or don’t wager. You’re “taking odds” if you put chips behind the pass line and “laying odds” when placing chips behind the don’t pass line.

Here are the payouts for each point number involved with odds. First, for the pass line.

  • 2:1 payout on point numbers of 4 and 10
  • 3:2 on points of 5 and 9
  • 6:5 on points of 6 and 8

Now, for the don’t pass line.

  • 1:2 payout on point numbers of 4 and 10
  • 2:3 for points of 5 and 9
  • 5:6 for points of 6 and 8

The great thing about these bets is that you can take or lay higher odds to reduce the house edge further. The table below shows how much the house advantage is reduced as the amount of odds increase.

Odds Pass Line/Come Don’t Pass Line/Don’t Come
0x 1.41% house edge 1.36% house edge
1x 0.848% 0.682%
2x 0.606% 0.455%
Full Double Odds 0.572% 0.431%
3x 0.471% 0.341%
3x-4x-5x 0.374% 0.273%
5x 0.326% 0.227%
10x 0.184% 0.124%
20x 0.099% 0.065%
100x 0.021% 0.014%

Obviously, it pays to bet the largest odds you can. However, the main problem is that most casinos don’t offer very high odds.

The only casino in the world with 100x odds is the Cromwell in Las Vegas. Main Street Station in Vegas is the one other venue that features up to 20x odds.

The majority of land-based and online casinos offer 3x to 5x odds at best. But you’re still lowering the house edge by quite a bit even in these cases.

Avoid Risky Prop Bets

The toughest thing for craps beginners is avoiding all of the horrible wagers found on the table. This process is easier said than done when considering that most craps prop bets are inferior to other casino gaming options.

The average prop wager has above a 4% house advantage. Other non-skilled casino games like baccarat (1.06% house edge) and European roulette (2.70%) give you a stronger chance to win.

Exceptions to this rule include craps prop bets like Place 6 (1.52% house edge), Place 8 (1.52%), Lay 4 (2.44%), and Lay 10 (2.44%).

Below, you can see a full list of craps bets along with their house advantages. You’ll notice that most of these wagers should be avoided.

  • Don’t Pass Line/Don’t Come = 1.36% house edge
  • Pass Line/Come = 1.41%
  • Place 6/Place 8 = 1.52%
  • Lay 4/Lay 10 = 2.44%
  • Lay 5/Lay 9 = 3.23%
  • Place 5/Place 9 = 4.0%
  • Lay 6/Lay 8 = 4.0%
  • Buy 4/Buy 10 = 4.76%
  • Buy 5/Buy 9 = 4.76%
  • Buy 6/Buy 8 = 4.76%
  • Field = 5.56%
  • Place 4/Place 10 = 6.67%
  • Hard 6/Hard 8 = 9.09%
  • Big 6/Big 8 = 9.09%
  • Yo (11) = 11.11%
  • 3 = 11.11%
  • 2 or 12 (Hi-Lo) = 11.11%
  • Craps (2, 3, or 12) = 11.11%
  • Hard 4/Hard 10 = 11.11%
  • Horn = 12.5%
  • Whirl = 13.33%
  • 2 = 13.89%
  • 12 = 13.89%
  • Any 7 = 16.67%

Different Reasons Why Players Use Incorrect Craps Strategy

You can see that craps strategy is a simple matter. All you need to do is make a pass line or don’t pass line bet and back it with odds.

Nevertheless, many players struggle to use the correct strategy for one or more reasons. The following topics represent common scenarios that cause gamblers to approach the game poorly.

Players Haven’t Learned Correct Strategy

Gambling strategy resources used to center around paperback books and magazines. You had to either visit a bookstore or subscribe to gambling magazines to learn the strategy.

Luckily, the internet has made learning craps tips much easier. All you need to do is pull out your smartphone and google a simple phrase like “best craps strategy.”

Unfortunately, some gamblers still go to the table without learning anything about the game. This is a huge mistake when considering that some craps bets feature high house edges.

If you haven’t spent any time learning strategy about the game, then I highly suggest that you do so. In fact, you should pick up enough tips from this post to become a solid player.

Gamblers Get Bored at the Craps Table

Craps tables are among the most boisterous in the casino. You’ll commonly see multiple players cheering together after big wins.

However, this scenario has more to do with how players bet versus the nature of the game.

I mentioned earlier how many people like pass line bets since these are made on the shooter winning. It only makes sense that players cheer together when they each win the same bet.

In reality, craps isn’t as exciting as the atmosphere makes the game appear. A multi-roll wager like come or don’t come can require 5-7 tosses before it’s decided.

Waiting on multi-roll bets to come through causes some players to get bored. This is when they begin making more wagers to get extra action.

Choosing Place 6, Place 8, Lay 4, or Lay 10 as additional bets isn’t so bad. After all, these options have a reasonable house edge.

But some players make the mistake of adding Buy or Hardways bets to the equation, which really starts to lower your odds of winning.

If you’re bored and looking for additional wagers, stick with the few props that don’t have astronomical house advantages.

Systems Are Popular in Craps

Craps systems consist of a series of bets that are designed to beat the house edge. In many cases, these strategies involve covering most of the possible dice outcomes.

You can see this by looking at the Iron Cross system.

  • You make Place bets on 5, 6, and 8
  • You also make a Field wager
  • A Field bet pays 1:1 on 3, 4, 9, 10, and 11
  • It pays 2:1 on 2 or 12 (some casinos pay 3:1)

The Iron Cross covers every number except for 7. Therefore, it seems like a great strategy due to the fact that you win over 80% of the time.

But you lose all four wagers when 7 is rolled. You also lose three place bets if anything other than a 5, 6, or 8 is tossed.

Taking everything into consideration, the Iron Cross features a 3.87% house edge. You’re better off sticking with basic bets and taking advantage of odds.

The problem with craps betting systems is that they don’t overcome the house advantage, nor are they more beneficial than basic strategy. You actually expose yourself to more risk by placing so many bets with these strategies.

Players Think That They Have Control Over the Dice

One reason players make bad prop bets is that they believe in their ability to control the results. Going further, they think that throwing the dice just right will result in wins — no matter how long the odds.

The truth is that casino rules negate any skill advantage that one could gain by rolling dice. Craps table crews require that you make a reasonable attempt to toss dice off the back wall.

You don’t necessarily have to hit the wall every time. But the key is that you toss the dice through the air and down the table far enough.

Some gambling gurus have made a fortune by preaching “dice control,” which allegedly allows you to control results with some degree of consistency.

I covered earlier how the Place 8 bet has a 1.52% house edge. The average player will roll a winning 8 five times versus a losing 7 six times out of every 36 tosses.

If you can instead roll an 8 on 5.5 tosses out of every 36 rolls, you gain a 3.37% player advantage. This scenario makes dice control sound like a reasonable advantage-play method.

But again, the chances of anybody actually being able to control tosses with consistency — even if it’s only for half a roll every 36 tosses — is essentially impossible.

No irrefutable proof has ever been offered to back up dice control claims. Furthermore, casinos don’t believe in this advantage-play technique, which is why they freely let dice controllers continue playing.

Craps Bankroll Considerations Add Difficulty to the Situation

I covered earlier how making the highest-available odds bets reduces the house edge greatly. The other side to this is that you also have to bet more money.

Even though an odds wager doesn’t have a house edge, you’re still assuming risk. And you need the money to back up larger odds.

Here’s an example.

  • You make a $5 pass line bet
  • You take 10x odds
  • This requires an additional $50 in bets ($55 total)

You can see how expensive making big odds bets can get. Some players don’t have the bankroll to consistently risk the highest odds at their casino.

Therefore, it only makes sense that some gamblers either take minimal odds or don’t place these bets at all. But I suggest building up the bankroll to at least place 2x odds wagers so that you can take advantage of the absent house advantage.

Comp Chasing Is a Problem

Bankroll management is important in craps just like any other casino game. And many players have a vague idea on how to enjoy craps without going too far.

But there are other players who gamble beyond their means. And one reason why is that they get caught up in chasing craps comps.

Casinos often give craps players rewards like drinks, free meals, show tickets, and hotel stays for their action. Pit bosses will comp a gambler more if they’re making prop bets with high house edges.

However, the key thing to realize is that these rewards never balance out theoretical losses. Most casinos only comp at a 0.1% rate, which doesn’t even come close to house edges on the best bets like pass line and don’t pass line.

Chasing rewards leads to theoretical losses worth anywhere from 10x to 100x more than what craps comps are worth. Therefore, you should never extend your play or make bad bets just to get additional rewards.

Conclusion

Craps strategy isn’t as difficult to learn as strategy for skill-based games like blackjack, poker, and sports betting. Therefore, this is a great game for players who want to enjoy a low house edge without thinking too hard.

Despite this fact, some gamblers continue to visit the craps table without any semblance of strategy. They make mistakes like chasing comps, relying on systems, placing risky prop bets, or even failing to look up craps tips at all.

The casino doesn’t require anybody to learn strategy before stepping up to the table. In fact, casinos actually like unknowledgeable players because it increases their edge.

But I strongly suggest that you spend some time learning craps strategy so that you can play your best.

This game offers an unbelievable opportunity when considering odds wagers. Therefore, you should take advantage by knowing how to make them along with other strategy.

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Why Don't Craps Players Just Use the Right Strategy?
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Why Don't Craps Players Just Use the Right Strategy?
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Lots of craps players have lousy strategies that they use consistently. This post looks at what those lousy strategies are and offers an alternative.
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