The Worst Craps Advice I’ve Ever Heard
Craps has several elements that make it one of the most exciting casino games. These aspects include lots of bets, dice rolling, and camaraderie among pass line bettors.
Another thing to like about craps is its fairly simple strategy. I’ll start explaining this with the four top bets:
- Don’t pass line = 1.36% house edge
- Don’t come = 1.36%
- Pass line = 1.41%
- Come = 1.41%
All of these bets have a lower house advantage than American roulette (5.26%), European roulette (2.70%), and some blackjack tables (up to 2%).
You can make the craps house edge even lower by taking odds behind any of these bets. Odds don’t have a house advantage, making them the best wager in the casino.
Craps odds range from 1x to 100x, although the latter range is extremely rare. But the more odds you can take, the better it is for your chances of winning.
As you can see, craps strategy is pretty simple. But some players try everything from complicated betting systems to superstitions to improve their odds of winning.
This forms the basis of my post about the worst craps advice I’ve heard. Here are 7 bad pieces of advice that I’ve both read and witnessed at the tables.
Worst Craps Advice #1: Hedge Your Bets
Hedging bets is common in craps because there are so many different ways to cover numbers.
The logic behind hedging is that you can cover a variety of numbers and minimize your risk. And I’ve seen countless players hedge bets at the tables.
Here’s a common example that many peoples use to hedge wagers:
- You make a $10 pass line bet.
- You place a $1 Any Craps wager.
- The Any Craps bet pays 7:1 and wins when a 2, 3, or 12 is rolled.
- The pass line loses when a 2, 3, or 12 appears on the come-out roll.
- The idea is that if your pass line loses, you’ll recoup $7 from the Any Craps win.
This seems like a good idea in theory because you turn a potential $10 loss into a $3 loss – thus hedging your bets. Likewise, you only lose $1 in the event that anything other than a 2, 3, or 12 is rolled.
You can find plenty of other ways to hedge bets by sifting through the different craps bets. But my advice is to avoid thinking too deeply about the matter.
Every craps bet except odds carries a house edge. In the above example, pass line has a 1.41% casino edge while Any Craps has an 11.11% house edge.
The fact that the casino has an advantage with both of these wagers doesn’t go away. Instead, you merely increase their edge by adding an Any Craps wager to the mix.
And those times when you only lose $3 instead of $10 will feel great. But again, hedging with bad prop bets only increases your chances of losing over the long run.
Worst Craps Advice #2: Use the Iron Cross System
As you can see above, I’m not a big fan of hedging bets. And I’m definitely not crazy about an entire strategy dedicated to hedging.
But this is exactly what the Iron Cross is because it revolves around placing field and place bets to cover nearly every number. The fact that this system gives you so many opportunities to win is why I’ve seen it used many times in casinos.
Here’s how the Iron Cross works:
- You make place bets on 5, 6, and 8.
- You make a field bet. This pays 1:1 on 3, 4, 9, 10, and 11, and it offers 2:1 on 2 or 12.
- Some casinos offer 3:1 payouts on 12.
- You have every number covered except for 7.
Based on dice probabilities, your chances of hitting a winning number are over 80%.
Much like hedging bets, the Iron Cross is another strategy that sounds good. But the catch is that you’re putting four bets onto the table at once.
And you lose every one if a 7 is rolled. The chances of a 7 coming up are 16.67%, so don’t be surprised when this happens.
You also lose multiple Place bets whenever anything besides a 5, 6, or 8 is rolled.
The Iron Cross has an overall house edge of 3.87%. Place 6 and 8 bets only have a 1.52% house edge by themselves, which makes the Iron Cross questionable at best.
Worst Craps Advice #3: The Field Bet Gives you a Good Chance to Win
I once had somebody playing next to me preach the benefits of the field bet. They loved how this wager covers seven different numbers and offers 2:1 payouts on certain numbers.
The field bet is part of the Iron Cross system that I railed against above. So how does this wager do on its own?
Here’s a breakdown of the field bet.
- 5:4 true odds of winning.
- 1:1 payouts on 3, 4, 9, 10, and 11.
- 2:1 payouts on 2 and 12 (sometimes 3:1 on 12).
- Loses on any other number (5, 6, 7, 8).
- 56% house edge under most circumstances.
- 78% house edge if 12 pays 3:1.
The field wager is deceptive because it covers seven numbers and makes it seem like you have a great chance to win.
But let’s look at what your actual chances of winning are:
- There are 36 possible dice combinations in craps.
- 1 combo forms a 2.
- 2 combos form a 3.
- 3 combos form a 4.
- 4 combos form a 9.
- 3 combos form a 10.
- 2 combos form an 11.
- 1 combo forms a 12.
- This adds up to 16 total combinations.
Now let’s look at how many different ways you can lose:
- 4 combos form a 5.
- 5 combos form a 6.
- 6 combos form a 7.
- 5 combos form an 8.
- This adds up to 20 total combinations.
Your ways to lose vs. win are numbered 20 to 16, or 5:4 odds.
You receive 2:1 payouts on the 2 and 12. But these numbers only cover 2 dice combinations. This means that the other 14 combos offer even money payouts.
This is how we arrive at the 5.56% house edge. And this is why you don’t want to make the field bet when trying to maximize your chances of winning.
Worst Craps Advice #4: Dice Control Yields Big Profits
Some table games have advantage play methods that allow skilled players to win long term profits. Blackjack has card counting, roulette has wheel bias, baccarat has edge sorting, and poker is a skill based game.
Some of these advantage play methods aren’t very feasible because they rely on extreme conditions. Baccarat edge sorting requires several factors to work, while wheel bias relies on a faulty wheel.
But the key is that these methods have a legitimate advantage play method that’s been proven to work in the right settings.
Craps also has an advantage play technique called dice control (a.k.a. controlled shooting). The goal is to control your dice throws so that you throw fewer 7s.
I’ve seen articles and instructional videos by prominent gambling authors like Frank Scoblete and Dominic “The Dominator” LoRiggio that claim dice control is real.
They claim to have been banned from many casinos because they make so much money through controlled shooting. And they’ll teach you how to win for $1,600 per course.
If you’re unfamiliar with controlled shooting, the technique involves “setting” the dice in your hands. The most common setting method is to hold the dice so the 3s form a V shape, which allegedly reduces the chances of a 7.
The other part of dice control involves practicing tosses so you barely kiss the dice off the back wall. This reduces variance so that your throw isn’t so random.
You’re supposed to either buy a regulation sized craps table, or rig a makeshift table up in your garage to practice.
The gambling authors above point out how you only need to reduce the odds of throwing a seven from 6:1 to 6:23 to realize profits.
This seems plausible, and so does the theory behind controlled shooting. Proponents argue that it’s like shooting a basketball or hitting a baseball, where your skill and technique improve with time.
The only problem is that few people beyond the authors will vouch for controlled shooting.
“There are too many variables,” Bill Zender, a former casino manager and current Las Vegas gaming consultant, told Vice. “If the dice turn just a fraction of an inch, they’re going to roll off that axis. I hate to say it, but I think it’s a big scam.”
“No one has ever done dice control in a laboratory condition; they always say their arm would get tired after a hundred throws.”
I agree with Zender because I’ve never personally heard of or seen anybody banned from a casino for dice control. Furthermore, this isn’t a generally accepted advantage play method like card counting.
Casinos do get annoyed with controlled shooters. But it’s only because some of them take so long to set the dice.
Worst Craps Advice #5: Make More Bets so You Get Bigger Comps
One common phrase I’ve heard at every table game is that you should make larger wagers to earn more comps. The same holds true in craps because some players think that you get more value out of larger bets due to the comps.
This is more believable in craps because you’re facing a lower house edge. But you also have to consider that casinos offer a lower comp rate to counteract the small house advantage.
The rate varies based on the casino you visit. But a decent comp rate is 0.2% of your total bets.
Let’s look at the math on this:
- You’re making $10 pass line bets (1.41% house edge).
- The average number of rolls at your table is 120.
- Your pass line bet lasts for an average of 8 rolls.
- This means you make 15 bets per hour, or $150 gambled per hour.
- Your comp value would be $0.30 per hour ($150 x 0.002 rate).
- Your theoretical losses would be $2.12 per hour (150 x 0.0141).
Most craps players make more bets to get extra action. And if you’re hunting for comps, this only accelerates the amount of losses that you’re facing.
You should only bet what you feel like risking during a craps session. Don’t let comps influence your decisions because they don’t come close to counteracting losses.
Worst Craps Advice #6: Wait for the Hot Shooter – Then Bet Big
My favorite thing about craps is when shooters get hot. This creates a fun environment where every pass line and come bettor cheers as the shooter keeps winning.
But unless I’m mistaken and dice control somehow works, a hot shooter is just a lucky one. Nevertheless, some players believe that they can ride this luck to big profits.
I’ve seen articles and heard other players discuss a strategy where they wait on a hot shooter before playing. Here are the finer points of this system:
- You wait until the shooter wins X amount of pass line bets (normally 3-4) before joining in.
- You continue making pass line and / or come wagers on the shooter until they lose.
- Once the shooter loses, you stop betting and wait for another hot shooter.
This strategy also works in the reverse, where you wait for a hot shooter and bet against them. If you see somebody win 3-4 pass line bets in a row, you’d bet on don’t pass line or don’t come.
Those who adopt this strategy believe that the shooter has to lose soon.
After all, the odds of a shooter winning 5 straight pass line bets are only 31:1. The chances of doing so 6 times in a row are 63:1.
But this falls in line with the gambler’s fallacy topic that we’ve covered before.
Craps odds remain the same with every shooter and every roll. Betting with or against a hot shooter isn’t going to change this.
You can forget about somebody winning 4 or 5 consecutive rolls. All you need to worry about is their odds of winning the very next bet.
Worst Craps Advice #7: Use (Buy) My Craps System – It’s Guaranteed to Work
The gaming world is filled with established betting systems like the D’Alembert, Labouchere, Martingale, and Paroli.
These are fun strategies to try when you’re looking to spice up table game action. But none of them will beat the house edge over the long run.
Some people have developed more complicated craps systems in hopes of topping the house advantage. I’ve even seen people sell their complex systems over the years.
Luckily, I haven’t noticed anybody conning people into buying their systems for a while. But I still see people on forums bragging about how their system is a guaranteed winner.
I currently see one strategy that includes several steps, lengthy instructions, and specific betting patterns. You also need anywhere from $1,200 to $1,700 to properly use this person’s system.
But what the strategy actually amounts to is using the Martingale (doubling bets after losses) along with the field wager.
This is worse than the standard Martingale approach, where you double wagers after losing even money bets like pass line and don’t pass line. The reason is because of the field bet’s 5.56% house edge.
This all goes back to the fact that no craps betting system has been proven to consistently beat the house edge. They may bring you quick profits, but they can also result in rapid losses too.
The best craps strategy is one that involves a pass line, don’t pass line, come, or don’t come bet combined with odds. And you can improve your chances even more by taking the most odds bets possible.
Any type of strategy or betting system beyond this is purely for your entertainment.
Some strategies are okay when used in moderation. These include the Iron Cross, hedging bets, making the field bet, and waiting for the hot shooter.
Others, like paying for a dice control course, increasing bets for comps, and using complicated (expensive) betting systems can really hurt your bankroll.
I won’t pay somebody $1,600 to teach me a technique that’s not widely accepted by gambling experts. Nor will I pour $1,700 into a complicated system that revolves around a 5.56% house edge.
What I will do is continue making the best craps bets, back them with any odds I can afford, and have fun with the game.