Craps Strategies

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By “working the table,” Craps players can profit from every single roll of the dice. That’s what makes the game so exciting. Of course, the trick is to not get caught in the snare of long odds betting and instead stick to conservative wagers that allow the highest probability of a payout. In truth, there are just a few betting areas on the Craps table that deserve any serious attention.

Among the most basic wagers are the Pass/Don’t Pass bets—wagers on the shooter to win or lose—each of which pays even money. Most players will start off with a modest wager on the Pass Line and then back it up by Taking Odds whenever the shooter establishes a Point. Assuming the Free Odds are high enough, say 5X or more, the House Edge falls to below 0.1%, making this a true coin toss.

In fact, because betting on the Pass Line is so close to a 50/50 proposition, it is possible to apply Roulette-type betting progressions to the game. One of the most popular is the Martingale Betting System or “doubling up on a loss.” It can work quite well on the Pass Line when there are no long streaks of six consecutive losses or more. Winning on the Pass Line every four or five series of rolls will build a steady profit, backed by a bankroll of as little as 33 units.

Other Roulette progressions that can be applied to Craps are Labouchere, d’Alembert, and Paroli. These were all created to be used for even-money wagers, and each features advantages and disadvantages. Perhaps the biggest drawback of all progressions is how long they take to be resolved. A shooter may throw the dice a dozen times or more before the Pass Line bet wins or loses, so considerable patience is required.

A faster-paced application of progressions involves wagering on the Come/Don’t Come once the Point has been established. Whatever progressive betting system is used for the Pass Line will work in exactly the same way on the Come, including Taking Odds. This requires a larger bankroll, of course, but working the Come has no more inherent risk than betting on Pass.

One advantage of betting on the Come is that wagers can be can be made on every roll until the Point is made or else the series concludes with a Seven Out. In fact, the latter results in a winner on the current Come Bet, so it could be thought of as a form of hedge. Also, whenever the Point is made, the following come out roll still applies to any active Come Bets on the table for non-stop action.

Oddly enough, an approach with a slightly better likelihood of success is to wager on the Don’t Pass and Don’t Come and then Lay Odds when the Point has been established. Statistically, these two bets have a lower House Edge than their Pass and Come counterparts. The downside is that they require betting against the shooter, which is referred to as “wrong” betting or “playing the dark side.” Even though they make perfect mathematical sense, such wagers may be seen as villainous by other players at the table.

Once the Point has been established, another very common strategy is to make Place Bets on one or more of the remaining five box numbers. When the point is six, six units are almost always placed on the eight. Conversely, when the point is eight, six units are placed on the six. Wagers of five units each on the four, five, nine or ten are also possible, although they are far less likely to win.

Craps probabilities indicate that any other wagers are poor bets. That includes Field Bets, C&E, Hardways, Any Seven, Any Craps, Big 6, Big 8 and all of the other propositions available. The payouts are far below true odds and the House Edge is simply too high to warrant making such wagers.

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