Rules Craps Betting: Buy Bet
All aspects of the craps Buy bet are the same as the Place bet except: 1) A Buy bet pays off at true odds, 2) You have to pay
a tax, or a "vigorish," to get the true odds, and 3) A Buy bet is located on the craps table layout differently. Everything else
about the Buy bet is the same as the Place bet.
Casinos are in business to make money so they're not going to give you true odds for nothing (except, of course, the free
true Odds bet that you can add to your Pass Line bet--they're "free" because you don’t have to pay a vigorish). So, how do
casinos make money if they pay off a Buy bet at true odds (i.e., true odds means there's no built-in house advantage)?
They tax you! That's right--a tax! Aren't you sick of paying a tax on just about everything? You have to pay for the
privilege of getting true odds. This tax is called a "vigorish" or "vig."
John Winn invented the modern craps table layout. His version of the game of craps allowed gambling halls to offer more
player-friendly bets in return for a 5% charge. The worst the gambling halls could do was break even on true odds bets, but
they still made money because of the added 5% tax. The added charge brought in so much money that they soon referred
to it as giving vigor to their profits; hence, the term "vigorish." The vig today remains at 5%.
Buy bets on the 4 and 10 are always a better craps strategy than Placing the 4 and 10. Buy bets on the 5 and 9 may be
better than Placing the 5 and 9, depending on when you pay the vig. However, Place bets on the 6 and 8 are always better
than Buying the 6 and 8.
What makes the Buy bet on the 4 and 10 better than a Place bet on the 4 and 10? Suppose you make a $10 Place bet on
the 4 where the Place odds are 9:5, which means you win $18 for your $10 bet ($10 divided by 5 = $2, multiplied by 9 =
$18). Now, instead of a Place bet, suppose you make a $10 Buy bet and pay a $1 vig for the privilege of getting true odds,
which are 2:1. For a $10 Buy bet on the 4, you win $20 but have to pay the $1 vig, which results in a net payoff of $19.
Comparing results of the two bets, the winning Place bet nets you $18; whereas, the winning Buy bet nets you $19.
When playing casino craps, the Buy bet gets better as your bet amount increases. For example, suppose you make a $25
Place bet on the 10, which means you win $45 for your $25 bet (Place odds are 9:5). Now, suppose you make a $25 Buy
bet and pay a $1 vig for the privilege of getting true odds, which are 2:1. For a $25 Buy bet on the 10, you win $50 but
have to pay the $1 vig, which results in a net payoff of $49. Comparing results of the two bets, the winning $25 Place bet
nets you $45; whereas, the winning $25 Buy bet nets you $49.
Notice in the example for the $25 Buy bet that the vig is only $1. The 5% vig for a $25 Buy bet actually works out to be
$1.25, but the casino typically doesn't have chips valued at less than $1, so the vig is rounded down. Generally, vigs with a
fraction of 50 cents or less are rounded down, while vigs with a fraction greater than 50 cents are rounded up. Therefore,
for example, a $50 Buy bet has only a $2 vig even though 5% of $50 is $2.50. But some casinos won't let you get away
with too much of their profit. Suppose you make two separate $50 Buy bets at the same time (e.g., you drop $100 in the
Come box and tell the dealer, "Buy the four and ten for fifty dollars each.") Instead of rounding down the vig for each bet
and charging a total vig of $4 (i.e., $2 for each $50 bet), the casino may charge you the full $5 vig (i.e., $2.50 for each $50
Most casinos don't charge the vig until after you win the bet. However, some places where you play craps require you to
pay the vig up front at the time you make the bet. For example, for a $10 Buy bet on the 4 with an up-front vig, you must
put down $11 when you make the bet (i.e., $10 for your bet and $1 for the vig). If the shooter rolls a 7, you lose $11.
However, to attract customers, most casinos require the vig after you win the bet. For example, for a $10 Buy bet on the 4
with an after-win vig, you put down only the $10. Then, if you win, the dealer pays you $19 (i.e., $20 for the win minus $1
for the vig). Paying the vig after a win lowers the house advantage, which makes the Buy bet even better.
My experience is that, if a player has a choice of casinos to play, then vigs are generally paid after a win. If a casino is the
only game in town, then vigs are generally paid up front. The reason is simple--competition. If you have a choice of casinos,
you can walk out and go to the casino next door. However, if the casino is the only game in town, they have you by the
balls, so they can get away with charging the vig up front. Their philosophy is, "If you don’t like it, don’t play--but we know
you'll play even if you don't like it."
Some casinos have minimums for their Buy bets. For example, you may not be able to buy the 4 or 10 for less than $20 or
$25 (in other words, they won't allow a $10 Buy bet). The way I do craps betting is that I usually put $10 in the Come box
and say, "Buy the four." If they don't allow it, the dealer says, "Sir, your Buy bet has to be at least twenty dollars." So, I
then usually tell him to Place it for $10. If I later want to increase the Place bet to $20, I drop $10 in the Come box and say,
"Bump up my four to twenty dollars and Buy it." (Note that I changed the bet from a Place bet to a Buy bet to get the better
odds and lower house advantage.)
If a dealer tells me they don't allow $10 Buy bets, I sometimes like being smart-alecky by asking, "Why not?" Their
responses are often interesting, and sometimes downright lies. It's amazing how many times a dealer tries to B.S. you by
saying, "Buying the four or ten doesn't get you anything unless you bet at least twenty-five dollars, so it's best to Place it if
you only want to bet ten dollars." What kind of nonsense is that? We proved earlier that Buying the 4 or 10 for as little as
$10 with an after-win vig is to the player's advantage. When a dealer tries to pass off that kind of B.S., I immediately dislike
him, stop all casual chat with him, and I stop tipping. However, if he says, "Sir, I’m sorry, but it’s a house rule," or "Sir, I
don't know," then I respect his honesty and continue chatting with him about last night's football game.
To make a Buy bet, drop your chips in the Come Bet box and tell the dealer the number you want to buy. The dealer then
moves your chips to the point box in a position that corresponds to your table position (in a manner similar to Place bets)
and puts a BUY button on top. The button tells the boxman and camera that you're Buying the number instead of Placing it.
See Figure 1 below for an illustration of Buy bet positions.
To help the inexperienced player, some dealers automatically Buy the bet instead of Placing it when it's to the player's
advantage. For example, suppose the guy next to you makes a $25 Place bet on the 10. Being the observant player that
you are, you notice the dealer move the $25 chip into the 10 point box and put a BUY button on it. The guy next to you
doesn't have a clue that the dealer potentially made him an extra $4 if the bet wins (i.e., a winning $25 Buy bet nets $49;
whereas, a winning $25 Place bet nets only $45).
As noted earlier, the Buy craps bet is best made on the 4 or 10. However, it can also be advantageous for the 5 and 9 if the
casino allows paying the vig after a win instead of up front. For example, suppose you make a $50 Place bet on the 5
where the Place odds are 7:5, which means you win $70 for your $50 bet. Now, instead of a Place bet, suppose you make a
$50 Buy bet and pay a $2 vig for the privilege of getting true odds, which are 3:2. For a $50 Buy bet on the 5, you win $75,
but you have to pay the $2 vig, which results in a net payoff of $73. Comparing results of the two bets, the winning $50
Place bet nets you $70; whereas, the winning $50 Buy bet nets you $73. If the casino requires an up-front vig, Placing the
5 or 9 is better than Buying them because the house advantage is lower (i.e., 4.00% for Placing the 5 or 9 versus 4.76% for
Buying them with an up-front vig).
The Buy bet isn't smart for the 6 and 8. You should always Place the 6 and 8 instead of Buying them. Let's do the math. As
we know, Place bets on the 6 or 8 must be in multiples of $6 to get the full Place odds of 7:6; and Buy bets on the 6 or 8
must be in multiples of $5 to get the full true odds. Therefore, suppose you make a $96 Place bet on the 6 and win, which
means you win $112. Now, instead of a Place bet, suppose you make a $95 Buy bet and, when you win, pay a $5 vig for
the privilege of getting true odds. For a $95 Buy bet on the 6, you win $114, but you have to pay the $5 vig, which results
in a net payoff of $109. Comparing results of the two bets, the winning $96 Place bet nets you $112, and the winning $95
Buy bet nets you $109. So, for the 6 and 8, as you learn craps rules, you'll learn that a Place bet is better than a Buy bet.
The house advantage for Place bets on the 6 and 8 is lower than Buy bets on the 6 and 8, regardless of whether you pay
the vig up front or after a win.
Again, the Buy bet is the same as a Place bet, except for the payoff odds and the vig. Therefore, you can make, remove,
increase, or decrease Buy bets at any time. If you paid the vig up front and later decide to remove your bet, the vig is also
returned to you. Like Place bets, Buy bets are considered "off" on the come-out roll of a new game unless you tell the
dealer you want them on and working.