How to Win at Craps: Good Bet or Bad Bet?
In terms of affecting a craps decision, there's no such thing as a skilled craps player. Sorry, but that's reality. Accept it.
However, there are, indeed, knowledgeable and ignorant players. Although no one (not even the con artists who claim to
have mastered the scam known as dice control) can skillfully affect a craps decision, your amount of knowledge can play a
big factor in whether you lose a lot quickly or lose a little slowly, or maybe even occasionally win. Let's not kid ourselves.
Casinos are in business to make money, not gamble. You are the gambler, not the casino. The casino has their built-in
house advantage, so over time, they know they'll win.
You must accept the fact that craps is a negative expectation game because of the built-in casino advantage. "Negative
expectation" means the game will result in you eventually losing all of your money. You may experience shorts periods of
winning, but over time when you play craps, you're guaranteed to lose. Let's illustrate this by using the familiar coin-flip
For each flip, you have a 50/50 chance of the coin showing tails and a 50/50 chance of showing heads. A 50/50 payoff
means you expect true odds of 1:1 (i.e., if you bet $1 and win, then you win $1). However, the casino doesn't offer true
odds on any craps bet except the Free Odds on the point. The casino is in business to make money so it has to have an
edge to make a profit. It gets its edge by offering odds that are less than true (sometimes called "casino odds"). In the
coin-flip example, suppose you flip coins with your best friend. For each $1 bet that your friend loses, he pays you $1.
However, if you flip coins against the casino, for each $1 bet that the casino loses, the casino won't pay you $1. Instead, it
might pay only $0.96. So, for every bet that you lose, you have to pay $1; but for every bet that the casino loses, it only
pays you $0.96. It's easy to see that you're playing a negative-expectation game and, over time, you'll go broke. Each bet
on the craps table, except the Free Odds bet, has built-in "casino odds" that allow the casino to pay less than true odds
when the player wins a bet. Because the casino pays out less than it should when the player wins a bet, the casino will
eventually take all your money if you play casino craps for a long enough period of time.
How long will it take you to go broke playing craps? That depends on whether you make bets with high or low casino
advantages. Of course, your bet amount is a big factor in how fast you'll lose your money, but let's focus on "good" versus
"bad" bets. For example, if you make only Big 6 bets that have a 9% casino advantage, you can expect to lose an average
of $0.90 for every $10 bet. If you make only Pass Line bets that have a 1.4% casino advantage, you can expect to lose an
average of about $0.14 for every $10 bet. Of the two, which do you think is the "good" bet and "bad" bet? I don't know
about you, but I'd rather lose an average of only 14 cents per bet than an average of 90 cents per bet. Wouldn't you?
That's why it's so important to play good bets and avoid bad ones. Obviously, if you consistently play bad bets (relatively
high casino advantages), you'll go broke a lot faster than if you play good ones (relatively low casino advantages).
If you're going to play craps, you must know which bets are good and which are bad. It's not hard, so don't fear the math.
So, which bets are considered "good" and "bad?"
The various craps bets with their casino advantages are summarized below. I consider bets with casino advantages of 2%
or less as "good," those with casino advantages greater than 4% as "bad," and those with casino advantages between 2%
and 4% as "maybe." I usually don't make any of the "maybe" bets. Note: "CA" stands for "casino advantage."
Don’t Pass, Don’t Come (with single Odds), CA 0.69% = Good bet.
Pass Line, Come (with single Odds), CA 0.85% = Good bet.
Don’t Pass, Don’t Come, CA 1.40% = Good bet.
Pass Line, Come, CA 1.41% = Good bet.
Place 6 or 8, CA 1.52% = Good bet.
Buy 4 or 10 (pay the vigorish on win), CA 1.64% = Good bet.
Lay 4 or 10 (pay the vig on win), CA 1.64% = Good bet.
Buy 5 or 9 (pay the vig on win), CA 1.96% = Good bet.
Lay 5 or 9 (pay the vig on win), CA 1.96% = Good bet.
Buy 6 or 8 (pay the vig on win), CA 2.22% = Maybe bet.
Lay 6 or 8 (pay the vig on win), CA 2.22% = Maybe bet.
Lay 4 or 10 (pay the vig up front), CA 2.44% = Maybe bet.
Field (triple for 12 or 2), CA 2.78% = Maybe bet.
Lay 5 or 9 (pay the vig up front), CA 3.23% = Maybe bet.
Lay 6 or 8 (pay the vig up front), CA 4.00% = Maybe bet.
Place 5 or 9, CA 4.00% = Maybe bet.
Buy 4 or 10 (pay the vig up front), CA 4.76% = Bad bet.
Buy 5 or 9 (pay the vig up front), CA 4.76% = Bad bet.
Buy 6 or 8 (pay the vig up front), CA 4.76% = Bad bet.
Field (double for 2 and 12), CA 5.55% = Bad bet.
Place 4 or 10, CA 6.67% = Bad bet.
Big 6 or Big 8, CA 9.09% = Bad bet.
Hard 6 or Hard 8, CA 9.09% = Bad bet.
Any Craps, CA 11.10% = Terrible bet.
3 or 11, CA 11.10% = Terrible bet.
C & E, CA 11.10% = Terrible bet.
Hard 4 or Hard 10, CA 11.10% = Terrible bet.
Hop (two ways), CA 11.10% = Terrible bet.
Horn, CA 12.50% = Really stupid bet.
Whirl (a.k.a. World), CA 13.33% = Really stupid bet.
2 or 12, CA 13.89% = Really stupid bet.
Hop (one way), CA 13.89% = Really stupid bet.
Any 7, CA 16.67% = Complete sucker bet (stop throwing your money away!).
Over 7 or Under 7, CA 16.67% = Complete sucker bet (stop throwing your money away!).
Its important to remember that whether a bet is deemed "good" or "bad" is based on many rolls over time. In the relatively
short period of time that you stand at the craps table on any particular day, you may experience a hiccup in the normal
distribution where even the worst bets hit one right after the other. For example, suppose you walk up to the table and
play your usual conservative game. The table is ice cold at that specific moment and 10 shooters in a row 7-out. The entire
time you're losing with your conservative "good" bets, the drunken idiot next to you keeps hitting his "bad" $5 Field bet that
only pays double for the 2 and 12. Be assured, this guy's hot streak will soon end and then he'll lose all his money. You can
be sure that time is against him and he'll most certainly lose. Maybe not today or tomorrow, but certainly over the next few
days. Always give yourself the best chance of winning by making bets with the lowest casino advantage.