Advantage Play and Cheating in Craps

One of the most interesting and controversial topics in gambling and craps play, in particular, is advantage play. Some craps players, as well as the vast majority of inexperienced gamblers, believe that there is a genuine, reliable way to change the odds of the game and gain an advantage over the casino. Game theory, however, does not support this concept on the grounds that, after all, craps is a purely random game.

So, is it possible to shift the odds in favor of the player? Those who use progressive betting systems rely on predicting the outcome of the rolling dice. Other individuals claim that they are capable of setting and tossing the dice in such a way so they can influence the result. In the past, cheating was also common among gamblers who would try to tamper with the dice or swap the casino dice with a rigged one. Nowadays, casinos have taken various measures to stop cheaters from even trying to manipulate the dice in any way. But does that mean that advantage play is not possible at all in craps?

What Is Advantage Play in Gambling?

1Gain a Mathematical Advantage Over the Casino

Advantage play is a term that refers to a wide range of techniques and systems gamblers use to gain a mathematical advantage over the casino. Typically, casino games such as roulette, blackjack, and craps have rules and payouts that ensure the long-term profits of the gambling operators. This can be seen in the house edge or the theoretical return of the games. Both express the same thing – that players are expected to lose a certain percentage of their bets because the odds are stacked against them.

2Use Strategies

This applies to all forms of gambling – casino games, sports betting, lotteries, etc. In most casino games, players can use certain strategies to at least improve their odds. The most common image of an advantage gambler is the card counter in blackjack, a game where the final outcome depends on both chance and skill. Card counters rely on one of the fundamentals of blackjack – that every deal has a direct effect on the composition of the cards left in the dealing shoe. By determining the deck composition, they can effectively predict what cards would be dealt next and adjust their bets accordingly.

3Can You Take an Advantage in Craps

However, craps cannot be “cracked” and beaten in the long run. Unlike blackjack, craps consists of random, independent events that cannot be effectively predicted. Each roll of the dice is different and its outcome relies simply on chance. In theory, all bets, except for the Odds on the Pass and Don’t Pass wagers, favor the house rather than players. This means that in the long run, even lucky players would lose money when playing craps.

Craps Strategy

Is Craps Strategy Enough to Gain an Advantage

Using Comps and Casino Bonuses

As we have explained above, most casino players use tactics to reduce the house edge and improve their odds of winning the game. Card counting, for instance, has been proved mathematically to be effective in gaining an advantage over the casino. Since craps is a game of chance, however, such a scenario is simply impossible. Rather than depending on players’ decisions and actions, the outcome of the game depends on the random throwing of the dice and physical variables such as dice speed, weight, trajectory, and so on.

Up to date, craps researchers have found no evidence suggesting otherwise – theoretically, there is no way to gain an advantage over the house. When it comes to the practical side of the game, however, players can opt for bets, which have a house edge that is so low that it is almost non-existent. The most commonly recommended craps strategy includes betting on the Pass Line and on the Come field and covering these wagers with odds. An even better alternative is to choose the “wrong” counterparts of these bets, the Don’t Pass and Don’t Come. A good bankroll management plan is also useful to players and should be a part of a successful craps strategy.

Following these basic steps, craps enthusiasts could play the game at an incredibly low house edge of around 1% or even less. Even the best strategy, however, cannot help them gain an advantage over the casino. This is, of course, a long-term expectation but in the short run, players can make decent profits on the craps table. Overall, craps strategy cannot change the odds of the game but it is good enough to improve players’ chances of winning over a short period of time.

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Controlled Shooting

The only way to gain a real advantage over the house in any gambling game is to find a way to adjust the odds. In craps, this cannot happen by using a playing strategy and it is theoretically only possible by utilizing some sort of controlled shooting. This is a very controversial topic in craps literature, however, and while some authors claim that dice control, dice setting, or rhythmic rolling, as it is also called, is possible, many researchers say that it is just a sales gimmick.

According to proponents of dice control, skilled players can learn how to set and grip the dice and how to throw it. The idea behind this practice is to be able to adjust the randomness of the dice at least a little bit, although some craps players say that they can throw the number they want 90 percent of the time. There are various ways these shooters claim they can adjust the roll of the dice. Of course, this applies to land-based casinos only – dice manipulation is simply out of the question when talking about online craps.

Dice Sliding
Rhythmic Rolling

Dice Sliding

The so-called “dice sliding” technique includes the careful sliding of the dice along the felt rather than throwing them forcefully, which randomizes the roll. Theoretically, this should help the shooter control the actual outcome of the roll. Dice control is not illegal, by itself, but it is typically not allowed by casinos.

Usually, there are specific rules for throwing the dice and players need to follow them if they want to continue playing at the same casino. The shooter is required to toss the pair of the dice relatively strongly so the dice can hit the opposite side of the table or the rubber or foam pyramids covering one of the inside walls of the craps table. When the dice bounce off from the bumpy, uneven wall, they will more probably change their initial trajectory and velocity.

Moreover, most modern craps tables feature a slightly raised print, which makes sliding the dice virtually impossible. Even if players choose a table with an older felt and a betting layout with a smooth surface, they will be caught immediately by the staff if they try to slide the dice rather than throw them properly. In some casinos, such a roll will be deemed invalid. Other casinos may allow it but players will be warned not to try this anymore.

Rhythmic Rolling

The vast majority of craps players who claim they can gain an advantage over the casino are using dice setting or rhythmic rolling as it is described by some authors. Unlike sliding, here the dice are actually tossed and they roll and bounce off surfaces until they finally rest. There are multiple techniques and every player swears by a different way of adjusting and throwing the dice. Usually, all techniques consist of three main aspects – setting the dice, gripping it in your hand, and throwing it.

One simple technique, according to those who practice dice control, is to hold the dice with the numbers you want facing up. Then, you start moving your hand so that the dice can rattle but stay in the same position and once you throw them, they fall the way you want. Obviously, this takes a lot of practice and its effectiveness is questionable – it is most probably easy to “cheat” your friends with such a roll, but it would not be accepted in a casino.

Another simple and quite popular way to set the dice is the V shape – players hold the dice in a way so that the two 3s form a V shape. From this position, they can practice throwing different numbers with consistency or avoiding the 7, for example. It is also important to consider the grip – players should try to hold the dice in a way that gives them enough control but with minimum contact with the fingers. In fact, various styles could be comfortable to different players, depending on the size of their hands and fingers – the 3 finger top, the 3 finger front, the 4 finger diagonal, or the 5 finger top are all possible variations.

More importantly, players should learn how to handle the dice – turning them in different directions, rolling them, should become easy and effortless. Once players feel the dice comfortably moving in their hands, they will be able to manipulate them quickly without being noticed. Most “rhythmic rollers” would hold the dice close to each other, as if they form a rectangle and align them with the vertical axis of the table. When they throw them, the dice should not move in any other direction other than forward – the dice should rotate on their left-right axis.

One important aspect of dice control is its legal status – although it is not illegal per se (just like card counting in blackjack is not illegal), some jurisdictions do consider it a form of cheating. Before players start learning various tricks and techniques for controlled shooting, they should research this topic.

Cheating at Craps

Along with the “honest” forms of cheating in craps such as dice sliding and controlled shooting, some gamblers still resort to actual cheats when they play in live casinos. This is quite uncommon, however, since casinos have taken various measures to prevent such dishonest and criminal practices. Still, cheating was the norm in the past – both players and dealers used a wide range of techniques to lie, trick, and deceive their opponents in order to make a profit.

Unfortunately, some of these cheats are still practiced and with the rise of online casinos, even more complex ways to exploit the games have been developed. In the past two decades, there have been multiple cases of online casino players using software to gain access to in-game information such as their opponents’ cards in poker, for example. There have been multiple attempts to cheat in online blackjack, craps, and other games, as well. All modern gambling sites today, however, use state-of-the-art firewalls, encryption, and other technologies that provide a high level of security and protect the gaming software, as well as user data and any sensitive information.

Fixed, Rigged or Loaded Dice
Past Posting
Lying to the Dealers

Fixed, Rigged or Loaded Dice

One of the most popular ways to gain an advantage when playing craps was tampering with the dice. The physical manipulation of the dice can, indeed, provide players with a way to control the outcome of every roll. In the past, players (and casino employees) were known to add or remove weights from the dice so certain numbers can appear more often than others. Another famous trick was to shave off some of the sides of the dice so that the roll was no longer fair and random.

Of course, these techniques are now in the past since casinos have taken serious measures against swapping the dice with your own loaded pair. For instance, most casinos use only dice with their logo on them just like you would find the logo on one or two sides of the chips. Each dice also has a serial number that matches the serial numbers on the rest of the dice on a particular table. The dice used in casinos are also transparent or semi-transparent and even the slight imbalance or impurity will be noticed immediately.

In addition, all attempts for dice manipulation are practically pointless since all casinos nowadays have modern security surveillance systems. Once one of the dealers, the boxman or the pit boss starts suspecting players of cheating in any way, they will keep them under close observation, while the security cameras will record every move they make.

Past Posting

Past posting is a term that describes the action of placing a bet on the table after the dice have already come to rest. Once again, this was a particularly popular way to cheat in the past and it was very effective due to the nature of the game. Unlike most casino games, craps is often played by more than a dozen patrons, while everything happens very quickly. It could be, indeed, quite confusing to a novice – some players win, others lose, another player shoots the dice. Of course, some players put their chips on the table, whereas some of the chips are positioned by the stickman.

To the untrained eye, a game of craps could look very chaotic, loud and messy. In such an environment, some players would try to place their chips onto the table after the dice have already been tossed. This is not allowed but it was relatively common in the past when casinos still did not have such strict measures against cheating. Today, past posting is still possible but usually, those who try it will be caught almost immediately.

Lying to the Dealers

Certain bets in craps cannot be made by placing chips on the table because these wagers simply do not have any designated boxes onto the betting layout. The variety of bets varies across casinos, of course, and players should know what wagers they can make in advance. However, one of the most interesting cheats in craps includes this particular group of bets – usually, these are the hop bets.

With the hop wagers, players bet on a particular combination of the dice – for instance, they can tell the dealer “3 and 5 on the hop”, which means that they bet on the combination of 3 and 5. Since these bets are usually only announced, i.e. they are made audibly, players can always claim that they have placed a hop bet after the dice have come to rest. Players using this cheat would argue that the dealer did not hear them or that they were misunderstood. And this is, of course, perfectly possible considering that it could be very loud around the craps table.

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