Craps is a fun game to play, whether online or in a live, brick-and-mortar casino but there is always a chance to go broke. To avoid losing their money and ensure more time and more excitement on the craps table, players should learn how to manage their funds in an optimal way. This starts with setting up a proper bankroll and knowing how much to bet on each roll of the dice.
Before going further into the concept known as bankroll management, craps players should take a couple of things into consideration. First and foremost, craps is a negative expectation game, which means that even those who apply the perfect strategy are likely to lose money.
The house edge, built within the game, is impossible to overcome and the longer you play, the less likely it is to turn a profit. This is why it is important to dispel one of the most common myths in craps play and in gambling, as a whole – having a sizable bankroll cannot help players win more money. It can, however, help them minimize the expected losses.
Before setting up a bankroll, those who have chosen to play craps should also decide whether they wish to be recreational or advantage players. Most people gamble for fun and only a small fraction of them could be called professional or advantage players – in craps, in particular, this includes either some form of cheating or hunting for comps and bonuses. Everyone else on the craps table knows well that by losing money, they simply pay for the entertainment and the chance of scooping a nice profit only adds to the excitement of the game.
Craps Bankroll Management Fundamentals
How to Determine the Proper Bankroll?
The phrase bankroll management is used in casino gambling literature to express the management of funds taken into the casino – how much one bets per game round, how much would be spent on tipping the dealers, etc. The most essential part of money management is, of course, determining the proper size of the craps bankroll. A good rule craps players, as well as all gamblers, should follow is to never gamble money they cannot afford to lose – since losing one’s entire bankroll is, after all, possible.
Players need to set aside a fixed amount of money and dedicate it only to casino play. The craps bankroll should be separate from the rest of their finances like money for food, rent, and utility bills. It is also important to gamble only money they own rather than rented money – players should avoid going to the casino with the regular credit card they typically use for paying everywhere else. Since craps is a highly volatile game where the casino always has the mathematical advantage over patrons, players should always be prepared to lose their entire bankroll.
What good bankroll management should do is prevent such an unfortunate event. Another rule players should stick to is to never bet more than 2% of their entire bankroll per round. For craps, in particular, it is best to limit the bets to 1% of the entire amount of money. If, for instance, the minimum limit at the tables in a local casino is $5 per bet, players should not start playing with less than $500. With a bankroll of such a size, they will be able to continue playing even if they have a long losing streak and lose twenty bets, for instance.
Betting Units and Bankroll
When discussing bankroll management, we should mention the importance of betting units. As we have said above, it is advisable to bet no more than 1% of the entire bankroll per round. For convenience, we can replace the percentages with betting units – the least amount of money players will be able to bet. Often, the betting unit would be equal to the table minimum ($1, $5, $10, etc.) but it could be higher, depending on the amount of funds players have set aside for craps play.
The concept of betting units is very useful both in determining the size of one’s bankroll and when using various strategies or progressive betting systems. If we use the example from above, if we have a $500 bankroll with $5 bets per round, we will have a bankroll that consists of 100 betting units. If the minimum bet at the table is $10, however, the player would have a bankroll of only 50 units.
This means that the player will be able to make 50 bets before running out of funds. Of course, this calculation does not account for any winnings that may be generated throughout the game session. It only shows the worst possible turn of events. To better understand how much one could lose or win per session and to determine the betting unit, we need to determine the per-hour gambling rate.
Also called cost per hour, it takes into consideration the number of bets made per hour and the size of each bet. If players plan to spend 4 hours at the craps table and have a bankroll of $500, they would be able to spend $125 per hour. But how many bets would be made within this time? Craps is a very fast game and this would depend on the speed of the dealers, as well as whether the game is played online or in a live casino, where up to 24 players could take turns to be shooters.
If we play online craps or in a brick-and-mortar casino where a single shooter bets only on the Pass Line, we could have up to 300 rolls per hour, although the average is around 100 rolls per hour. However, the number of rolls does not determine the number of bets one could make. If players stick to even-money bets such as the Pass Line or the Don’t Pass bet, their wagers would take at least 3 or 4 rolls of the dice to be settled. Therefore, we could expect approximately 20 to 30 player decisions or individual bets per hour.
In case players have $125 to spend per hour and they make 25 bets per hour on average, the betting unit they use should be $5. If the casino does not take bets of less than $10, however, players should reconsider their approach and cut their craps play session in half.
Bankroll Management Tips
Bankroll management, even if done perfectly, cannot eliminate chance and bad luck in this game. It cannot prevent losing one’s entire bankroll, nor can it guarantee winnings. However, players who devise a plan and stick to it throughout their game are less likely to go broke. In fact, with little luck, a good bankroll management plan would give players more chances to make a profit while they are on the craps table.
Along with setting up a bankroll and sizing it appropriately, there are several essential steps every craps player should make before risking their money. This includes formulating a basic playing strategy, taking precautions against going broke, and taking advantage of the various bonuses and loyalty programs offered by casinos.
Good and Bad Craps Bets
A good money management plan should always be combined with a wise playing strategy. Although in craps, there are no strategies that can ensure winning every single time, the basic strategy includes sticking to the good bets in this game. The vast majority of bets are known as sucker bets – wagers with an incredibly high house edge that cannot be overcome in any way. These bets – prop bets, Any 7, Any Craps, etc., are usually instant losers and should be avoided at all times.
To the average player, the high house edge does not mean anything since it is a theoretical concept that may or may not become true. But by using the house edge, we can calculate the cost per hour of every single bet in craps. This is the real, financial expression of what the house edge does exactly – the cost per hour shows how much a particular bet costs us per hour. To calculate it, we simply multiply the betting unit we use by the house edge and by the number of bets we make per hour.
If our betting unit is $5, we make 25 bets per hour, and we stick to the Pass Line or the Come bets, the calculation would seem like this:
It equals $1.76 or to round it up, $2 per hour. In fact, the Pass/Don’t Pass and the Come/Don’t Come bets have the lowest cost per hour – around $2, followed by the Place bets on 6 and 8, the Hardway 6 and 8, and the Big 6/8. The low cost per hour for the Hardways and the Big 6/8 comes from the fact that casinos usually allow betting less on these options. In most cases, their cost per hour would be less than $3.
Players should also consider adding Odds on their Pass/Don’t Pass and Come/Don’t Come bets. The house edge of the Odds bet is 0% and it reduces the house edge of the original bet. It is usually recommended to bet the minimum on the Pass Line and then, to lay as much as possible in the form of Free Odds bet behind it. Some guides say that we should make x100 Odds if the casino allows it.
However, this may not be the best option for those with a limited bankroll. If they bet $5 on the Pass Line, for instance, the x100 Odds would cost them $500 – their entire bankroll. Theoretically, the Odds have a 0% house edge and no cost per hour but in reality, players can instantly lose this bet if the shooter sevens out. This is why beginner players who are just building up their craps bankroll should have a more conservative approach – triple Odds should be sufficient.
Setting Time Limits
One of the most important things, especially for beginner players, is to learn how to be disciplined and when to leave the craps table. The best way is to set a time limit and once the predetermined time for gambling is over, they should simply collect their chips, exchange them for cash, and leave the casino.
This is a basic rule that applies to all forms of gambling but it is especially useful for casino games such as craps – there are no clocks in casinos, no windows, and natural light, so it is particularly difficult to say how much time has passed without tracking it. Besides, the game of craps is very fast, there are plenty of people around the table, and all this excitement and thrill could easily cloud players’ judgment.
By setting a time limit and sticking to it, less experienced players would be able to track their progress within the game. They will be able to calculate how much they win or lose but most of all, they will minimize the risk of losing their entire bankroll, which happens almost always when you keep playing. Players should remember that the longer they stay at the craps table, the closer their overall results would be to the house edge of the game.
Setting up Win or Loss Limits
Limiting the time spent on the casino tables is effective for money management, but it may not work as well for those who are just starting to play craps and are now building up their bankroll. Instead, beginner players could set win and loss limits, so they can make sure they would never go broke. It is important to set out a plan beforehand and make sure they never stray from it.
First, players should set a loss limit – the maximum amount of money they are willing to lose in a game session. Once they reach the loss limit, they should leave the table and avoid losing all their money. Next, players should determine a win amount – this part of the bankroll management plan, however, is a bit tricky since most players set up win goals that are just too ambitious for a craps game and for a complete novice. The best approach is to set up shorter time limits and more modest goals for the winnings. This way, players will make small, yet consistent profits.
Setting aside Half of the Profits
Another useful tip for all gamblers, including craps players, is to set aside some part of the profits they have made – if they have generated any profits at all, of course. At some point during the game session, players would notice that they have generated some decent winnings from the game. The most reasonable thing to do, especially for beginner players, is to set aside some of the money to ensure that they leave the table at a profit.
Keeping half of the profits from a game session may seem too harsh for some casino patrons but it is a good tactic for those who are trying to build a sizeable bankroll that would give them more flexibility and protection against going broke in the future.
Using Progressive Systems in Craps
Some craps players prefer to use a progressive betting system, believing that this way, they will take advantage of winning streaks and would eventually increase their winnings. It is possible to increase one’s profits over time when applying a betting progression but that would depend solely on chance. Players should not rely on such systems since they cannot change the odds or the way you play – all they can do is to provide less experienced players with a pattern for betting in a structured, systematic way.
Choosing a particular progressive betting system is also important. There are more than a dozen systems in existence and while some are rather safe to use even in the long run, others expose players to a huge risk. Methods such as the Martingale, for example, where you double your bets after you lose a round, could easily result in huge losses. By using such systems, unfortunate players could run out of chips before they generate a win big enough to compensate for their previous losses.
Unlike card counting in blackjack, for instance, casinos allow all kinds of progressive betting systems to be used. While card counters can realistically gain a small advantage over the casino, craps players who use a betting strategy to adjust their bet size cannot change the odds of the game. Overall, casinos permit betting systems because they know that these methods simply do not work.
Taking Advantage of Comp Programs
The only way to actually gain an advantage over the casino when playing a negative expectation game such as craps is to earn comp points and various rewards worth as much as you lose from the game itself. This is not as easy as it sounds, however. It is true that casinos – both online and land-based, usually offer various loyalty programs, bonuses, and promotions.
However, in order to receive comp points, rewards, free chips or anything else for free from the casinos, players are required to place big enough bets. Even better, those who lose the most on the gaming tables usually receive the most rewards from the pit boss. So, before craps players decide to take advantage of the special offers at a live or online casino, they should make sure that the loyalty points will be really worth it.