Basic Craps Strategy

Craps may be a game of pure chance and luck but playing this game without a plan is almost always a guarantee for failure. Many of the bets come with a high house edge that would eventually eat up any decent profits made previously. A good, multifaceted strategy, on the other hand, can minimize the losses and contribute to lengthier playing sessions even with a small initial bankroll.

Before going into details about what the basic craps strategy should be composed of, we should point out that no strategy can guarantee long-term winnings in craps. The nature of the game makes the application of complex strategies or betting systems fruitless. Players should bear in mind that the outcome of the game cannot be influenced in any way by their decisions – instead, it is completely random and conditional on the roll of a pair of dice.

In order for a craps strategy to be successful, it should take several considerations into account, including players’ individual goals and resources – how much they can afford to bet and lose, how long they plan to play on the craps tables, their knowledge of the game, as well as their tolerance to risk. When we are compiling the main points for our strategy, we should also include those bets that would be fundamental to it, as well as the bets we should avoid.

This article describes some of the safest and most effective tactics for playing craps successfully online and in land-based casinos. It includes tips that could be useful to both novices and experienced craps players.

The Best Bets for a Successful Strategy

One of the first things to consider when deciding how to play craps is the range of bets in this game. Most casinos offer between 30 and 40 different bets – some center on a particular number such as the 7, whereas others cover large groups of numbers and are, therefore, more likely to win. However, to guarantee a constant income, casinos tend to pay at odds that are significantly lower than the true, mathematical odds of wagers.

Still, some of the craps bets offer a low house edge of around 1.40% and these are the bets players should consider fundamental to their strategy. It is also essential to differentiate between single and multi-roll bets since they differ dramatically in their house edge percentages, overall complexity, and level of difficulty.

Which Bets to Make?
Which Bets to Avoid?

Which Bets to Make?

Every good craps strategy begins with the Pass Line bet. It is the most basic craps bet and the game cannot even start without it. In land-based casinos, the shooter is required to make the Pass Line or its exact opposite, the Don’t Pass bet. In online games, players must sometimes put some chips on the Pass Line in order to start the game.

So, what is the Pass Line? With this wager, players simply bet that the shooter will throw a 7 or 11 before he craps out by tossing 2, 3, or 12. After he establishes a point, players hope that the point will be rolled before the 7. Those who opt for the Don’t Pass bet, on the other hand, win when the Pass Line bettors lose and lose when Pass players win. These wagers pay even money, which is not very impressive, indeed. However, these bets come with great odds and a low house edge.

Let us focus on the so-called “right” betting and the Pass Line bet – with true odds of 251:244, the chances of winning and losing are almost identical, while the house edge is 1.41%. It is the same with the Come bet, which is almost the same as the Pass Line, except for the fact that it is not made at the beginning of a new round but after the point has been established.

Moreover, opting for Pass Line Odds bets may even be a better tactic, as the Odds bet has zero house edge. The higher the Odds, the better – known as Free Odds, this option could be seen as an addition to the main Pass Line or Come bet. With it, players practically increase the size of their main bet multiplying it by 1x, 2x, 5x, 10x or more. The Odds taken behind the Pass and Come bets can be increased, decreased, or removed at any time.

With such a combination, the house edge falls to 0.80% on single odds, 0.6 percent on double odds, and 0.4 percent on 3x, 4x, 5x odds. It declines further to 0.3 percent with 5x odds, 0.2 percent with 10x odds and 0.02 percent with 100x odds. Another important thing to consider with the Pass Line and Come bets is that they are both multi-roll bets, which means that they usually need several rolls of the dice before they can be settled.

This gives players the opportunity to make additional bets, covering their main wagers, or making different patterns based on the Pass and Come bets. It is possible to make a Pass Line, wait for the point and then take odds and place a Come or Don’t Come bet. If the main bet is not yet resolved in the next roll, players can make additional Come bets, Odds on the Come, and more.

A great option is to add the Place bets on 6 and 8 into your basic craps strategy since 6 and 8 are the most likely numbers to be rolled after 7. These two bets offer good odds and a decent house edge of 1.52%.

Which Bets to Avoid?

As we have mentioned above, the majority of bets offered in the game of craps have a really high house edge. In some of them, it is not only higher than the 1.41% theoretical edge of the Pass Line but also much higher than the house edge of other table games such as blackjack, poker, baccarat or roulette. Of course, players should understand that the house edge is a theoretical advantage that applies to a nearly unlimited number of games and the real-life results rarely coincide with the expected value of a game.

What the house edge shows, however, is what we can expect on average from a certain bet in craps. Wagers with a higher house edge are simply less likely to win than those with a very low house edge percentage. In fact, most of the proposition bets are considered to be “sucker” bets due to extremely high mathematical advantage they give casinos. Here are the worst bets in craps:

  • Any 7 – 16.67%
  • 2 – 13.89%
  • 12 – 13.89%
  • Whirl – 13.33%
  • Horn – 12.50%
  • Yo (11) – 11.11%
  • 3 – 11.11%
  • Hi-Lo (2 or 12) – 11.11%
  • Craps Numbers (2, 3, or 12) – 11.11%
  • C&E Bet – 11.11%
  • Hard 4/Hard 10 – 11.11%

These bets should be avoided, especially by novices. However, they could be incorporated into a certain betting pattern and combined with other bets that offer significantly better odds. Betting consistently on 7, however, is almost 100% guaranteed to result in losing your entire bankroll in a very short time.

Betting on the Dark Side

Another great tactic many experienced craps players prefer to take on, especially when they are playing online, is betting the “wrong” way. The phrase refers to the Don’t Pass and Don’t Come wagers and with them, players essentially bet against the shooter. These bets offer even better odds than their “right” counterparts, the Pass Line and the Come bet. There are a couple of more “wrong” betting options in the game and they all come with appealing opportunities to optimize your playing session.

However, dark siders, or those who bet on the shooter to lose, are not received well around the craps table. Usually, all players bet with the shooter – i.e. that the shooter will either toss a 7 or 11 in the come-out roll or the point number after a certain point has already been established. Those who bet on the dark side, however, bet that the shooter will lose and, together with him, everyone else on the table.

This is why most people who play a live craps game in a brick-and-mortar casino prefer to be right bettors – they all win or lose together, which creates a sense of community and solidarity that is unique to the game of craps. Online players, however, have nothing to worry about when betting against the shooter since online craps is available only in its virtual, RNG form. In such a game, you play solo against computer software rather than against a dealer or another player. Below, you can see the advantages of adopting a dark sider’s strategy.

Don’t Pass and Don’t Come Bets
Lay Bets

Don’t Pass and Don’t Come Bets

Just like the Pass Line and the Come bets are almost identical, their exact opposites – the Don’t Pass and the Don’t Come wagers are practically the same. The only difference between the two is the timing – the Don’t Pass bet can be placed before a new come-out roll, while the Don’t Come bet is available after a point has been established and the second phase of the game has begun. These two bets pay almost at true odds – the payout is 1:1 against odds of 976:949.

The Don’t Pass and Don’t Come bets offer the lowest house edge in this game – it is 1.36% if the bet pushes when 12 is tossed in the come-out roll. Let’s just touch on the basic rules of the Don’t Pass bet – it wins if 2 or 3 appear in the come-out roll and it loses if 7 or 11 are tossed. If the dice show a 12, the bet is considered a tie. If the shooter tosses any of the other numbers, this number becomes the point and Don’t Pass bettors win if the shooter rolls a 7 before he manages to roll the point number once again.

It is even better to bet Odds on the Don’t Pass or Don’t Come options since this significantly reduces the already low house edge. Odds here are taken the same way as explained above and most casinos would allow Odds of up to 5x the size of the main bet. Certain casinos and some online games, however, offer players much higher odds where the house edge decreases to almost a zero – it is 0.682% with single odds, 0.455% with 2x odds, and 0.431% with full double odds.

The house edge will be reduced even further – to 0.341% if players bet 3x odds, to 0.273% with 3x-4x-5x odds, and 0.227% with 5x odds. Players who find a casino where even greater Odds bets are offered will face an even lower house edge of 0.124% (10x odds), 0.065% (50x odds), or even 0.014% (100x odds).

Lay Bets

Another option for wrong bettors in craps is to make Lay bets on the following numbers – 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10. These are the same numbers that can become points in the come-out roll and the same numbers right bettors use for their Place and Buy bets. Dark siders, however, can use the Lay bets and choose which number to bet against. In other words, this option is the wrong version of the Buy bets, which pay at true odds minus the 5% commission.

When players decide to lay a number, they practically bet that the shooter will toss a 7 before this number is rolled. This wager can be made at any time – before or after a point has been established. Since the Lay bets are the opposite of the Buy bets, their true and payout odds are reversed. For instance, the odds for a Lay bet on 4 or 10 to win is 1:2, which means that players who lay 4 or 10 are twice as likely to win than to lose. The payout is the same at 1:2 but a commission (also known as vigorish or vig) of 5% is charged on the winnings.

It should be noted that to win a certain amount of money with Lay bets, craps players will need to first make a bet that is twice as high. If we lay $20 on 4, for instance, and the shooter tosses a 7 before he has rolled a 4, we win $10 on top of our original bet. The odds and payouts of these bets vary, depending on the number we choose to bet against. In addition, some casinos charge the 5% commission on the bet rather than the intended winning. All this results in quite a low house edge – it is 1.67% if the player lays 4 or 10, 2% on Lay bets of 5 or 9, and 2.27% on laying 6 or 8.

Hedge Betting and the Iron Cross Strategy

What is Hedge Betting?

The Iron Cross Strategy

Hedge betting is a fairly popular tactic among craps and roulette players and it refers to the style of play where gamblers make certain bets to cover up the weaknesses of other bets. Inspired by the word of finance, hedging in gambling is betting in such a fashion so that you can offset and balance the risks of your previous bets. With this tactic, craps players try to insure themselves against loss. In certain scenarios, hedge bets are very successful but in others, they may not be effective at saving players’ money.

One of the most commonly used methods of hedge betting is to make the Pass Line and hedge it with the Any Craps bet. This is typically done before the come-out roll – 5 units are wagered on the Pass Line and a 1-unit bet is made on the Any Craps. The Pass Line wins with 7 and 11, paying 1:1, while the other wager wins with 2, 3, or 12, paying at 7:1 odds. There are several possible outcomes from this hedge betting strategy:

  • 7 or 11 on the come-out roll – The Pass Line wins 5 units, while the Any Craps loses 1 unit for an overall profit of 4 units.
  • 2, 3, or 12 on the come-out roll – Players lose 5 units from the Pass Line bet but win 7 units from the Any Craps for a profit of 2 units.
  • The roll establishes a point – Players lose 1 unit from the Any Craps bet and the Pass Line remains working for the subsequent rolls.

If an outcome is determined in the come-out roll, players will end up with a profit. However, most of the time, the dice will roll one of the point numbers. Based on the probabilities of the game, 7 or 11 will show up an average of 8 times in 36 rolls, compared to 4 times for the craps numbers. The shooter will throw a point number 24 times in 36 rolls on average – this means 24 losses for the Any Craps bet, as well.

Overall, players who adopt this tactic are expected to win 16 units per 36 come-out rolls. If they do not make the Any Craps bet, on the other hand, they will end up a 36-comeout cycle with 8 wins of 5 units, 4 losses of 5 units, and 24 unresolved rolls. This means that their overall profit will be 20 units – more than they are expected to win with the hedge bets.

Of course, there are various other ways to hedge your main bets and some are better in protecting the Pass Line or the Come bet than others. However, even if they manage to balance out certain weaknesses, additional risks will always arise. This is why hedge betting is recommended for more experienced players who have a deeper knowledge of the game and know exactly what they are risking.

View more...

Bankroll Management

1Learn The Rules of the Game

Players who want to be successful on the craps table in the long run should learn the rules of the game, as well as all available bets. It is also recommended to stick to certain bets with low house edge and combining them for better results. This may not be enough, however, because craps is, after all, a chance-based game where the outcome is completely random.

2Set Your Craps Budget

Those who want to avoid losing all their money on the craps tables should adopt a good bankroll management plan. They should start with defining their bankroll – how much they are willing to gamble every time and more importantly, how much they are willing to lose. They should also know that just like every casino game ever created, craps favors the casino and not the player – eventually, the house will always win.

3Start With Betting the Table Minimum

Once players take these few fundamental concepts into account, they should proceed with structuring their bankroll and bets in such a way so they can guarantee lengthy playing sessions. It is also better to start the game of craps by betting the table minimum. A great alternative to the live tables is online craps, which often allows bets as low as $1. The less players bet on every roll of the dice, the longer their bankroll will last. If they start with $1 bets, they should have a bankroll of at least $100 – the more they have, the easier it will be to offset their losses.

4Avoid Props Bets and Progressive Betting Systems

Last, but not least, players should avoid props bets and progressive betting systems at all cost. They are mathematically proven to result in an overall loss. Besides, betting progressions rely on illogical and fallacious concepts such as the existence of winning and losing streaks or hot and cold dice. In reality, each roll of the dice is completely random and independent of the previous or the next rolls so players should not rely on the idea that after five losses, they are more likely to win.

Overall, money management is extremely important when playing craps as it is important when taking part in any kind of gambling activity. This section of the article is by no means detailed and comprehensive when it comes to managing your craps bankroll, which is why players should look for the dedicated bankroll management page.

BonusInsider is a leading informational website that provides reviews of the latest casino, sports betting, and bingo bonuses. We also list guides on how to play some of the most popular casino games including roulette, slots, blackjack, video poker, live dealers.