The craps table is always the most exciting place on the casino floor – the game is fast and full of action, it is played by a dozen people or more, and has seemingly endless betting options. For many players, making the classic Pass Line and Come bets, topped with some free odds, is enough to keep them interested for hours. But in recent years, casinos started offering new side bets that have the potential to make a game session even more fun and profitable. At the same time, side bets tend to have a very high house edge, which discourages players from spending money on them.
It is almost impossible to analyze side bets and determine whether they are worth making while you are on the craps table. This is why it is important to know which side bets would be available to you beforehand and be prepared to take some risks for the chance to win jackpot-size payouts. In this article, we have laid out some of the most popular side bets in craps, along with their odds and house edge.
Note that there are many more additional bets and each casino has a slightly different paytable and rules when it comes to these side bets. Moreover, side bets are hardly ever found in online craps – they are the typical hallmarks of the largest Las Vegas casinos.
The Most Famous Craps Side Bets
The Fire Bet was invented by Las Vegas casino supervisor Perry Staci and introduced in several casinos a decade ago. Its name suggests its purpose – taking advantage of a shooter having a “hot hand” and making the point multiple times before he sevens out. Depending on the particular paytable set by the casino, the Fire Bet wins if the shooter manages to make three or four points before he throws a 7.
For the purposes of the Fire Bet, however, these points need to be different numbers. If the shooter tosses a 5, then a 3, and then, 5 again, only 2 point numbers will be counted for the Fire Bet. Usually, players bet the minimum – $1 or $5, since this side bet wins in very rare occasions. The probability for throwing different points before a 7 is simply too low – the number 7 appears most often in this game, after all.
Typically, this side bet pays 25:1 if the shooter makes four points before sevening out. The payout for shooting 5 different points before a 7 is 250:1, while for 6 different points the payout is 1000:1. Of course, the paytables vary across casinos so players should take this into account when looking for a craps table with good side bets. The top payout is for hitting 6 points because there are a total of 6 point numbers in the game – 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, and 10.
Let us look at the probabilities, however, so we can determine whether the Fire Bet can be realistically won. Around 59% of the time, no point will be rolled, so how likely is it to roll 6 different point numbers before a 7?
- 0 Points Made – 59%
- 1 Point Made – 26.08%
- 2 Points Made – 10.13%
- 3 Points Made – 3.34%
- 4 Points Made – 0.88%
- 5 Points Made – 0.16%
- 6 Points Made – 0.02%
As we can see, the probability for making a single point is not that bad and the shooter is expected to do that in 26.08% of the time, on average. However, most casinos do not pay out unless 4 different points have been made before sevening out. Here, the probabilities suggest that such a scenario is highly unlikely. Still, the payouts for the bet if tossing 5 or 6 points before a 7 are very appealing. Considering you are making only a $5 wager, for instance, the Fire Bet may not be that bad after all. Depending on the particular paytable, the house edge of this side bet ranges between 20% and 25%.
Point 7 is one of the simplest and most popular side bets available on the craps table. With it, players bet that the shooter will throw a point number on the come-out roll and then, a 7 on the next roll. Of course, those who bet on the Pass Line, including the shooter, will lose – since 7 loses in this phase of the game. However, those who have placed chips on the Point 7 side bet will receive a payout of 7 times their wager (7:1).
Here, the payout may be less attractive but the bet is also much more likely to win than the Fire Bet. There are six point numbers, namely 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, and 10. The probability for rolling a point number in the come-out is 24/36 (0.6666 or 66.66%) since there are 24 possible ways to throw a point versus 36 total possible combinations for the two dice. The probability for rolling a 7, however, is 6/36 or 16.67%.
The overall house edge for this bet is a little over 11%. However, there are multiple prop bets in the game that offer similar house edge percentages, while at the same time, their payoffs are much better – Yo, Ace-Deuce, and Hi-Lo pay 15:1 and come with a house edge of 11.11%. The Any Craps bet pays the same as Point 7 but it is easier to make and is settled within a single roll of the dice.
7 Point 7
This side bet made its debut in 2008 when it was introduced by the Orleans Casino in Las Vegas. It is also known as Double Trip Seven and, once again, it revolves around the number 7. However, it has a house edge of only 5.56%, which is probably the lowest percentage found in all craps side bets. With the 7 Point 7 side wager, players hope that the shooter will throw a 7 as soon as possible.
If a 7 appears in the come-out roll, the side bet wins, bringing a payout of 2:1. If the shooter sevens out on the first roll after establishing a point, the side bet wins, paying at odds of 3:1. As we have explained above, throwing a 7 in the come out-roll is expected in 16.67% of the time. The probability of tossing a 7 after a point has already been established is 11.11%.
Based on these odds, the 7 Point 7 side bet is more likely to lose than to win, however – such an outcome is expected to occur in 72.22% of the time. The overall house edge of 5.56% takes both the odds and the payouts into account.
The Midway side bet is also very easy to make and track since it is settled in the next roll of the dice. Available in several Atlantic City casinos, the Midway is usually located on the Big 6/8 box on the betting table. With it, players bet on the numbers that are right in the middle of the range – 6, 7, and 8. The side bet wins if any of these numbers appear in the next roll, although the payoffs vary, depending on the particular total and dice combination.
- Hard 6/8 – 2:1
- Soft 6/8 – 1:1
- 7 – 1:1
With this side bet, players would not make huge profits but the small winnings they make would be quite regular. The probability of tossing a hard 6 or a hard in the next roll is around 5.55%. Hard totals consist of pair of numbers – a hard 6 is 3-3, while a hard 8 is 4-4. So, the possible combinations here are 2, offering odds of 17:1.
Soft totals, on the other hand, are those formed with different dice. A soft 8 and 6 could be any of the following – 2-6, 6-2, 3-5, or 5-3 for an 8 and 1-5, 5-1, 2-4, 4-2, so the odds are 3.5:1 (or 7:2). Shooting a 7 on the next roll offers odds of 5:1. As you can see, the payouts do not equal the true odds, so the Midway side bets come with a house edge of 5.56%.
Small and Tall
The Small and Tall side bet can be found in various casinos because it is very simple and straightforward for players to make, while also attracting casino operators due to the relatively high house edge. With this side bet, players bet that all “small” or “tall” numbers will be rolled before a 7. The betting area for the Small and Tall bet, also known as Bonus Craps, is located in the middle section of the table.
The so-called “small” numbers are 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6, while the “tall” totals include 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12. Note that in order for the bet to win, all numbers from the preferred group must be rolled before the shooter tosses a 7. At least two different versions of this side bet could be found. In the first one, players make either the Small or the Tall bets – the probability for winning is the same for both bets at 0.026354, which is around 1 in 38. The payouts are also the same and may vary:
- Small/Tall bet wins – Pays 34:1, the house edge is 7.76%
- Small/Tall bet wins – Pays 30:1, the house edge is 18.30%
The other version of the side bet also pays if all numbers, both small and tall, appear before the 7, a wager called Make’em All. Of course, the payoff here is much better, which is why this side wager is quite popular among craps players who are looking for something new, fun, and potentially profitable. Here are the odds and payouts for the three possible options offered by the Small and Tall side bet:
- Small bet wins – Pays 34:1, the house edge is 7.76%
- Tall bet wins – Pays 34:1, the house edge is 7.76%
- Make’em All bet wins – Pays 174:1, the house edge is 7.47%
Some casinos offer an altered payout for the winning Make’em All side bet. The probability of winning for this wager is around 1 in 190. So, the payout of 174:1 (sometimes 175:1) is perfectly acceptable. However, some operators pay only 150:1, which increases the house edge significantly – to 20.61%. In this case, players should be extremely careful when making this bet and most of all, they should not bet more than the table minimum.
Four Rolls No 7
This is an extremely simple side bet, found in a couple of land-based casinos. Its name says it all – players win this bet if the shooter rolls four times without throwing a 7. While this may sound unlikely, it happens more often than one would imagine. The side bet wins in 48.22% of the time versus 51.78% of the time when the bet loses.
The payout is even (1:1), while the house edge is impressively low for a side bet in craps – it is only 3.55%. This makes it one of the best side wagers that could be made in this game, especially in combination with more traditional bets such as the Pass/Don’t Pass or the Come/Don’t Come bets.
The Sharp Shooter side bet is offered at a small number of land-based casinos and it applies to every new shooter in the game. It resembles the Fire Bet since it relies on a shooter to enter a hot streak – rolling point numbers without sevening out. Unlike the Fire Bet, however, this side bet wins even if the shooter tosses the same numbers. This wager promises huge payoffs with a small stake and a lot of excitement but all this comes at a cost – the house edge is very high at around 21.87%.
The Sharp Shooter becomes available when a new shooter takes his turn to roll the dice. If he manages to shoot at least three point numbers in a row, the side bet pays 5:1. The longer the shooter makes points, the greater the payouts get, reaching 299:1 for 10 points in a row. Here are all payouts for this bet:
- 3 points in a row – 5:1
- 4 points in a row – 9:1
- 5 points in a row – 19:1
- 6 points in a row – 29:1
- 7 points in a row – 49:1
- 8 points in a row – 99:1
- 9 points in a row – 199:1
- 10 or more points in a row – 299:1
Are Craps Side Bets Worth Making?
1Traditional Bets are Boring
Many craps players stick to the classic Pass Line and Come bets, believing that side bets are “sucker” bets that never win. Indeed, betting on the Pass Line or the Come fields and even the Don’t Pass and Don’t Come options is a smart and safe tactic, proven in both theory and practice. However, some players find traditional bets on the craps table quite boring after a while.
2Side Bets Offer Huge Payouts
Moreover, bets with better odds and tiny house edge percentages also offer quite small payouts. And while for some, the idea of slowly grinding and building up a bankroll is challenging and exciting, others need a stronger source of adrenaline and pressure. In gambling, this usually comes from the games and bets with a significantly high house edge. Craps side bets could be fun and with a little luck, they could be very lucrative.
3Side Bets Are Risky
Of course, there are certainly correct ways to make side bets such as the Midway or the Sharp Shooter side wagers. But relying on them to make a profit is highly risky and, often, devastating to one’s bankroll – these bets usually provide casinos with a huge mathematical advantage over their patrons and guarantee their long-term income from the thousands of chips lost on the side bet.
4Use Betting Strategy
A much better strategy is to structure one’s betting system around bets with a low house edge. This way, the winnings and losses on the craps table could be more or less predictable and the profits generated from “lucky” dice rolls would not be lost within seconds. Placing proposition and side bets occasionally, however, always spices the game up, making it much more exciting, even if the side bet is $1.