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Craps is chockfull of bad bets, so stick to the good ones

6 July 2012

By Mark Pilarski

Dear Mark: You often suggest making bets on the crap table that have less than a two percent house edge, specifically a Pass line bet, and placing the 6 & 8. The game offers plenty of other wagers, are they really that bad? Jerry C.

Yes, Jerry, I have repeatedly written that the smart craps player puts that hard-earned money to work on just a few outstanding wagers: The Pass line and Come bet with odds is one. Another is complementing this wager with place bets on either the 6 or 8. All have a house advantage of less than 1.5 percent, making them not only good wagers, but one of the best bets in the casino. Nonetheless, the bad and ugly also exist, and the crap table is littered with them.

For starters, I suggest you stay away from all those proposition bets in the center of the layout. The dealer, who is bellowing their performance, is doing nothing more than encouraging action on wagers that are all "house bets." Sure, they pay off at temptingly high odds, but they also come with a significantly higher casino edge, as high as 16%. So, Jerry, for any bets that are called out and encouraged by the dealers -- beware!

The Field bet, Jerry, well, it’s no field of dreams. The Field bet is a wager that any of these numbers; the 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11, or 12 will appear on the next roll. This bet pays 2-1 on the 2 or 12 and even money for the others (3, 4, 9, 10, 11), although many casinos do generously pay 3-1 on the 2 or 12. The casino advantage is typically 5.5% on a Field wager, but can be reduced to a modest 2.77% if the 2 or 12 pay off at 3-1.

A Hardway is a wager that a shooter will make a number the hard way such as 3-3 (6) before throwing a 7 or a 6 the easy way (5-1 or 4-2). The hard 4 (2-2) and hard 10 (5-5) pay off at 7-1 odds with actual odds of 8-1, and the hard 6 (3-3) and hard 8 (4-4) pay out at 9-1 odds with real odds of 10-1. The hard 4 and 10 carry a casino advantage of 11.1% and the hard 6 and 8 come in slightly lower at 9.09%.

Any Craps is a bet that the shooter will roll 2, 3 or 12 on the next roll. The true odds are 8-1, with a casino payoff of 7-1. The house edge on this bet is 11.1%.

As for the 11, the "yo," it is a one roll bet that the shooter will make the 11 on the next roll. The afore-mentioned 11, the 3, or "ace-deuce," and a "hi-lo," a combination bet on 2 or 12, all pay off at 15-1, but the actual odds are 17-1, giving the house a whopping 13.9% edge. "Snake eyes," the 2, and "box cars", the 12, pay off at 30-1, but the actual odds of a 2 or 12 appearing are 35-1, which gives the house a 13.9% edge.

Any Seven, also nicknamed "Big Red," is a bet that the shooter will roll a seven on the next roll. The true odds are 5-1, yet the casino only pays 4-1, giving the casino an enormous 16.67% house edge, making it, Jerry, besides pure ugly, the worst wager on the crap table.

All these wagers, Jerry, will do damage to your bankroll. Therefore, because the house’s edge on the bets I just exposed above are much, much higher than my forever-suggested 1.5%, my recommendation as to which one is worth your hard-earned money, put bluntly, would be, NONE of them.

Gambling Wisdom of the Week: "There is but one good throw upon the dice, which is, to throw them away." -- Author unknown
Mark Pilarski
As a recognized authority on casino gambling, Mark Pilarski survived 18 years in the casino trenches, working for seven different casinos. Mark now writes a nationally syndicated gambling column, is a university lecturer, author, reviewer and contributing editor for numerous gaming periodicals, and is the creator of the best-selling, award-winning audiocassette series on casino gambling, Hooked on Winning.