n the 1st post in this series about winning at craps, I explained how the casino makes its money from games like craps. I also explained the most common betting options for right bettors and what the expectation looks like for each of them.

In this post, I’m going to examine some of the additional ways you can handle right betting on craps.  I’m also going to look at wrong betting, and I’m going to wrap the post up with some prioritized lists of the best ways to bet on craps whether you’re a right bettor or a wrong bettor.

## Buying Place Bets as a Right Bettor

You can bet on any of the following numbers as “place bets:”

• 4
• 5
• 6
• 8
• 9
• 10

These are also called “box numbers” or “point numbers.” These place bets are easy to spot on the table, too, because the boxes for them are big and clearly labeled on the table. To make a place bet, you tell the dealer which bet you want to make and put the chips on the table. The dealer moves the bet to the appropriate box. Place bets are NOT self-service bets. You win a place bet any time that number comes up before the shooter rolls a 7.

The odds, payouts, and house edge for these bets look like this normally:

• Place 4 or place 10 has a probability of 2 to 1, but the payoff is only 9 to 5. The house edge is 6.67%.
• Place 5 or place 9 has a probability of 3 to 2, but the payoff is only 7 to 5. The house edge is 4%.
• Place 6 or place 8 has a probability of 6 to 5, but the payoff is only 7 to 6. The house edge is 1.52%.

But what a lot of craps players don’t know is that you can reduce the house edge by “buying” the place bets. This means that you offer to pay a 5% commission in exchange for getting the bet to pay off at true odds. If a place 4 or place 10 bet paid off at true odds, it would pay off at 2 to 1 instead of at 9 to 5. The traditional way to do this would be to bet \$20 on place 4, but you’d put up an additional dollar. This reduces the house edge to 4.76%, which is significantly better than 6.67%.

You might find a casino which will allow you to bet \$25 on the place 4 or place 10 for the same \$1 commission. Now you’ve reduced the house edge to 3.85%. If you bet \$35 with a \$1 commission, the house edge drops to 2.78%. When you’re trying to negotiate these bets, you’re said to be “pushing the house.” You’re trying to get a better game from the casino than they’re offering the general public.

You might or might not be able to get the casino to agree to these bets. You make the bet and the dealer will let you know whether the casino will accept the bet. I’ve heard anecdotes of craps players who were able to buy 4 or buy 9 for \$38 with a \$1 commission. The house edge for that action is just 2.56%. You might also be able to get the casino to do buy 4 or buy 10 for \$39 plus a \$1 commission. The house edge for that is now just 2.5%.

But you don’t have to stop there when negotiating these buy bets with the casino. You can try to buy 4 or buy 10 and only pay the commission if you win the bet. This reduces the house edge dramatically. If you buy 4 or buy 10 for \$20 plus a commission of \$1, the house edge is 4.76%, but if you only pay the commission when you win, the house edge drops to 1.59%. Buy that for \$25, and the house edge drops from 3.85% to 1.28%, making that a better bet than the pass line bet.

Buy for \$30, and the house edge drops from 3.23% to 1.08%. You can get from 2.78% to 0.93% by buying for \$35. If you can get the casino to go for \$39, you can get the house edge down from 2.5% to 0.83%. But most casinos won’t allow you to go beyond \$25, especially if the commission is only taken out of your winning bets. 1.28% is a much better house edge than most bets at the craps table. This is an option that most craps posts and writers don’t talk about much. It’s a little more complicated than the subjects that are usually covered in these kinds of posts. And since it doesn’t come up that often, it’s unusual for writers to cover it.

## Better Payouts at Some Casinos

Not all casinos follow all the payouts you’ll see online in this post, my previous post, or on other craps pages. Some casinos understand that craps is competitive, and they want to attract customers.

Some examples?
Some casinos might pay out 33 to 1 on a 2 or 12 bet. That’s a 5.55% house edge, which is a huge improvement over the 13.89% or 11.11% edges that those bets usually have. Those same casinos often offer a 16 to 1 payout on a 3 or 11 bet. Some casinos might even be more competitive than that. A 34 to 1 payout on a 2 or 12 would reduce the house edge to 2.77%.

Of course, if your goal is to really win at craps, you’ll stay away from bets with a house edge of 5.55%, too. You’d even avoid bets with a house edge of 2.77%. These adjusted payouts and better house edge figures ONLY look good in comparison to the standard deals on those bets. This doesn’t make these into good bets. They’re still sucker bets.

## Marketing Techniques as Applied to Casino Bets

Frank Scoblete points out in Forever Craps that the best casino bets have the dullest names, while the worst casino bets have the most exciting names. In baccarat, for example, the best bet is the “bank” or “banker” bet. The house edge for that bet is only 1.17%. The “player” bet in baccarat is good, too, with a house edge of just 1.36%.

In craps, the “pass” bet and the “come” bet both have a house edge of 1.41%. The “odds” bet has a house edge of 0. Even the best bets in Sic Bo have dull names, even though the house edge for all those bets is terrible. The “big” and “small” bets offer the best odds at the Sic Bo table—a house edge of 2.80%.

In blackjack, the way to get the lowest house edge—as low as 0.5%–is to use “basic strategy.” All those terms and names are dull as dishwater. It’s hard to get excited about bets with such prosaic names.

Contrast those bet names with the more exciting sounding bets in craps:

 Across the board Big 6 Big 8 Big red Boxcars C&E Downtown Hardways Hop Horn Horn-high-yo Post holes Snake eyes Uptown Whirl World Yo! Yo-eleven!

Those are some great names for bets.  But the house edge on all of those bets is awful. The Yo! Bet has a house edge of 11.11%. Snake eyes has a house edge of 13.89%. Casino marketers are geniuses. This is one of the reasons that slot machines are so exciting and alluring, too. The house edge on the craps bets listed above is higher than the house edge for slots, but you’ll probably still lose more money at slots. But the casinos and game manufacturers have mastered the art of making bad bets sound good.

## Being a Wrong Bettor – The Dark Side of Craps

You don’t have nearly as many betting options if you’re willing to bet against the shooter. You also face a lower house edge. In fact, if you’re a wrong bettor, you’re going to be in the distinct minority. I think it’s more fun to be a right bettor, because I enjoy rooting for the shooter and the other players. I’m willing to give up 0.05% in exchange for that kind of fun.

Of course, the obvious betting options for the wrong bettor are “don’t pass” and “don’t come.” Those bets and their edges are covered in any basic page about craps. Those aren’t the only options available to the wrong bettor, though. You can also bet on the opposite side of “any 7.” This is called a “don’t bet.” The odds of winning this bet are 5 to 1, but the payout is 4 to 1. The house edge is 16.67%.

Most of the bets on the wrong side of the equation are bets on the opposite side of the right bets. For example, instead of buying the 6, you’d lay the 6. If a 7 gets rolled before the 6, you win, but the casino keeps a 5% commission. The odds are reversed, too. If you lay the 6, the odds of winning are 5 to 6. The payout is also 5 to 6, and the casino makes its money from the 5% commission. Most of these bets are bad, too, by the way. You should stick with good bets in craps if you want to win. I’ll explain the criteria for choosing those bets in the next section.

## What Are the Good Bets in Craps

If you want the best chance of winning in craps, you should avoid any bet with a house edge of more than 1.5%. The best and easiest way to get a bet with a house edge under that amount is to bet on the pass line or bet on the come and take as much odds as you can.

If the casino only lets you match the size of your original bet, the pass line or come bet with odds has a house edge of just 0.85%. The bigger the multiple is that you can place, the lower the house edge. If you can bet 5X odds, then the house edge drops to 0.32%, making that a better bet than most blackjack tables. (And you don’t even have to memorize basic strategy—just place the bets.)

The place 6 and place 8 bets are also acceptable. The house edge on either of those is 1.52%, putting it right on the edge of acceptable. Buying the 4 or the 10, if you can pay the commission only if you win, offers a house edge of 1.59%, so it’s okay, too.

The dark side of those bets—the wrong side versions of them—offer similar numbers. You can bet “don’t pass” or “don’t come” and take odds on them, too. You can also place 6 or place 8 to lose. The house edge is getting close to too high on those last 2 options, though, as the house edge is 1.82%.

Conclusion

Craps is a great game with a few good bets—wagers where the house edge is less than or near 1.5%. It’s also a great game with a lot of bad bets. The edge on most of those wagers is over 9%. In some cases, it’s as high as 16.6%. You’d almost be better off playing keno as taking some of those bets. Learning to avoid the sucker bets is the 1st step to becoming a winning craps player. There’s more to it than that, though, and I’ll cover the rest of what you need to know to win at craps in subsequent posts.

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