No one can deny the drama and excitement of yelling out, “Yo!” while slapping down a proposition wager on the Eleven or the thrill of hitting one of the “Hard Ways.” In fact, the craps table is filled with dozens of intriguing and exotic bets that can turn the game into a virtual carnival of variety. Unfortunately, almost all of those bets carry with them a huge advantage for the house. There is one strategy, however, that turns craps into the most player-friendly table game in the casino: taking or laying “Even Odds.”
The house advantage in standard craps bets ranges from an abysmal 17% on Any Seven to roughly 1.5% on Place Six and Place Eight. There are also traps on the table such as Big Six and Big Eight, which are exactly the same as their place bet equivalents, except the house advantage is much larger. As many veterans of this dice game will advise, the craps player who wishes to maximize his advantage will stick to a strategy of making only six bets: Pass, Come and Odds (when betting with the shooter) and Don’t Pass, Don’t Come and Odds (when betting against the shooter.)
Most novice craps players understand that playing the Pass Line is done when the point is off and is a bet that either a seven or eleven will be rolled or a point will be established by the come-out roll. Once the point (4, 5, 6, 8, 9 or 10) is set, the Pass Line bettor is hoping for a reoccurrence of the point number before a seven is rolled. Come bets are virtually the same as Pass Line bets except they are made after the point is established.
What many casual players don’t understand is the tremendous advantage of taking odds on established pass and come bets. Even Odds, as the name denotes, carries with it a payout evenly commensurate with the odds of hitting a given number. By taking odds on Pass and Come, the player can reduce the house advantage to well under 1%. The payout for an odds bet on the Four and the Ten is 2-to-1, the Five and the Nine pay 3-to-2 and the Six and the Eight yield 6-to-5.
When a player has bet Pass or Come, the correct terminology for an odds bet is “taking odds.” When betting Don’t Pass or Don’t Come, the term is “laying odds.” Whether taking or laying, the bets are made in the same way. For the Pass Line, once the point is on, the player simply places the odds bet behind (toward the player) his original pass bet. When taking odds on a come bet, the bet is usually given to one of the two dealers that stand beside the boxman. If the come bet has been established on the Five, for instance, a player might hand his bet to the dealer and say, “Odds on the Five!”
The amount of the odds bet is determined by the rules of the table. The more money the player has “backing up” his pass or come; the lower the house advantage. If a table offers “10X Odds,” this means the player can place an odds bet of up to ten-times his pass or come bet. Most modern casinos offer something knows as “3-4-5 Odds.” This indicates that the maximum odds are three-times on the Ten and Four, four-times on the Five and Nine and five-times on the Six and Eight. This makes calculating the payout easier by setting the disbursement at six-times the wager on all the point numbers when maximum odds have been bet.
A common adage regarding craps odds says that if you don’t take the maximum odds available then you are throwing your money away. This is because the even-money payout of the odds bet counterbalances the house advantage on the original pass or come bet. The more money you have wagered at even-money; the lower the combined house advantage.
As we can see, craps can be one of the riskiest games on the casino floor. With proper strategy, however, it can also be the most rewarding. Learning to play the odds while playing the dice can turn even the most green craps player into a hot shooter.