Craps Field Betting
In social circles, the phrase “playing the field” means “dating lots of different people.” At the Craps table, it means “betting on lots of different numbers.” Many will insist that neither activity leads to happiness in the long term. There is, however, some reason to believe that Field betting is the more profitable of the two varieties.
The Field is the rectangular section of the Craps table layout immediately above the Don’t Pass Bar. It is clearly marked “Field” with the numbers 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11, and 12 printed across its length. There are usually circles around the 2 and the 12, which may be marked “Double” or “Triple,” indicating the payout for these two rolls.
The Field bet is a one roll bet that will either win or lose; there are no pushes and no carry-overs when the Point is made. Payouts on the winning 3, 4, 9, 10, or 11 pay even money.
A look at the “Pip Total” chart in this site’s section on Craps Probability will show exactly how many ways there are to win a Field bet. Fourteen combinations total even-money Field numbers (3, 4, 9, 10, or 11), and one each total the higher odds 2 or 12. That means there are 16 ways to win and 20 ways to lose on each roll.
On the face of it, Field betting might look like a fast way to lose money. However, winning or losing depends greatly on the odds offered for those two numbers in the circles. Most casinos pay 2-to-1 for winning Field bets on the 2, and 3-to-1 for the 12. In Reno and some other areas, those odds are reversed, paying 3-to-1 on the 2 and 2-to-1 on the 12. In either case, the House edge is 2.78%—which is comparable to paying European Roulette.
Some casinos, such as those owned by Harrah’s Entertainment, pay out only 2-to-1 on both the 2 and 12, which doubles the House edge to 5.56%.a—more like American Roulette. There have, however, been reports of at least one Craps table in New Mexico that pays 3-to-1 on both the 2 and the 12, which would mean no House edge whatsoever—just like a coin flip.
So before writing off the Field as a part of the table to avoid, look carefully at the odds that are offered. Field betting can be quite profitable when the House edge is minimal.
Winning with the Field
Because Field bets are one roll wagers with close to 1-to-1 odds, it is possible to apply Roulette-like betting progressions. A similar Craps Strategy has been suggested for Pass Line betting, but applying it to the Field has several advantages.
Unlike the Pass Line bet, the Field bet will always win or lose immediately. That means less time spent waiting for resolution. Anyone who has played the Martingale Betting System on Red or Black at Roulette (i.e., doubling up on a loss) can step up to the Craps table with confidence and play exactly the same way on the Field.
Adding to the attraction is the possibility of a 2 or 12 coming up, which will pay out at higher odds. To the progressive bettor, this is like receiving a risk-free bonus. No additional outlays are required. Remember, of course, that all betting progressions, including Labouchere, d’Alembert, 1-3-2-6, and others, all fail over the long term due to the House edge. The key is to make short-term gains in sufficient quantity to cover any anticipated losses.