For all table games, the casino has a built-in advantage. It is called the “House edge,” and it is much greater for some games than others. The advantage can vary from a miniscule 0.28% for Blackjack played under the most favorable rules to a barely tolerable 5.26% for American Roulette and a usurious 29% at Keno. Savvy players steer clear of games that are virtually impossible to win, which may explain why Craps tables are often so crowded.
From Good Odds to Great Odds
It is a fact that Craps offers some of the best odds of all table games. The House edge on the Pass Line is just 1.41%, which makes it a much better gamble than European Roulette at 2.70%. For this reason, it should be possible to enjoy considerable success using Roulette-type betting progressions at the Craps table, such as Martingale, Labouchere, or d’Alembert. The only drawback is that the pace of reward is slowed considerably by intervening rolls between wins and losses, as the shooter attempts to make the Point.
A much better approach to profiting from the Pass Line is “Taking Odds” whenever possible, i.e., increasing the amount of the Pass Line Bet to receive “true odds” with no House edge at all. This involves stacking additional chips on the apron directly behind the original bet whenever the Point is established. The payoffs on these additional wagers are 2-to-1 for a 4 or 10, 3-to-2 for a 5 or 9, and 6-to-5 for a 6 or 8—so much better than even money.
Taking Odds is also permitted for Come Bets, and Laying Odds is allowed for Don’t Pass and Don’t Come bets, although such wagers must be placed by the dealer on behalf of the player, not directly in a betting area. The maximum allowed depends on the House rules, anywhere from 1X to 100X. At 2X, the House edge drops to 0.61% for the total wager, including the original Pass Line bet. At 5X, the advantages falls to 0.33%, and at 20X it is just 0.10%. Anyone who can afford to wager at 100X can drive the House edge all the way down to 0.02%—almost no advantage whatsoever for the casino.
Not So Great Odds
Other bets on the Craps table layout cannot compare with Taking Odds. In fact, some wagers have such low probabilities of success, they should be studiously avoided. They include all of the proposition bets in the center of the table.
The Hardway Bets, for example, carry a House edge of 9.09% for the Hard 6 and 8 and 11.11% on the Hard 4 or 10. Likewise, a wager on Any Craps gives the casino an 11.11% advantage and on Any Seven the premium is a whopping 16.67%. Making such bets is like offering the casino ten cents out of every dollar played.
No better than the proposition bets are the Big 6/Big 8 bets. They each concede 9.09% to the House. Field Bets that pay 2-to-1 on the 12 still yield 5.56%, a Place Bet on the 4 or 10 comes with a cost of 6.67%, and a Place Bet on the 5 or 9 has a 4.00% surcharge attached.
Other than the even-money wagers, the only other risk-worthy sections of the Craps table are Place Bets on the 6 and 8. The House advantage on these is just 1.52%—again better than the odds at Roulette. A Craps strategy that combines Taking Odds with Place 6 and Place 8 wagers has the best chance of succeeding from an odds point of view.