Taking Odds at Craps
Anyone who has seen advertising for a casino’s Craps games has probably noticed “Odds” being promoted. The Odds come in many varieties, from Double Odds or Triple Odds to 5X Odds, 10X Odds, 20X odds, and even 100X Odds. But what does it all mean to the average Craps player? And if it is a benefit, as the promotions seem to imply, how can a player use it to gain some advantage?
Free Odds Explained
The Free Odds Bet is an opportunity to increase the amount wagered on an even-money bet after the Point has been established. By definition, the description “free” means it is a wager taken at “true odds,” with no House edge. For that reason, it must always be made in conjunction with another bet that has an advantage for the House, such as the Pass Line or Come.
Sometimes this type of wager is referred to simply as an Odds Bet, and there are two ways to use it. The first is commonly known as Taking Odds, which is associated with “right betting” or backing the shooter. The other is Laying Odds, associated with “wrong betting” against the shooter.
The most common form of Free Odds Bet is Taking Odds on the Pass Line. This wager is made in the unmarked area of the table behind the Pass Line called the “apron.” It can only be made after the Point has been established. When a player “takes Odds,” he/she simply stacks additional chips on the apron directly behind the original bet. The maximum allowed depends on the House limits. For example, 2X Odds means double the original Pass Line Bet is allowed, 3X Odds means triple, and so on.
The payoffs on these wagers are as follows: 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. Because these are true odds, they are significantly better than the odds offered on the Place Bets for these numbers, i.e. 9-to-5, 7-to-5, and 7-to-6, respectively. Taking Odds also applies to the Come in the same way.
Laying Odds on the Don’t Pass or Don’t Come will yield exactly the reverse, paying 1-to-2 for the 4 or 10, 2-to-3 for the 5 or 9, and 5-to-6 for the 6 or 8. The same limits apply. Please note, however, that Free Odds Bets on the Come, Don’t Pass and Don’t Come must be placed by the dealer on behalf of the player, not directly in a betting area.
Getting the Most out of Odds
When Taking Odds or Laying Odds, it is to the player’s advantage to wager as much as possible—at least from a statistics point of view. 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 at all for the casino.
Of course, there is always some risk involved. When the Point is 6 or 8, there are five ways to win and six ways to lose. Making the Point when it is 4, 5, 9, or 10 becomes more difficult. For this reason, may players will take Full Odds only when backing the 6 or 8, and a smaller amount otherwise. It is not necessary to take or lay Free Odds Bets at the maximum. And it is possible to reduce the amount of the Free Odds wager at any time, which many players will do if they suspect a losing throw is due.