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What to Expect at a Craps Table

16 December 2005

That was rather cruel what I did to you last week, wasn't it? I just left you standing at a craps table, having made a pass line bet and not knowing what to expect next. Well, I'll tell you now what to expect.

The stickman passes five dice to the shooter, who selects two. The shooter "rolls" or tosses the dice to the opposite end of the craps table. This is called the "comeout" roll. If the shooter rolls a 7 or 11, everyone that has made a pass bet wins and is paid even money. If the shooter rolls a 2, 3 or 12, they lose. If any other number is rolled - a 4, 5, 6, 8, 9 or 10 - then that number becomes the "point" number.

The dealer will place the puck with its white face up on one of the big, numbered boxes at the top of the layout to indicate the point number. The shooter will roll again, trying to roll that point number again before he rolls a 7. If he does, then all the pass line bets win.

But if he rolls a 7 first, then he "sevens out," and all pass line bets lose. If he rolls any number other than the point number or a 7, then nothing happens to the pass bets, but other bets win or lose depending on the bet made and the number rolled.

I don't want to confuse you with the mathematics, but theoretically, the casino will win $14.10 of every $1,000 worth of pass bets, or 1.41 percent of the amount wagered.

Actually, a 1.41 percent house edge is not too bad. In fact, it's one of the better bets of any of the negative expectation games. But there is another bet made in conjunction with the pass bet that will allow you to lower the house's edge against you. It's called the "odds" bet, and it's called that because it pays off at true odds.

That's right; the casino has no advantage on an odds bet. Nothing. If the point number is either a 6 or an 8, and if the shooter "makes his point" (rolls a 6 or 8 before a 7), you will win $6 for every $5 wagered on the odds bet (or 6-to-5). You'll win $9 on $6 (or 3-to-2) if the point is a 5 or a 9 and $10 on $5 (2-to-1) on a 4 or a 10.

That's in addition to the even money you're paid for the winning pass line bet.

And to make it even sweeter, you can bet up to twice your pass bet and sometimes 10 times, 20 times and (rarely) 100 times.

But notice there is no area on the layout labeled "Odds Bet." Wouldn't you know it? The best bet and no place to put it. But no problem; simply place your odds behind the pass line. If you have any questions, just ask one of the dealers. In fact, most dealers will remind you of the odds bet or ask if you want to "take" odds. Take them up on this one.

Let's run through some examples of how this works. You've already walked up to a craps table and waited until the shooter has "made his point" or "sevened out."

Say the shooter makes his point. Everyone that has bet on him wins the pass bet and is cheering and is very happy. The dealers are going to be busy paying out those winning bets, but when the dealer closer to you looks like he's finished, gently toss a $100 bill into the area marked "Come," and say "change, please." He'll push a stack of $5 red chips in your direction.

Technically, casino personnel call these chips "checks" but most players think of them as "chips." For consistency purposes, I'll keep referring to them as chips.

Okay, take one chip and put it down on the pass line. On the next comeout roll, the shooter rolls a 6. He has now established another point number. You're a conservative bettor and want to take only 2x odds, so you put two red chips behind the line. That's your odds bet. If the shooter rolls another 6 before a 7, you win $17, even though you've risked only $15. You're paid $5, even money, on the pass bet and $12, 6-to-5, on the $10 odds bet.

If you had taken 10x odds, you would have won $65 ($5 even money on the pass line and $60 on your $50 odds bet). If you had taken 20x odds, you would have won $125 ($5 and $120).

A 20x odds bet reduces the house edge from 1.41 percent without odds down to .099 percent because of what I like to call a dilution effect. But please, please remember that this is theoretical and that anything can happen in the short term. In order to get this great dilution effect, you have to risk a lot more money, $100 more, and one roll of the dice could wipe you out. For right now, stick to 2x odds.

Until next week, may the dice be kind to you.

Linda Mabry

Low Roller Linda Mabry lives and gambles on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. She writes a weekly, general gambling advice column for the Biloxi Sun Herald, and may be contacted through her e-mail address, lnmabry@cableone.net or her web site www.thelowroller.com
Linda Mabry
Low Roller Linda Mabry lives and gambles on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. She writes a weekly, general gambling advice column for the Biloxi Sun Herald, and may be contacted through her e-mail address, lnmabry@cableone.net or her web site www.thelowroller.com