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Why the House Always Wins at Craps

3 December 2011

By John Marchel

Each die (that's singular for dice) in the game of craps has six sides, so there are 36 possible numerical combinations when you throw a pair of dice (6 x 6 = 36). While there is only one combination that results in a 2 (1 and 1) and one that results in a 12 (6 and 6), the number of possible combinations increases as you move forward from 2 or backward from 12 until you reach 7, which has six possible combinations (1 and 6, 2 and 5, 3 and 4, and so on).

Your odds of rolling a particular number in craps are based entirely on the number of possible ways you can roll that specific number. For example, to determine your chances of rolling a 4, divide 36 by 3. (You use 3 because there are only 3 ways to throw a 4.) The result is 12, which means you have a 1 in 12 chance of rolling a 4. This is very important. The odds are 12 to 1 against you, but the house only pays 11 to 1. This is how the casino wins even when you win. Another way to say it is: "When you lose the house wins, when you win the house also wins."

Still, craps is a fun and exciting game. You can be a winner in the short run, but in the end the house will win more often in the long run. So, one good strategy would be to play, win and run.

Bet You Didn't Know

  • The name "Craps" is believed to be a corruption of the French pronunciation of the word crabs, which means a pair of ones.
  • Many years ago a horse was brought into the Thunderbird Casino in Las Vegas and taken to the craps table. A pair of dice was put between his lips and it was reported he threw a natural seven.
  • Betting on the Big 6 or Big 8 on the table is considered a very poor bet for the player. The New Jersey Gaming Commission thinks it is such a bad bet that they have prohibited Atlantic City casinos from offering it on their craps tables.
  • In early times the Paiute Indians of the Las Vegas Valley played a variation of craps, betting their horses and sometimes even their wives on the outcome of the game.
  • When it comes to craps, about 90 percent of players will bet with the shooter, not against the shooter.
  • On May 23, 2009, a Morris County New Jersey woman gave a whole new meaning to "being on a roll" as she broke the world record for shooting dice at the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City. Pat DeMauro bought into a craps game for $100 and held the dice for four hours and 18 minutes. She threw the dice 154 times before she finally "sevened out." She later said it was only the second time in her life that she played craps.
John Marchel
John Marchel is an author, speaker, teacher and player -- what John plays are casino games. He’s been a casino player for over 25 years and has played successfully in Europe, Panama, the Caribbean, Canada, Atlantic City, Las Vegas, on Indian reservations, cruise ships and in over 350 casinos throughout the US. He is also the author of six books about gambling, and has written numerous magazine articles and is currently a columnist for three gambling magazines and one internet magazine.

Since 1988 John has combined his experience as a manager, teacher and player to present seminars and lectures about gambling. In addition, John has had an Internet website since 1995 that offers books, special reports and tips about gambling. He also publishes a monthly Internet gambling newsletter. The newsletter keeps subscribers alert to trends, information and winning techniques that allows them to be more successful when visiting casinos.

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KISS Guide to Gambling

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