Stay informed with the
Recent Articles
Best of John Grochowski

The Facts of Pass and Place Bets

11 September 2022

Craps players have individual styles and betting preferences that don't always coincide with sticking to the lowest-edge wagers.

Some place 6 or 8 (1.52 percent house edge) rather than bet pass (1.41) because they like to pick their own numbers. Some bet the field (2.78 or 5.56, depending on payoffs on 2 and 12) because they like having a lot of numbers. Some hedge their pass, come or place bets with any 7 (16.67) because they like to win on a 7 that sinks their other bets -- and never mind any 7 is a one-roll bet they might lose several times before a pass, come or place decision.

Colin, a craps player who emailed me recently, brings his own twist. He denies the math casinos rely on.

"I can't believe the house edge on pass is really lower than place 6 or place 8," he said. "On pass, I'm at the mercy of the comeout and might wind up with 4 or 10 as a point. I'd sure rather be on 6 or 8 because they win a lot more often than 4 or 10. I have to win more often on place 6 than on a bet where I could be relying on 4.

"I don't really believe there can be one house edge for pass. It has to be different if the point is 4 than if its 5 and different still if it's 6."

Like many a player before him, Colin ignores or grossly underestimates the effect of the comeout roll.

A third of pass wagers are decided on the come-out, and players have a big advantage. The six ways to make 7 and two ways to make 11 are winners, while the two ways to make 3, one way to make 2 and one way to make 12 are losers. So you win eight of the 12 come-outs!

To break down the remaining 24 come-out rolls, six are either 4 or 10, eight are either 5 or 9, and 10 are either 6 or 8.

On average, you win a third of the time when the point is 4 or 10, so that's two wins per 36 comeouts. You win 40 percent of 5s or 9s, adding 3.2 wins to the total. And you win 45.45 percent of the 6s or 8s, or an average of 4.55 wins per 36 come-outs.

Add that all up, and you have eight wins on the come-out, two on 4s or 10s, 3.2 on 5s or 9s and 4.5 on 6s or eights to total 17.7 wins per 36 come-outs.

That means the pass bettor is winning 49.3 percent of his wagers, more than the 45.45 percent won by a player who places 6 or 8.

You win only a third of the times the point is 4 or 10 -- the situation Colin wants to avoid -- but once other parts of the pass bet are taken into account, pass bettors win more often than place bettors. Not only that, the difference in win frequency is large enough that pass has a lower edge even though it pays even money instead of the 7-6 paid on place 6 or 8 winners.

To briefly address Colin's other point, you get one house edge for pass by weighing probability of all outcomes. Your lesser chance to win on 4 or 6 is included in calculations, but more weight is given to points that occur more often and even more to the 12 times per 36 trials the bet is settled on the come-out. When the dust settles from the number crunch, the house has its 1.41 percent edge.
Recent Articles
Best of John Grochowski
John Grochowski

John Grochowski is the best-selling author of The Craps Answer Book, The Slot Machine Answer Book and The Video Poker Answer Book. His weekly column is syndicated to newspapers and Web sites, and he contributes to many of the major magazines and newspapers in the gaming field, including Midwest Gaming and Travel, Slot Manager, Casino Journal, Strictly Slots and Casino Player.

Listen to John Grochowski's "Casino Answer Man" tips Tuesday through Friday at 5:18 p.m. on WLS-AM (890) in Chicago. Look for John Grochowski on Facebook and Twitter @GrochowskiJ.

Books by John Grochowski:

John Grochowski
John Grochowski is the best-selling author of The Craps Answer Book, The Slot Machine Answer Book and The Video Poker Answer Book. His weekly column is syndicated to newspapers and Web sites, and he contributes to many of the major magazines and newspapers in the gaming field, including Midwest Gaming and Travel, Slot Manager, Casino Journal, Strictly Slots and Casino Player.

Listen to John Grochowski's "Casino Answer Man" tips Tuesday through Friday at 5:18 p.m. on WLS-AM (890) in Chicago. Look for John Grochowski on Facebook and Twitter @GrochowskiJ.