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Craps Strategy & Odds

Craps is unlike a game such as roulette where whichever bet on the table is selected, be it red or black, splits, single numbers, rows or corners, the percentage edge in favour of the house will remain largely the same. In craps the edge against the player varies widely across the numerous betting options available. For more information on each of the individual bets, what they are and how they work, please see our “how to play” article where they are outlined in more detail but here we focus on the best and worst bets to make.

As some wagers are settled on a single roll, whilst others can take numerous rolls, the fairest way in which to compare the various bets on offer is to use the edge against the player per roll of the dice. All percentages in this article refer to this edge per roll. So which bets should we play and which should be avoided?

Don’t Bet The Single Roll

The first bets for the scrapheap are all of the single roll bets. The best of these is the field bet, but this still has an edge against the player of 5.56%. All of the others come in at over 10% in favour of the casino and so should definitely be avoided, no matter how the mood takes you! The full list is as follows.

  • Field - 5.56%
  • Craps 3, Eleven - Both 11.11%
  • Any Craps - 11.11%
  • Craps 2, Craps 12 - 13.89%
  • Any Seven - 16.67%

Don’t Do It The Hard Way

The hard way bets on four, six, eight and ten, together with the Big Six and Big Eight bets all come in at 2.78%. That’s significantly better than any of the single roll bets but for those looking to bet on specific numbers the place and buy options always offer better value.

Placing, Buying and Laying

The edge for these bets depends both upon the number selected and whether it is the place, buy or lay route being taken. The figures for each of the options are:

  • Six and Eight - Place: 0.46% Buy: 1.46% Lay: 1.22%
  • Five and Nine - Place: 1.11% Buy: 1.32% Lay: 0.90%
  • Four and Ten - Place: 1.67% Buy: 1.19% Lay: 0.61%

Playing the numbers is by no means the best strategy for the game but some options are better than others. Those playing the five, six, eight or nine are better off placing rather than buying. The reverse is true of the four and the ten where the better option is to buy.

The Best Bets

Those looking to achieve the best long term outcome should simply ignore all the bets mentioned above and stick to the pass/don’t pass, come/don’t come bets. The edge against the player for Pass/Come is 0.42%, for don’t pass/don’t come this improves slightly to 0.40%. These odds compare favourably with just about every game in the casino and so for those looking for long term fun and profitability they are a great option.

Another big reason to choose these bets over the others is that they enable the player to place additional free odds wagers once a point has been established. As the name implies free odds bets have a house edge of 0%. These should always be placed for the maximum stake allowable, always bearing in mind any bankroll constraints. How much it is possible to stake on the free odds bets is dependent upon the individual rules of the casino, it can range from just one times the pass/come stake all the way up to 100 times the stake in certain more generous casinos.

When also factoring in the free odds stakes, the already low edge of the pass/come line bets can be decreased even further. We will use the common 3X-4X-5X free odds restriction to illustrate the difference this can make to the house edge. Playing the Pass/Come option and taking free odds results in an edge of just 0.11%. Playing the don’t pass/don’t come and laying the free odds works out slightly better at just 0.08%! There really is very little difference though and it is important to bear in mind that your stake on the free odds associated with the don’t bets would be significantly larger than on the pass/come side.

Whether you want to be for or against the shooter the best way to play is simply to stick to the pass/come bets and back up your stake to the maximum with free odds whenever a point is established. Playing this way will result in craps being not only one of the most exciting games in the casino but also amongst the best value for money.