Ask the Wizard: Craps - Odds Bets
What happens to a place bet to win on a six if the shooter makes his point other than six? What happens to an initial come bet when the shooter makes his point on that roll? What happens to a come bet after it is moved to a number (lets say 5) and the shooter makes his point of lets say four. As per "craps strategies from crappers delight" I have read that the average shooter rolls the dice five (5) times before sevening out. Your comments.
— Gman from Lockport, New York
I hope it will answer your question if I say that place, buy, and odds on come bets are temporarily turned off for come out rolls, unless requested otherwise.
The average shooter throws the dice 8.53 times, including the seven-out roll. For more information on that, visit my odds table
for the probability of every number of throws from 2 to 200.
I have heard it said that with one come bet a player should call off the odds on a come out roll, but with two or more the player should leave them on. The rational is that with two or more on the odds of rolling one of the come points is greater than rolling a 7, but with one bet the player is more likely to win than lose.
— SD from San Francisco, California
The player should always leave the odds on regardless of how many come bets are active. When considering the options, looking at the probability of winning alone is not enough. Yes, with one come bet the odds of losing the come bet are greater than winning, however the potential win is greater than potential loss. The reason the player should always leave the odds on are because it is a bet with zero house edge. By turning the odds off the player is making the overall game more heavily weighted towards the bets with a house edge, thus increasing the overall ratio of the expected loss to the total amount bet.
I like your site very much. It is very informative. Thanks for putting out your thoughts. I noticed a betting strategy for craps suggested at Crappers Delight called "classic regression". In it he suggests, placing a 6 and 8, after a point is established. Then taking it down after one of them is hit. He said there are 10 combined ways to make the 6 and 8, but only 6 combined ways to make the 7. It sounds logical, but I've seen where you are able to show, that what appears logical on the surface is not so bright once it is analyzed. What are your thoughts on this strategy and what would the true odds be, if you did take the bets down after one hit?
This is similar to a question I got last week
. Yes, it is true that there are ten ways to roll a 6 or 8, and six ways to roll a 7. However, one must not look at the probabilities alone, but weight them against the payoffs. The place bet on the 6 and 8 pays 7 to 6 odds when fair odds would pay 6 to 5. By making six unit place bets on the 6 and 8, and taking the other down if one wins, the probability of winning 7 units is 62.5% and the probability of losing 12 units is 37.5%. If the player must cover both the 6 and 8, then the place bet is the way to go. This rate of return isn't bad but could be better. For the player who puts a priority on minimizing the overall house edge, the best strategy is to make combinations of pass, don't pass, come, and don't come bets, and always take the maximum allowable odds.
What is the house advantage on put bets with 20 times odds. Should the house allow put bets at these odds, for example someone could take $1000 with $20,000 on every number. Could you explain this to me? Thanks, Great site.
— Bry from Chesterton, Indiana
For other readers, let me explain that a put bet is making a pass or come bet after a point has already been established. The player may choose the point to be established on the put bet. While the player can make an odds bet immediately on top of the put bet, the opportunity to win on the initial roll is lost. The effect is the same as making a place bet or buying odds, but the house edge is different depending on the multiple of odds allowed. In the case of 20 times odds the house edge of the put bet on the 4 and 10 is 1.59%, on the 5 and 9 is 0.95%, and on the 6 and 8 is 0.43%. At this high level of odds allowed, which is much greater than the norm, all put bets are better than the corresponding place or buy bets. This option should never be taken at a casino that offers less than 5 times odds. At 5 times odds exactly, the put bet on the 6 and 8 is slightly better than the place bet. At 10 times odds or greater, all put bets become better than their corresponding place or buy bets. I shall add something to my craps section about the put bets, thanks for the idea.
What is a put bet in craps?
— Tony L.
A put bet is like a come bet made after a point has already been established. I don't recommend put bets because the value from come bets comes from the first roll, before any point is established. On a the first roll of a come bet the probability of winning is 22.22%, and the probability of losing is 11.11%.
However, if you must cover other points quickly, the odds are generally equal or better on place bets and buy bets on the 4 and 10 (assuming commission paid only on a win). Only if you can get 10x odds, and take them, do put bets become a better value than the better of place and buy bets. Since so few places offer 10x or better odds, it is safe to say to just avoid put bets completely.
What is the better system, or which gives me the better chance to win on craps? On the come out roll, I bet $10 on the don’t and $10 on the do, and then when a point comes out I lay full odds against the number. Or is it better to just play the don’t pass, and then lay the odds. I think getting passed the come out roll will increase my chances of winning.
— Ray from Plainfield, USA
The better system is to bet on the don't pass only and take full odds. Yes, betting on both does increase you chances of winning on any one bet. However you are suffering a higher combined house edge by betting on both the pass and don't pass and it will cost you in the long run.
Should you leave your odds ’off’ or turn them ’on’ for a new pass line roll?
— K from Louisville, USA
You should leave them on. It is best to have as much on the odds as possible. Turning the odds off is like temporarily removing the odds bet.
I played craps for the first time the other night and went from $70 to $700 with small bets on the pass odds and field bets. I then lost it all down to $6 because my bets were too large (by the dealers suggestion), and gained it back to $1000 after slowing down. For this being the first time it seems like a very easy game to win if you have patience, was it beginners luck?
— Chris from Tyler, USA
Yes, it was luck. It helped that you stuck to the low house edge bets. However, next time, make the line bets with odds only, and don't bet the field, especially if it pays 2 to 1 only on both the 2 and 12.
I just finished reading your section on strategy for craps with great interest. I understand that better the pass line and come bets with full odds is a good strategy. My question is "does the house edge change at all when playing a strategy of pass line with full odds and making a maximum of two come bets with maximum odds?" In other words, how does time (more rolls) and having more money at risk affect these odds if at all? Or should a person stick with just the single bet with full odds? This seems to be a favorite strategy for most knowledgeable players I have met at the dice tables.
— Jim from Yakima, USA
The house edge is the same regardless of how many come bets you make assuming you always take the maximum allowable odds and leave the odds turned on during a come out roll. How many come bets you make should be a matter of personal preference.
I love to play craps and would like your opinion on a conventional method of play. Pass line and two come bets with full double odds or with one come bet? Does having three different bets working superior to two?
— Richard from Binghampton, USA
As long as you are backing up your pass and come bets with full odds, it doesn't make any difference how many come bets you make. However, it does reduce the overall house edge to keep the odds on your come bets working on the come out roll.
Hi, I’m from Germany and it’s difficult to play craps here. I finally found a place where it is possible. But they changed the rules: 1. you may only bet the "right way"
2. it’s not allowed to make odds-bets after establishing the point
3. if the come out roll is craps (2, 3, 12) the bet is deferred and if the next roll is 11 you get your money back, otherwise it’s lost. I wonder which effect it has on the house edge?
— Toter Man from Munich, Germany
I went to casinos in Berlin and Hamburg last year and didn’t see craps at all. Let’s consider rule change 3 first. My craps appendix
shows the probability of winning the pass line bet as 244/495. Under the German rules it will be marginally higher. The probability of rolling a 2, 3, or 12, and then an 11 is ((1+2+1)/36)*(2/36)=1/162. So the house edge will be 1/162 less. From the craps appendix
we see the normal house edge is 7/495 =~ 1.41%. The German house edge is 7/495 - 1/162 = 0.80%. The combined house edge under full double odds is 0.57%, and 0.43% when laying the odds. So clearly the US rules are favorable.
What is the difference between making a come bet then taking the odds and a put bet? They sound the same to me in your explanation of put bets. Since you recommend against put bets you also recommend against come bets followed by the odds or am I not understanding you correctly?
— Mitch from Hopkins, USA
A put bet is like a come bet on a particular point. In other words the put bet does not get the benefit of winning on a 7 or 11 on the first roll, but the bet immediately gets "put" on the point of the bettors choice. The bettor may also immediately take odds on the put bet. Put bets are generally not a good idea because the player is twice as likely to win as lose on the first roll of a come bet, and the player is voluntarily forfeiting that roll with a put bet. However if the odds allowed are high enough a put bet, backed up with maximum odds, can have a lower house edge than a place or buy bet. My craps section
states how high the odds need to get for this to happen. My craps advice in general is to stick to the line bets (pass, don’t pass, come, and don’t come) and backed up the odds.
You wrote, "The double up feature is truly fair and has no house edge. This is one of the few times I say you can go either way and just do what you want." The same, of course, is true of true odds bets at craps. So, why promote taking odds at craps and not promote doubling up? Just as you can drop the house edge to essentially nothing at craps, you can do the same thing at video poker or blackjack...My own reasoning is that cutting cards against the casino for fair stakes is just boring, but I'd be interested in your opinion.
— Jonathan from New York City
You are of course quoting me from my March 24
column. This is a good and fair question. I should point out that taking or laying the odds in craps does not help the player to win more, only to bet more at no additional expense. The reason I encourage craps players to bet on the odds is that it is the cheapest bet on the table and is truly a craps bet. All odds, as well as place, buy, and lay bets win if one number is thrown before another. This is a very fundamental aspect of the game. It only makes sense for the player to make the bet with the lowest house edge. Refusing the odds in craps to bet on something else instead is like refusing a free coffee refill in a restaurant and instead buying another cup.
As I pointed out in the last column some video poker games allow the player to make a double or nothing bet with no house edge. The reason I am not as forceful about taking this bet is that it does not follow the flow of video poker. The video poker player is generally not there to make a mindless even money bet. Gambling should be thought of as entertainment, for which the player should expect to pay for. If the player doesn't get any entertainment value out of the double up feature then he shouldn't pay for it, even with no house edge. So my advice to the video poker player is make the double up bet if you enjoy it, otherwise don't.
Our $3 craps game pays $4.50 on a place bet of a 5 or 9, and $5.50 for a place bet on the 4 or 10. Could you tell me what the house advantage is on these bets? (I'm especially curious about the 5 or 9 since we are actually paying true odds for a place bet.)
— John from Overland Park, Kansas
There are 4 ways to roll a 5 (1+4, 2+3, 3+2, and 4+1) and 6 ways to roll a 7 (1+6, 2+5, 3+4, 4+3, 5+2, 6+1). So the probability of rolling a 5, given that a 5 or 7 was rolled, is 4/(4+6) = 0.4. The expected value of the place bet on 5 is (0.4*$4.50 + 0.6*-$3.00)/3 = 0. So you're right there is no house edge on the 5, or the 9. On the 4 and 10 the expected value is ((1/3)*$5.50 + (2/3)*-3)/3 = -0.0556. In other words the house edge is 5.56%. I take it this is only true of $3 bets, the casino rounding the winnings up from $4.20 to $4.50. As I reported in the last issue
the player can gain an advantage in blackjack if the dealer pays $4.00 for a blackjack on a $2.50 bet.
I have two friends that have a bet on which game (craps or baccarat) have the best odds for the player. Could you help me settle this. They are both casino workers and are sure they are right.
— Charline from Las Vegas
It depends on how the games are played. If optimal strategy is compared to optimal strategy then craps is better. By betting only the line bets and taking maximum odds the combined house edge in craps is well under 1%. The best you can do is baccarat is bet on the banker at a house edge of 1.06%. However it wouldn’t surprise me if the actual house edge in craps is higher, due to all the sucker bets players make.
Michael, saw you on the travel channel from Vegas the other day giving your expert advice regarding house advantage. Good job. Didn’t realize you were that young. I was playing craps at the new Seneca/Niagara casino and instructed the dealer to have the odds working for a don’t come bet on the come out roll. He advised the odds are always working for that bet. Is he correct?
— Gordon from Niagara Falls
Thanks for the kind words on my Travel Channel appearance. For those of you who missed it the show was titled Sucker Bets. The dealer was right. In general bets are turned off on a come out roll in which a seven would cause the player to lose. I guess they don’t want some players to sour the mood of the table by rooting against a 7 on the come out roll. Since a 7 would cause the odds on the don’t pass to win they are left on.
I do not understand why you should lay the odds on the don’t pass or don’t come bets. It seems that you have already dodged the 7 and ll bullet, so the bet is now in your favor. Why would you dilute a bet that is already heavily in your favor with a large (relative speaking)bet at true odds? It seems that you are working in the houses favor by reducing the house edge on the entire bet.
I understand that taking the odds on the pass side reduces the overall house edge, however I don’t understand how laying the odds can reduce the house edge on the don’t side. I’m very curious? By the way, I discussed this with several casino bosses and dealers yesterday and they all had opinions, but not reasons for these opinions. Thanks for your time.
Let’s say you have a $10 don’t pass bet and the point is a 4. You have a 2/3 chance of winning the bet, so the expected value is (2/3)*$10 + (1/3)*-$10 =$ 10/3 = $3.33. Now consider adding a $40 odds bet on top of it. Now you have a 2/3 chance of winning $30 and a 1/3 chance of losing $50. The expected value of both bets combined is (2/3)*$30 + (1/3)*-$50 = $10/3 = $3.33. So either way your expected gain is 3 dollars and 33 cents. With the don’t pass alone the player edge is $3.33/$10 = 33.33%. With the don’t pass and odds the player edge is $3.33/$50 = 6.67%. So, yes, the player edge as a percentage drops by making the odds bet. However that player edge is effective over more money. The way I think gamblers should view the house edge is as the price to pay for entertainment. If you want to pay as little as possible then taking or laying the odds is getting entertainment for free.
I know from your chart that PUT bets w/10x odds beats ALL place/buy bets. Lets talk about PUT vs. COME. A ’put’ on the 6/8 with 10x odds has a house edge of .83% while a come bet w/10x odds is .18%. You’re giving the house an additional 0.65% (.83-.18) edge by using a PUT vs. a COME bet. In return, you have the potential of getting more $ since you win on every 6/8 hit vs. winning every other time the # is made if you did a COME. That’s my theory at least. Now in the long run, who comes out ahead with more $? I say the guy w/the PUT bet comes out with more $ since you are hitting twice as often. With a come bet, you have make the #, then wait till it hits again, cutting your hits in half. If there’s something wrong w/my logic, please let me know!
I get challenged a lot on my support for come bets with odds. Those against come bets are always quick to say a number has to hit twice with a come bet and only once with a place or put bet. That is not a good way to look at it. First of all with come bets you have a 8/36=22.22% chance of winning on the first roll as opposed to only 11.11% of losing. You get no such advantage on the first roll of a place or bet bet. Even if you do roll a point number it can be any number. In other words there are six point numbers that can win on a come bet, and only one on a place or put bet. Ultimately the reason the come bet with odds beats place or put bets is the house edge is less.
Mr. Wizard, great site. You are the one true expert on the internet. Because the odds in dice are based on the probability of winning as compared with the payout, I question whether it makes sense to take odds on bets that have a low a probability of winning. For example, the odds on the 4 and 10 are 2 to 1. Is it really a good bet to back up the pass line when the 4 or 10 shows. If someone offered a payout of 10,000 to 1, with the odds of winning 5000 to 1 (and you could only make one bet), it would appear to be a good bet, but the chances of winning are so slim that in reality it is probably a suckers bet. Is there any validity to what I am saying?
Thanks for the compliments. As you know I strictly look at the expected value of a bet. However, if taken to an extreme it doesn’t make sense at some point. If you made the proposition to me in your example I would only bet about $200 on it, although it has a 100% player advantage. The reason is if I won I would win $2,000,000 and I don’t really need more than that. However in craps a 2 to 1 win is not going to change my lifestyle if I win. 2 to 1 in craps is not a big long shot so I say get aggressive on the odds. If you’re uncomfortable with bets that have a low probability of winning you might take up betting the don’t pass and laying odds.
Hi Michael. Why is it better to make Come bets with odds than to make Place bets? My math indicates that you make more on a place bet when betting equal units. On 4, to instance, if I were to place $10 I’d win $18. On the come bet I would only win $15 ($5 on the initial bet and $10 on the odds). The other advantage to place bets is that I get to choose which numbers I want to bet and that I win the first time that it is rolled. Am I missing something?
Yes, you are. You are forgetting that a come bet wins on the first roll 22.22% of the time and loses 11.11% of the time. So you are missing the extra value of the first roll of a come bet. However if you had a crystal ball that told you that the first roll would result in a point number then you would be right.
Hi, if person A makes 1000 consecutive bets on the pass line without backing up his bet, and person B makes 1000 consecutive bets on the pass line and he takes 100X odds whenever possible, doesn’t each person lose the same amount of money?
— Blake Haas from Thousand Oaks
Yes. I can just imagine the follow up question to be why I recommend taking the odds if doing so doesn’t help to win more. What I suggest is betting less on the pass so that your need for action is mostly met by a full odds bet. For example if you are comfortable betting about $90 per bet, and the casino allows 5x odds, then I would drop the pass line bet to $15 and bet $75 on the odds. That will lower the overall house edge from 1.414% to 0.326%.
I’m walking through a casino and see a craps table with a shooter winning lots of money. I feel lucky and want to place a bet. What can/should I do? Do I have to first make a pass line bet? Can I make a come bet? Can I make either bet with odds? Or, do I wait until the next round of play?
— Todd from Chicago
First, it doesn’t make any difference that the shooter is making lots of money. Your odds are the same on an ice-cold table. The past does not matter. However if you are going to play then wait patiently for a come out roll. Never make a pass bet after a point has been established.
During a 4-hour layover in Vegas, what’s my best strategy to double a $2000 bankroll? what game, large or small bets, etc.?
— Tom from Culver City
First I would take a taxi to the Hard Rock, the closest major casino to the airport. I’m not sure how much odds the Hard Rock allows in craps
but I would guess 3-4-5. If that is the case then bet 1/7 of your bankroll on the don’t pass bet, or $275 to round down. If a point is established then lay the maximum on the odds, or $1650. If you win you’ll be a lot closer to your goal, the amount will depend on the point. Win or lose bet the lesser of 1/7 of your bankroll and 1/7 of how far you are from $4000. If you get close to either extreme just get it over with and bet everything if you’re low, or whatever you need to close the gap on $4000 if you’re high, and forget about the odds. Four hours should be enough time. However don’t dilly dally. The lines at security can get pretty bad. If your outbound flight is in terminal C be sure to ask an agent about the secret entrance.
You mentioned in one of your articles an upcoming appearance on "The Casino" (apparently, it’s been cancelled). I have searched and searched to no avail in finding some kind of link to his episode. I find the idea of a story involving his advice to some young gamblers and how to most likely turn $1,000 into $5,000 quite intriguing. Please respond with some insight/leads as to how I might go about finding a copy of this episode online or purchase a video recording of it, or at the very least come across a written transcript of the episode. Thank you for your time.
Yes, there was a story taped in which some frat boys at UNLV were trying to parlay $1,000 into $5,000 to buy a high end television. They sought out my advice on how to best achieve this goal quickly. I was limited to the games at the Golden Nugget. The Nugget has 10x odds in craps, which I felt offered the opportunity to achieve the goal. It was my strategy on each come out roll to bet min(bankroll/11, (5000-bankroll)/21), subject to convenient rounding, and take the maximum odds. This way we would never go over $5,000 after a 4 or 10 win, would always have enough to take full odds, and would risk the maximum amount if we didn’t have enough to get to $5,000.
For the first bet, this formula would call for a pass line bet of $90.91, but I rounded it up to $100. Then a point was rolled, I think a 6 or 8. On the second roll the shooter sevened out. So the entire grand was lost in two rolls. It apparently didn’t make for very entertaining television and that story never made the air.
Two questions I can anticipate being asked would be (1) why did I have them bet the pass as opposed to the don’t pass, and (2) why didn’t I bet $91 on the line and $910 on the odds, adding the extra dollar out of my own pocket. To answer the first question, I think that for purposes of going for a quick big win the pass line is better. While the overall house edge is less on the don’t pass, I felt it would have taken more rolls to achieve the $5,000 goal, thus exposing more money to the house edge. To answer the second question, there is not much difference between 9x odds and 10x odds and I thought it would look better on television to be betting only black chips, at least to start.
I understand the put bet is a good bet when the odds are 10x or more. So, if the point is a 6 or 8, bet $5 plus $50 free odds for example. My question is, why wait for the point? Why not bet on the passline, and then if the point is a 6 or 8, bet the full 10x odds? This way you get the advantage of the odds, plus the advantage of the come out 7 / 11 roll. Am I missing something?
— Jay from Whitestone
I agree. I don’t recommend making put or place bets, because as you said, the odds are better making a line bet and then maximum odds. However, some people absolutely must bet on the points directly. If that is a given, I advocate making the best bet between the place, buy, and put, which I explain in greater depth in my craps section.
Since taking/laying odds is an even-edged play, do you know if casinos generally include or exclude those from their comp calculations?
That is a good question. Here in Vegas it varies by casino. I would say that most of them exclude odds in comp calculations, others only count odds up to a point, like 2x, and some count the full amount. I would love to name names but casinos are protective of their comping policies and much of what I know was given “off the record.”
The Grand Victoria Casino in Elgin, Illinois offers a promotion called "Craps for Cash." A shooter wins a $4,000 cash bonus for making all six points on the same hand. All that's required is a $5 bet on the pass line. How does this affect the house edge on this particular game?
— John B. from Riverside, Illinois
We can see from my analysis of the Fire Bet that the probability of a shooter making all six points is 0.000162435. So, the value of the promotion per shooter is $4,000 × 0.000162435 = 0.649739.
The next question to be asked is what is the expected loss per shooter. The house edge on the pass line bet is 7/495 = 1.414141%. The tricky part is how many pass line bets will a shooter make, on average.
There are four possible states the shooter can be in. Let's define each one as the expected number of future pass line bets for that shooter.
- A = Come out roll
- B = Point of 4 or 10 made
- C = Point of 5 or 9 made
- D = Point of 6 or 8 made
Here are the equations showing the probability of each state leading to the next state.
A = 1 + (12/36)*A + (6/36)*B + (8/36)*C + (10/36)*D
B = (1/3)*A
C = (2/5)*A
D = (5/11)*A
A little algebra results in A = 2.525510, the number of pass line bets made per shooter.
So, the expected loss per $5 shooter is $5*2.525510*0.0141414 = 0.178571.
The expected amount bet by the shooter is $5*2.525510=$12.627551.
Finally, the expected return is the expected win divided by the expected bet: (0.649739-0.178571)/12.627551 = 3.73127%. So the house edge is -3.73%.
My question is on craps. I know that the Fire Bet is a lousy bet, but I bet it anyway, when I am rolling. Well, I got lucky and hit my four points, and was on the fifth point. I had won $75, and was on my way to winning $750, if I hit the 5th point. My other bets were $5 on the pass and $20 to win $30 on the 5. Having established the 5th point, which was a 5, I realized that I had a 2/5 chance of hitting it, for a net win of $785. I also realized that I had a 3/5 chance of not hitting it, for a net win of $25. If I wanted to hedge my bets, what is the largest win I could lock in? Also, what are your thoughts on this strategy.
— Tim from Grimsby, ON
Unless life changing amounts of money are involved, I disapprove of hedging, per my seventh commandment of gambling.
I'm going to ignore the fact that if you hit the 5 you could hedge more to lock in an even larger win, and just look at this as if it ended after a 5 or 7. At this point your net will will be $785 or $50. You should start by taking down the odds bet. That will change the scenario to winning $755 or $70. Then you should lay the odds on the 5. Let b represent your lay bet against the 5. If you lose the bet, you’ll have $755-$b. If you win the bet, you’ll have $70 + (19/31)×$b. So, equate the two sides, and solve for b:
755-b = 70 +(19/31)×b
685 = (50/31)×b
That will lock in a win of $330.30. So, if rounding were not an issue, then lay $424.7 against the 5. However, rounding always is an issue, so I would lay $403 against the 5 ($390, plus $13 commission on possible win of $260).
In casinos that offer 5X odds, if you bet a multiple of $15 they tend to allow you to bet $75 on points of 4 or 10, $100 on points of 5 or 9, and $125 on points of 6 or 8. That amounts to 5X on the 4 and 10, 6.67X on the 5 and 9, and 8.33X on the 6 and 8. I was wondering what the house edge is on this? Presumably it is slightly better than the 5X odds house edge you list on your page which assumes a straight 5X for all the numbers.
— Zach from New York
Compared to 5X odds, that lowers the overall house edge from 0.326% to 0.269%. I don’t see why they would allow the extra odds bet on the 6 and 8, because a 5X bet at $75 would pay an even $90. However, as long as they did, I would take advantage of the extra odds, as long you are comfortable with the additional risk.
What normally happens in craps if a player over-bets the odds multiple in craps, and the dealers don’t notice it until the bet wins or loses?
I asked a former table Vegas game manager about this. He said that the portion of the odds bet over the allowed multiple of the line bet would be paid at place bet odds. This question was raised and discussed in the forum of my companion site Wizard of Vegas