Aggressive vs Conservative Craps Strategies

Dice and Craps Neon Sign, Colored Casino Chips Along Border
When you’re playing poker, it’s better to be an aggressive player rather than a passive player. This actually influences your edge over the other players.

In casino games like craps, however, being aggressive versus being passive doesn’t have the same effect. The house edge for the bets remains the same regardless of how much you bet.

But aggression can help you achieve bigger wins if you like. The cost you face when choosing such a strategy is that you’re accepting the risk of greater potential losses.

Different Craps Strategies and Different Craps Bets

Casino Craps TableMany people who are new to the game of craps are often bewildered by the variety of bets available. They should be, too, because not all the bets are the same. Some of them provide the casino with a much higher edge.

I recommend avoiding any craps bet with an edge of greater than 2%. Aggressive players might be willing to accept a greater house edge in exchange for the opportunity to get bigger wins part of the time. Even then, I think it’s a good idea to avoid bets with a house edge much higher than 5% or so.

Don’t take any bet with a house edge in the 10% range.

What’s the house edge, exactly?
It’s just the statistical average of how much you can expect to lose if you place a nearly infinite number of those bets in a row.

For example, if you bet $100 at a time and make 50 bets, you’ve put $5000 into action.

If the house edge on those bets is 1.41%, your expected loss is 1.41% of $5000, or $70.50.

Of course, that’s a long-term expectation. In the short run, you can win or lose far more than that. The closer you get to an infinite number of bets, the closer to that average you’ll get.

Which Bets Are More Passive and Less Aggressive?

To keep things simple, let’s just agree that the bets with the lowest payout odds are the least aggressive.

This means that the bets that pay out even money are less aggressive.

They also happen to be the bets with the lowest house edge.

We’re talking about the pass line and don’t pass bets, which pay out at even money.

In other words, if you bet $100 on the pass line and win, you get $100 in winnings. And you get to keep your original bet.

The house edge on the pass line bet is 1.41%, and the house edge on the don’t pass bet is 1.36%. Those are some of the best numbers in the casino, by the way.

The problem is that some people are interested in winning more than even money.

For them, the trick is to bet more aggressively.

The Best Aggressive Bet in Craps

Pair of Red Casino Die Inside Fire Flame BurningWhen the shooter makes a point, you have the option of placing a bet called the “free odds” bet.

This is a bet that the shooter will make the point again before rolling a 7.

This bet is unique – not just among craps bets, but among casino game bets – because it has no house edge. It pays off at true odds.

All casino games have payoff odds that are slightly lower than your odds of winning. That’s how the casino makes its money.

But when the shooter tries to make a point and succeeds, the odds bet pays off at the actual odds of winning.

This means that it’s the only bet in the casino with no house edge.

The payoffs, therefore, are better than even money and carry no house edge.

If the point is 4 or 10, the bet pays off at 2 to 1 odds.
If the point is 5 or 9, the bet pays off at 3 to 2 odds.
If the point is 6 or 8, the bet pays off at 6 to 5 odds.

Plus, you can bet more than you bet on the original pass line bet when you’re placing the free odds bet. All casinos have a maximum amount they’ll let you bet on odds, but it’s usually at least twice the size of your pass line bet. In some casinos, you can even bet 100x what you bet on the pass line.

Here’s an example:

You bet $10 on the pass line, and the shooter rolls a 4. The casino allows you to bet 100x the size of your pass line bet, so you bet $1000 on the free odds bet.

The shooter makes the 4 before rolling a 7, so you get a $2010 payout. That’s $2000 on the odds bet and $10 on the pass line bet.

When you start with a $10 bet and follow it up with a $2000 bet, you’re being aggressive.

But you’re also being smart because you’re placing a bet that has no house edge. Over a long enough number of trials, you’ll break even. Neither you nor the casino will show a profit on this action, long-term.

Other Reasonable, Conservative Bets

People Playing Craps Game in Casino, White Icon of Dice with Flame Motion
The come and don’t come bets are basically the same as the pass and don’t pass bets, and they have the same low house edge. You can also make odds bets with those options. There’s nothing too aggressive about either of these strategies, although it’s more aggressive to place that odds bet.

Place bets are more aggressive but come with worse odds. I don’t recommend making most place bets, but if you’re just dying to get enough money on the table, it can be worth it to make them.

Think of a place bet as being just like an odds bet, only you get to choose which number is the equivalent of the point.

For example, if you bet place 4, you win that bet if the shooter rolls a 4 before rolling a 7, and you lose if the shooter rolls a 7 before rolling a 4.

The odds of winning a place 4 bet are 2 to 1, just like they would be if you were taking an odds bet when the point was 4.

The big difference is that the payout for the place bet is 9 to 5 instead of 2 to 1.

This gives the house an edge.

The place 4 and place 10 bets pay off at 9 to 5 but have 2 to 1 odds of winning.
The place 5 and place 9 bets pay off at 7 to 5 but have 3 to 2 odds of winning.
The place 6 and place 8 bets pay off at 7 to 6 odds but have 6 to 5 odds of winning.

The house edge for these bets follows:

  1. Place 4 or 10 – 6.7%
  2. Place 5 or 9 – 4%
  3. Place 6 or 8 – 1.5%

You’ll notice that place 6 and place 8 have a house edge almost as low as the house edge on the pass line bet, but with a better payout.

Which Bets Are Most Aggressive?

The most aggressive bets, though, consist largely of the proposition bets. These aren’t even listed on the table, and to place these bets, you deal with the stickman. He won’t be hard to find because his job is to encourage players to make these bets.

These bets are aggressive because they have the biggest payouts in the game.

Two White Casino Die, Snake Eyes Dice Combo, Snake on Top of DiceThe most aggressive bet on the table is the snake eyes bet, which pays off at 30 to 1. The boxcars bet has the same odds and payouts.

The former is a bet that the next roll will come up with a total of 2, and the latter is a bet that the next roll will come up with a total of 12.

The odds of winning either of those bets are 35 to 1, so with a 30 to 1 payout, it’s easy to see why the house loves for you to place that bet. The house edge on either of those bets is 13.889%.

The hardway bets are also notoriously aggressive. A hardway bet is a wager that the dice will land on a pair of 2s, 3s, 4s, or 5s. The total is the hard number. For example, a hard 10 is a pair of 5s on the dice. A hard 8 is a pair of 4s.

These bets lose if the shooter rolls a 7 OR rolls the easy total – the total without the pair.

The payout is 9 to 1 for a hard 6 or hard 8 bet, and the house edge is 9.09%.
The payout is 7 to 1 for a hard 4 or hard 10 bet, and the house edge is 11.11%.

How to Be Aggressive Without Giving up So Much of an Edge to the House

The best way to bet craps aggressively is to get a lot of money on the low house edge bets on the table at one time. You can bet the pass line, then bet the come, and then bet the come again. And you can take odds on all three of those bets.

Now you have three numbers working at the same time.

If you don’t want to wait for the shooter to roll a point number, you can also combine your pass line bet with a place 6 or place 8 bet (or both). This puts lots of money into action, and if the shooter gets hot, your winnings skyrocket.


You can be an aggressive or a conservative craps bettor, but the smart way to be aggressive is to get several bets working at once and make sure those bets all have a low house edge.

What’s your experience at the craps table like?

Do you ever get aggressive and try to hit a big win with a long-odds bet?