Craps is my favorite game in the casino, and if you learn how to play, it will be one of your favorites, too. I’ve written multiple posts explaining how to play.
In this post, I want to do something a little different.
I want to offer you the best tips for playing craps WELL.
If you want to do well at the craps table, these are the only 11 tips you’ll ever need.
1 – Stick With the Pass, Come, and Free Odds Bets
The pass line bet is the basic bet when playing craps for real money. It’s a bet that the shooter will roll a 7 or an 11 on his come-out roll, or that the shooter will roll a point number and subsequently hit that point number again before rolling a 7. The pass line bet loses if the shooter rolls a 2, 3, or 12 on the come-out roll.
The come bet is just like the pass bet, but it treats a roll after the come-out roll as if it were a new come-out roll.
And the free odds bet is only available if you’ve made a pass or come bet, and the shooter has set a point. The odds bet pays off at the true odds of rolling the point again before rolling a 7.
If you stick with those bets, you’ll be playing the most exciting game in the casino and facing terrific odds. These bets make craps almost as attractive a game as blackjack.
2 – Most of the Bets at the Craps Table Offer Lousy Odds
One of the great things about craps is that it’s easy to learn how to make the best bets and avoid the lousy ones. That’s because the only good bets at the table are these:
- Don’t pass
- Don’t come
- Free odds
- Place 6
- Place 8
You literally have dozens of bets to choose from at the craps table, but the house edge on the bets listed above are all less than 1.5%.
3 – Here’s What You Should Do If You’re a Beginner
If you’re a beginner craps player, stick with the pass line bet. Don’t start making a lot of come bets until you’re comfortable with what’s happening with the pass line bet.
It might be a good idea to take one of the free casino game classes where they’ll teach you how to play.
Once you’re comfortable with the pass line bet, expand your repertoire by making occasional come bets, too.
Try not to have more than two or three numbers working at one time. Any more than that, and you might be devastated by a big loss you’re not expecting.
4 – Understand the House Edge in Craps
The house edge represents the difference between the odds of winning and the payout odds for the game. Craps, like every other casino game, pays out less than the odds of winning. The difference is where the casino makes its profit.
The house edge is expressed as a percentage, and it’s an estimate of how much you should expect to lose in the long run on a game.
In the case of craps, the house edge for the pass and come bets is the same – 1.41%.
The house edge for the don’t pass and don’t come bets is 1.36%.
The great thing is the house edge for the free odds bet. It’s called “free” odds because it carries no house edge. The payout for this bet is the same as the odds of winning it.
By taking or laying odds on top of your pass, don’t pass, come, or don’t come bets, you’re effectively reducing the house edge for the game even further.
5 – Pick Your Wins Up From the Table
It’s your responsibility to pick up any money you win from the table. If you just leave those chips on the table, they’re considered new bets, and they stay in action.
If you’re on a winning streak, that’s cool. You’ll just win that much more money. In fact, win three or four times in a row by letting your winnings ride can net you a lot of cash fast.
But if you’re a more conservative player, pick the chips you’ve won up off the table after you win.
6 – Ignore Dealers at the Craps Table That Recommend a Bet
One of the dealers at the craps table is comparable to the ringmaster in a circus. He’s the stickman, and part of his job is to sell you on the idea of making bets in the middle of the table.
The house edge on those bets is terrible, and when I say terrible, I mean over 9%.
Would you rather lose an average of 9% on each bet or an average of 1.5% on each bet?
It’s the difference between losing $15/hour and losing $90/hour.
7 – Don’t Use Betting Systems at the Craps Table
Any game with bets that offer even money payouts is ripe for betting system players. Craps is no exception. In fact, you’ll have no trouble finding a Martingale or Paroli system player at the craps table.
These two systems work in precisely the opposite way, but both systems also don’t do anything to help you win the game. A negative expectation bet is a negative expectation, no matter what.
The Martingale System and the Paroli System are examples of positive and negative progression systems. You raise and lower the size of your bets based on whether you won or lose previous bets.
Here’s an example of the Martingale in action at the craps table:
You bet $5 on the pass line, and you lose when the shooter 7s out. Now you bet $10 on the pass line, and if you win, you’ve won back your $5 loss along with a $5 profit.
But if you lose, you have to bet $20 on your next bet, and so on.
Eventually, you’ll run into a losing streak that’s so long that it will be impossible to place the next bet in your progression.
With the Paroli System, you’ll let your winnings ride until you’ve had a specific, arbitrary number of wins in a row.
For example, you might set a goal of winning 3 times in a row. You bet $5 on pass, win, and bet $10 on the 2nd round, and win again. Now you bet $20. If you win all 3 bets, you’ve won $35 over 3 rounds of the game.
But this approach doesn’t work, either, in the long run.
8 – Don’t Try to Become a Craps Professional
Contrary to what you might read and what some people might tell you, it’s not possible to get an edge at craps in the long run. Without being able to get a mathematical edge, you can’t possibly play craps for a living.
Even the odds bets, which have no house edge, can only be made when you’ve made an initial bet with a negative expectation.
On top of the negative expectation, you have a highly volatile game. Just because the house edge on the odds bets is 0% doesn’t mean those bets pay off often. They still lose most of the time.
It’s just that, theoretically, in the long run, you’ll win as much money as you lose on such bets.
If you want to be a professional gambler, learn to count cards in blackjack, or handicap sports with a high degree of accuracy, or play poker at a pro-level.
But stay away from craps if you want to gamble professionally.
9 – Skip Don’t Pass and Don’t Come Bets If You’re New
You might think that don’t pass and don’t come are the best bets at the craps table. And since the house edge for these bets is 1.36% instead of 1.41%, that’s true.
But that doesn’t mean you should place these bets.
In fact, if you’re new, I suggest avoiding them.
Most of the other players are betting with the shooter. It’s fun to root for a shooter to win, and it’s fun to have a sense of teamwork and camaraderie at the craps table.
If you’re betting against everyone at the table, you’ll probably have less fun.
Unless you just have one of those personalities.
10 – Take as Big an Odds Bet as Possible While Still Being Comfortable
Let’s say you’re at a craps table where the minimum bet is $5 and the maximum bet is $500. And the maximum amount of odds this casino will let you take is 2X your bet.
Don’t bet $15 on the pass line and ignore the odds bet.
And don’t bet $15 on the pass line and then put $30 on the odds bet.
In one case, you’re letting the house have a more significant edge than you need to.
In the other case, you’re putting more money into action on a single roll of the dice than you’re comfortable with.
Neither of these situations is good.
11 – Free Casino Classes Are Great – Except for the Strategy Advice
Craps, more than most casino games, is a good one to learn via the free casino classes that most gambling halls offer during their slow periods. You can get an excellent feel for how the game plays and how the betting works. Most real money online casinos will also allow you to play for free and practice before you’re ready for the real thing.
Just ignore any strategy advice that live casino dealers offer. Sometimes the dealers don’t know anything about the math behind the game and give what they think is good advice. Other times, the dealers are just rooting for you to lose.
With a basic understanding of how to play craps, you can have more fun in the casino than most. And you’ll stand a good chance of having some big winning sessions.
It’s just as important to play smart at the craps table as it is at any other casino game.
Thinking about these 11 craps tips will keep you on the side of the gambling angels.