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Cutting Down the Casino's Edge in Craps

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If you’re here because you want to learn how to play Craps, then you’ve come to the wrong place. My assumption is that if you are reading this it’s because you’ve already played craps a number of times in a live or Internet casino setting and you are looking for tips on how to win more consistently. You’re in luck. You wont find this anywhere else.

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Anyone out there claiming to have a ‘system’ for beating the Craps table is selling you snake oil. Show me any system and I’ll be happy to show you exactly how it fails. I’ll cover the ways that most Craps systems try to sell their bag of tricks in another article.

Tip #1 Know which bets carry the lowest edge for the house

Below is a chart which shows the house edge on each bet as it appears on the most common craps layouts. The first thing you need to know is that NOT EVERY CRAPS LAYOUT IS THE SAME. From casino to casino there may be slight variations in the layout that you might not notice unless you look real hard. The most likely places that you’ll see variations are:

Field Bets: Most field layouts today are set to pay for the numbers 2-3-4-9-10-11-12 with the 2 and 12 paying double and this layout carries a 5.26% house edge. There are variations out there that will pay TRIPLE for the 2 or the 12 which cut down the edge to 2.78%, and there are variations that don’t pay any premium for the 2 or 12, which gives the house a staggering 11.11% edge! I’ve also seen a layout that pays on the 5 instead of the 4 which brings the house edge down slightly. Regardless, the house edge on the field will devastate any player over time. Only consider playing it if it has the 2x-3x layout like the one shown above. Proposition Bets: These are the bets in the center of the table with the payouts marked on most of them. It includes your hardways and C-E bets which are not marked. What you want to look for is the wording on he payout. Using the 11 as an example, does the layout say 15 to 1, or does it say 15 for 1?

If the word “to” is used, then after a win you will receive $15 for your $1 bet, and your $1 bet remains on the table for the next roll which of course you can ask them to bring back down. If the word “for” is used then your original $1 bet is gone after the payout. Essentially, it is the same as reducing the payout to 14 to 1. If the layout uses a hyphen as in “15-1” instead of the word “to” or “for”, then be sure to ask the dealer if it means “15 to 1” or “15 for1” before deciding to place your bet. If you don’t you may learn the hard way (pun intended)! Don’t Pass/Don’t Come: On most layouts you will see either the 2 or the 12 is barred from winning on this bet. There is no difference the the player. The house percentage is the same either way.

Every once in a while you might run into a layout that bars the 3. STAY AWAY FROM THIS if you are a wrong side better…The house edge TRIPLES from 1.40% to 4.39%! However, there is a way you may be able to take advantage of this. If a casino bars the 3 on Don’t Pass/Don’t Come bets, they are obviously trying to persuade the players against playing these bets. Why? Maybe because their dealers are not strong enough to handle them. You may want to put them to the test by laying odds on the numbers. You probably know the correct payoff better than they do. Who knows what kind of mistakes they’ll make in your favor! Only try this in a live setting, not in an Internet casino.

Tip #2 Take all of the free odds that your bankroll will allow

Free odds are exactly that…FREE. There is no house edge. It doesn’t matter if you are a PASS / COME better or a DON’T PASS/DON’T COME better. By taking full advantage of the free odds, you are COST AVERAGING DOWN your original line bet, thus further reducing the 1.41% edge to 0.85% for single odds, 0.61% for double odds, and even more for casinos that allow more. Here’s something else you can do that most players never consider. Let’s say you’re walking up to a crowded table looking for a spot to slip in, and the table is in the middle of a roll and you notice a player who has a line bet but is not playing any odds. Ask the player if he will place a bet for you as his odds bet! Now you have a bet working for you with absolutely no house advantage! This will only work in a live casino, not at an Internet gambling site. The free odds bet at craps is the best bet for any game in any casino. Don’t pass it by!

This will only work in a live casino. As you know, if you are playing the ‘Don’t Pass’ or ‘Don’t Come’ you can take your bet down at any time after a point has been established. On occasion you will see some players do this, especially if the point is 6 or 8. If you happen to be lucky enough to stumble onto one of these tables, then when the player goes to take down his bet, tell him that you want to buy it from him. Pay him straight up for the bet and take it over. Now you have an edge over the house and it cost you NOTHING!

If you like placing the numbers you should understand this completely. As you can see from the chart above, the house edge varies for each of the numbers. The 6 & 8 are pretty good deals. It gets worse for the 5 & 9 (as a matter of fact it is a better deal to LAY the 5 & 9), and it gets down right ugly for the 4 & 10. What you might not know is that you can BUY any of the numbers. What that means is that you pay a 5% charge known as the VIG for each number that you buy and the the house pays you off at the true odds. This works in a number of different ways from casino to casino, so be sure to ask the dealer what the house rules are regarding buying the numbers. First off, since the lowest denomination chip on the table is $1, then you would have to have at least a $20 bet to make it worth paying the 5% vig of $1. Sometimes if you’re fortunate enough to run into a Craps table that has a $1 minimum bet, you might find them stocked with 50¢ chips in which case you might be able to cut the requirement in half. Some casinos will make you pay the vig up front, but more and more you’ll see casinos changing their policy to paying the vig only on a win which works heavily in the player’s favor. This cuts the house edge down from 6.67% to 4.76% if they collect the vig up front, or 1.67% if they collect after a win.

Tip #3 Pick a rail position next to the dealer

If a position is open at the table next to the stick man, take it. Line up your chips in the rack with the highest denomination chips closest to the dealer. Why? Because there are unscrupulous players out there just waiting for you to lean over the table to collect a win, or set your dice to get ready to roll. All of the dealers have their eyes pealed on the chips on the table, so the only one watching your chips in the rack is YOU. With all of the action at the Craps table, this is one of the favorite places for the slight of hand expert to reach over into your rack and grab a chip or two while you’re distracted. Be careful out there and take precautions.

Tip #4 Look for players that can control the dice

Believe it or not it can and is being done. These people refer to themselves as ‘Dice Setters” and there is a growing underground community. This is the only real way to cut down the house edge. It’s not common because it’s more difficult than counting cards. The great thing for an ordinary Craps player is that unlike BlackJack, you can cash in on the shooter’s skill with the dice. The casino’s tolerate the dice setters because it’s not a perfect system and it generates a lot of excitement at the table. If you have one dice setter and 15 other players, the casino appreciates the action. You can spot a legitimate dice setter this way:

What do you do when you are at the table with what you believe is a legitimate dice setter? Bet the same bets he does. Remember, a dice setter can set the dice to either avoid the 7 or to hit the 7 so look at how he is betting and make the same bets.

Trivia: “Vig” is short for Vigorish which is a gambling slang term coined back in the early 1900s. It originated from the word VIGOR because the fee brought in the money for the house so strongly and dependably.

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