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How to Stop Making the 3 Biggest Mistakes in Craps

By Randy Ray
Published on June 10, 2019

Craps is a pretty simple game in theory.

The shooter rolls the dice, and other players bet on the roll’s outcome.

That said, it doesn’t seem like there are many mistakes craps players can make. But there are some major blunders players make on a regular basis.

This wouldn’t be so bad if all craps bets were relatively the same in terms of house edge, but the vast disparity between the best and worst wagers can cost players lots of money.

Beyond placing the wrong bets, gamblers also make multiple mistakes in terms of comps and stakes. These are other areas that drain unsuspecting players’ bankrolls.

I’m going to discuss three major craps mistakes so that you can avoid them. I’ll also cover what you can do instead to maximize your chances of winning.

Craps Mistake #1: Making the Wrong Bets

The key to good craps strategy is making the best bets, but this is harder than it seems, given that the board is filled with dozens of wagers.

Therefore, it’s understandable why players don’t always make the top bets. But you can quickly learn perfect strategy by identifying the worst propositions and choosing better ones.

Keep reading to see the different pitfalls regarding craps betting and how to avoid the same mistakes.

Not Knowing the Best Craps Bets

It stands to reason that most craps players would place the best wagers if they knew about them. But some players don’t know much about the game and therefore also make bad bets.

Many beginners like making place bets because they’re easy to understand. All you need to do is wager on a certain number and hope that it’s rolled before a 7.

This is simple enough, but the problem is that some place bets have poor house edges. Here are the different place bets and their house edges.

  • Place 6 and Place 8 = 1.52% house edge
  • Place 5 and Place 9 = 4.0%
  • Place 4 and Place 10 = 6.67%

You can see that Place 6 and Place 8 only have a 1.52% house edge. Things get progressively worse from here, though, which is why you should look for a different starting point.

The best place to begin is the pass line or don’t pass line bet. These are made on the come out roll (first roll of new round), and they give you roughly an equal chance to win.

Here are the basics on the pass line.

  • Bet wins when come out roll is either 7 or 11
  • Bet loses when come out roll is 2, 3, or 12
  • Point number is established when 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10 are rolled
  • Bet wins when the established point number is rolled before a 7
  • Winning bets pay at even money (1:1)
  • True odds of winning are 251:244

And here are the basics on the don’t pass line.

  • Bet wins when come out roll is either 2 or 3
  • Bet loses when come out is either 7 or 11
  • Bet pushes come out roll is 12
  • Point number is established when 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10 are rolled
  • Bet wins when a 7 is rolled before the established point number
  • Winning bets pay at even money (1:1)
  • True odds of winning are 976:949

Making Prop Bets With High House Edges

The craps table is a minefield of bad prop bets. Most of these wagers have a 4% house edge or higher, which is bad for the average casino game.

Nevertheless, players get bored waiting for the result of their pass line or don’t pass line bet to come through, and it becomes all the more tempting to place prop bets to get more action.

Craps wagers that you should avoid at all costs include the following.

  • Yo (11) = 11.11%
  • 3 = 11.11%
  • 2 or 12 (Hi-Lo) = 11.11%
  • Craps (2, 3, or 12) = 11.11%
  • Hard 4/Hard 10 = 11.11%
  • Horn = 12.5%
  • Whirl World = 13.33%
  • 2 = 13.89%
  • 12 = 13.89%
  • Any 7 = 16.67%

Trying to Cover More Numbers

Some craps players believe that the key to winning is covering more dice probabilities. But just because you win many rounds this way doesn’t mean that you’re profiting.

Here’s an example using the Iron Cross system.

  • You make Place bets on 5, 6, and 8
  • You make a Field bet
  • A Field wager pays 1:1 on 3, 4, 9, 10, and 11
  • It pays 2:1 on 2 or 12 (some casinos pay 3:1)
  • Every number is covered except for 7

It seems like a great idea in theory to cover so many different numbers. You’re going to win one or more payouts over 80% of the time with this strategy.

But the problem is that you lose all four bets when a 7 is rolled. You also lose the three place bets if the shooter rolls anything other than a 5, 6, or 8.

These are big reasons why the Iron Cross results in a 3.87% house edge, which is about 3x worse than if you just make pass line or don’t pass line bets.

Any craps strategy where you cover a bunch of numbers isn’t going to bring you more profits. Instead, it only puts you at greater risk due to the larger volume of bets.

Ignoring Odds Bets

One of the best reasons to play craps in the first place is the odds bet. An odds wager pays at true odds of winning, meaning that it doesn’t have a house edge.

You can’t find another non-skilled casino bet without a house advantage. This makes the odds wager good for those who don’t want to put extensive time into studying card counting, poker, or sports betting — all three of which can offer you a long-term advantage.

Unfortunately, too many craps players ignore odds bets. And the main reason why is because they don’t know about them.

This is understandable when considering that odds bets aren’t listed on the board. Instead, you use the following process to make an odds wager.

  • Make a pass line or don’t pass line bet
  • Wait for a point number to be established
  • Place your odds bet next to the original wager
  • Inform the dealer that you’re betting odds (land-based casino)

Below, you can see the points for “taking” odds (pass line)

  • 2:1 payout on point numbers of 4 and 10
  • 3:2 on points of 5 and 9
  • 6:5 on points of 6 and 8

Here are the points for “laying” odds (don’t pass line)

  • 1:2 payout for point numbers of 4 and 10
  • 2:3 for points of 5 and 9
  • 5:6 for points of 6 and 8

Using the Wrong Strategy With Craps Odds Bets

Odds wagers are expressed as a multiple of your original pass line or don’t pass line bet. For example, 5x odds would be five times greater than a pass line bet.

The advantage of making a large odds wager is that you lower the overall house edge when factoring in the pass line or don’t pass line bet. Here are figures on how low the overall house advantage goes with better odds.

Odds Pass Line and Come Don’t Pass Line and Don’t Come
0x 1.41% house edge 1.36% house edge
1x 0.848% 0.682%
2x 0.606% 0.455%
Full Double Odds 0.572% 0.431%
3x 0.471% 0.341%
3x-4x-5x 0.374% 0.273%
5x 0.326% 0.227%

The size of odds bets depends upon the casino where you’re playing. Most casinos offer between 2x and 5x odds.

Strangely enough, I’ve seen some players make a pass line bet worth 5x the minimum along with a matching odds wager.

This is a misguided strategy because you’re betting too much on the proposition with the house edge. I’ll explain below what you should do to maximize your chances of winning.

What to Do Instead for Craps Mistake #1

Craps strategy is actually one of the easiest in casino gaming. But the game’s slow pace and large betting variety throws many players off.

It’s hard to concentrate on correct strategy when you’re waiting 5-6 rolls for a pass line or don’t pass line bet to be decided. But if your primary concern is winning, then the path to doing so is simple.

You want to make the minimum bet on the pass line and don’t pass line and back it with the highest odds you can afford. Here’s an example.

  • You bet $5 on the pass line
  • The highest odds available are 3x
  • You bet an additional $15 to cover 3x odds
  • You’ve wagered $20 total

The catch here is that you must bet more to reach the highest odds. This isn’t always ideal if you have a small bankroll and enjoy playing longer sessions.

You can place a lower odds bet so that you have more total wagers throughout the session. But the key is to avoid betting more than you have to with pass line or don’t pass line.

I mentioned above that I’ve seen too many players bet above the minimum required amount on the pass line/don’t pass line. The better strategy is to put this extra money into continually betting as much as you can on odds.

If your casino offers 5x odds, don’t bet 3x on the pass line and 3x on odds (1:1 ratio). Instead, wager 1x on the pass line and 5x on odds (1:5 ratio).

As for other bets, you don’t have to avoid everything else on the craps table if you enjoy variety. But I advise staying away from anything other than place 6, place 8, come, and don’t come bets.

A come bet is just like pass line with the same winning and losing outcomes. The only difference is that you must wait until a point has been established before making this wager.

Don’t come is exactly like don’t pass line. But this is another wager that you can only place once a point number is established.

Craps Mistake #2: Having the Wrong Idea About Comps

Craps is like any other casino game in that you can earn comps with it. And these rewards can be worth a fair amount over time.

But it’s important to understand the reality behind craps comps and how much they’re really worth. You also want to ensure that you’re picking up these rewards in the first place.

Here are some considerations regarding comps and how you can get the best rewards.

Land-Based Casinos Don’t Immediately Give Craps Comps

Many beginning craps players mistakenly believe that they’re going to be given rewards automatically. While this is true in terms of free drinks, you won’t normally get other rewards if you don’t sign up for the player’s club.

Casinos don’t have time to monitor every single table player. Therefore, you need to go about the right method of ensuring that you pick up craps rewards.

Here are the steps to ensure that you get rewards right away.

  • Visit the casino’s player’s desk or website
  • Sign up for the player’s club
  • Give the player’s card you receive to the dealer at your table and tell them you wish to be rated

The dealer will then give your card to the pit boss, who’ll rate your play.

Pit bosses often seek out players who win a large sum to make sure that they’re comped accordingly. After all, casinos want to retain these players’ business and get a shot at winning the money back.

But the average player must ensure that they’re part of the rewards program before receiving comps.

Make Sure That Your Online Casino Gives Craps Players Good Rewards

One of the first things that you should check before signing up at an online casino is what kind of rewards they offer craps players.

Most internet casinos give craps players VIP rewards, but not all of them ensure that craps players qualify for deposit bonuses.

Regarding the latter, some online casinos don’t count craps towards meeting wagering requirements. And you have to meet wagering requirements in order to cash out your bonus.

The last thing you want to do is deposit at a casino that doesn’t offer enough rewards for this game. Check an online casino’s terms and conditions page to see what’s in store for craps players.

Craps Rewards Aren’t Worth That Much

It’s always fun to earn a free meal or hotel stay at a land-based casino or get lots of cash back from an internet gaming site. But keep in perspective that craps comps aren’t worth much in comparison to your betting action.

The industry standard for both online and land-based casinos is to comp craps players at 0.1% of their total wagers. Here’s an example.

  • You bet $5,000 total
  • Comp rate is 0.1%
  • 5,000 x 0.001 = $5
  • You receive $5 in comps

You can already see that you won’t get rich off comps alone, but things only get worse when factoring in how rewards compare to theoretical losses.

Consider the example below.

  • You risk $3,000 on pass line bets
  • Comp rate is 1%
  • 3,000 x 0.001 = $3 in comps
  • 3,000 x 0.0141 = $42.30 in theoretical losses

Risky Prop Bets Offer More Comps – But Also More Losses

Some craps players make the bad prop bets that we discussed before and convince themselves that it’s all right because they get more rewards.

The pit boss may see a player making a combination of Yo and Hard 4 bets and comp them at 5x the rate as a normal player. The end result can be a free meal or hotel room.

But I already discussed how little comps craps are worth in comparison to theoretical losses. The gap only widens when you make prop bets with high house edges.

What to Do Instead for Craps Mistake #2

The first thing to realize about craps comps is that they’re only a small part of the game. I covered earlier how you can only expect a 0.1% comp rate at many casinos.

This means that you won’t be showered with rewards just for betting a few hundred dollars. Instead, you either need to wager thousands of dollars or make risky prop bets.

If you naturally bet thousands of dollars in craps, then the increased rewards will be a welcome sight. But don’t wager a significant amount just to get more rewards.

The other thing is to ensure that you’re actually getting comps. This means visiting the players’ desk at a land-based casino and signing up for the player’s club.

Online casinos normally give all players the ability to rack up VIP rewards. But you want to check the terms and conditions to ensure that you also qualify for deposit bonuses.

One more thing to note is that you get better rewards by moving up in VIP status. Both online and brick-and-mortar casinos offer more comps to their most frequent players.

This is another area that you want to look into before playing craps at a specific venue. Casinos have different rules on how you move up their loyalty program and into bigger comps.

Craps Mistake #3: Playing Too High of Stakes and Avoiding Online Craps

One more mistake that craps players make involves playing stakes that are too high for their bankroll.

Land-based craps tables typically have minimum bets worth between $5 and $25. Many players can afford to bet $5 on the pass line or don’t pass line.

But your chances of losing more money increase when moving up to $10 or $25 stakes. Take a look.

  • You make 100 don’t pass line bets at two tables
  • One table has a $5 minimum bet
  • 100 x 5 = $500 wagered
  • 500 x 0.0136 = $6.80 in theoretical losses at the $5 table
  • The other table has a $25 minimum bet
  • 100 x 25 = $2,500 wagered
  • 2,500 x 0.0136 = $34 in theoretical losses at the $25 table

These problems are only compounded when you place multiple bets per turn. Even worse is making several bad prop wagers with $10 or $25 minimums.

Low rollers should stick to wagering on $5 tables. This lowers your exposure to risk and gives you a better chance to protect your bankroll.

Online Craps Should Be Considered

The ultimate spot for low rollers is online casinos, but some craps players dismiss internet casinos for one or more reasons.

A big reason why players overlook online craps is because they think it’ll be boring. After all, the internet version doesn’t have a table full of people cheering for the shooter.

While it’s true that online craps doesn’t replicate the land-based environment, this game can still be fun. You’re always the shooter online, and you control how fast the game’s pace moves.

Furthermore, online craps offers cheaper stakes and a better chance to extend your bankroll. You can make $1 minimum bets at online casinos, which are 5x-10x less than land-based casinos.

Another reason why gamblers dismiss internet craps is that they don’t think odds bets are available. But this isn’t true because casinos with Betsoft or Playtech craps offer 3x odds.

This allows you to make a $1 minimum wager and back it with 3x odds for an extra $3.

What to Do Instead for Craps Mistake #3

You want to search for craps stakes that fit your bankroll. If you only have $50 to play craps with, then the last thing you want to do is stand at a $10 or $25 land-based table.

The ideal option for players with limited funds is online craps. You can play for as little as $1 per bet and still get odds up to 3x.

Of course, some low rollers love craps for the atmosphere. If this is your main reason for playing, then you can still find relatively cheap land-based games that offer $5 minimum bets.

Another key is to avoid making multiple bets on each round with a smaller bankroll. If you feel the urge to get more action outside the main bets, then stay within the friendly confines of come, don’t come, place 6, and place 8 bets.

Conclusion

Craps isn’t the most difficult game in terms of strategy. Instead, it’s more about knowing the top bets and having the discipline to stick with them.

The best craps strategy is making minimum pass line or don’t pass line bets coupled with the highest available odds. If you can’t afford the highest odds, then take whatever you can reasonably bet.

Also, be sure to get the best comps and play stakes that fit your bankroll. Doing both of these things will help you extend your bankroll and have more fun with craps.

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