Strategy for Craps

Craps is a dynamic table game, played with two dice, which has attained the status of a classic and attracts players the world over. Despite the immense popularity craps enjoys, it is often considered one of the most confusing games to play at the casino floor. At first glance, craps seems like a simple game because it is based on chance and there is nothing players can do to affect the outcome of the dice rolls. However, there is much more to craps than merely tossing a pair of dice.

The sheer number of betting options in the game will suffice to overwhelm any novice. In addition, the jargon and etiquette one is expected to comply with at the table often leave inexperienced players with the impression they have traveled to a foreign country where everyone is speaking in strange tongues.

Craps can indeed be intimidating but although it is a negative-expectation game, there is a way for players to end their betting session on profit. Knowing the available bet types and their odds in detail, managing one’s bankroll smartly, setting win goals and loss limits for oneself, and following a proper strategy are a sure recipe for success at the craps table.

Know Your Bets

Craps BetsSome inexperienced players join the game before they have actually learned the rules of play and what the available betting options are. The consequences are usually disastrous. There is an impressive number of bets in craps and if you do not understand how they work, when they are accepted, and what their payouts are, you might end your betting session with empty pockets.

What is more important, the house edge tends to fluctuate a lot, depending on the type of bet the player makes. With Pass/Don’t Pass Line and Come/Don’t Come bets, the tilt in favor of the house is relatively reasonable as it varies between 1.36% and 1.41%. Also, if you take or lay odds on the aforementioned bets, the house edge may be reduced to zero.

Needless to say, such bets give players the best odds and the greatest value at the craps table. Then again, we have the Big Red bet, which is absolutely one of the worst wagers you can possibly make as its house edge reaches the unprecedented 16.67%. It goes without saying placing one such bet is a terrible idea.

And this was only a single example of a sucker craps bet – there are a number of other bet types where the house edge exceeds 10%. Novices must ensure they are well-acquainted with all bet types, their payouts and their house edge, which will enable them to make informed, smart decisions during their betting session.

Adopt Combination Betting

Craps CombinationsSmart craps players typically resort to combining several types of bets that offer a relatively low house edge, which significantly increases their chances of collecting a payout. One of the options is to combine a Pass Line bet with a Come bet as both share the same rules.

Thus, if 7 or 11 hit on the come-out roll, both the Pass Line and the Come bet win
. If the shooter establishes a point and the point number is thrown before the 7, this also results in two winning bets for the smart player. The same effect can be achieved if Don’t Pass and Don’t Come bets are placed simultaneously. The only difference is the bets win if the shooter hits the craps numbers 2 or 3 or fails to roll the point number prior to a 7.

Another smart combination consists of a Don’t Pass, a Don’t Come and a Field bet. This combination is used to prepare you for the shooter throwing 2, 3 or 12 which are also part of the field. If the dice roll shows a 2, the player’s Don’t Pass and Don’t Come bets will pay even money while the payout ratio for the Field bet will be 1 to 2. Thus, the player will collect four units per every unit they have bet on the table. If the shooter throws a 3, all three bets will pay even money. A roll of 12 will result in a win with the Field bet only, with a payout of 1 to 2.

The probability of winning with this bet combination is high because seven out of twelve numbers are part of the field, which means the player will break even in the worse case scenario.

Follow the 3% Rule

Craps 3% RuleThis again has to do with choosing one’s bets wisely as it will enable players to give the casino only a small statistical edge. As the name of this rule indicates, players should never give the house an edge that exceeds 3%. In other words, experienced craps players never place bets that come with an edge closer to or above 3%. The higher its edge, the less frequently a given bet should be in play.

From this, it follows the recommended frequency of use of Pass Line/Come bets (right betting) and Don’t Pass/Don’t Come bets (wrong betting) is 100% because their house edge is between 1.36% and 1.41%. Such bets should be kept in play at all times. Even more so, if you choose to take or lay odds on them.

The recommended frequency of use of Place bets on 6 and 8 is 50%, while that of Lay bets on 4 or 10 and Field bets, where 2 and 12 pay 3 to 1, stands at 25% and 20%, respectively. Buy bets, Lay bets, Big 6, Big 8, Big Red, Any Craps, Yo-leven, and other propositions are to be avoided altogether. Proposition bets lure players with impressive payouts, yet come with an outrageous tilt in favor of the casino that exceeds 11%.

Avoid Negative Betting Progressions

Craps Betting ProgressionsSome inexperienced craps players assume that following a progressive betting system would tip the scales in their favor. This could not be further from the truth. First of all, following a given system has more to do with bankroll management and does nothing to affect the outcome of the dice rolls – after all, craps relies heavily on chance. Second, even if players succeed in winning with a given system for a while, there is a good chance of the odds catching up to them, causing them to lose money in the long run.

But if you insist on following a betting system, make sure you choose one that is not based on a negative betting progression. The Martingale is the perfect (and most popular) example of one such betting system. It calls for doubling your stakes after each loss and reverting to your base betting unit after a win. The idea here is that by increasing their stakes after losing bets, players will eventually succeed in offsetting their losses with a single win.

At first glance, this sounds logical. Yet, there are many disadvantages to aggressively increasing your stakes after each loss, especially in a dynamic game like craps, where money changes hands rather quickly.

First off, players who follow systems like the Martingale are risking colossal sums to win small amounts of money. Then again, there is a good chance of you reaching the table limit prior to securing the win that will eventually balance out the consequences of a losing streak. No one is “overdue” to win and there is no way to tell with absolute certainty when a losing streak will end. Not to mention you risk exhausting your bankroll completely.

If you are bent on following a system, flat betting or positive betting progressions are recommended. Systems based on positive progressions, like the Paroli, are basically the opposite of the Martingale – players decrease the size of their stakes after a loss and increase their bets after each win.

Determine Your Bankroll Size and Base Betting Unit

Craps BankrollSince there is nothing players can do to influence the outcome of the dice tosses, adequate money management is key if they wish to leave the craps table on profit. There are several aspects of proper money management. The first thing players need to do is determine the size of their overall bankroll. The amount you take to the craps table or deposit into your online casino account is entirely up to you. One important thing to remember is that you should never play with money you cannot afford to lose. Evaluate your monthly expenses carefully to determine how much you can afford to set aside for play.

If you are planning several betting sessions for the month, the next thing to do is divide your overall bankroll into several smaller ones, for each betting session. For example, if you have a bankroll of $500 and plan two betting sessions, you will have $250 for each. Also, it would be best to open a separate bank account, reserved for gambling purposes only, to avoid the temptation of pulling out more money to play with if you deplete your bankroll.

Once you have decided on the overall size of your craps bankroll, you should consider choosing a base betting unit, or how much you put on stake per dice roll. The optimal base unit is the one that allows players to maximize their winnings, while at the same time provides them with a hedge against high variance. As craps is played at a rapid pace, players are recommended to use a betting unit that amounts to 1% of their over bankroll for the session. So with a bankroll of $250, your betting unit should be about $2.50. This will prevent you from going bankrupt as no one can possibly lose one hundred Pass Line bets in a row.

Of course, one should also consider the table minimum when choosing a base betting unit for their session – at some tables, it might be impossible for you to bet as little as $2.00 or $2.50. The good news is reputable online casinos offer different craps variations to meet the needs of both high rollers and risk-averse players.

Increase Bets after the Point is Established

Some seasoned craps players recommend novices to treat each Pass Line and Come bet as an individual wager. If the roll results in a win, the following bet is increased. If it wins again, players increase their follow-up bet once more. The player’s other bets remain small and are to be increased only if and when they result in a win.

Some may argue this approach is way too aggressive and calls for a very long winning streak to result in a profit. Because of this, players betting on the Pass Line with two Come numbers are recommended to raise their stakes only after the shooter establishes a point. Once this happens, the bets on the next come-out roll should be increased and backed with double odds. So if you have started out with a $5 bet, your next Pass Line bet should be $10 while your Come bets remain $5 each. If you win with the Come bets before you win with your Pass Line bet, you should follow up with $10 Come bets. Your Come bets will now match your Pass Line bet.

If the point is repeated again, all your bets result in a win, in which case you follow up with $15 Come and Pass Line bets, and so on and so forth. This is what many experienced craps players call an intelligent progressive betting because the shooter rolling out a 7 no longer poses as such a great threat.

The Floor and Ceiling Strategy

Floor and Ceiling StrategyThe Floor and Ceiling strategy has to do with knowing when to quit regardless of whether you are on a hot roll and have entered a devastating losing streak. This is the approach smart players adopt and it involves setting a loss limit and a win goal.

This will also protect your profits and prevent you from giving everything you have won back to the house. Of course, the win goals and loss limits should be based on the player’s individual bankroll but as a rule of thumb, craps players are recommended to adopt a win goal of 30% of their starting bankroll for the session. So, if you join the table with $250, you should consider quitting once you are about $70 ahead. The best thing less experienced craps players can do is learn to settle for smaller wins – more often than not, greed at the craps table results in players wasting away their entire bankrolls.

The same applies to dealing with one’s losses. The advice most craps experts will give you is to call it quits after you have lost about 30% of your initial bankroll. And that is something many players forget to do, especially if they have entered a longer losing streak. If you have already lost 30% of your bankroll, it would be difficult for you to recover from your losses anyway. Even if you do enter a good streak, there is no telling how long it will last.

But more importantly, once you have set a “floor” and a “ceiling” for yourself, stick to it – get up and leave the table as soon as you have achieved your win goal or have reached your loss limit.

The Guarantee and Excess Principle

Adopting the Guarantee and Excess approach is yet another thing a smart craps player would do. It is based on the theory that players are guaranteed to leave the craps table on profit as long as they play only with a portion of the winnings they have generated.

This is how it works – once you reach your win limit, you set aside what is left of your original bankroll. Then you collect what you have won at this point and subtract enough chips from your profits to be able to complete one more betting cycle. You do not touch the remaining chips because they will function as your guarantee.

The chips you put in play for the next betting cycle are your excess – even if you end up losing them all, you will still walk away on profit. Of course, you might end up winning with your excess, in which case, you add your further profits to your guarantee and continue playing with what is left of your excess. If the dice begin to chop or grow cold altogether, you can always end the betting session as a winner thanks to your guarantee.

The Gambler’s Fallacy

The Gambler’s FallacySome craps players fall prey to the so-called “Gambler’s Fallacy”, which is the false and totally ungrounded belief that previous dice rolls affect the outcome of the tosses that are to follow. For instance, if previous rolls have resulted in an Ace-Deuce (the fancy name for number 3 in craps) coming up and it was followed by a Boxcar or a 12, the next thing one such player would do is bet on the Boxcar the next time the shooter throws a 3.

Unfortunately, there is no guarantee a 12 will show on the next dice roll. This is called a fallacy because there is no mathematical proof that guarantees the dice are following a predictable pattern. The dice have no memory and are not interested in whether you are winning or losing. Each roll is completely independent of past events and has zero influence on the throws that are to follow. And this is something all smart craps players are well aware of.


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