With its incredibly fast speed and a staggering number of bets available, craps can be an intimidating casino game for those who play it for the first time. What is perceived to be a highly complex game with a crowd of loud players standing around the table, however, is quite a simple and traditional dice game that depends purely on chance. It is perfectly suitable even for novices, who only need to know the two fundamental bets in order to play, the Pass Line and the Don’t Pass wagers.
Before delving into the basics of the Pass Line bet, we should shed some light on the importance of the different wagers in craps. As we all know, craps is among the oldest games invented by the humankind, with many researchers believing its origins can be traced back to the Roman Empire or even further back in time, to Ancient Egypt some 4,600 years ago. Over the centuries, the game of dice has changed and evolved, new rules have been introduced, and new wagers invented.
One of the very few things that have probably remained the same since the beginning is the Pass Line bet – when you bet on the shooter to win. The other fundamental wager, the Don’t Pass, was introduced in the 19th century by American dice maker John H. Winn, who is known today as the “Father of the Modern Craps”. With the Don’t Pass, players can bet on the shooter to lose and until its invention, the game was believed to be quite unbalanced as everyone could only bet against the house. In addition, many players simply resorted to cheating.
Then, Winn decided to make craps a little more interesting and fair, so he came up with the Don’t Pass. Gaming halls started to offer other wagers and by the middle of the 20th century, the simple game of dice had transformed to what we know as craps today – fun, dynamic and intriguing casino game with plenty of options to bet on. Still, there is no need to know them all in order to enjoy craps in land-based and online casinos. The two main wagers are the only two bets novices should learn before starting to play and the Pass Line bet is much more common and fun.
What is the Pass Line Bet?
As explained above, the Pass Line wager is the most fundamental and straightforward bet in craps but it is also the most commonly placed bet. It is believed that around 90 percent of all players on the table would opt for it, whether they are complete novices or experienced players. This is the reason why so often when you look at a random craps table, you would see the majority of people cheering together after a win or standing in anticipation for the next opportunity to win.
This is exactly what makes the game so interesting and entertaining, apart from the pure gambling aspect. So, what exactly is the Pass Line bet, when do you win and when do you lose? Once the shooter throws the dice, the outcome is called a “come-out roll” and it is an automatic win or loss for Pass Line and Don’t Pass bettors. If the come-out roll is 7 or 11, the Pass Line bet wins, but in case it is 2, 3 or 12, the bet loses. These three numbers are referred to as “craps”. If any other number comes out, this requires further action, which would be explained in detail in the following sections.
In order to place a Pass Line wager, you need to put your chips on its respective area on the craps table. It is easy to access from everywhere, as this is the long, narrow area that is on the outer edge of the betting layout and it surrounds all other areas in the two ends of the table. Players can place the wager themselves without asking for assistance from the dealers or the stickman.
While this does not sound so difficult, getting 7 or 11 on the come-out roll is not guaranteed and the odds are stacked against you. The following sections include more detailed information about the odds, the payout for a Pass Line bet and the house edge you need to stand against.
Possible Outcomes of the Pass Line Bet
There are three possible outcomes when you place a Pass Line bet in the come-out roll. Two of them are quite straightforward – if the total of the two dice is 7 or 11, you win and you receive an even payout, and if it is craps (2, 3 or 12), you lose. Whenever any of these occurs, the next throwing of the dice will also be considered a come-out roll and game continues in the same manner.
But what if any of the other numbers land in the come-out roll? This is the third possible outcome that makes the game of craps much more interesting even if you are betting on or against the dice just like most novices do.
The third outcome is when the numbers on the two dice total 4, 5, 6, 8, 9 or 10. The total thrown is called a “point” and the shooter needs to roll the dice until he or she lands the point once again and the Pass Line bet wins. If the dice land on 7 before that, however, those who have placed their chips on the Pass Line lose. When 7 is rolled first, this is called seven-out.
As you can clearly see, rolling a 7, in this case, results in a loss. It is important to know that 7 is the number that is the most likely to be rolled. For this reason, players should always wait for a come-out roll if they wish to bet on the Pass Line. As the game of craps is very dynamic, it can be very confusing to keep track of the rolls – whether this is the shooter’s second or third roll, or maybe it is the come-out. This is where the puck becomes useful.
Players who find it hard to keep track of all the bets and rolls can look at the marker puck. This is a small disk that is usually placed beside the betting layout – it looks just like a hockey puck and has two sides. When it shows its black side, marked with “Off”, then the shooter is throwing a come-out roll and it is the perfect time to place a Pass Line bet.
When the point has been established, however, the dealer indicates it by flipping the puck on its white side. It says “On” and the puck will be moved on the corresponding box of the point number. As explained above, this could be 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10. Whenever the puck is white and placed to any of these numbers, players should not place a Pass Line, because the 7 will lose, while only repeating the point number will bring them a win.
Pass Line Bet House Edge and Payout
Craps is based on chance, which means the outcome of every roll depends on statistical probability instead of some decision-making on the player’s part. This is why understanding the mathematical aspect of the game is important, especially for those who plan to play it regularly. Craps is played with two dice, each coming with six probabilities. The total number of combinations is 36, with the numbers 2 and 12 offering only a single combination possible (1-1 and 6-6).
The Pass Line wager wins if one of two totals are rolled in the come-out, namely 7 or 11. It is the 7 that can be formed with the most possible combinations – six combinations (1-6, 2-5, 3-4, 6-1, 5-2, and 4-3), so the probability of rolling 7 is 6/36, calculated at exactly 16.67%. This is the number that has the highest probability of being thrown, as you can see. The other alternative, throwing 11, has a probability of 5.56% (2/36), with two possible combinations, namely 5-6 and 6-5.
The probability of the Pass Line bet winning in the come-out roll is then the sum of the probability for 7 and 11, which is 8/36 or 0.22. However, the overall probability of this bet winning takes a lot more calculations related to the third outcome of the come-out roll, namely the so-called “point”. This is when neither 7, 11 nor craps is tossed and the total of the two dice is 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10. In this case, another rule comes into play and the actual odds of winning the bet are around 49%, while the odds of losing are slightly higher at 51%.
Of course, players need to understand that this percentage is theoretical and after each bet has been resolved, they either win or lose. If the wager, in this case, is $100, they can either end up with $200 in their pocket (the bet plus the payout) or they can lose it all. The house edge is useful from a statistical point of view and shows you how likely you are to win or lose in a certain game. To be more precise, it shows you how much you can expect to win/lose on average after playing a large number of games or rounds.
Note that the house edge percentage also applies to an indefinite number of games, at least hundreds of thousands. When it comes to playing for a shorter period of time, the result can be very different. In addition, although the 1.41% house edge applies for the Pass Line bet when resolved, it is calculated to only 0.42% per roll.
Pass Line Bet Patterns
Instead of placing a single bet on the table, many players prefer combination bets that allow them to reduce the risk when playing. There are several bets that combine well with the Pass Line wager to create patterns of varied risk and house edge. While some can be used by beginners, others are recommended for experienced players who will find these strategies useful and easy to understand.
Below, you will find three common Pass Line bet patterns, along with short and straightforward descriptions of some additional bets. Each combination would be suitable for a different type of player, depending on the individual risk tolerance, level of experience, and bankroll size.
Pass Bet with 1 Come Number
Before looking at this relatively simple pattern, we should explain the basics of the Come bets. They are quite similar to the Pass Line wagers but instead of being placed before the come-out roll, they are made once the point has already been established. The chips for them are placed on large rectangular boxes in the middle of the betting layout that simply say “Come”.
This bet wins when the dice lands on 7 or 11 and loses when the craps numbers are thrown (2, 3, 12), which is the exact opposite of the Pass Line. When any of the point numbers are rolled, another point is established and the Come bet wins when the shooter rolls the same point before throwing a 7. Similarly to the Pass wager, if the dice lands on 7 before a point number has been rolled, the bet loses. The Come bet pays out evenly and has a house edge of 1.41%.
This is quite a safe, conservative strategy that allows players to reduce their losses even when the rolls seem to be against them most of the time. This is why it can be used by less experienced players, as well. The double odds on the Come bet work similarly to the free odds bets, providing better payouts for winning wagers. This way, the house edge is nearly eliminated.
Pass Bet with 2 Come Numbers
This pattern is similar to the strategy discussed above but it adds another Come bet to the equation. Of course, the second Come bet cannot be placed before the original point is established, so players would need to wait until a point number is determined, the dice are rolled for the second time and neither their Pass Line nor their Come wagers win or lose.
In this case, they can place a second Come bet and support it with double odds once again. This move allows them to have three point numbers working for them. As you can imagine, the house edge remains lower than usual at 0.6% as long as the Come bets are with double odds. It is important to understand that as whenever the Pass Line bet wins, the two Come bets are turned to the player. The reason is very simple – once the Pass Line bet wins, the puck flips to show “Off” and the next come-out roll is in order.
As the Come bets and their odds are not active in come-out rolls, the chips go back to the player. Alternatively, they can remain on the same boxes they were moved to, waiting for the point numbers to be rolled. In theory, it may seem difficult to understand but in practice, this strategy is much less complex. As the chips for the Come bets are returned, the risk is not particularly high, as well, even though more money is wagered until the bet is resolved.
Pass Bet with 2 Come Numbers, 6-8 Place Bet
This is a riskier and more aggressive betting strategy where much more money is at stake. At the same, more numbers and probable scenarios are covered. In order to use this pattern, players start with a Pass Line bet and support it with double odds. Then, they make two Come bets with double odds and depending on the next roll, they can make one or two Place bets.
If none of the point numbers covers 6 and 8, players bet on one of these numbers or on both of them, depending on the numbers that have landed up until that point. When the Place bets are made, they should be supported with double odds, too. With this strategy, players can have up to 5 numbers covered, which increases their chances of winning. Still, whenever the shooter throws 7, all these bets lose.
And since 7 is the number with the highest probability to roll out, this Pass Line bet pattern remains quite vulnerable to the 7. Another important thing to know is that the house edge climbs to 1.52% due to the wagers on 6 and 8. Therefore, this strategy should not be used lightly and by players who do not have a deep understanding of the basics of the game. Craps is, after all, a game of chance and even though you can calculate how the probability of each roll of the dice, it does not give you any guarantees.