How to Bet Craps
The betting is where craps gets complicated and tends to intimidate the novice player. You have several options, depending on where in the round you are. Payouts and house edges vary according to the type of bet you make, and may vary slightly from casino to casino; the figures discussed here are typical but by no means universal. As always, if you have any questions about the odds or payouts, ask a member of the casino staff for help.
Pass-Line and Don't-Pass Bets
These bets are the most common and are placed before the shooter makes his or her first roll. With a pass-line bet, you're wagering on two possibilities: first, that the shooter will roll a 7 or 11 on the first throw; or second, that the shooter will roll a point (4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10) and will repeat that point before rolling a 7. You lose if the first roll is a 2, 3, or 12. Most casinos pay even money on a pass-line bet.
The don't-pass bet is the opposite of the pass-line bet. In this case, you're wagering that the shooter will either crap out on the first roll (that is, throw a 2, 3, or 12) or, if the shooter rolls a point on the first roll, that he or she will roll a 7 before repeating the point. You lose if the first roll is a 7 or 11.
Come and Don't-Come Bets
Come and don't-come bets are the same as pass-line/don't-pass bets, except that they are made after the shooter makes his or her first throw and establishes a point. With a come bet, you're wagering that the shooter will repeat a point before rolling a 7; with a don't-come bet, you're wagering that the shooter will roll a 7 first.
On a come bet, you win even money if the next throw is a 7 or 11. You lose if the throw is a 2, 3, or 12. If the throw is any other number, that number becomes the point for your come bet, and your chips are moved to the numbered box corresponding to your point. If the point is repeated before a 7 is rolled, you win. If a 7 shows up first, you lose.
The don't-come bet is the opposite, and it's much less popular than the come bet. On this bet, you win even money if the next throw is a 2 or 3; a 12 is a push, or tie. You win on this bet if a 7 is rolled before the point is repeated, and you lose if the point is repeated first.
One of the reasons don't-come bets are less popular than come bets is that you're betting against the shooter. Because of the peculiar camaraderie around the craps table, it's considered bad form, if not actually bad luck, to bet against the shooter.
Place, Buy, and Lay Bets
The place bet is the most straightforward bet in craps. You choose one of the possible points — 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10 — and bet that the next roll will come up on your point. The payoffs on place bets vary according to how likely it is your chosen number will come up. For example, the payoff on a 4 or a 10 is typically 9:5, but it's usually just 7:5 on a 5 or 9, and only 7:6 on a 6 or 8. The higher payoff means it's harder to roll the number. For example, a 5 or 9 each will, on average, show up about 11 percent of the time on random dice rolls, while a 4 or 10 each shows up only about 8 percent of the time. A 6 or 8, on the other hand, will come up about 14 percent of the time — hence the lower payout on those two numbers.
A buy bet is the same as a place bet, except you pay a 5 percent commission up front to the house; in return, you are paid true odds if you win. Under a buy bet, you're paid 2:1 on 4 or 10, 3:2 on 5 or 9, and 6:5 on 6 or 8.
A lay bet is made on a point number — 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10 — but you're actually betting against the dice. That is, you're betting that a 7 will come up before the point number you selected. A 7 is, statistically, the most likely number to come up on any given roll of two dice; that's why the casino charges a commission on this bet. Typical payoffs are 1:2 if you bet on 4 or 10, 2:3 if you bet on 5 or 9, and 5:6 if you bet on 6 or 8.
Field, Big 6, and Big 8 Bets
Field bets give you a chance to bet that the shooter will roll any one of a field of numbers — 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11, and 12. The typical payoff on a 2 or 12 is 2:1, while the other numbers usually pay even money. You lose if any other number outside the field comes up.
Big-6 and big-8 bets are even-money wagers; you win if the number you selected is rolled before a 7 comes up.
Proposition bets are one-roll wagers on a specific number or group of numbers. You can, for instance, bet that a 7 will come up on the next roll; this bet typically pays 4:1. You also can bet “any craps,” and you'll usually win 7:1 if 2, 3, or 12 comes up. Other proposition bets include 2 or 12, with a payout of 30:1; 3 or 11, with a payout of 15:1; craps-11, sometimes called a “C&E” or a “horn bet,” with a payout of 3:1 on a 2, 3, or 12 and 7:1 on an 11.
Most casinos also offer hard-way bets on 4, 6, 8, and 10. To win, your number has to come up “the hard way,” or as a pair, before it comes up in any other combination and before a 7 comes up. For example, if you bet on a hard-way 6, you only win if a pair of 3s shows up before a 2 and a 4 or a 1 and a 5 (or a 7). Payouts on hard 4s and 10s typically are 7:1. Payouts on hard 6s and 8s usually are 9:1.
Although the payoffs on proposition bets can be appealing, most experts recommend avoiding them. The house edge on proposition bets usually is quite high — between 11 and 16 percent — and the odds are against you cashing in on those big payoffs.
Most experts agree that in craps the easiest way to trim down the house edge to virtually nothing is to take advantage of the odds bet option. You won't find a place for this on the table layout, but it exists. Odds bets give you true odds (not casino odds). However, the house edge is still the same on the pass-line bets, so the house still has an advantage.
There is no designated space for the odds bet on the craps table layout. Typically you place your odds bet half-on and half-off the bottom of the pass-line or come fields. For don't-pass and don't-come odds bets, place your chips above and to the side. If you aren't sure where to place your chips, ask the dealer.
Odds bets complement bets on pass-line, don't pass, come, and don't come. Depending on the casino, you're allowed to wager up to 100 times your original pass-line bet; in most cases, your odds bet must at least equal your pass-line bet. The odds bet cannot be placed until a point is set, so you can't make this bet on the come-out roll.
For example, assume you made a $10 pass-line bet, and the point is set at 5 on the come-out roll. If the next roll also comes up 5, you win even money on your pass-line bet. Now, assume you placed an additional $10 odds bet. Not only do you win even money on the pass-line bet, but you win 3:2 on your $10 odds bet, or another $15.
Payouts on odds bets depend on the point. Usually 4 and 10 pay 2:1, 5 and 9 usually pay 3:2, and 6 and 8 usually pay 6:5. Additionally, at most casinos, you can remove your odds bet at any time.