Perhaps more than any other casino game, craps is a game that is concerned with the odds. Or at the very least, you should be when you play.
In other words, understanding the odds is paramount to understanding craps itself and you can’t possibly beat any game until you truly understand it. That means understanding the odds of every roll of the dice, and both the true odds of every bet and the odds each bet pays out.
Read on for a complete look at craps and the odds involved, from the odds on the outcome of each roll to details about each available bet, the true odds, payout, and house edge.
Before you look at the odds in detail you should have a basic understanding of how to play craps.
Craps begin with wagering on the Pass Line and Don’t Pass Line. Then, the first shooter rolls the dice on the come-out roll.
Pass Line bets are paid 1:1, and Don’t Pass Line bets lose if the shooter rolls a 7 or 11 on the come-out roll.
Don’t Pass Line bets are paid 1:1 if the shooter rolls a 2 or 3, and push on a 12 on the come-out roll. Pass Line bets lose on any 2, 3, or 12. Here, the shooter craps out, a new shooter is chosen, and the game begins anew.
If the outcome of the come-out roll is any other number, that number becomes the point.
Once a point is established, betting opens up and the shooter rolls again until they hit the point or roll a 7 to crap out.
Here’s a list of the available bets and payouts:
Craps are played with two six-sided dice. That means each roll has 36 possible outcomes.
This includes 11 possible dice totals, 2 through 12. There are 36 combinations of these dice totals possible.
There are only one possible 2 and 12, two possible 3s and 11s, three possible 4s and 10s, four possible 5s and 9s, five possible 6s and 8s, and six possible 7s.
Knowing the total possible outcomes and how many times each dice total as possible allows you to work out the odds of each possible roll.
What you’ll find is the odds of each possible roll are as follows:
Once you know the odds of each possible roll you can figure the true odds of each bet. The true odds are the probability of each roll’s outcome.
The difference between the true odds and the payout on each bet is the house edge the casino enjoys on that bet. The lower the house edge, the better the bet is for you as a player. The higher the house edge, the more money the casino will ultimately make on the bet.
Only the Pass Line Odds and Don’t Pass Odds pay true odds, meaning these two are the only bets in craps with no house edge.
The following table shows you the true odds, payout, and house edge involved with most bets in a craps game:
|Bet||Pays||True Odds||House Edge|
|Don’t Pass/Don't Come||1:1||976:949||1.36|
|Pass Line Odds 4 or 10||2:1||2:1||0|
|Pass Line Odds 5 or 9||3:2||3:2||0|
|Pass Line Odds 6 or 8||5:6||5:6||0|
|Don't Pass Odds 4 or 10||1:2||1:2||0|
|Pass Line Odds 5 or 9||2:3||2:3||0|
|Pass Line Odds 6 or 8||5:6||5:6||0|
|Hard Ways 6 or 8||9:1||10:1||9.09|
|Hard Ways 4 or 10||7:1||8:1||11.1|
|Place Bets 4 or 10||9:5||2:1||6.7|
|Place Bets 5 or 9||7:5||3:2||4.0|
|Place Bets 6 or 8||7:6||6:5||1.52|
In craps, understanding the odds means understanding the game, and being able to tell a good bet from one that works in the casino’s favor instead of yours.
Once you know the probability of each outcome on each roll of the dice you can figure out the true odds on every bet. Remember, the lower the house edge, the better the bet.
That said, most people agree casinos are entitled to some house edge. After all, that house edge is what makes running a craps game profitable for the casino. Without it, there would be no game. In other words, you should be willing to accept a small house edge on most bets. You should probably avoid bets with a large house edge.
Unfortunately, in craps, the bets with the biggest house edge offer the biggest payouts. That leaves it up to you to decide if it’s worth it to pay that steep house edge for the chance to get lucky and win big at craps.
Fortunately, craps offer several bets with a relatively small house edge most gamblers consider fair.
The payouts on the Pass Line Odds and Don’t Pass Odds are the same as the true odds, meaning these bets have no house edge at all. That makes the Pass Line Odds and Don’t Pass Odds the most attractive bet in any casino, online or off.
Casinos allow you to bet the Pass Line Odds and Don’t Pass Odds up to a maximum multiple of your original Pass Line or Don’t Pass bets. You may see craps table games advertised as having “5x Odds on Craps,” “10x Odds on Craps,” or even up to “100x Odds on Craps.”
Many craps players judge a craps game on the maximum they can bet on these zero-house-edge bets. The bigger the better, as placing a bet with no house edge gives you the best chance to beat the house.
The maximum odds available on most online craps games sit between 3x and 6x.
In craps, knowing the odds, understanding the odds, and using this knowledge to your benefit are three different things.
Once you understand the game, and know and understand the odds, you can use this knowledge to your benefit by employing certain strategies:
Basic craps strategy involves sticking to simple bets with a low house edge. That means betting the Pass Line and Don’t Pass exclusively.
Take basic craps strategy a step further by betting the Pass Line Odds and Don’t Pass Odds behind your Pass Line and Don’t Pass bets.
Once the point is established, betting the Pass Line Odds and Don’t Pass Odds up to the maximum allowed is always a good idea because there is no house edge. You won’t find a better bet in the entire casino.
Hard Ways 6 or 8 pays 9:1 but the true odds are 10:1. Hard Ways 4 or 10 pays 7:1 but the true odds are 8:1. That makes the house edge anywhere from 9-11% on these bets. That’s hard to beat over the long haul, making the Hard Ways a bit of a sucker’s bet.
Don’t let the allure of the big payday sway you when you know the true odds of rolling doubles are much bigger.
Just like the Hard Ways, you should never let the allure of the big payday offered by props sway you. The true odds of hitting most props are much higher. That 30:1 or 33:1 you might get on Aces or Boxcars might be tempting, but you’ll be staring down the game’s biggest house edge at almost 14%.
The true odds of rolling double sixes or aces is 35:1 and until craps games start paying that, these bets should be avoided. You’re much better off sticking to the basics, unless you’re willing to make the bet more than 30 times to test the odds and try to get lucky in the short term.