Read an Excerpt
Shoot to Win!
By Frank Scoblete
Triumph BooksCopyright © 2010 Frank Scoblete
All rights reserved.
Welcome to the Wonderful World of Craps
To a new player, craps looks like a most intimidating game. Just look at that layout; it resembles an ancient Egyptian tablet covered in hieroglyphs that tells some elaborate sacrificial story. Nothing could be further from the truth. Craps is a simple game, made even simpler because most of the bets are worthless to the smart player, although ploppies — the unschooled, unthinking masses of casino craps players — will fall all over themselves to wager on them.
If you have never played craps before or if you are a veteran looking to get an edge or a new craps player looking to learn the game and get an edge, then this book is for you. I'll explain how the game is played and the various bets of the game. Because most of the bets at the craps table are a waste of your time and, more important, a serious waste of your money, this book will be a heads up for you gamblers. I'll explain why that is true, and I will use house-edge percentages and also what kind of money edges the casinos really have on each and every bet. This book can lead you to an advantage over the casino — and that would be a great thing for you, wouldn't it?
So, here we go!
A die has six sides, so there are 36 possible combinations of two dice in the game of craps: six sides x six sides = 36 combinations. Each side (or face) of a die will have various numbered pips: 1-pip, 2-pips, 3-pips, 4-pips, 5-pips, and 6-pips. Given two dice, the lowest number that can be rolled is a 2 (1-pip + 1-pip); the highest number is 12 (6-pips + 6-pips). There is only one way to make a 2 and only one way to make a 12. The following graph shows you the possible combinations that can be made with two dice.
As you can see the 7 is the number that comes up the most. It is the key number in the game of craps. If you look at a set of casino dice you will find that the front side and its opposite back side add up to 7. So opposite the 1-pip is the 6-pip; opposite the 2-pip is the 5-pip; opposite the 3-pip is the 4-pip.
Casino dice can come in various sizes, colors, and opacity. The usual sizes are 5/8" and 3/4". Some dice are clear; some are frosted.
Craps tables generally have four people working the game — three dealers and a box person. One dealer, called the stickman, stands on the side of the table with the players. He is called the stickman because he has a long stick that he uses to move the dice. He gives the dice to the shooter, takes the dice to the middle of the table between rolls, and announces the payoffs of the winning bets in the middle of the table for the dealers to pay the winning bettors.
The other two dealers stand on the opposite side of the table from the stickman, one to his left and one to his right. Each of these dealers is responsible for paying off winning bets and taking losing bets from the players on their side of the table. Dealers will move from one position to another at a table, usually in 20-minute intervals.
Between the two dealers is the box person, who supervises the game to make sure no bets are mishandled and that buy-ins and payouts are done correctly. The box person also resolves most of the disputes at the table. In the pit, behind the box person will be a floor person, in charge of supervising various craps tables in his pit, rating the players, and giving (usually) non-gourmet comps. In serious disputes, the floor person will be brought in to give his or her judgment. In charge of all the craps tables and perhaps other games as well is the pit boss.
There are different types of craps tables, each with minor differences in their layouts and sometimes in the payoffs of their bets. Because most craps wagers stink — and I mean they stink — I am going to give you a generic layout.
Both the left and right sides of the table are the same in terms of which bets are offered. Going around the outside of the layout is the Pass Line (a good bet); above that is the Don't Pass Line (a good bet) with the word bar and the dice showing a 12. The "bar" means that the 12 is a tie if it appears for Don't bettors (also known as Darkside bettors). On some of the older tables you will note a 6/8 bet in the corners. This is a sucker's bet.
Above the Don't Pass Line is a bet called the Field (a bad bet). The Field combines the numbers 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11, and 12. Above the Field is the Come area. The Come bet is a good bet. At the top of the layout are the Point numbers, also called the Box numbers — 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, and 10. These Point/Box numbers can be good or bad, depending on how they are being used. More on that later, when I discuss betting methods.
In the upper corners of the layout are the Don't Come boxes. The Don't Come is also a good bet but one most craps players shun, which I'll explain in a later chapter.
Okay, now take a look at the center of the table. These are the worst bets in the game of craps, known as Crazy Crapper bets, so named by the legendary Captain. They are also called Proposition bets. These are awful bets. Here are the names of these bets: the Hardways (2:2, 3:3, 4:4, 5:5), the 2 Snake Eyes), the 12 Boxcars), the 11 Yo), the 3 Triad), and Any Craps. There are also combination bets called the Whirl or the World, the Horn, also a multitude of Hop bets and the dastardly Any Seven. Some tables will have other proposition bets such as the money-gobbling Fire bet. As stated, these bets are awful — they should be called "suicide bets" for your average craps player.
I'll explain fully the good, bad, and ugliness of all the various bets when I discuss betting methods. If craps bets are compared to movie genres, then the Crazy Crapper bets would be slasher films, cutting your bankroll into bloody chum to be fed to great white sharks — i.e., the casinos.
How the Game is Played
The game begins with the stickman pushing five (sometimes six) dice to the player, from which the player will choose two. The three (or four) that have been rejected will be put into a bowl that is usually on the stickman's side of the table, against the wall under him. To shoot, the player must have a bet on the Pass Line or the Don't Pass Line. Look at the photo on page 3, and you will see that the Pass Line goes all around the side of the layout.
The Pass Line bettors are called Rightside, Lightside, Right, or Do players. These players make up more than 95 percent of the craps players. So let's look at this bet first, because the flow of the game is hinged on it.
The shooter picks up the dice and rolls them to the end of the table, where they hit the back wall composed of foam rubber pyramids. These pyramids are supposed to make the game of craps totally random, which it is for almost all players — except for controlled shooters, one of which you may become after reading this book.
The shooter now has the dice, and the game begins.
This roll is called the Come-Out roll. If the shooter rolls a 7 or 11, the Pass Line bet wins; if he rolls a 2, 3, or 12, the Pass Line bet loses. He has eight ways to win (six ways on the 7 and two ways on the 11) and four ways to lose (one on the 2, two on the 3, and one on the 12). So on this Come-Out roll the Rightside players have a 2-to-1 edge over the casino. This edge reverses itself when the Come-Out is over and the Point Cycle begins.
There are 24 other dice combinations in the game. Should he roll one of these (4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10) this number becomes his Point. The dealer will put a puck on the Point number with the white side facing up. This side will have on printed on it. The reverse side of the puck is black with off printed on it. When the Come-Out roll is taking place, the puck will be over on the side of the table on its black/off side.
The shooter must now make that Point number before the 7 appears in order to win. If the 7 appears before he makes his Point, the shooter and everyone else who bet the Pass Line loses. The dice will then be passed to the next shooter. When the 7 appears to end a roll, it is called sevening-out. The stickman will actually call "Seven out!" when this happens, telling everyone loudly that this shooter's hand is finished. Generally there will be moans at the table when this happens. During the Point Cycle, the edge is heavily in the casino's favor.
And that is the essential game of craps:
1. The Come-Out roll where the 7 or 11 wins for the Rightside player.
2. The 2, 3, or 12 loses for the Rightside player.
3. The Point is established, which will be one of these numbers: 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10.
4. The Point must be hit again before the 7 to win.
5. If the 7 comes up before the Point, the Pass Line loses and the shooter gives up the dice.
The Pass Line is an excellent bet to make. The house edge is 1.41 percent. That means for every $10 on the Pass Line, your expectation is to lose 14 cents. For every $100 your expectation is to lose $1.41. Obviously, these dollar amounts are averages over time. On the Pass Line, the house wins 251 decisions; the player wins 244 decisions. It's close. That seven-bet difference comes to 1.41 percent in the house's favor. Any ploppies who recommend not using the Pass Line bet have little knowledge of the game of craps. Avoid their advice.
The Odds Bet: Taking the Odds
Once your Point is established, the casino will allow you to place Odds, sometimes called "free" Odds, behind your wager. If the casino allows 2X Odds (translation: two-times odds or double odds), on a $10 Pass Line bet, you can put $20 in Odds behind this. The Odds is the best bet at the craps table because the house has no edge on the bet. The Odds bet is paid off at the true odds, which makes sense given its name. The odds of all the Pass Line bets are based on the Point number's relation to the 7.
Here are the payoffs for the Odds bets:
1. The 4 or 10 pays 2-to-1 (six ways to make the 7, three ways to make a 4 or 10)
2. The 5 or 9 pays 3-to-2 (six ways to make the 7, four ways to make the 5 or 9)
3. The 6 or 8 pays 6-to-5 (six ways to make the 7, five ways to make the 6 or 8)
The Pass Line is a 1-to-1 or even-money wager. You bet $10, you win or lose $10. So a $10 Pass Line bet with $20 in Odds results in a win of $50 on the 4 or 10 ($10 + $40 = $50), a win of $40 on the 5 or 9 ($10 + $30 = $40), and a win of $34 on the 6 or 8 ($10 + $24 = $34).
It doesn't take an Einstein to realize that the money you place in Odds has the best return of any bet at the game. No house edge = good for the players. That is a hard and fast rule. Again, if someone tells you not to take the Odds because it is a bad bet — run!
Please Note:Here's the bad news. There is a slight catch with the Odds bet. Come on, you didn't think the casino would just create a no-house-edge bet without a catch, did you? The catch is the fact that the Odds bet can be made only after the shooter has established a Point. So the house always has an edge on you, because that Pass Line bet comes in with a 1.41 house edge.
That $10 you bet on the Pass Line will lose you 14 cents whether you have placed Double Odds or 100X odds. Still, if you wanted to bet $30, you'd be better off doing it as $10 on the Pass Line with $20 in Odds, losing just 14 cents, than putting all $30 on the Pass Line and losing 42 cents.
You can just play the Pass Line without knowing anything else about craps because that bet is the essential bet of the game for Rightside/Do players.
The Come Bet
After the shooter has established his Point, you can place a Come bet on the layout. This bet acts just like a Pass Line bet. If the shooter rolls a 7 or 11, the bet wins; if the shooter rolls a 2, 3, or 12, the bet loses. If the shooter rolls a Box Number, the Come bet goes onto that number. It is placed in the number's box at the top of the layout. Now the shooter has to make that number before the 7 shows for the Come to win; if the 7 shows, the Come loses.
You can also place Odds on the Come bet. The Odds will actually be placed on top of the bet, somewhat skewed. The Come is a good bet with the same house edge as the Pass Line bet, 1.41 percent.
If you have a Pass Line bet up and a Come bet as well, if the shooter is on another Come-Out roll and rolls a 7, the Come bet will lose. Yes, the Pass Line bet wins on that 7, but the Come bet is a separate game between the Come bettor and the casino. The Odds are usually off for Come bets on the Pass Line's Come-Out roll, so those won't be lost on a Come-Out 7. However, you can keep those Odds working if you wish. Very few players do that.
Please note:Once your Pass Line and/or Come bets are up on a number, they cannot be taken down. They stay up until they win or lose. Why is this the rule? Because on the Come-Out roll, the player has a mighty edge of 2-to-1, but when the bet is on a number, the edge now turns in favor of the casino. These bets are called contract bets.
How the Odds Reduces the House Edge
I said previously that the Odds is a great bet with no house edge even though you have to make the Pass Line and/or Come bets, which do have a house edge, to be allowed to bet the Odds. The Odds will reduce the house edge on the total amount wagered with the one catch above. You will always lose 1.41 percent of your Pass Line and/or Come bets no matter how much you put in Odds. However, if you intend to bet $30, as I showed previously, you are always better putting the least on the Pass Line or Come and the most in Odds. In such a case, you are really smashing down the overall house edge on that $30.
The Don't Pass
Now we go to the Darkside of craps, which the Don't players inhabit. The Don't Pass and all Darkside wagers are almost the exact opposite of the Lightside/Rightside way to play the game. While 95 percent of the craps players are making their Pass Line bets, the Darkside/Don't player puts up his Don't Pass bet. On the Come-Out roll this bet will lose on the 7 and 11 but win on the 2 and 3. The 12 is a push (bar/tie), except in some casinos that use the 2 as the bar/tie instead of the 12. Although the Darkside player is bucking big odds on the initial placement of the bet (he faces an 8-to-3 house advantage), once the Point is established, he has a decided edge over every number.
Still, the Don't Pass bet is only marginally better than the Pass Line bet, as the casino wins 976 decisions and the player wins 949 decisions, with ties making up 55 decisions. The house edge, if you count ties, is 1.36 percent; if you don't count ties, it is 1.40 percent. Thus, for a $10 Don't Pass wager, your expectation is to lose 13.6 cents or 14 cents. The difference between those two figures is just how you decide to do the math, whether you count the ties or not.
Interesting note: Is a tie something that actually happened? What is the difference between a tie and nothing in a game if the tie has no impact? Or is the time the tie uses up considered more than nothing because during that time no money can be lost or won? This is a raging debate among the philosophers of craps, of which there are very few.
One important thing to be aware of — most Lightside players have a total disdain, if not hate, for Darkside players, because these Rightside players feel the Darksiders win when they lose. During the Point Cycle of the game, when the shooter is trying to make his Point and avoid the 7, the Darkside player is rooting for the 7 to show, so that he may win. That's correct — when everyone else loses to the 7, the Darksider wins. Many Darksiders will shoot the dice too — hoping they seven-out quickly on their own rolls. This can also infuriate Rightsiders. In a random game, Darksiders have no negative or positive influence on the game. But emotions do count when you are at a table, and craps players are quite emotional at times. The only time a Darksider and a Lightsider both win is if the Rightsider has a Come bet out on the Come layout and a 7 is rolled. The Darksider wins his Don't Pass bet and the Rightsider wins his Come bet.
Laying the Odds on the Darkside
The Darkside/Don't bettor can also take advantage of the Odds bet, only this time he lays the Odds, because he has the better of the game once a Point or number is established. In short, he lays the long money to the casino's short money. Again, the Odds bet can be made only once a Point is established.
Here are the Odds you can lay on the various Point numbers:
1. If you have a 4 or 10 with a $10 Don't Pass bet, you can lay $40 in odds to win $20
2. If you have a 5 or 9 with a $10 Don't Pass bet, you can lay $30 to win $20
3. If you have a 6 or 8 with a $10 Don't Pass bet, you can lay $24 to win $20
Please note:The Odds on the Darkside is how much you want to win, which in the above case is $20, double your $10 Pass Line bet.
Excerpted from Casino Craps by Frank Scoblete. Copyright © 2010 Frank Scoblete. Excerpted by permission of Triumph Books.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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