The rules vary slightly from one casino to another, but the expected value of several bets is only slightly negative (the most favorable bets with the most favorable rules offer a house advantage of as little as 0.18%). All bets have a negative expectation except for the “free odds” bet that the player is allowed to make after a point is established on a flat (line) bet (this bet has a long-term expected value of 0). However, the “free odds” bet cannot be made independently, so the expected value of the entire bet, including odds, is still negative. Since there is no correlation between die rolls, there is no possible long-term winning strategy. While experienced blackjack players who learn to count cards can gain a small mathematical advantage over extended playing sessions by diligent study, there is no comparable strategy for craps.
Occasionally, players win several bets in a row; such players are said to be “on a roll.” Those who increase their bets during a winning series can rapidly win substantial sums. On the other hand, money can be lost back just as quickly, as there is no statistical likelihood of a “hot streak” continuing for any given duration. To counter this, experienced players take full advantage of “free odds” — bets on which there is zero house advantage. Maximizing the size of your odds bet in relation to your line bet will minimize but never eliminate the house edge. Many casinos have limitation on how large the odds bet can be in relation to the flat bet, with single, double, and five times odds common. Some casinos offer 3-4-5 odds, referring to the maximum multiple of the line bet a player can place in odds for the points of 4 and 10, 5 and 9, and 6 and 8, respectively. During promotional periods, a casino may even offer 100x odds bets, which renders the house edge to almost nothing but dramatically increases volatility. Horseshoe Casino founder Benny Binion once quipped that if every player took the 100x odds, the house “wouldn’t be able to keep the lights on,” referring to the overhead required to run casino games.
The only casino currently in Las Vegas to offer 100x odds is the Casino Royale located next to Harrah’s on the strip. The Stratosphere offers 10x odds and most of the other casinos such as MGM and Bellagio offer 3x4x5. Some casinos such as the Riviera, Orleans and Gold Coast offer 2x odds which is considered an anathema to craps players, in equal footing with 6:5 payouts on single-deck blackjack. Most downtown casinos offer 5x (Binions) or 10x odds (Plaza and Main Street Station, with the Golden Nugget offering the unusual 6x8x10 odds), while a handful of downtown casinos offer the horrible 2x odds (Sam Boyd’s Fremont).
There are numerous middle market casinos whose income from gaming is negligible due to minimal chip size, and whose business model focuses on generating revenue primarily through the sale of alcohol. At such institutions, craps will often be rigged mildly in favor of guests, allowing the house to serve drinks to the large number of onlookers a winning table generates. Low limit Craps is also known to be used as a loss leader via the same odds to give the impression that a casino which derives its profits from gambling (almost all in Las Vegas) is full of winners and fun place to be, causing guests to play other, house favored games.