The fundamental bet in craps is the pass line bet, in which one bets that the dice will pass (that is, roll the point number before rolling a 7). A pass line bet is also won if the come-out roll is a 7 or 11. The following discussion assumes that the shooter, as is usually the case, is betting on the pass line.
If a 4,5,6,8,9, or 10 is thrown on the come-out roll (i.e., if a point is set), most casinos allow pass line bettors to take odds by placing from one to five times (and at some casinos, up to 100 times) the pass line bet behind the line. This additional bet wins if the point is rolled again before a 7 is rolled (the point is made) and pays at the true odds, 2-to-1 if 4 or 10 is the point, 3-to-2 if 5 or 9 is the point, and 6-to-5 if 6 or 8 is the point. While the house has a small (1.4%) advantage on pass line bets, the house has no advantage at all on odds bets. Therefore, taking the maximum odds (which vary by casino) can lower the house percentage for any given bet down to as low as 0.5%.
Odds bets in craps are one of the few bets offered at a casino that are completely free of any house advantage. Another such bet is the “double-up” option offered to the player in some forms of video poker after winning a hand.
Let’s see why that is. There are 36 possible permutations (ways to roll a pair of 6-sided dice):
1-1 = 1 way to make a 2 1-2 2-1 = 2 ways to make a 3 1-3 2-2 3-1 = 3 ways to make a 4, true odds pays 2-1 1-4 2-3 3-2 4-1 = 4 ways to make a 5, true odds pays 3-2 1-5 2-4 3-3 4-2 5-1 = 5 ways to make a 6, true odds pays 6-5 1-6 2-5 3-4 4-3 5-2 6-1 = 6 ways to make a 7 2-6 3-5 4-4 5-3 6-2 = 5 ways to make an 8, true odds pays 6-5 3-6 4-5 5-4 6-3 = 4 ways to make a 9, true odds pays 3-2 4-6 5-5 6-4 = 3 ways to make a 10, true odds pays 2-1 5-6 6-5 = 2 ways to make an 11 6-6 = 1 way to make a 12
There are a total of 36 possible combinations. So on the come-out roll there are 8 ways to win, 4 ways to lose and (36-12=) 24 ways to start a point.
The odds of making the point are the ratio of the number of ways to make a 7 to the number of ways to make the point. For example, there are five ways to make a 6 or 8, so the odds of making a point of 6 or 8 are 6-5. Therefore an odds bet of $5 on 6 or 8 pays out $6.
Many experienced craps players only make pass line and odds bets since the odds are much more favorable to the player than any other bets in craps, and in fact most casino games. The pass line and odds bet is one of the best wagers you can make in gambling, and a lot of the excitement and fortunes of craps can be experienced with this simple bet.
The rules for the come wagers are the same as for the pass line except that they can only be made after the come-out roll. Effectively, they represent starting a new game using the same stream of numbers being generated by the existing (pass line) game.
Because of the come bet, if the shooter makes their point, a player can find themselves in the situation where they have a come bet with odds on it, and yet be rooting for the shooter to roll a 7 on their next come-out roll. Because of this, it is usual that odds bets on come wagers are presumed to be not working. That means that if the shooter rolls a 7 on the come-out roll, any players with active come bets lose their initial wager but will have their odds money returned to them, unless they tell the dealer that they want their odds working. Conversely, if the shooter rolls a number that matches an active come bet, the original bet is paid off at even money and the odds money is returned to the player (unless they told the dealer that they wanted their odds working, in which case they are paid at the true odds).
There is also a don’t come box in which one can place bets that the dice will not pass on the next sequence starting with the immediate roll as a virtual come-out roll; even the shooter may bet that he or she will miss out. Don’t pass and don’t come bets are basically the opposite of pass and come bets; the player is betting that a 7 will be rolled before the point. On the come-out roll a 7 or an 11 is a loss, whereas a 2, 3, or 12 is a win. Casino craps layouts bar either 2 or 12 on the don’t pass and don’t come bets. This means that if 2 is barred and the shooter rolls a 2 on the come-out roll, the wager is a stand off and the player’s money is returned.
When betting against the shooter, the bettor must put up the long side of the bet. Thus a don’t pass bettor who bets $10 when the point is a 4 could place an odds bet of $20 behind the line. If the shooter rolls a 7 before achieving their point, the bettor would receive $10 for the don’t pass bet plus $10 for their odds bet. Even though the house advantage on the don’t pass and don’t come bets are almost identical to the pass line and come bets, for most players the disadvantage of putting up the long side of the bet makes the don’t pass line less desirable. Additionally, many craps players consider don’t pass and don’t come bets to be in poor taste, or even “taboo”.
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