Craps is one of the best table games to play in the casino in terms of the lowest house edge. However, there are many mistakes craps players make that can grow the house advantage exponentially. One is not taking odds on a pass line, come, don’t pass or don’t come bet. Taking these odds turns a good game into a great one, especially when avoiding the bad bets on the table, like hops and hardways.
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How craps odds work
A player may take odds on any bet on the pass line, don’t pass, come or don’t come when a point is established. For the pass line and don’t pass, the player places the chips on the table by their bet. For the come and don’t come, the dealer handles the odds.
Most Las Vegas Strip casinos offer 3-4-5 times odds. Downtown and locals casinos often deal 10, and sometimes, 20 times odds. Regional markets are usually five or ten times odds. However, Horseshoe casinos around the United States have 100 times odds. Online casinos and electronic versions of the game usually have double odds.
The math behind craps odds
Craps odds have no house edge. The return-to-player is 100%. (There is an exception: Some Casino Wizard machines take juice on craps odds. Always read the paytable on these electronic table games.)
There are some craps players who feel that taking odds does not lower the house edge of the line bets. I disagree. I believe that taking the house edge of the line bet and dividing it between the sum of the odds and line gives the player the best idea of the element of risk.
Most craps players do not bet $100. It is the easiest wager amount to use to demonstrate the house edge on a player’s line bet.
A player making a $100 pass line bet at a craps table gives up $1.41 in house edge every time the bet is resolved. That occurs on average every 3.38 times. The player only theoretically loses $1.41, regardless of the amount of odds taken. Below is the expected loss on a $100 bet plus maximum odds as a percentage of the total wager:
- 2x: 0.47% ($300 total wager)
- 3-4-5x: 0.27% ($400, $500, or $600)
- 5x: 0.23% ($600)
- 10x: 0.12% ($1100)
- 20x: 0.07% ($2100)
- 100x: 0.01% ($11,100)
A 3-4-5 times table means that the odds are triple on 4 and 10, four times on five and nine, and five times on 6 and 8. All win six times the odds.
One-third of the time, the player will win or lose on the come out from the pass line or come. Below is the expected house edge when taking maximum odds on the 24 rolls that become points and the lack of ability to take odds on the other 12:
- 2x: 0.78%
- 3-4-5x: 0.65%
- 5x: 0.62%
- 10x: 0.55%
- 20x: 0.52%
- 100x: 0.48%
Taking full craps odds at a 3-4-5 times craps game is about the same as playing a 3:2 six-deck blackjack one. At 10 times odds, it is about the same as a 3:2 six-deck game with surrender. All Las Vegas Strip casinos deal 3-4-5 times odds craps at its lowest limits. The same cannot be said about 3:2 blackjack, where 6:5 tables make up most of the casino floor. A 6:5 blackjack game has a house edge that is about three times worse than a 3-4-5 times craps game.
Blackjack house edge with perfect play
The percentages below show the house edge on the first hand out of a continuously shuffled deck or shoe. As you see, playing full craps odds is better than blackjack games available for the same bet limits. A craps game will be a little slower than a blackjack table, depending on the number of players. A comparable blackjack bet is the average of the craps minimum plus maximum odds. The results are courtesy of a Wizard of Odds Blackjack Calculator.
- 3:2 single deck, double down before but not after splitting: 0.19%
- 3:2 double deck, stands on soft 17: 0.19%
- 3:2 six-deck, stands on soft 17, surrender and re-split aces: 0.27%
- 3:2 six-deck blackjack, hits soft 17, surrender and re-split aces: 0.46%
- 3:2 six-deck blackjack, hits soft 17, no surrender or re-split aces: 0.62%
- 6:5 six-deck blackjack: 1.98%
Don’t raise your flat bet until you can take max odds on it
One of the biggest mistakes that I see craps players make is betting more than the minimum on line and come bets without making the maximum odds afterwards. I think the player hopes that a 7 or 11 comes on the first roll. When it does not, that money is already a huge underdog. It is better for your long term bankroll to bet the minimum and take maximum odds over taking loss on a larger line bet.