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You Can Join in the Excitement at Craps with these Simple Bets

30 October 2002

By Alan Krigman

Lots of people sense that craps is exciting, but are too cowed to try it. They can't figure out the rhyme or reason for wagers. Or what determines whether anyone loses or wins - and, when the latter, how much. And, they're afraid they'll need too big a stake to play. All to toss two dice and bet on how they'll land.

If you're willing to forego being a shooter - itself a daunting role novices often prefer to avoid - you can calm your fears. Just make "Place bets" on both the six and eight. These aren't the archetypical craps wagers, nor the usual "starting" bets. They're also not the "best" you can do, edgewise. However, they're easy to understand. And, taken together, are equivalent to slot machines with 99 percent return, superior to anything you can bet at any other table game except blackjack, and popular among solid citizens who regard themselves as craps experts. After a few sessions playing this way, you'll be comfortable enough at craps to shift toward a more advanced modus operandi.

Place bets on the six and eight are two separate wagers, each paying 7-to-6. For this reason, each is booked in $6 multiples. At tables where the minimum is $5, this is as little as $6 each for a total of $12. Were the lower limit $10, you'd need at least $12 each, and so on. It's not really necessary to have equal bets on the six and the eight, and you can Place one rather than both. But the present goal is a simple strategy that affords action aplenty and a good shot at earning a profit, not fancy footwork.

At the $6 level, you earn $7 if the shooter rolls a six or eight and your bet stays in action for the next roll. You lose $12 if the shooter rolls a seven, and have to start the process again with another $12. Your bets are unaffected by any other total. You'll have a decision on 16 out of 36 possible results - 44 percent of all rolls. And your chances are 62.5 percent of winning $7 versus 37.5 percent of losing $12.

I'll skip the long, boring passages detailing the mechanics of actually making the bets. Instead, tell the dealer you're new to the game and need help betting the six and eight. This kindly person will tell you where and when to put your chips, will make change for you when necessary, and will take care of the payoffs.

It will be useful to know a few procedural items in advance.

1) Determine betting limits before starting. You'll be spared trying to bet $6 in a high-roller game where they scoff at such piddling sums. Limits will be posted on the back wall of the table, just below where the dealer is standing.

2) Find a table with room at the rail; shoehorning yourself into a cramped crowd of rowdy rollers is bad manners.

3) Look for the "puck," a disc about two inches across. It'll either be on a numbered box across the top of the layout - white-side up showing the word "ON," or at the end of the table - black-side up showing "OFF." When it's "OFF," drop your cash onto the table and ask for change. The dealer will swap the money for chips, which you put in the grooves along the rail. This is when you tell the dealer you'd like help.

4) Whenever a six or eight wins, the dealer will pay you at the 7-to-6 ratio. If you're amassing a lot of white chips, the dealer might make a $7 payoff with $10 and say "drop me $3" or a $14 payoff with $15 and ask for $1.

5) Ordinarily, your bets are suspended during a "come-out" roll. You'll neither win on six or eight nor lose on seven. When you don't get paid on a six or eight, this is probably the reason; ask if you're in doubt, but don't arbitrarily assume the dealer forgot to pay or tried to cheat you.

What are your prospects with this bet? Say you start with $100 and play at the $6 level. You have more than 70 percent chance of being in action for at least two hours. And, if your target is to quit when your earnings hit or top $100, you've over 40 percent chance of triumph. With a $50 goal, the likelihood you'll make it exceeds 60 percent. And the probability of an adrenaline rush is 100%, no matter what. Or, as the poet, Sumner A Ingmark, wrote:

Often you can be successful,
Using means that aren't too stressful.

Alan Krigman
Alan Krigman was a weekly syndicated newspaper gaming columnist and Editor & Publisher of Winning Ways, a monthly newsletter for casino aficionados. His columns were focused on those interested in gambling probability and statistics. He passed away in October, 2013.