Advanced Craps Strategies: Simple and Complicated
The game of craps is full of tons of betting options that have payout rates that are different than what many people would know or expect. It’s this obfuscation that leads so many players to accidentally taking trap bets with much higher house edges than normal, but there are some advanced strategies you can use that go beyond the normal means of avoiding these betting disasters.
An Introduction to the Complications of Craps
As we outlined in our tutorial for Craps, there are a ton of different types of wagers in this game, and many of them are confusing as to how you even win because of the jargon used. On top of that, the payout rates for most of these wagers are just assumed to be known by the player and aren’t always shown on the tables.
To make this even more complicated, there are some wagers that win and lose in exactly the same way but have different payouts when you come out on top.
Because of these levels of complication, it makes sense that players would want to use basic strategies like the ones we outlined in the tutorial linked above. Having a basic sense of what you’re trying to do and what you’re trying to accomplish can make it a lot easier to enjoy this game if you’re not familiar with it.
However, once you use those basic, simple ways of playing, you may long for something more involved. This is where more advanced craps strategies come into play like the ones that we are going to outline here.
The Standard Simple Strategy for Craps
If you look at almost any reference material for the game of craps, then they will recommend a combination of two types of bets for a basic craps strategy:
- Stick with the pass line bet.
- Maximize your wager when taking the odds when a place number is rolled on the come out roll of the pass line bet.
Note: If you aren’t sure what these terms mean, then check out our craps tutorial linked in the first paragraph for an in-depth explanation of all of it.
One problem with this strategy is that, while it is effective and gets you a payout rate comparable with what strong blackjack players can achieve in choice games, it’s incredibly boring and offers no real options for players to mix things up.
Another issue is that it requires the player to go with the pass line bet, which can take one or several rolls to finish, so you never really know how long your betting round is going to last. This is a problem in particular for players who are getting on the action via mobile or who otherwise just want to get in a few quick betting rounds before getting back to whatever else they were doing.
It is possible to solve these issues with more advanced strategies. However, it’s also more complicated and involves learning a bit more about the game itself. The reason for this is that, once you start moving away from the safety and security of the pass line bet, then you move into dangerous waters where accidentally making the wrong wagers can be disastrous for your payout rate.
Advanced Strategies: Betting Directly on Place Numbers
Despite popular misconception, you do not have to play the pass line (or don’t pass) to get good wagers in on the game of craps with a low house advantage. You just need to know which wagers to make and which to avoid, which leads us to betting directly on the place numbers.
The place numbers are 4, 5, 6, 8, 9 and 10. They pair up as 4-10, 5-9 and 6-8, and there are four different options to place bets directly on these numbers.
In what follows, we’re going to break down and explain the payouts and overall concept for these four betting options and show you how you can piece together an advanced strategy from what they have to offer. What’s more is that this is a very low-volatility approach that gives you plenty of control over the swings that can come from big craps games.
When you place a buy bet, it’s like the laying odds portion of the pass line bet except you’ll pay a 5 percent commission on your wins. That might sound like a big deal, but it doesn’t actually correspond to a 5 percent house edge, which is what most players mistakenly believe.
You’ll win on a buy bet if your number comes up, but you’ll lose if a seven comes up instead. All other numbers are a push.
Each pairing (6-8, 5-9, 4-10) has a different house advantage for each of the bets that we’re going to discuss here, and the buy bet is no exception:
- Buy 6 or 8 – 0.69 percent
- Buy 5 or 9 – 0.56 percent
- Buy 4 or 10 – 0.42 percent
As you can see immediately, these are wagers with a very low house edge. However, don’t stop here because they’re not even all of the best options that you have in terms of keeping the payout rate as high as possible.
A lay bet, also called laying odds, is the opposite of an odds bet. It’s like laying odds on a don’t pass line bet minus the same 5 percent commission. Also like the above buy bet, this does not translate to the 5 percent house edge.
For a lay bet, you win when a seven comes, and you lose when your number comes. Every other number that could come up pushes.
The idea here is that it wins and loses in opposite ways as the buy bet, and the payouts are adjusted accordingly. Along similar lines, each one of the pairings has its own house edge that we’ll list out here:
- Lay 6 or 8 – 0.69 percent
- Lay 5 or 9 – 0.56 percent
- Lay 4 or 10 – 0.42 percent
As observant players will notice, the house edge is the same for each of these as the buy bets. We have presented the buy and lay bets first for this reason and because the consistency of their house advantages for bets on each pairing of place numbers serves as a good reference point for the next two types of wagers we’ll look at.
Place wagers have the exact same winning conditions as a buy bet. The only difference is that the payouts are a little different. Here is a quick overview of the payouts and house advantage for each available pairing of place numbers:
- Place 6 or 8 – Pays 7:6 (0.46 percent)
- Place 5 or 9 – Pays 7:5 (1.11 percent)
- Place 4 or 10 – Pays 9:5 (1.67 percent)
By comparison, the Place 6 or 8 is a better option than Buy 6 or 8, but for the 5/9 and 4/10 options, the Buy bet is better. Keep in mind, once again, that you’ll win or lose for the same conditions on a Place or Buy wager, and what we’re looking at here is that the place option has a better payout for a bet on 6 or 8, but the buy option gives you better wins for wagers on a 4, 5, 9 or 10.
Place to Lose
Much in the same way that the buy and place bets are connected by their winning conditions, the place to lose bet is essentially the exact same thing as a lay bet except the payouts are a little different, which leads to different levels of house advantage.
Here’s what to expect:
- Place to Lose 6 or 8 – Pays 4:5 (0.56 percent)
- Place to Lose 5 or 9 – Pays 5:8 (0.69 percent)
- Place to Lose 4 or 10 – Pays 5:11 (0.76 percent)
Again, we can compare the place to lose house edges with the same house advantage for the related lay bets to see which are better since they win and lose in the same way. Similar to what we saw above, the place to lose is the better choice when wagering on a 6 or 8. However, the lay bet gives a higher payout rate (and lower house advantage) for wagers on a 4, 5, 9 or 10.
Putting It All Together
While we have explained all of these four types of wagers, their payouts and house advantages above, it’s easier to view what’s happening here in a table form. Along these lines, here’s a chart that shows the house advantage for all four types of wagers for all three pairings of place numbers:
|Numbers||Buy||Place||Lay||Place to Lose|
We’ve put in bold the best option for each buy-place and lay-place to lose pairing for each of the sets of numbers to make it easy to identify the six betting options that make up this advanced strategy that does not even require you to bet on the pass line.
This is definitely a much more complicated strategy for craps than what you typically see. However, once you understand what you’re looking at, you can very easily get payout rates that average out around 99.5 percent in craps without having to play the boring pass line and without being locked into one exact betting scheme every single time.
What this betting system allows you to do is decide if you want to bet for or against the six most important numbers in the game (ie: the place numbers 4, 5, 6, 8, 9 and 10) while keeping a super low volatility and maintaining the ability to bet as little or as much as you’d like.