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Optimal Betting / Bad Bets in Craps

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One subtlety of craps is that there is a huge variety in the house advantage on the many bets available on the craps layout. Of course the house is guaranteed to win in the long run, but by poor selection of bets, the house can win the player’s money many, many times faster. For example,

  • A player betting the pass line or come line at $10 per bet, 50 bets per hour, will lose on average $141 over 20 hours of gambling on a gaming trip.
  • A player placing the 4 and 10 at the same rates will lose on average $667 over the same period.
  • A player betting the “any seven” bet at the same rate will lose on average $1,667 over the same period.

The house percentage advantage is an indication of the expected loss per total amount bet. Note that the total bet amount also drives expected loss, so betting the table minimum will give the slowest rate of average loss. While odds bets lower the house percentage, they do so by increasing the total amount bet. Thus, given a fixed minimum pass line bet, the decision whether to make the odds bet or not does not affect the average dollar loss per game. It does, however, increase the variance, which improves the chance (though still under 50/50) that the player will be net ahead after a finite amount of play, as well as increasing the chance of larger losses or larger wins.

The table below gives house advantage of various bets, as well as expected loss over a typical gaming trip (e.g. 50 bets per hour for 5 hours per day over 4 days = 1000 bets)

Type of bet House advantage Expected loss per 1000 bets of $10
Pass line, no odds 1.41% $141.00
Come line, no odds 1.41% $141.00
Don’t pass 1.36% $136.00
Don’t come 1.36% $136.00
Place 6 or 8 1.52% $152.00
Buy 4 or 10, commission paid on wins only 1.67% $167.00
Field Bet with 3-1 odds paid on either 2 or 12 2.78% $278.00
Place 5 or 9 4.00% $400.00
Place 4 or 10 6.67% $667.00
Buy/Lay 4, 5, 6, 8, 9 or 10 5.00% $500.00
Field Bet 5.56% $556.00
Big 6 or Big 8 9.09% $909.00
Hard 6 or 8 9.09% $909.00
Hard 4 or 10 11.11% $1111.00
Any craps 11.11% $1111.00
Eleven (Yo) 11.11% $1111.00
Any Seven 16.67% $1667.00

In summary, the pass/don’t line, come/don’t line, place 6, place 8, buy 4 and buy 10 (only when commission is charged only on wins) are the “good” bets, and all other “bad” bets will lose money between 3 and 12 times faster, on average. The Any Seven bet, at 16.7% house advantage, may have the dubious honor of being the worst bet in the entire casino. Many players like to place numbers, but only the 6 and 8 are good bets. The player can work “through” the come line to get money onto the other point numbers at much more favorable returns for the player. While buying the 4 or 10 is better than placing it, either way is a bad bet, except in casinos with unusual rules where commission is paid on wins only.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia.

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