Craps 101 - The URComped Series

The forum name says it all. You're new to the game of craps and don't have a clue where to begin. Pass Line. Don't Pass. Come. Don't Come. Hardways. Big Six. Big Eight. The Horn. Good Grief! Sounds like back when you were trying to make a decision about what to do in the back seat on that first car date. Well never fear! There are a few folks around here who have spent enough time at the tables to be able to answer just about any question you may have. So step right up and get a clue!

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Craps 101 - The URComped Series

Post by heavy » Sun Dec 30, 2018 1:14 pm

I recently completed a series of short articles for URComped aimed at beginner craps players and I thought I'd republish them here on the forum since we have a fair base of newer players on the board these days. We'll start with a piece on bankroll and buy in and expand into craps superstitions - then we'll go from there. Here you go:

In my first Craps Tip I normally talk about when and how to Buy In at the craps table. The “when” part is dictated largely by courtesy and superstition. The how part is dictated by the house. I’m going to talk about both courtesy and craps superstition in more detail – as regards your buy in and other elements of the game – in an effort to spare you some embarrassment at the tables.

First off, you shouldn’t just walk up to a craps table and drop your money on the layout to buy in at any time you feel like it. You should take time to see where the dice are – and whether or not the “puck” says “ON” or “OFF.” The puck is a round plastic disk used to mark the point once it is established. If, for example, the shooter has established the eight as the point the dealer will have placed the puck on the number eight with the white or “ON” side facing up.” Do not drop money onto the table while the puck says “ON.” That means a game is in progress and many players consider “new money on the table” to be bad luck. If you inadvertently drop your money on the table while the puck says “ON” odds are you’ll hear a chorus of “Turn my bets off” coming from the gallery as superstitious players demonstrate their belief in the power of the money to draw out the seven. Odds are you’ll pick up a dirty look or two as well. No big deal as long as the shooter doesn’t throw the seven next. But if he does then guess who will get blamed for it? Not the shooter. Not the dice. No, it’ll be all your fault for buying in late and tossing new money onto the table.

Wait until the puck says “off.” Then drop your cash in the Come area in front of you and say in a voice loud enough for the dealer to hear, “Change only.” He’ll take care of the rest from there, collecting your cash and exchanging it for playing cheques, counting them out for the boxman and the eye in the sky to verify, then handing them off to you. You can then pick them up and place them in the rack in front of you, arranging them however you wish.
So much for buying in. Now let’s talk about the other superstitions you need to be aware of. Crapshooters are generally a very superstitious lot. Let’s just take a look at a common example. If the dice are thrown and one or both dice bounce OFF the table – superstition dictates that the next toss will be a seven. How do you counter this superstition? Well, if you’re at the table when this happens you’ll hear a chorus of players shout “same dice.” Why? Because the dice jumped off the table because they were “hot.” They don’t want the house dropping “cold” dice on the table to replace the “hot” ones.

Of course, the odds of the seven showing on the next toss have not changed. I don’t care if the shooter stands on his left foot, tosses backwards with his “off” hand with one eye shut while snorting tequila shots! The odds are one in six. But if the shooter does toss a seven on the next throw every superstitious player at the table will think, “Aha! Knew it. Every time the dice bounce off the table . . .” Had the shooter made his point on that toss instead the rest of the players would have dismissed that as irrelevant. It’s only the seven outs that are remembered. And that, my friends, is what we call “confirmation bias.”

With that in mind, here are my Big Seven Superstitions for Craps Players:

1. New money on the table will bring out the seven. (Buy in at the right time)
2. If the dice hit the money (chips) they roll funny (roll the seven).
3. If the dice bounce off the table the next roll will be a seven.
4. If a player is making a late bet and the dice hit his hand the dice will roll a seven.
5. If anyone interrupts the shooter – a beverage server, his girlfriend, another player, etc. – the next roll will be a seven.
6. If there is a chip fill at the table (security bringing more chips for the dealers) the next roll will be seven.
7. The echo effect. If anyone at the table says “seven” or if there is another table open next to yours and you hear the stickman call “seven out” on it – the next roll will be a seven.

There you have them. Seven superstitions for craps players. And those are just the big ones. There are dozens more. And when those situations arise you’ll see many veteran players turning their bets off – often quietly, simply calling the dealer name, making eye contact, pointing to their bets then dragging their index finger across their neck in a “cut-throat” action while mouthing the word “off.” Why so quietly? Because he knows the dice have ears, and if they hear you calling your bets off they’ll listen for you to turn them back on. THEN they’ll roll the seven.

At the end of the day craps superstitions are really pretty silly. They can cost you money if your bets are “off” when they hit. Twice last year I had my eight pressed up to $1800 and had it turned off when it hit. That’s $2100 times two that I didn’t win. But having your bets turned off can save you money when the seven shows. Just last week I had my bets off at the right time to save around $1000 in Place and buy bets. In the end it probably comes close to evening out on a personal level. The real key here is not to do anything that’s going to cost anyone else any of their bankroll.
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Re: Craps 101 - The URComped Series

Post by heavy » Sun Dec 30, 2018 1:16 pm

The Pass Line Bet at Craps – Heads or Tails?

The game of Craps looks extremely complicated to the first time player, but it’s not. In fact, if you can flip a coin and call heads or tails you can play craps. Why? Because at the end of the day craps is the same as a coin flip game. Ultimately there are two choices. The dice will “pass” or they will “not pass” – the equivalent of “heads” or “tails.”

Let’s say the Pass Line bet is “Heads” and the “Don’t Pass” bet is “Tails.” Here’s how the game is played:

On the first roll of a “game” of craps if the seven or eleven roll the Pass Line wins and the Don’t Pass line loses. Heads won. Simple enough, right? However, if the two or three “craps” roll the Pass line loses and the Don’t Pass wins. Again, it’s like Heads or Tails. This time “tails” won. But what if the twelve craps rolled? Here’s where it gets tricky. On the layout you’ll see a sign that says “Bar the Twelve.” That means if the twelve rolls it’s a “push” or “tie.” It’s as if the coin we flipped magically stood on its edge.

What if some other number rolls? If the four, five, six, eight, nine, or ten roll then that number becomes the shooters “point.” If he is shooting from the Pass Line then he must toss that same number again BEFORE rolling a seven in order to win the bet. If the seven shows up first he loses. But if he’s playing the Don’t Pass line and tosses the seven he wins that bet. If he repeats the point before the seven he loses. So the two bets – the Pass and the Don’t Pass are the exact opposites of each other.

As a player who is not shooting the dice, you can play the Pass or Don’t Pass Line as well. Of course, you don’t have to play either to participate in the game but we’ll get to that later when we talk about Place and Lay betting. But for now let’s focus on the Pass or Don’t Pass. You can play either way, just like the shooter.

Which way is the better way to play? On the Come Out roll the Pass player has an 8 to 5 advantage. That’s because there are eight “ways” to toss a seven or eleven. By “ways” I mean there are eight combinations of the dice that add up to seven or eleven. The seven can roll 6-1, 1-6, 5-2, 2-5, 4-3, 3-4, and the eleven can roll 6-5 or 5-6. So the Pass Line bet looks like the stronger play. However, once a point is established the Pass line bet will lose roughly two out of three times.

The opposite is true of the Don’t Pass. It has an 8 – 5 disadvantage on the Come Our roll for the same reason the Pass Line has an advantage, but it will win roughly two times out of three once the point is established.
So which is the better way to play? Statistically, there’s not enough difference between the two bets for the average player to worry about. Pick the play that suits your disposition and go with it. Some players are eternal optimists and like to bet “with” the dice all the time. Others prefer to bet “against the dice.” Still others try to “follow the trend.” Since the dice have no memory it really doesn’t matter in the long run.

I’ve deliberately avoided the subject of “odds” so far for a couple of reasons. For one thing, keeping track of the odds on the various bets can be overwhelming to the new player at craps. Secondly, for a short-run player who may only step up to the table once or twice a year while on a cruise holiday or a business trip to Vegas – luck plays a much bigger factor in your wins than the odds. With that said, there are some bets that are just so good that you can’t NOT bet them. In fact, they’re so good they are not even advertised on the craps layout. I’m talking about the Free Odds Bet.

They’re called “Free Odds” because the house does not have an edge on these wagers. They are paid at their true odds. For example, the house has a 2 – 1 advantage over the player on the Pass Line with the Four and Ten as the point. Your Pass Line bet on the Four or Ten will pay even money if it wins, but the Free Odds bet on the Four or Ten pays 2 – 1, so a $50 Free Odds bet that wins pays $100. The Five and Nine Free Odds bets pay 3 – 2, so a $60 Free Odds bet that wins pays $90. Note that we wagered $60 because in order to get a correct payoff you have to bet “even” money. We could have wagered $12 or $20 or $54 and still have been paid off correctly. The Six and Eight Free Odds are paid at 6 – 5, so a $50 Free Odds bet pays $60. Bottom line – the Free Odds bet is a great bet and whenever you have a Pass Line bet or Come Bet you should take advantage of it.

What about players who are on the Don’t Pass? They can bet the Free Odds as well. However, because they have the advantage on the point once it is established they must bet exactly opposite of the Pass Line bettor when it comes to odds. For example, on the Four or Ten they might lay $50 to win $25 in Free Odds on their Don’t Pass bet – ‘Laying 2 to 1” odds. The five and nine would require laying $30 free odds to win $20, and the Six and Eight would be paid $25 for a $30 Lay wager on top of the Don’t Pass bet. Of course, you can wager larger or smaller amounts according to the table’s limits.

Not sure how much to bet on Free Odds? On a $10 game, Single or Double odds always work if you are playing a 2X odds game. You’d bet either $10 or $20 odds, placing the wager BEHIND the Pass Line bet. In Vegas the most common Free Odds table limit is 3X-4X-5X. That means you can bet 3 times your Pass Line bet on the Four and Ten, 4 times your Pass Line bet on the Five and Nine, and 5 times your Pass Line bet on the Six and Eight. In a $5 3X-4X-5X game where you play max odds your payoff on every bet will be $35. If it’s a $10 game the odds bets will be $30, $40, or $50 if you are taking max odds, and that payoff will always be $70. Confusing? Don’t worry. The dealer will help you out if you make a mistake.

When playing the Don’ts I prefer to play at least 2X odds. In a $10 game that would be $24 odds on the Six and Eight, $30 on the Five and Nine, and $40 on the Four and Ten. However, a simpler number that works is to lay $30 odds on every Don’t Pass bet, regardless of which number the bet travels to. Then sit back, relax and wait for that “coin flip” win.
The difference in the Free Odds bet on the Pass side versus the Don’t Pass side can be confusing. Just remember that they’re the mirror image of each other and you’ll soon get the knack of it. And any time you have a question at the table just ask the dealer. That’s what she’s there for.

Last of all, remember this. That dealer in front of you is basically working for minimum wage and tips. If they’re giving you good service make sure you’re giving them the occasional tip. You can toss a few dollars on the table and place a bet for them – or simply set the chips in the Come and say “dealer hand-in” and they’ll drop the chips in their toke box. It’s the right thing to do.
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Re: Craps 101 - The URComped Series

Post by heavy » Sun Dec 30, 2018 1:17 pm

The Sexy Side of Craps

If you haven’t noticed it yet you will soon enough so I may as well go ahead and mention the sexist side of craps. Ladies, if you are easily offended – please skip this article.

Take a look at any craps table when you walk into a casino and what do you see. Hmmm. Let me tell you what you probably won’t see. You won’t see a lot of rocket scientists – and you won’t see a lot of ladies.

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve had a couple of rocket scientists in my dice control classes before, along with a few nuclear physicists, dozens of engineers, actuaries, doctors, dentists, business executives, attorneys, university professors, insurance professionals, CPA’s, two Pixar motion picture animators, one Producer/Director, one screenwriter, an Oscar award winning Hollywood sound man, and other professionals. With that said, I’ve also had students who were auto mechanics, janitors, letter carriers, car salesmen, nurses, house painters, photographers, ice men, cowboys, and con men – not to mention more than a few guys with more than questionable careers in “imports.”

Craps is, at its heart, a community game. As such, it is representative of the community. That means you’ll find all of these people, be they Millennials, Baby Boomers, Gen X’ers, or an occasional survivor of the Greatest Generation - rich man, poor man, beggar man and thief - all standing elbow to elbow at the table – and they’re mostly men. And yes, that’s something I personally would love to see change. Why? Because almost without exception, the women I have trained as precision dice shooters have become some of the best dice influencers around. But I’m getting ahead of myself here. What I wanted to talk about was our next two bets - the Come and Don’t Come – and the Sexist Side of Craps.

Think about it. The first two bets we talked about were the Pass and Don’t Pass. Now we’re going to talk about the Come and Don’t Come. At some point we’ll talk about the Hardways. And trust me, ladies. If you DO play craps at some point you’ll hear a stickman call “Hard Ten – the Ladies Friend.” It. Just. Happens. You may even hear a player toss in a “two-way” bet or (Heaven forbid) a “three-way” bet or a “Horn bet.” Then there’s that guy on the end who is just “Playing the Field.” Take a deep breath. It’s not aimed at you. It’s just the sexy (sexist) jargon of the game, so as they say down South – brace yourself.

Simply put, the Come and Don’t Come bets are played exactly the same as the Pass and Don’t Pass bets we talked about last time. The difference? The Pass and Don’t Pass bets are made before the initial point is established. The Come and Don’t Come bets are made after the point is established. They are bets designed for the player who wants more “action” in the game and wants additional numbers working for him or her. These bets are, in fact, a game within the game that’s already going on. Here’s how they work.

Let’s say a point is established and the player has his Free Odds bet established as well. Next he plays a $10 Come bet. The next number to roll is a Seven. Two things happen. First, the player WINS his Come bet because it was the Come Out roll for it. But he Loses his Pass Line Bet and Odds because it was a contract bet. His net loss is equivalent to his Free Odds wager. But what if another number had rolled? Let’s say the Five was established as the point already and the Eight rolled next. In that case the Come bet travels to the Eight and the dealer will ask you if you want Odds on the Eight. Typically the player will take odds – it’s a great bet. Let’s say you take $25 odds and you now have a $10 Pass Line bet with $30 odds on the Five and a $10 Come bet with $25 odds on the Eight. You can stop betting and wait for a decision on those bets – or continue making Come Bets with odds if you want more numbers working for you. Just remember, if the seven rolls before your numbers then ALL of them – and the Free Odds wagered – lose. Nevertheless, this is one of the most cost efficient ways to play over the long run. It has an extremely low house edge.

The Don’t Come can be played exactly the same way. If an eleven or seven roll when you make a Don’t Come be then that bet loses. The two or three craps win. Remember the twelve is a “push” or tie. Any other number becomes the point. You can then Lay odds just as you did on the Don’t Pass bet. And you can continue to make as many Don’t Pass bets as you wish. Just remember, whenever one of those numbers repeats it loses. But you can only lose one bet at a time. If a shooter tosses a single seven you’ll win them all.

Want to know what the real sexy side of craps is? It has nothing to do with the names of the bets or the innuendo behind the stick calls. It has everything to do with the sound of those chips sliding across the table toward you and the feel of them beneath your fingertips in the chip rack.

The sexy side of craps is winning.
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Re: Craps 101 - The URComped Series

Post by heavy » Sun Dec 30, 2018 1:20 pm

Place Bets & Lay Bets

In our earlier tips we talked about the Pass and Don’t Pass bets as well as the Come and Don’t Come bets PLUS the all-important Free Odds bet. In all of these bets the actual “point” to be decided is determined by a roll of the dice. On the Come Out roll, for example, if the shooter tosses a Four then the Four becomes the Point. She must repeat the Four before throwing a Seven in order to win if shooting from the Pass side. Players on the Don’t Pass are hoping the Seven rolls before the Four.

Let’s assume you are a Pass Line bettor and the point has been established as the Four. As a “right” side player your favorite numbers are probably the six and eight. Why? Because there are more “combinations” on the dice that add up to six or eight than any other point numbers. There are five ways each to roll the six or eight versus six ways to roll the seven. When wagered as a pair the six and eight give you ten ways to win versus six ways to lose. Since these numbers roll more often – you should win more often. Of course, those numbers are deceiving because you’re only going to win even money on your Pass Line bet and 6 – 5 on the Free Odds bet. However, the casino will let you choose the number you bet for a small “fee.” It’s called a Place Bet. You simply give the dealer your chips and tell him which number you’d like to place a bet on. They set up the bet and give you any change due. Then, if the bet wins, they extract that “fee” from the payoff. Instead of paying you true odds of 6 to 5 they will pay you 7 – 6. So on a $5 game you’d Place the Six and Eight for $6 each. If either of them roll you’ll be paid $7.

There are literally thousands of betting strategies that have been developed through the years to attempt to gain an edge over craps through various combinations of bets. None of them work over the long run. The math of the game is incontrovertible. However, many such strategies do work and work quite well over the short run – giving rise to hope in many players of an easy life living off the casino’s money. But craps is a tough way to make an easy living.
Here are the payoffs on the various Place Bets:

Six and eight – 7 to 6
Five and nine – 7 to 5
Four and ten – 9 to 5

In a $10 game – the game you are most likely to encounter in Las Vegas and on cruise ships – you can bet $10 each on the four, five, nine and ten. The six and eight are bet for $12 each in order to get a correct payoff.
There are several common “combination” bets you’ll hear players place at the table. These bets are made by “action” players who want to get more money on the table quickly in hopes of turning a big profit from a hot hand. Here are some of the more common wagers:

$44 Inside - $10 each on the five and nine plus $12 each on the six and eight
$40 Outside - $10 each on the four, five, nine and ten.
$44 Even - $10 each on the four and ten plus $12 each on the six and eight
$64 Across - $10 each on the Outside numbers plus $12 each on the six and eight – covering all of the numbers.
Then there’s my favorite. Toss in a $100 chip and ask for $96 across plus $1 each on the hardways.
Of course, you’ll hear these same wagers made in different denominations – all the way up to table maximum.
$110 Inside
$660 Even Numbers
$9600 Across

As long as the bet is within the tables stated limits – the house will book it.

The house edge on Place Bets on the Four and Ten are so high that it’s recommended that you “Buy” those numbers if the bet exceeds $20. At that level the player pays a 5% or $1 commission for the right to be paid “true” odds of 2 – 1. In some casinos the $1 commission is paid up front. In others it is only collected when the bet wins. The latter is more advantageous to the player. It’s also worth noting that casinos typically allow players to Buy the Four and Ten for $25 and still pay only $1 commission as a courtesy to green chip bettors. Others extend the “breakage” out to $30. If you find a casino that extends the breakage to $30 and collects the commission only on the win you’ve found a real bargain. This brings the house edge down on a par with the Pass Line bet.

Place Bets and Buy Bets are the meat and potatoes of serious craps players. Over the long run they are not quite as strong as Pass and Come bets with odds, but played correctly they do offer many advantages over Pass and Come Betting. Here’s a quick look at some of those advantages.

1. The Player chooses which number he bets on rather than relying on random chance.
2. The number the player bets on only has to hit once for him to get paid. Pass and Come bets have to roll twice.
3. Place bets are always under player control and can be taken down at any time. Pass and Come bets are contract bets and must remain up and working.

4. The player can also regress his bets down as low as table minimum at any time if he wants to take additional profit off the table. Place and Come bettors can only take down their odds – not the underlying bet.
Place bets are the meat and potato bets for many players, but not every hand tossed at the table has a happen ending. In fact, every hand tossed at craps ends with a seven out. For that reason, a few players prefer to play the “Dark Side.” For them the “meat and potatoes bets are Lay Bets.

Simply put, the Lay Bet is exactly the opposite of the Place and Buy bets we talked about last week. However, in the United States it is rare to see a Place to Lose bet on the Layout. Instead, the casinos simply accept Lay Bets on all of the numbers.

You may Lay a bet against 4, 5, 6, 8, 9 or 10 at any time, and Lay bets are often employed as “hedge” bets some betting strategies. Lay bets function about the same as a Don’t Come bet. When laying against a number, you are wagering that the seven will roll before that number. The casino charges a 5% commission based on what you could win. Correctly sized Lay Bets are:

$41 No Four or No Ten – Pays $20
$31 No Five or No Nine – Pays $20
$25 No Six or No Eight – Pays $20

Lay Bets always work unless you take them down and are denoted by a Lay button or “lammer.”
One of the most popular uses of Lay bets is as a hedge. Players betting the Don’t Pass at the $20 - $25 level often fear getting “knocked off” by a Come Out Seven or Eleven, and get a partial hedge by Laying the Four or Ten for $41. If a Seven shows on the Come Out the player loses his Pass Line bet, but wins his Lay Bet – more or less offsetting his loss. Of course, he’s not hedged against the eleven so hedge players often end up betting a $1 “YO” to cover the eleven, then $2 on the Hard Four or Ten to partially hedge their Hedge Bet. Bottom line? You end up hedging your hedges – which is why hedge betting is generally not a good idea. Simply bet within your bankroll and don’t worry about hedging.

Remember, despite all of the complications we’ve added, at the end of the day craps is still a coin flip game. On every toss of the dice you win, lose, or there’s no decision (that effects you). If you’re confused please go back and read the first few installments in this series. If you still have questions feel free to post them on the forum. I’ll do my best to answer.
"Get in, get up, and get gone."
- Heavy

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