Never Ever What? Oh, it’s Crapless Craps Time Again

From time to time I’ll get an e-mail from a member of my craps forum asking about a new angle they’ve seen on craps. The one I hear about most often is Crapless Craps – currently experiencing a revival under the name Never Ever Craps.

This game is nothing new. It’s been on the market over thirty years. There was a time when you didn’t see the game very often. Casinos didn’t want to give up any profit by paying licensing fees – fees the casino had to pay to the game’s manufacturer to use the layout. But there’s also a certain amount of player eluctance to accept the game. Smart players can pencil the vig and know to avoid it. Then there’s the confusion over the payout schedules – still another set of numbers for dealers and players to learn. It’s not a game I would choose to play – although it can be played profitably by skilled dice setters who play the “best bets”, then set the dice accordingly.

The basic Crapless Craps game is quite similar to traditional banker’s craps, however it does have a few unique variations. First off, there’s the addition of four new point numbers. The 2, 3, 11, and 12 are point numbers in this game. Since it is “crapless,” you cannot lose on the come out roll. But you don’t automatically win on the eleven either, so the only way to win on the come out is by throwing the seven.

At first glance the Crapless idea looks good. You’re giving up one natural, the 11, to avoid three losers, the 2, 3, or 12. Remember, though, that the probability of hitting a point of 2 or 12 is only 1/7, and the probability of hitting a point of 3 or 11 is only 1/4. In fact, giving up that sure winner on the eleven for a shot at winning on the 2, 3, and 12 boosts the house edge on the pass line to a whopping 5.382%. Placing single odds will reduce the vig to 2.936%. Double odds reduces it further to 2.081%. It is not until you get to 5X odds that the vig gets halfway respectable – down to 1.042%. However, most of these games offer nothing better than double odds. Therefore, the pass line bet should be avoided unless you are shooting the dice.

Let’s take a look at the true odds aspect of these “new” point numbers at Crapless Craps. The true odds of any point rolling are based on the number of ways that point can be rolled in relationship to the number of ways the seven can be rolled. Imaging you have $5 on the line and the shooter establishes the twelve as his point. You place full double odds behind the line bet and have a total of $15 in action. What would be the correct pay off if the shooter made the point? There is one combination of the dice that adds up to twelve. The six-six. But there are six combinations that add up to seven. They are one-six, two-five, three-four, four-three, five-two, and six-one. Therefore, the correct true odds on the twelve are six to one. In our example, if the shooter made his point we would be paid $5 for our line bet, and $60 for our $10 free odds bet, for a total payoff of $65.

3 or 11 Pays 3:1
4 or 10 Pays 2:1
5 or 9 Pays 3:2
6 or 8 Pays 6:5

As you can see from the above chart, if the three or eleven is established as the point, the correct true odds payoff is three to one. Using the same example as above, a five dollar line bet with double odds would pay a total of $35, five for the line bet and thirty for the free odds bet. The rest of the numbers pay the same as in a traditional game. Sounds good, right? But remember, the elimination of the eleven as a natural increases the vig in this game. A pass line or come bet with double odds carries a toll of 2.081% compared to 0.60% in the traditional game. Again, the line bet should be avoided until it’s your time to shoot the dice. Still, you should know the correct pay-off for those times when you are shooting the dice. This will also come into play with your buy bets – which we will get into later

Never Ever/Crapless Craps Continued . . . Now let’s take a look at place betting for Crapless Craps. Obviously, the traditional 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, and 10 bets are played – and paid exactly the same as in a standard game. The vig on these bets is no different than what you are used to. The major difference in this game comes with the placing of the “extreme outside” numbers, the 2, 3, 11, and 12. The pay off odds for place bets on these numbers is as follows:

Extreme Outside Place Bet Odds
2 or 12 Pays 11:2
3 or 11 Pays 11:4

As with the five and nine – you must bet an even amount of money to get a correct pay off on the extreme outside numbers. On a five dollar table the minimum correct bet on the two or twelve would be six dollars. For a correct pay off on the three and eleven you would place eight dollars. The minimum place bet on the “extreme outside” numbers, then, is $28 extreme out. Placing an incorrect amount will result in a reduced payoff, which increases the already considerable vig. The 11:2 payoff on the 2 and 12 yields a house edge of 7.143%. The 3 and 11 run a close second with an edge of 6.250%. That is why most veteran players “buy” the extreme outside just as they would the four and ten.

A Buy bet is similar to a Place bet except that you pay a 5% commission up-front in exchange for receiving a true payoff if it wins. The commission is based on the amount wagered. For example, if you wanted to make a $20 Buy bet on the number 11, you’d put down $21 in the Come area and tell the dealer “Buy the 11”. He or she will move $20 to the number 11 point box and place a BUY button on top it. The extra $1 (5% of $20) is the vig for the house. The result is that you’ll win $60 (3:1) instead of $55 (11:4) for a place bet in the same amount. If your bet wins and you want to keep it up, you’ll have to pay the dealer another $1 commission. The vig is returned if you remove the bet before it wins or loses.

Casinos have long allowed green chip bettors to buy the four and ten for $25 and only pay a $1 vig. Since most casinos don’t keep fifty-cent chips at the table, the vig is traditionally rounded up or down – depending on the size of the buy bet. Because of this rounding policy, you can often buy a number for as much as $30 and still pay only $1 for the privilege. In some jurisdictions, casinos are even more generous. Most Mississippi casinos, for example, will allow you to buy a number for as much as $39 for a $1 vig. That reduces the commission from 5% to 2.56%. The very best casinos will fix the break point at $39 and only charge the vig after the bet wins, which reduces the house edge even further. The thing to remember is that the vig not only varies from casino-to-casino – it can vary from box man-to-box man within the same casino. If you do not ask for a better deal you will not get it.

Let’s review the best bets in Crapless Craps. Number one on the list is placing the six and eight – with a vig of 1.51%. Next on the list is the pass line with double odds – which carries a vig of 2.08%. Last of all is pushing the house for a better buy on the extreme outside numbers – which can get the vig as low as 2.56%. Now let’s move on to the basic Crapless dice setting and betting strategy.

Strategies for Crapless Craps vary. Most veteran players avoid the game entirely. However, a few controlled rollers have found a solid way to attack this layout. The one I see most frequently requires a minimum pass line bet with odds, placing the six and eight – which bear the same 1.51% vig as the traditional craps game – then buying the extreme outside numbers – the 2, 3, 11 and 12. In some jurisdictions – those where casinos keep half-dollars in the bank so players can get a correct payoff – you can buy the extreme outside numbers for just ten dollars each and pay a fifty cent vig on each number. So your total action for this strategy – including pass line, double odds, placing the six and eight for $12 each and buying the extreme outside numbers for $10 each – is $79 plus the $2 commission.

A strategy for players with less bankroll to work with might be to place the extreme outside numbers for $6 and $8 each, then buy them out of the payoff on the first hit. However, the vig on this bet is substantially higher than on the buy bet. Whenever possible, it is best to pay the additional $12 plus the commission for a correct payoff. Remember, too, that money management is the cornerstone of any good betting strategy. With that in mind, plan to incorporate at least one regression move in your play, with an eye toward locking up a small win or minimizing potential losses. But any good strategy should focus on signature numbers for the dice arrangement to be used.

Since the game is “crapless,” on the come-out roll you want your best shot at hitting a seven – or establishing a point of 2, 3, 6, 8, 11 or 12. The recommended arrangement for these numbers is the Straight Sixes set – with the 3-4 3-4 on the side faces or axis. When rolled on axis, four out of sixteen possible combinations of the dice add up to seven, four combinations yield the six or eight, while six out of sixteen combinations add up to an extreme outside number. That’s one way to make the two or twelve, and two ways to make the three or eleven. If you score a seven on the come-out roll – great. If you get up on any of our favored points – that’s great, too. You’ll want to play maximum free odds behind your line bet in order to reduce the vig and take advantage of the huge potential payoffs on these numbers. But once the point is established you should change your set for the balance of your roll.

Assuming you are successful in establishing one of your preferred points, the correct dice set is one you are all familiar with by now – the crossed-sixes. In this arrangement, one die has the 3-4 on the sides, and the other has the 5-2 on the sides. Rolled on axis, this set reduces the number of combinations that add up to seven from four to two. You have one way each to make the two, three, eleven and twelve, plus two ways each to make the six and eight. That’s a total of eight ways to win versus two ways to lose on the seven.

Never Ever Craps? Just a new name for an old game. Want to take it on? Just remember the best bets and play to win. You might even find me at the table playing it with you.