by John Grochowski
Short-bankrolled craps players face a dilemma.
The lowest house edges at the craps table – and some of the lowest in casinos – come when you back pass and come bets with odds or lay odds behind don’t pass and don’t come wagers.
But if you come to a $10 minimum table with just a couple of hundred dollars, you can’t afford to make the optimum bets,
Even if you back pass bets with just single odds and lower the house edge from 1.41 percent on pass to 0.8 percent on the combinations, minimums rise from $10 on pass alone to a total of $20 on the pass-odds combination.
Follow pass with two come bets so you have three numbers working, back all with odds, and you have $60 at risk at once. Start with $200, and a few 7s can end your day in short order. Gambler’s ruin looms large.
What’s the short bankrolled craps player to do?
A number of options will keep the house edge low without putting extreme pressure on the bankroll.
**STICK TO ONE NUMBER, BACKED WITH ODDS: Few craps players will like this option. The constant action, with multiple numbers working, are what the game’s about to many players.
But while pass and two come bets backed by odds might be too much for a short-bankrolled player, going with one pass bet backed by odds will reduce the total wager while still trimming the house edge to less than 1 percent.
Pass bets face a house edge of 1.41 percent. There is no house edge on the odds, and the house edge drops to 0.8 percent with a pass bet backed by an odds bet equal to the original wager – “single odds.”
House edges on the pass-odds combo drop to 0.6 percent with double odds. 0.4 percent with 3x, 4x, 5x odds, or 0.2 percent with 10x odds, to pick a few examples in a range up to 0.02 percent at 100x odds. Casinos set the limit on how many times your line bet you may wager in odds, but you don’t have to bet the max. For the low roller, you can always revert to single odds.
You get slightly lower house edges on don’t pass coupled with laying odds: 0.7 with single odds, 0.5 with double, 0.3 with 3x, 4x, 5x, 0.1 at 10x or 0.01 at 100x.
If you’re a low roller who can’t afford to have three numbers working with single odds, you’re not going to back one bet with 100x odds.
So at a $10 table, instead of having $60 at risk with a pass and two come bets, all backed with singled odds, you can reduce that risk to $20 by settling for $10 on pass backed with $10 on odds.
It’s not the most exciting way to play, but it does give you an option that trims the house edge to 0.8 percent.
**SKIP THE ODDS: If you want to have three numbers working but don’t want to put too much pressure on your bankroll, think about a pass bet followed by two come bets, all without odds.
In doing so, you settle for a 1.41 percent house edge, or 1.4 percent if you cross over to don’t pass and don’t come.
For players with bigger bankrolls, that’s not optimal. A big advantage of taking odds in craps is that allows bigger players to reduce their pass and come bets to the table minimum, then make up the rest of their normal bet size in the no-edge odds. As little of their total wagers as possible is exposed to the house edge.
But a low roller making minimum bets already has as little as possible exposed to the edge. Those 1.40 and 1.41 percent edges are as good as they’re going to get while multiple numbers are working without overtaxing their bankrolls.
Ideal? No, short bankrolls in craps are not ideal. But playing pass and come without odds at least spices up the game with multiple numbers while yielding one of the lowest house edges in the casino.
**PLACE 6 AND 8: Odds don’t come into play on place bets. You bet your numbers, and if they roll before the next 7, you win.
The best of the place numbers are 6 and 8, with house edges of 1.52 percent. Don’t place 5 or 9 at 4 percent or 4 or 10 at 6.67 percent.
There are five two-dice combinations that total 6 and five that total 8. The only number with more combos is the loser 7, with six.
Players who want to be on the most frequently rolled place winners while facing a house edge that’s only slightly higher than on pass or come have 6 and 8 as options.
Place bets on 6 and 8 pay at 7-6 odds. If you make them, you want to bet in multiples of $6. If you bet $6 on either, a winner will pay you $7. If you bet $5, a winner will pay only $5.
**FOLLOW A PASS BET WITH PLACE BETS ON 6 AND/OR 8: Here’s a way to get up to three numbers working while ensuring that you’ll be on the two most frequently rolled winners.
At our $10 table, start with a $10 pass bet. If the shooter rolls a 6 or 8 and that becomes the point, then follow with a $12 bet on the other. That gives you a total of $22 in wagers and you’re on both 6 and 8.
If the shooter establishes 4, 5, 9 or 10 on the point, then you have the option of following with $12 each on 6 and / or 8. If you bet both and have three numbers working, your total risk is $34.
Even that can be a little rich for a $200 bankroll at a $10 table, and players should be prepared to scale back or move to a different game. If you’re not prepared to stick to the one-number system, then two numbers with no odds might be more manageable than three.
Still, the methods listed here all have house edges of 1.52 percent or less, and they don’t put as big a percentage of a low-roller’s bankroll at risk of implosion.
John Grochowski has been covering casinos and casino games for nearly 40 years. He is the author of six books
and his work appears in newspapers, magazines and websites around the world.
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