Mastering the “secret” craps bet that lowers the house edge to 0%
by Basil Nestor
Most casino bets carry an edge for the house. Sometimes you win more often, they win. The edge is usually 1% to 12% of the overall action, depending on the game. This profit is how casinos pay for electricity to light the fancy chandeliers and keep the escalators going
But there is no rule that says you have to play like everyone else and contribute to the house edge. Indeed, there are bets that have no house edge at all. Casinos offer them mostly as enticements. They hope you’ll be drawn in by the good bets, and then get sloppy and try bad ones.
But what if you continue to play smart? It’s a lot easier to beat a 0% game compared to bucking a house edge. As for where to find these magical zero-edge bets, they’re on craps tables.
Taking and Laying Odds
The bets are called “odds,” which, frankly, is an odd name. Then again, most craps terms are pretty strange.
An odds bet is technically a standalone wager, but it’s always linked to an original flat bet on craps pass or come, don’t pass or don’t come (for more info about these bets, I suggest you check out my book, The Smarter Bet Guide to Craps). Odds for pass and come bets are called “taking odds”; it’s an extra wager made after the come-out that the shooter will successfully roll the point.
Laying odds is the opposite of taking odds. When you make this bet, you’re hoping for the shooter to lose with a seven-out. The table below shows the various payoffs.
Odds don’t earn the casino any money. They’re a premium. This is why the house has lots of rules restricting the wagers, sort of like the fine print on a discount coupon.
The first and most important rule is that odds are allowed in multiples of the original flat bet, and there is always a limit. For example, if the flat bet is $10 and the odds allowed are 3x, you can take odds in any amount up to $30, and you can lay odds up to a $30 payoff.
Point True Odds of Taking Odds (Pass) Laying Odds (Don’t Pass)
Winning $30 Bet Returns $30 Bet Returns
4 2:1 $60 $15
5 3:2 $45 $20
6 6:5 $36 $25
8 6:5 $36 $25
9 3:2 $45 $20
10 2:1 $60 $15
Let’s say the point is 10. The following table shows the various amounts and possible payoffs for a flat bet and odds when the base bet is $10 and odds are 3x. You’ll notice that laying odds (winning with a seven-out) doesn’t pay as much as taking odds (winning with a point). That’s because it’s easier to win with a lay bet.
Base 3x Odds Bet Bet Win Win
Bet (point is 10) Total Total Probability
Pass $10 3 x $10 = $30 bet, $60 payoff $40 $70 2:1
Don’t Pass $10 3 x $10 = $30 payoff, $60 bet $70 $40 1:2
Keep in mind that the base bet is paid 1:1, and the odds bet is always paid at the true odds of winning. Also, odds must be taken or laid on the same side as the flat bet.
How much in odds can you take or lay at your favorite casino? The limits are posted on a plastic card attached to the inside wall of the craps table.
The tricky thing about odds is that there is no place for the bet on the layout. It’s a bit like an off-the-menu special; it’s only available to people who know enough to ask.
Taking odds on the pass line is easy. Put your chips directly behind the original bet (on the blank space next to the wall) after the point is made. Your bet will be paid or swept away as the dice warrant.
Laying odds on the don’t pass is a little weird. You place the chips next to the original bet, but you “heel” the stack. This means the bottom chip is off center and the stack slants to one side. The dealer will show you how to do it. Odds bets are heeled when the payoff will be a different amount than the payoff for the flat bet. If the payoff will be the same, then the stack should be bridged instead of heeled. A bridged stack is two stacks with a third perched on top. Again, the dealer will show you how it’s done.
Yes, it’s arcane, but a house edge of 0% makes the hassle bearable.
Taking and laying odds on the come and don’t come require a dealer’s assistance. You do this by putting chips on the layout (preferably on a line that separates betting spaces). Tell the dealer that you want “odds on the four,” or whatever. She will pick up the chips and place the wager accordingly.
One of the most important things to remember about taking odds is to do it in multiples that the casino can pay. For example, if the point is 6, an incorrect bet would be $8, creating a payoff of $9.60. Not good. The casino will give you only $9. To get the full payout you must take odds in multiples of $5 when the point is 6 or 8, $2 for points 5 and 9. And any whole-dollar amount is fine for points 4 and 10.
Do it in reverse when laying odds. Odds on 4/10 should be divisible by two, 5/9 by three, and 6/8 by six.
If all this seems a bit complicated, keep in mind the casino would prefer you simply give up and make a simpler bet against the big fat house edge. The whole point is to make you lose focus, give up on odds, and just throw your money onto the field, the hardways, or some other expensive bet.
But if you stay focused and play with discipline, over time it’s easier to beat the house with odds than it is with almost any other bet. ´
Basil Nestor is author of The Smarter Bet Guide to Poker, The Smarter Bet Guide to Blackjack, and other comprehensive gambling guides. Got a question? Visit SmarterBet.com and drop him a line.
Beat the Casino With Odds.