By Jerry “Stickman” Stich
This month I thought I would take a break from video poker and write an article about craps. Over the last few weeks I have received several questions about the “put” bet in craps. Most casinos don’t advertise it or have this bet mentioned anywhere on the craps layout, but almost all casinos will accept this bet.
Simply stated, a put bet is a pass line or come bet that is made after a number has been established. It consists of the base portion of a pass line or come bet as well as any odds the player would like to add (within the confines of the table rules which limit the size of odds that can be taken). It is like the place or buy bet in that you can make it at any time for any point number. It is different from the place or buy bet in that once made, the player cannot remove the base portion of the bet – though the odds portion can be removed at any time. Because the put bet does not enjoy the benefit from the player favorable portion of a pass line or come bet – that is, the initial placement of the base portion that can win on the appearance of a 7 or 11 – it has a significantly higher house edge than a pass line or come bet.
Why, then would anyone want to make a put bet?
Answer: under the right conditions a put bet has a lower house edge than a place bet (and possibly even a lower house edge than a buy bet). To better understand all the implications, examples of the several types of bets are shown below. It should all become clear after seeing these examples.
Some explanation of the bets mentioned below might be in order for those who are not intimately familiar with them.
Place Bet: A place bet can be made at any time. Depending on the number being placed, the bet should be a certain multiple to maximize the amount of a win. For example, a place bet on the 4 or 10 pays 9:5, so for every $5 bet, a winner pays $9. Therefore, a place bet on the 4 and/or 10 should be a multiple of $5. A place bet of the 5 or 9 pays 7:5, so a place bet of the 5 and/or 9 should also be a multiple of $5. A place bet on the 6 or 8 pays 7:6. Therefore, a place bet on the 6 and/or 8 should be a multiple of $6.
Buy Bet: A buy bet can also be made at any time. A buy bet pays true odds minus a five percent commission. How the buy bets are handled varies greatly from casino to casino. There are two types of buy bet. One, is where the commission is paid only on a win. The other is where the commission is paid at the time the bet is made – win or lose. Obviously, the buy bet with the commission on wins only has a lower house edge.
There are differences beyond when the commission is accessed. The bet amount at which the amount of the commission increases varies greatly. Virtually every casino’s minimum chip denomination is $1. Because of that wins are rounded. Five percent of $20 is $1. So, a $20 buy bet will have a commission of $1. Most casinos that charge the commission on wins only will allow players to bet up to $25 while still charging the same $1 commission. Some may even allow up to $29 or $30 before the commission increases. Casinos that charge a commission up front will usually allow a player to bet up to $35 before bumping the commission to $2. These cutoff amounts vary greatly so it is wise to ask the dealer before making a buy bet. The examples below will use a $25 threshold for commission on win only and $35 will be used for buy bets that require a commission up front.
Now that the place and buy bets have been explained, let’s look at some specifics – starting with the 4 and 10.
Craps bets on the 4 and 10:
- A place bet has a 6.67 percent house edge
- A buy bet for $25 with a commission of $1 on wins only has a 1.33 percent house edge
- A buy of $35 with a commission of $1 up front has a 1.9 percent house edge.
Now let’s look at put bets for the 4 and/or 10. Keep in mind that many casinos do not allow 10 times odds or greater. In fact, many casinos do not allow five times odds or greater.
- At five times odds the house edge is 5.56 percent.
- At 10 times odds the house edge is 3.03 percent.
- At 20 time odds the house edge is 1.59 percent.
- At 25 times odds the house edge is 1.33 percent.
Notice that even with 20 times odds, it is still better to buy the 4 or 10 if the vig is paid on wins only. You are slightly better off with 20 times odds if the vig for the buy is paid up front. One thing about the put bet versus the buy bet, there is a higher volatility since there is more money at risk ($5 base bet + $100 odds = $105 versus $35).
Now let’s look at a put bet on the 5 and/or 9. Note: not many casinos allow buying the 5 and 9.
- A place bet has a 4.00 percent house edge
- A buy for $26 (should be even since true odds are 3:2) with the commission paid on wins only is 1.54 percent.
- A buy for $30 with a commission of $1 on wins only has a house edge of 1.33 percent.
- A buy for $36 with a commission of $1 up front has a house edge of 2.22 percent.
Now let’s see how put sets stack up.
- At five times odds the house edge is 3.33 percent.
- At 10 times odds the house edge is 1.82 percent.
- At 20 times odds the house edge is 0.95 percent.
Looking at these numbers, a put bet is not a good option at five times odds, and only a decent option at 10 times odds when you must pay for a buy bet up front. Also, keep in mind that with a put bet there is normally considerably more money at risk with a put bet, so volatility is a factor.
Finally, let’s look at the 6 and/or 8. Please note that a buy bet is not reasonable for the 6 and 8 because of the low house edge of 1.52 percent on a place bet. Being paid true odds less a five percent commission is a worse bet than simply placing the 6 and/or 8.
As mentioned above, a place bet has a 1.52 percent house edge.
Now for the put bets.
- At five times odds there is a 1.52 percent house edge (Same as placing it).
- At 10 times odds there is a 0.83 percent house edge.
- At 20 times odds there is a 0.43 percent house edge.
In this case, a put bet makes sense if the casino allows more than five time odds – and if you can afford the volatility caused by the additional money at risk.
There you have it. If you can afford the higher volatility on the 5, 6, 8 and 9 a put bet is preferable to a place / buy. For the 4 and 10, the put bet is only preferable at 20 times odds or more if the buy collects the vig up front. You would need odds of 25 times to equal the same house edge as a buy bet with the vig on the win only.