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Craps Bets: From Bad To Worse in Casino

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How to identify and avoid some of the most dangerous bets in the casino

By Basil Nestor

The house edge on big six/eight is a nasty 9.1%. This bet is so incredibly bad that it’s not even allowed in Atlantic City.

Craps is the only game in the casino where you can lay your money on the felt in one place, and the casino has 0% edge on the bet—or you can put your money down somewhere else, and give the house a whopping 16.7% edge.

The zero-edge bet is called “odds”, and we’ll get to that in a little bit. But right now let’s focus on the craps bets you should absolutely avoid, since they’re some of the most unfavorable wagers you can find in a casino.

These are the sucker bets that your mother warned you not to make. These are the legendary wagers that have broken millionaires and laid waste to fat bankrolls. Much of craps’ reputation as a bad-boy contest rests on these extremely disadvantageous gambles.

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Big Six and Big Eight

Big six and big eight are found in the corners of some layouts, and they’re the ultimate sucker bets. Each is a wager on one number, either 6 or 8, to roll before the 7. Big six or big eight work exactly like a craps “place bet,” except the payoff is even money. That’s right: $30 on the big six wins $30. The same money on “place the six” will bring $35.

The house edge on big six/eight is a nasty 9.1%. This bet is so incredibly bad that it’s not even allowed in Atlantic City.

Hardways

A 4, 6, 8, or 10 thrown as a double is called a “hard number,” because it’s rolled the hard way. Betting the hardway is a wager that a particular number will be thrown hard before a 7, and before it’s thrown the easy way. Hard four and hard ten pay 7:1. Hard six and hard eight pay 9:1. The area for these bets is at the center of the table. The bet can be made at any time, or withdrawn at any time (before resolution).

It requires dealer assistance. Just put your chips on the table and tell the dealer what you want…if you dare. The house edge for hard six and hard eight is a painful 9.1%. It’s an excruciating 11.1% for hard four and hard ten.

It Gets Even Worse…

The rest of the worst are all one-roll propositions: if the shooter makes the number on the next roll, you win. Otherwise, it’s bye-bye chips. Like the hardways, these bets are handled by the stickperson. Put your chips down on a line, a non-betting area of the felt, and tell the dealers what you want.

The table below shows the various bets, true odds, payoffs, and the house edge. I’ve also included the hardways and big six/eight so you can see and compare all of craps’ worst bets in one place. This is a real rogues’ gallery.

Craps’ Worst Bets

Bet True Odds Pays House Edge
Any seven (big red) 5:1 4:1 16.7%
Two (snake eyes) 35:1 30:1 13.9%
Twelve (boxcars) 35:1 30:1 13.9%
Hop (1 way) 35:1 30:1 13.9%
Whirl 10:5 8:5 13.3%
Horn 20:4 17:4 12.5%
Hop (2 ways) 17:1 15:1 11.1%
Three (ace-deuce) 17:1 15:1 11.1%
Eleven (yo-leven) 17:1 15:1 11.1%
Any craps (2, 3, or 12) 8:1 7:1 11.1%
Hard four 8:1 7:1 11.1%
Hard ten 8:1 7:1 11.1%
Hard six 10:1 9:1 9.1%
Hard eight 10:1 9:1 9.1%
Big six/eight 6:5 1:1 9.1%

By the way, this is where craps jargon really gets crazy. For example, horn is a combined bet on 2, 3, 11, and 12. The payoff is calculated as if you had bet each number separately. Your wager is divided into quarters, so if you make this long-shot bet it’s a good idea to put money down in multiples of four, or request a horn high and indicate on which of the four you want the extra money: “Horn high 12!”

Whirl is a horn bet with the 7 added. The bet is divided into five parts. C&E is craps plus 11. Buffalo is a combination of the four hardways plus a 7 or sometimes a “yo” 11. Box cars is a bet on 12. A hop bet is a wager that a single number will be thrown in a particular way on the very next roll. Technically, 2, 3, 11, and 12 are hop bets, but you can do it with any number (assuming that you’d be willing to make such a bad wager).

This cornucopia of colorful names and slang are basically just another way of saying “bets that stink.” There isn’t a single bet in the center of the table that has a house edge of less than 9%. Betting the seven (big red) gives the house a crushing 16.7% advantage, which is flat-out the worst bet available in many casinos.

Oh, and some casinos try to trick you with the print on the felt. Writing “5 for 1” is not the same as “5 to 1.” They pretend that they’re paying one more because they take your original wager. The actual payout on 5 for 1 is 4:1; 10 for 1 is actually 9:1. Really cute!

The Good Stuff

The best bets in craps begin with a small wager on pass, don’t pass, come, or don’t come, subsequently backed up with a standard-size odds bet (whatever amount that is standard for you, up to the odds limit) if the shooter rolls a point. Odds bets are paid at true odds with zero edge for the house. It doesn’t get any better than that in craps. The combined edge on the two bets is less than 1%, or about twelve times lower than hardways or proposition wagers.

Once again, casinos get tricky. There is no place on a craps layout for odds bets. They’re sort of secret, like off-menu items. To take odds on a pass-line wager, put your chips behind your original bet, off the line. Laying odds on a don’t pass requires you to heel or bridge the stack on the bar; the dealers will show you how. Odds on come and don’t come are handled by the dealers. For more on the intricacies of odds, check out my book The Smarter Bet Guide to Craps.

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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.

How to identify and avoid some of the most dangerous bets in the casino.

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