Why I Love Shooting Dice (And Why You Should Love Craps, Too)

Craps is my favorite casino game. In fact, there’s nothing I love better in the casino than shooting dice. If you haven’t caught on to how much fun the game is yet, this post is for you.

Below I’ve listed 6 reasons I love shooting dice and why you should, too. Don’t be intimidated by this game. Craps is easier than you think.

You’ll find more about why below:

1- The house edge when shooting dice is among the best in the casino.

The house edge is the mathematically expected win for the casino on every bet you make. It’s expressed as a percentage. It’s a long-term expectation, too–in the short run, it won’t hold true. In fact, it’s impossible for the house edge to hold true in the short term.

Games with a high house edge make you lose your money faster. Games with a low house edge cost less to play–although if you play long enough, the casino will eventually win all your money.

The basic bets in craps have a house edge of 1.41% and 1.36% (the pass line bet and the don’t pass bet). When you compare that with the average slot machine, which has a house edge of maybe 8%, you’re looking at a game with a really low house edge.

You can use the house edge to estimate how much you’re likely to lose per hour, too. The formula is number of bets per hour multiplied by the size of your average bet multiplied by the house edge.

With an average slot machine player, you’re looking at 600 spins per hour. If you assume $1 per spin, you’re putting $600 into action per hour. If the casino keeps an average of 8% of that action, you’re looking at average losses of $48 per hour.

Craps is a comparatively slot game. You might make 100 bets per hour at the craps table. You’ll probably also have to bet at least $5 on every roll, for $500 in hourly action.

But 1.41% of $500 is only $7/hour in losses.

Which would you prefer? Average losses of $48 per hour, or average losses of $7/hour?

Of course, in the short run, anything can happen. You might get lucky and win big right away at any casino game.

But it’s more likely to happen when you’re playing a game with a low house edge.

2- One of the bets even has 0 house edge.

I’ve explained in other posts how the basic bets in craps work. But here’s a quick rundown.

The pass line bet is a bet that the shooter will succeed. The shooter’s goal is to roll a 7 or 11 on the first roll of the dice. If she rolls a 2, 3, or 12, she’s failed already. Any other number becomes a point.

If the shooter rolls one of those other numbers (4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10), the shooter keeps rolling until she rolls that number again. If she rolls a 7 before rolling the point, she’s failed.

You win even money when the shooter succeeds.

And if you bet on don’t pass, you’re betting that the shooter will fail.

The reason I explain all this is because I want to talk about the best bet in the casino–the odds bet at the craps table. This is a 2nd bet you place after your pass or don’t pass bet. You can only place this bet when a point is set.

This bet is always a multiple of your original bet. Casinos have a maximum they’ll allow you to wager on the odds bet, too.

But the beautiful thing about the odds bet is that it pays off at the same odds of winning. In other words, there is no house edge. (The casino gets its edge by paying bets off at less than their odds of winning.)

Of course, the odds of winning this bet depend on what the point gets set at:

  • If the point is 4 or 10, the odds bet pays off at 2 to 1. (The same as your odds of winning.)
  • If the point is 5 or 9, the odds bet pays off at 3 to 2. (The same as your odds of winning.)
  • And if the point is 6 or 8, the odds bet pays at 6 to 5. (Again, the same as your odds of winning.)

What this does is reduce the overall house edge for the 2 bets combined–the pass (or don’t pass) bet and the odds bet.

Your reasonable house edge bet of 1.41% suddenly turns into a bet with a house edge of 0.5% or less depending on how much money you’re able to place on the odds bet.

The only other bet I know of in the casino that pays off at its true odds is the double-up feature on some video poker games.

And video poker just ain’t as exciting as craps.

3- Avoiding the bad bets at the craps table is easy.

All of the inside bets at the craps table, and all of the proposition bets at the craps table, are lousy bets. Smart craps players just avoid them.

You can have all the fun you like at the craps table just making pass or don’t pass bets and following them up with odds bets.

In fact, the casino even offers bets called “come” and “don’t come”. (Get your mind out of the gutter.)

These bets are just like the pass and don’t pass bets, but they treat one of the subsequent rolls after the shooter has already made a point as a new come-out roll. You can do this repeatedly, by the way.

And you should definitely avoid the other bets at the craps table, because the house edge on these other bets isn’t just incrementally higher. It’s exponentially higher.

Here’s one example:

You can make a proposition bet that the next roll will land on snake eyes–a total of 2. The odds of this happening are 35 to 1.

The bet pays off at 30 to 1 if you win it.

It’s a nice payout, but not nice enough.

Here’s how you calculate the house edge on that:

Assume a bet of $100 on 35 different rolls of the dice. Then assume that your set of 35 rolls is mathematically perfect. You’ll lose 35 times, at $100 for each loss. That’s a total loss of $3500.

You’ll win once, for $3000. Your net loss is $500.

Average $400 by 36 rolls to get your average loss per roll of $13.90. Since you were betting $100 per roll, your $13.90 loss represents 13.9%.

Compare that to 1.41%. You’re losing, mathematically, in the long run, over 10 times what you’d be losing with the other bets.

4- Everyone looks cool shooting dice.

Everyone gets to shoot the dice at the craps table, if they want to. Each shooter gets to roll until she fails at her goal. When she finally does, the next person at the table gets to shoot the dice.

Craps is the only game in the casino where the player gets to handle the apparatus that generates the results for the game. You never get to spin the roulette wheel. You never get to deal the cards in blackjack. You never get to program the random number generator in the video poker machine.

You do get the opportunity to pass if you’re not up for shooting the dice, but I’d encourage you to go ahead and shoot the dice. It’s fun, and you’ll look cool.

Just remember to follow the casino’s rules for throwing the dice. The most important one is that you must throw the dice all the way to the back wall so that they bounce off before hitting the table. This increases the chances of getting a truly random result.

You also shouldn’t hold onto the dice for a long time before shooting. There’s no point in holding up the game or the other players. That’s just inconsiderate.

If you do well when you’re shooting, expect the other players to cheer you on. You’ll get high fives. You’ll hear players shouting at you to roll specific numbers they’ve bet on. This is part of the fun. Be gracious and play along with the other players.

Don’t ignore them. This isn’t golf. You’re not supposed to keep quiet.

5- No casino game is more exciting than craps.

By its very nature, craps is a game of streaks. The streaks can get big fast. You can wind up with a lot of money in action at one time, especially when a shooter gets hot. (You might even BE the shooter that’s gotten hot.)

That’s what makes craps so exciting. You can win $1000’s at a time when someone gets on a hot streak. You don’t have to learn any fancy strategies, either. You just place the right bets and pay attention to what’s going on, and you’ve mastered the game of craps.

3- You might be able to get an edge by learning how to set and control the dice.

I’m skeptical of dice control techniques, but I concede that it might be possible to affect the outcome when you’re rolling the dice. With a house edge that’s really low, craps is a game where even a tiny push in the right direction might put the odds solidly in your favor.

Here’s the theory:

If you hold the dice in a certain position and throw them just hard enough to hit the back wall that they don’t bounce much, you can reduce your probability of failing. If you can find a table where a master dice setter is shooting, you can rely on his skill to get you through.

Otherwise, you’ll probably want to learn how to set the dice yourself.

And that’s going to take some effort.

First, you need to be able to practice with casino-quality materials. This means buying or building your own craps table. A lot of people don’t have room for a craps table in their garage or basement, but if you do, go for it.

You can even find plans for building your own craps table online.

Then you need to make sure you’re using casino quality dice.

Then read a book or watch a video that explains the correct technique for setting and throwing the dice. Once you’ve done that, it’s time to start practicing.

The most important thing about practicing your dice setting skills is tracking your results. You’ll need to see not just hundreds–but thousands–of dice rolls before you can be confident that your dice control techniques can help you overcome the odds.

Can you do it?

Are you willing to put in the work?

Most people aren’t. I never bothered trying to learn to control the dice. I just accept that the casino has an advantage in craps and play my heart out anyway.

Finally

Blackjack is the most popular table game in the casino, but this wasn’t always so. For years, maybe even decades, the big game for high rolling male gamblers was craps. It’s fast-paced, exciting, and it offers excellent odds.

But it only offers excellent odds if you stick with the good bets. Luckily, that’s easy. Just stick with the basic bets on the outside of the table. Pass or don’t pass, come or don’t come.

The only other strategy that’s essential is knowing to take the odds bet every time you get a chance. Put as much money into action on the odds bet as you can, too. It will lower your effective house edge.

Finally, dice control sounds cool, but it’s probably not practical for most of us. If you want to be the exception, I recommend getting started right away. If you have documented success controlling the dice in craps, I’d love to see you leave a comment about your experience.

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