Casinos dress them up with big payoffs to make them seem attractive but don't pay anywhere near true odds. A player looking for a big immediate payoff might lust after the 30-1 return on a 12, but the true odds against winning are 35-1.
It's best to stick to multi-roll bets with house edges of less than 2 percent, including pass or come (1.41 percent), don't pass or don't come (1.36 percent) and place bets on 6 or 8 (1.52 percent).
Behind the best bets, there are multi-roll bets that are a step-down. Those include lay bets (house edges 2.44 percent on 4 or 10, 3.23 percent in 5 or 9, and 4 percent on 6 or 8); place bets other than 6 or 8 (4 percent on 5 or 9, 6.67 percent on 4 or 10); and buy bets (4.67 percent).
When playing online craps, your best play is to stick to the lowest house edge multi roll wagers and skip this next tier, but these aren't the worst bets on the table. They're worthy of analysis another time, as is the one-roll bet on the field, but for now, let's stick to the truly awful wagers you should never even think about wagers.
For the worst of the worst, let's look at multiroll bets with house edges of 9 percent or higher and, one-roll bets with high house edge coupled with high rate of wagers per hour.
>> ALSO SEE: How the house gets an edge in craps
Bets on 4, 6, 8 or 10 the hardway work in much the same way as place bets, with a small difference. Hardways win only if both dice land on the same number. They lose if the shooter rolls a 7 or your number any other way before rolling the hardway.
A place bet on 4 wins if the shooter rolls 4 before 7, and loses on 7s. A place bet on 4 the hard way wins only if both dice land 2, while it loses on any 7, 1-3 or 3-1.
It takes exactly as many rolls to decide a hardway bet as to decide a place bet, so we can make a direct comparison. Bets on hard 4 or hard 10 pay 7-1 if you win, but will win only once per nine decisions. The house edge is 11.11 percent, making this weaker bet than the not-great place bets on 4 or 10 at 6.67 percent.
Winners on hard 6 or hard 8 pay 9-1. Either wins once per 11 decisions with a house edge of 9.09 percent, dwarfing the house edge of 1.52 percent for placing 6 or 8.
What those edges mean is that per $100 wagered, you'll average a $1.52 loss when placing 6 or 8 or $6.67 when placing 4 or 10, but loses expand to $9.09 on hard 6 or 8 and $11.11 on hard 4 or 10.
Tucked into corners of most craps tables are spaces for Big 6 and Big 8.
These work exactly the same way as place bets on 6 or 8. The only difference is that the place bets are paid at 7-6 odds, while their "Big" cousins are paid at even money.
Why give the house 9.09 percent on the "Bigs" when you can get 1.52 percent on the places?
One-roll bets are a problem. Nearly all have house edges as high or higher than the worst multi-roll bets. On top of that, they're decided on every roll, so if you're always going to have them in action, you're continually replenishing your wagers.
A bet on any craps, which wins and pays 7-1 if the shooter rolls 2, 3 or 12 and loses on anything else, has an 11.11 percent house edge that looks the same as the house edge on hard 4 or 10. But it takes an average of four rolls decide hard 4 or 10, and only one roll to decide any craps. So if you're going to be in action on every roll, you'll make four times as many bets on any craps as on hard 4 or 10.
Per $100 wagered on hard 4 or 10, you'll average $11.11 in losses. But to be in action for the same size bet and same number of rolls on any craps will take $400 in wagers, and losses will average $44.40. Speed kills.
Keep that frequency of decisions in mind as you look over a list of common one-roll bets and their house edges. A bet on any 7 or on 12 or on a hop is costly not just because the house edges are much higher than the good multi-roll bets, but because they're decided much more often.
A bet on 2 wins on 1-1 and loses on all other rolls, and 12 wins only on 6-6. Hop bets allow you to call your own combinations. Call "5-5 on the hop," and you win on 5-5 and lose on all else.
On any of these, there's one winning roll and 35 losers. Payoffs on winners are 30-1, and the house e edge is 13.89 percent.
With two ways to win and 34 to lose, payoffs are 15-1 and the house edge is 11.11 percent.
You win on any of these numbers, and that's a total of four possible rolls -- 1-1, 2-1, 1-2 and 6-6. The payoff is 7-1 and house edge 11.11 percent.
You win on any of the six 7s and lose on the other 30 rolls. Payoffs are 4-1 and the house edge is a whopping 16.67 percent.
Whether because of high house edges, speed of the game or both, the bad bets listed are bets to avoid. Pretend they don't even exist and stick to the best multiroll bets that give you a fighting chance to win.
John Grochowski has been one of the world's most prolific casino writers since launching a weekly Gaming column in the Chicago Sun-Times in 1994. He's a career journalist who spent 29 years on staff at the Sun-Times after stops in the Chicago suburbs and in Colorado Springs, CO. As a gambling writer, he has written both for players and for casino industry professionals in magazine and online articles that number in the thousands. John has had six books on gambling published, including the four-book Casino Answer Book series. Personal note: In 2000, John made it to the hot seat opposite Regis Philbin and won $125,000 on ABC's "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?"
** This page was previously maintained by a staff writer up until 01 April 2021