Craps offers players dozens of different betting opportunities, regardless of whether you're playing online craps or in a brick-and-mortar casino. Others are so-so, and still others among the weakest bets around.
You can cut the house edge to the bone if you focus on the best of the best. Let's check out the craps bets that give you the best shots to win with house edges of less than 2 percent.
**PASS or COME: Craps and its ebbs and flows are built around the pass line wager. It determines who rolls the dice and how long they keep shooting.
Pass is one of the best bets around with a house edge of 1.41 percent. It's a multi-roll bet that pays at even money in which you're betting with the shooter. You also can bet against the shooter; we'll get to that shortly.
The betting sequence starts with a "comeout roll." You can tell if it's a comeout because a plastic disc on live tables or a representation of a disc online will be turned so its face-up side says "Off."
You can make a pass bet by placing chips in the pass line area directly in front of you.
Once bets are made, the shooter rolls the comeout. If the total is 7 or 11, the pass line bets win. If the roll is 2, 3 or 12, pass bets lose.
If the roll is any other number, it becomes the point. Now the object is for the shooter to repeat that point number before rolling a 7. You win if the point is repeated, but lose if a 7 comes first.
This sometimes confuses new players, but within a few tries it becomes natural. Casinos are not in the business of confusing players so they won't bet.
Imagine the comeout roll is a 6. If the shooter rolls another 6 any time before rolling a 7, pass bets win. If a 7 comes first, pass bets lose. No other rolls matter. The shooter can roll a succession such as 11, 4, 9, 8, 3 and so on, and pass bets just say in action.
>> ALSO SEE: How the house gets an edge in craps
Come bets are exactly the same except they're made on rolls other than the comeout. If you see the disc is flipped to "On," you can place your bet in an area just beyond the pass line labeled "Come."
The next roll will serve as an equivalent to a comeout. You win on 7 or 11, lose on 2, 3 or 12, and any other number becomes a point for your come. Play proceeds just like on pass, and the edge is the same 1.41 percent.
You can bet against the shooter making his points. Don't pass and don't come are the opposite of pass or come, with a minor exception.
On the comeout, or any first don't come roll. don't betters lose on 7 or 11. They win on 2 or 3, opposite of pass and come, but don't win on 12. Instead, 12 is a push. Without that exception, the house would be at a disadvantage on don't bets and wouldn't be able to offer them.
Any other number on that first roll becomes the point. Don't pass and don't come bettors then win if the shooter rolls a 7 and lose if the shooter repeats the point.
The house edge of 1.36 percent is slightly lower than on pass or come, but most players choose to bet with the shooter because of camaraderie with other players.
There’s a catch. You must bet on pass, come, don’t pass or don’t come and accept their house edges in order to take an odds bet.
On pass or come, after the shooter establishes a point, you may back your bet with an odds bet. The odds bet is paid at true odds, so you win a 6-5 pay off if the point is 6 or 8, 3-2 on 5 or 9 or 2-1 on 4 or 10.
If you bet $5 on pass and the point is 6, and you then bet $5 in odds, a winner 6 would pay you $5 on your pass bet and $6 on your odds.
Casinos allow varying amounts of odds. If your odds bet matches your original wager, you have single odds. If you’re allowed odds of twice your original wager, that’s double odds, and so on. Some casinos allow as much as 100x odds.
Combining the 1.41 percent edge with the zero percent on odds, the overall edge drops to 0.8 percent at single odds, 0.6 percent on double odds and keeps diminishing as bigger shares of your total wager are on the odds.
On don't pass and don’t come, you spot the house the true odds. So if you have a $5 don’t pass wager and the point is 6, laying the odds would mean betting an additional $6 for the chance to win $5. Laying odds reduces the house edge in combination with don’t pass or don’t come to 0.7 percent with single odds and 0.5 percent with double odds.
Place bets skip the comeout and let you choose your numbers. If you place 6, you win if the shooter rolls a 6 before rolling a 7, but lose on a 7.
All place bets work the same way. You win if your number comes first, and lose if the shooter rolls 7.
True odds against winning a place bet on 6 or 8 are 6-5.
Winners pay at 7-6 odds, for example, if you bet $6 a winner will return a $7 profit. The house edge is 1.52 percent.
Other place bets are not as strong. If you place 5 or 9, the house edge is 4 percent, and the edge is 6.67 percent on 4 or 10.
That puts four of the six available Place bets among craps bets to avoid.
Place bets on 6 or 8, Come, Don’t pass, Don’t come and the Odds bet are the bets that will give you the best shot to win.
Most of the online casinos we recommend will allow you the opportunity to practice your craps betting strategy for free when you access the demo mode of the game. This is an excellent way to hone your skills, get used the table layout and how the crap game flows.
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?"