Monday, August 8, 2016

Learn and Play Craps with Royal Flusher: Taking Odds

As the flasher said, let's just get this out in the open. Craps terminology is risqué and rude, starting with its very name. Naturally, I like it.

There are a myriad of bets you can place at the craps table, and most of them have some element of rudeness in how they are called by the - ahem - stick man.

Like a bunch of yokels likkered up on 'shine at a country shivaree you can bet on the Come, or the Don't Come. You can place the numbers, like the 6 and 9. Or, you can play the field.

You can bet on the hard four (Little Joe from Kokomo), hard six (the national average), hard eight, or (ulp) hard ten (the ladies' friend.) Or just Big Dick.

You can call a midnight, or bet a horn high. You can go up on the come out, and you can go down on your hardways. Or, you can just get felted.

Now that we've got that sorted, let's recap.

In Learn and Play Craps with Royal Flusher: The Basics, I explained the fundamentals of how craps works.

In Learn and Play Craps with Royal Flusher: Simple Pass Line Play, I explained everything a complete newbie needs to know to confidently walk up to a craps table, buy in, and make pass line bets.

This post is going to explain how to build on your pass line bet by taking odds - the best bet in the casino. In order to understand it, we're going to have to do a little Mr. Poindexter math stuff though.

All About Craps Odds Bets

When you roll a come out roll that is not 7 or 11 (winner), 2, 3, or 12 (loser), the number is called a point. It can be 4,5,6,8,9 or 10.

Here's the simplified version.

When a point has been established, you are allowed to make an additional bet behind your pass line bet. This bet is paid off at the true odds of rolling the number in question. It's called an odds bet, or a free odds bet.

Pay attention now, here's the good part. This bet has no house edge. None. Zero.

How does a casino make money at roulette (or any other game)? It pays you back at a rate less than the odds of the event happening. A quick example - a roulette wheel has the numbers 1-36, 0, and 00. That's 38 possible outcomes. If you make a straight up bet that a particular number is rolled, are you paid 38 to 1, which is the true odds of the bet? No, you poor dumbass. You are paid 35-1. The difference is the house edge, and guarantees that they will grind you down if you play long enough, take all your money, rough you up verbally in the staff dining room, calling you a ninny and a stink, poke you in the chest repeatedly with and index finger, and finally send you crying to your room, broke, until you can remember the combination to the safe where you can tear into the next three days' envelopes of gambling budget to go and bet it on... yes, losing roulette again.

Let's look at craps again. Here are the true odds of rolling these numbers before rolling a seven (which, having established a point, would end your roll).

4   - 2:1
5   - 3:2
6   - 6:5
8   - 6:5
9   - 3:2
10 - 2:1

How do we get these odds? Well, let's look at the number 6. Given two dice, there are the following numbers of ways of making 6:
1 5
2 4
3 3
4 2
5 1

Total, five different ways. (Has the 12 watt light bulb above your pointy little head gone on yet? Mine hasn't. Mine is one of those small oven light bulbs. Even when it's on, you can't see dick.)

How many ways are there of making 7 given two dice?
1 6
2 5
3 4
4 3
5 2
6 1

That's six different ways.

So, the odds, on any roll, of rolling a seven compared to a six are 6 to 5. 6 sevens for ever 5 sixes.

And, again, the beauty of the odds bet in craps, is that the casino pays you those odds exactly - no house edge.

Let's run a little scenario.

Come out roll. You put $5 down on the pass line.
Five bucks on the line, waiting for the come out roll. (Puck is OFF.)
The come out roll is 4.So, 4 is the point You now place another $5 chip behind your original pass line bet, on the other side of the line. This is your odds bet.
Point is 4. (See the puck?) Five bucks on the line, five bucks in odds behind the line.
Now, let's say a bunch of rolls take place.

"A bunch of rolls take place."

Thank you. (You thought I'd forget about that annoying bit of business didn't you.)

Because this is a Chatty Cathy tutorial and not the real world, the shooter finally rolls a four. "Four, winner four, pay the line, take the don't."

The odds of rolling a four compared to rolling a seven are two to one. You are paid even money for your pass line bet, and two to one, true odds, for your odds bet. This is the moment it happens, folks. You just fell in love with craps.
Pass line bet paid 1:1, odds bet paid 2:1 on the 4.

How to Take Odds Without Fucking Up

The most common newbie (and even experience-bie) fuck-up a the table is not putting optimal odds behind the line.

Here's what happens. You have $5 on the pass line. Come out roll is 9. You put $5 behind the line. You do that sort of smart-ass shake-of-the-head thing while sporting the beginnings of an "I know what I'm doing" shit-eating grin. You baller you.

Now the dealer gets your attention and says something like, "Put another dollar on that...", pointing to your odds bet.

He wants you have $6 behind the line, not $5. Now why would that be?

Well, the odds bet on a 9 pays 3:2. You put $5 down. If you win, the payout would be $7.50. This craps table, and every craps table, is fresh out of 50 cent chips. You would actually be paid just $7.00.

Whoopsies!!! Through your inept placing of the seemingly innocuous $5 chip, you have jeopardized your smug smile, which came to you knowing you were making a bet with zero house edge. In other words, you gave a house edge where previously, there had been nought.

If you up your odds bet to $6, you can be paid at the proper odds of 3:2, or $9.

The simplest way of not messing up odds whilst being a newbie and playing $5 on the pass line

The simplest way of not messing up odds whilst being a newbie and playing $5 on the pass line is to always bet $10 odds behind the line. It can be paid off properly at 6:5 ($12), 3:2 ($15) and 2:1 ($20). That covers you for all the point numbers.
Main Street Station has 20x odds.

Some tricks to remember how much odds to take

Take a look at the craps layout. Starting between the 6 and the 8, and going out to the outside of the layout, it's like playing chopsticks. The odds for 6 an 8 are identical. So are the old for 5 and 9, and so are the odds for 4 and 10.

Now, for a $5 better, you can just remember odd, even, odd. Take an odd number of dollars odds for the 8, an even number for the 9, and an odd number for the 10.

In other words, $5, $6, $5 moving from the inside of the layout to the outside.

But how do you remember the payouts? It gets confusing. Here's a simplification that made it all come together for me.

Remember the odds for 8, 9 and 10 are 6:5, 3:2, and 2:1 ? Here's an easier way of remembering them.

6:5, 6:4, 6:3

It's an easy, symmetrical pattern for somebody like Jimmy Poon who has the brain of a - um - really smart guy - to remember. I can often remember part of it.

Those numbers make it easy to remember how much in odds to bet if you are low-rolling, and what you are going to get paid when you win.

How Much Many Odds Can You Take

The little sign stuck on the inside wall of the craps table will show you what the table minimum and maximum bets are, and the odds. It might be 2x odds, or 5x odds, or even 100x odds, which is rare.

What does 2x odds mean? It means you can put down 2 times as much as your pass line bet in odds. So if you bet $5 on the line, you can take $10 in odds.

If its 5x you could take $25 in odds.

Sometimes you will see 3x, 4x, 5x odds. This is a tweak to make it easy for everyone to do the math. It means you can take 3x odds on the 4 and 10, 4x on the 5 and 9, and 5x on the 6 and 8.

With a $5 pass line bet, the 4 and 10 would pay $5 (pass line) plus $30 ($15 at 2:1 odds). Total $35 won

On the 5 and 9, that's $5 plus $30 ($20 at 3:2 odds). Total $35 won.

On the 6 and 8, that's $5 plus $30 ($25 at 6:5 odds). Total $35 won.

And that's why they do it. If you are taking full odds, the payout is the same no matter what the point. It gives us all a break from the pointy-head math stuff.

Go Forth and Take Odds - But How To Make Real Money?

With that, you have everything you need to play craps. You have the fundamentals of the roll, the math behind the odds, how not to fuck up, and you know exactly how to approach the table and play the pass line with odds.

The free odds bet is the best bet in the casino. The pass line is not far behind, with a house edge of less than half a percent. Compare that to the 10% to 15% edge on penny slots.

Even better, the drinks served at the tables are nice 'n hefty, and the service is usually fast.

So, everything is great. You will hopefully get on some hot tables, make a lot of points, make some odds bets, win some money.

This is where I found myself. And after a really hot shooter, I found I had... barely doubled my money. Meanwhile, people around me were coloring stacks of green and black, hundreds, and even thousands of dollars worth.

How did they do it?

It took me a while to learn this, but the simple secret to winning a lot of money at craps is... to press your bets.

Find a scheme that gives you an upside without getting too crazy. Press those bets. Get up from $5 on the passline to $10, to $20, to $30, and full odds.

With that one hot shooter, you can take down a big score.

It's really that simple. It took me a long while to have the guts to keep pressing it up. It's quite a rush, really, and not as easy as it is to say it or write it. But when things are going your way, and the table is hot, press it up, and you could take down ten times your buy-in, twenty times, or more.

There are a lot more bets that you can make on the craps table. You can place numbers, buy numbers, make come bets with odds, play the dark side, laying odds, bet on numbers hopping, take the hardways, single roll yo, horn high yo, all tall, all small, on and on.

That means there is still a lot to learn about craps. But the thing is, I've already shown you the very best bets on the layout (excepting betting on the Don't Pass, which has a hair less house edge - but let's not go to the dark side).

Those sexy hardways come at a big cost - almost 3% house edge. Stick to the pass line with odds, it's a winner's bet. Press 'em up, win a rack full, toss a few to the crew, and be a savvy craps player.

Good luck, and enjoy the greatest, loudest game on the floor.


  1. Oh great Flusher, shouldn't the payout be $9?

    If you up your odds bet to $6, you can be paid at the proper odds of 3:2, or $8.

    Jeff in MN

    1. Good catch Jeff. I'm a better gambler than math Poindexter! However, Jimmy Poon should have caught this error, I will admonish him by eating his dessert HoHo at lunch tomorrow.