Craps odds help manage house risk

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When it comes to craps, the odds are not in your favor.

For craps players on a budget, the free odds are best used to reduce wagers on pass and come.

Pass and come each have a house edge of 1.41 percent, while there is no house edge on the odds, a bet that can be made only to back up a pass or come wager after the shooter has established a point. Keeping pass/come bets to table minimum, then making up the rest of your total wager in free odds minimizes exposure to the house edge.

In the long run, a player who bets the table minimum on pass with no odds will lose the same amount of money as one who bets table minimum on pass, then layers on free odds.

Let’s make up an example. If the point is 4 nine times, with average luck you’ll win a third of those trials. Bet $5 on pass each time, and you risk $45, and with three wins you have an overall loss of $15.

A player who also bets $5 in single odds adds another $45 in wagers. On the three wins, he keeps a total of $15 in wagers, but is paid at 2-1 odds for a total of $30 in winnings. The total of $45 equals his risk, and his overall loss is the same $15 as someone who doesn’t bet the odds.

When the results are something other than the expected average, the situation changes. Let’s say we win four of those nine trials with a point of 4. With four wins and five losses, the $5 pass-only bettor loses $5 overall. Someone betting $5 on pass and $5 on the odds also loses $5 on the pass portion, but shows a $15 profit on the free odds.

Overall, the $5 pass plus $5 shows a $10 profit after four wins in nine trials in which the point is 4. There’s a profit despite more losers than winners.

In the long run, the house will keep 1.41 percent of the pass or come bets, and you’ll break even on the free odds. It’s the journey to that long run that’s vastly different, with more frequent wins but also larger losses if you bet the odds.