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Understanding craps oddsTo be a good craps player, you need to know how and where the odds are stacked against you as you play the game. Below, we try to take away a bit of the mystic that seems to exist behind craps odds and betting.
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Taking your craps odds
The 'free odds' craps bet has no house edge, but you cannot place it unless you've already placed a bet that does have a house edge. This situation may be best described using the Pass line bet example. When you bet a Pass line bet, the natural house edge is around 1.42%. When you back the bet with free odds, the overall house edge falls. The greater the proportion of your bet that is on free odds, the lower the house edge will be. This is why many casinos limit the amount you can place on free odds.
The craps table should clearly state what proportion of your bet is allowed to be placed as an odds bet. This is typically expressed as a multiple (for example 2X (2 times), 3X (3 times), etc.). Thus, when the table has a 5x showing, it means you can place five times as much on your odds as you have placed as the Pass line bet. If you bet a $10 Pass line bet, you could put as much as $50 down on free odds.
The concept behind craps odds is not all that complicated, but calculating what you should be paid for each bet (if those bets were fair) can be quite a task, and one that's not often taken on since it might not make you more money in the end. However, you can get a better idea about where it all comes from by having a look at the dice probability chart below.
This chart above details how common each total is from a combination of two dice. The very familiar number 7 is the most popular, as there are more ways to make a seven out of two dice than any other number. That means that on any given roll, there is a better chance a seven will come up before any other number. The odds of rolling a 3 can be found by stating the number of possible ways to roll a 3, compared to the number of ways to roll something that's not a 3. This turns out to be 33 to 3, or 11 to 1 that a 3 will be rolled.
An important possible use of this knowledge is that it improves one's ability to determine the odds of one number being rolled before another. The odds of a 4 being rolled before a 7 can be seen by comparing the number of ways to roll a 4 (which is 3) with the number of ways to roll a 7 (which is 6). The odds against rolling a 4 before a 7 are 6 to 3, or 2 to 1. Looking at the numbers above, we find that it's best to bet on the 6 or 8 coming up before a seven, as it makes for the best craps odds available.
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