This article is a follow up to my earlier one on the essential bets in craps. That article ran so long I closed it by advising the player to avoid all the sucker bets in the middle of the table, as opposed to going over them one by one. However, I'm sure you've been envious when the proposition bet players seem to be winning right and left and are not shy to gloat about it. If you can't take my advice on faith, then this article will attempt to convince you that every bet that pays more than 3 to 1 on anything is a sucker bet. For those that can take it on faith, you don't need to bother reading further.
In a land casino, you'll find all the sucker bets in the middle of the craps table. The dealers like to promote these bets, probably at the direction of higher management who know that is where the largest margins are. If you want to make one of these bets, you will have to ask the dealer to place it for you.
For example, if you tossed the dealer $5 and said "Yo 11," then it would mean you want to bet $5 that the next roll will be a total of 11. If you ever make this bet, then paint a red S on your forehead to identify yourself as a sucker.
However, if you must bet the sucker bets, and want to save a lot of money, then you can bet them for free on my craps trainer. You can find them in the lower right corner of the game.
Bets that the next roll will be a specific combination, like 5 and 6, or 1 and 1, are known as Hop bets. There are two types of Hop bets -- Easy and Hard.
Easy hop bets are on a roll like 2-5, where one die must land on 2 and one on 5. Forgive me if I pause to do a little math here. There are six ways each die can land, so there are 6*6=36 total possible outcomes. There are two ways to achieve any given Easy Hop. For example, on a bet of 2-5, the first die can be a 2 and the second one a 5, or vise versa. The probability of winning any given Easy Hop bet is thus 2/36, which reduces to 1/18.
With a probability of winning of 1/18, fair winning odds would be 17 to 1, or 18 for 1. I prefer to use the "to" parlance for table games, although land casino craps tables often use the "for" terminology for sucker bets. Perhaps because those who make these sucker bets like to see a big number as the win and don't care what the preposition is. If you're not familiar with the difference between "to" and "for" in this context, if the payoff is expressed with a "to," then, if you win, you also get to keep your original bet, in addition to the win. If it is expressed as "for," then the win already includes the return of the original wager.
In the United States, most casinos will pay only 15 to 1, or 16 for 1 on any Easy Hop bet. For every dollar you bet, you can expect to get back 16/18 = 88. That equates to a house edge of 11.11%.
If you find yourself in the UK or Australia, then things are better. The payoff is 16 to 1, or 17 for 1, which results in a house edge of 5.56%. Three cheers to the queen for not taking advantage of a sucker too badly.
The most common Easy Hops bets are on totals of 3 and 11. These can be made one way each only, 1-2 on the 3 and 5-6 on the 11. In my demo game, these are the only Easy Hop bets, for lack of space for the rest of them, and they pay the standard American odds of 15 to 1.
Let me close this section on Easy Hops by giving a warning that some Vegas casinos, namely those under the Caesars brand, except Caesars Palace itself, pay only 14 to 1, or 15 for 1, on Easy Hop bets. The house edge at those odds is 16.67%. Talk about adding insult to injury.
Hard Hops are called that because they are harder to roll than Easy Hops. In particular, they are on a specific pair, like 3-3. There is only one way to roll such an outcome, so the probability of winning is 1 in 36.
In the United States, most casinos pay 30 to 1, or 31 for 1, on Hard Hops. That results in an expected return of 31/36 = 86.11% of every bet, or a house edge of 13.89%.
In the UK and Australia, they pay 33 to 1, or 34 for 1, for a much lower house edge of 5.56%. Meanwhile, the same stingier casinos in Vegas pay only 29 to 1, or 30 for 1, for a house edge of 16.67%.
In a land casino, you can bet on any pair. However, in the interests of space, in my demo you can bet on only the two most popular: 1-1 and 6-6. These are expressed as bets on a total of 2 and 12.
The worst bet in craps is the "any seven." Normally, craps has a terminology all its own but this bet is self-explanatory. It wins if the next roll is a total of seven and loses otherwise.
There are six ways to roll a seven (1-6, 2-5, 3-4, 4-3, 5-2, and 6-1) out of a total of 36 possible outcomes. Thus, the probability of winning is 6/36 or 1/6. In the United States, wins pay 4 to 1, or 5 for 1, resulting in a house of 16.67%. That is the highest house edge on any standard bet in craps.
In Australia and the UK there is a little relief. There, the Any Seven bet pays 9 to 2, cutting the house edge in half to 8.33%.
The "craps" numbers are those that cause a pass bet to lose on the first roll, namely a 2, 3, or 12. The Any Craps bets wins on any of those three totals. There are four ways to win (1-1, 1-2, 2-1, and 6-6) for a probability of winning of 4/36 or 1/9. Wins pay 7 to 1, or 8 for 1, for a house edge of 11.11%.
In the UK and Australia, they kindly pay 15 to 2, lowering the house edge to 5.56%.
The Horn bet is really four bets -- on the 2, 3, 11, and 12. Bets should be evenly divisible by four, because the total bet will be divided four ways among those bets. The overall house edge is 12.5%, assuming the 2 and 12 pay 30 to 1 and the 3 and 11 pay 15 to 1.
and pay 30 to 1
and pay 15 to 1
You can also bet the Horn in increments of $5, putting the extra $1 on one of the four bets of your choice. For example, if you want to bet double on the 12, then say "12-high Horn." 40% of your bet will be on the 12 and 20% each on the 2, 3, and 11.
My demo game does not have a space for the Horn bet, so you'll have to bet each component individually.
Also known as the Whirl bet, the World bet is another combination bet, on the 2, 3, 7, 11, and 12, with the bet equally divided between those numbers. Be sure to bet it in increments of $5. Assuming the usual American rules, the overall house edge is 13.33%.
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These are probably the most popular of the proposition bets. Unlike every other bet above, they do not necessarily resolve in one roll, but instead operate like Place bets. In my demo game, they can be found on this section of the table.
To roll a total the "Hard Way" means that both dice are the same. For example a 4-4 is known as a Hard Eight. A 5-3 or 6-2 would be an Easy Eight, because the individual dice are different, and easier to roll that combination.
There are four Hard Way bets -- the Hard 4, Hard 6, Hard 8, and Hard 10. Each of them wins if the shooter rolls the specified total the Hard Way. Hard Way bets lose on a total of seven or if the specified total is rolled the Easy Way. Nothing happens on any other outcome. The bet stays on the table until a winning or losing outcome occurs, or the player takes down the bet.
The following flow chart shows how the Hard Eight bet would be adjudicated, as an example.
The UK and Australia, again, provide a sucker a break by paying an extra half unit on all wins, cutting those high house edges in half. Under the American rules, the Hard 4 and Hard 10 pay 7 to 1 (or 8 for 1) and the Hard 6 and Hard 8 pay 9 to 1 (or 10 for 1). Interestingly, the probability of winning is the same as the house edge on all four bets. On the Hard 4 and 10 both are 1/9 or 11.11%. On the Hard 6 and 8 both are 1/11 or 9.09%.
The only thing you really need to know about every proposition bet in craps is to never make them. Hopefully, the high house edges I have quoted will show why. A common excuse for betting on these sucker bets is to hedge a larger bet elsewhere. That is a bad excuse. Hedging in a casino is almost always a bad idea because hedge bets usually carry a very high house edge. If you're gambling -- then gamble. If you're afraid to lose, then put your money in the machine titled "change."
There will be times when you see other players winning a lot of money on the bets listed here. At those times, it may be tempting to climb on the sucker bet train. However, don't be deceived. Those players will lose a lot more when they win. They only draw attention to themselves when they win, so it is easy to think they are doing better than they are.
So, in conclusion, never bet anything on this page.