The Hardway Bets

 Y ou bet the “Hardway” only on the 10, 8, 6, or 4 such that it will appear before either the “easy way” or a 7.  First, let’s talk about “hard” versus “easy.”

The “hard way” to make one of these four numbers is when both dice show equal values (i.e., a pair).  The “easy way” is when the dice show two different values.  The following tables assume you’ve read our other lessons, particularly the one about basic craps math, where you learned the number of ways to make each potential outcome 2 through 12.

You can roll a 10 three different ways as shown in the following table.

Die #1Die #2Result
6410
4610
5510

Of the three possible outcomes for a 10, which is considered the “hard way?”  Very good!  The 5-5 outcome means the dice show a pair, or equal values, so it’s the “hard way” to make a 10.  You’ll hear the stickman shout, “Ten hard!”  The 6-4 and 4-6 outcomes show different values on each die, so they’re the easy ways to make a 10.  You’ll hear the stickman shout, “Ten easy, the hard ten is down.”  The 5-5 pair is called “hard” because there’s only one way to make it, compared to the two ways to make the non-pair combinations (i.e., 4-6 and 6-4).  It’s “harder” to roll the single pair 5-5 than it is to roll the two easy ways (i.e., since there are two easy ways versus one hard way, your chances of rolling a 10 the easy way are twice as much as they are to roll a 10 the hard way).

You can roll an 8 five different ways as shown in the following table.

Die # 1Die # 1ResultEASY or HARD?
268Easy 8
628Easy 8
358Easy 8
538Easy 8
448Hard 8

You can roll a 6 five different ways as shown in the following table.

Die #1Die # 2ResultEASY or HARD?
156Easy 6
516Easy 6
246Easy 6
426Easy 6
336Hard 6

You can roll a 4 three different ways as shown in the following table.

Die #1Die #2ResultEASY or HARD?
134Easy 4
314Easy 4
224Hard 4

Although your Hardway bets are located in the center section of the layout with the proposition bets, they’re different from the other proposition bets in that the Hardways are “standing bets,” whereas the others are one-roll bets.  Unlike the one-roll bets (i.e., they win or lose on the very next roll), the Hardways “stand” until a certain outcome is rolled.  Like most all other standing bets, you can make the bet, remove it (i.e., take it down or turn it off), or change the amount of the bet anytime you want.

When you bet the Hardway on a number, you’re betting that the hard way will appear before an easy way or a 7.  After making the bet, every subsequent roll will result in one of the following outcomes:

  1. Any number (except 7 and the number that you bet) appears and nothing happens to your bet.  It doesn’t win or lose.  It “stands” for the next roll unless you take it down or turn it off.  For example, suppose you bet the Hard 10.  If the next roll is 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 11, or 12, then nothing happens and your bet stands; or…
  2. The easy way to roll your number appears, which means you lose and the bet is complete.  For example, if a 6-4 or 4-6 shows, then you lose; or….
  3. A 7 appears, which means you lose and the bet is complete; or…
  4. The hard way to roll your number appears, which means you win and the bet is complete.  Although the bet is complete, the stickman usually leaves your original bet up unless you tell him to remove it.  In summary:

A Hard 4 wins when a 2-2 appears before a 3-1, 1-3, or 7.  It loses when a 3-1, 1-3, or 7 appears before a 2-2.

A Hard 6 wins when a 3-3 appears before a 2-4, 4-2, 5-1, 1-5, or 7.  It loses when a 2-4, 4-2, 5-1, 1-5, or 7 appears before a 3-3.

A Hard 8 wins when a 4-4 appears before a 3-5, 5-3, 6-2, 2-6, or 7.  It loses when a 3-5, 5-3, 6-2, 2-6, or 7 appears before a 4-4.

A Hard 10 wins when a 5-5 appears before a 4-6, 6-4, or 7.  It loses when a 4-6, 6-4, or 7 appears before a 5-5.

Notice that the Hardway bets are for even numbers (they must be even for a pair to appear).  You might wonder, “Why can’t I make a Hardway bet on the 12 or 2 since they’re both even numbers for which a pair can be rolled?”  That’s true, but there’s no easy way to make them (i.e., there must be easy ways to make the number as well as a hard way).  If you want to bet the 12 or 2, you can make a proposition bet in the center section, but be aware that it’s a one-roll bet, not a standing bet.

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Unlike most other standing bets, the table minimums don’t apply to the Hardways.  The Hardway minimum bet is usually the least-valued chip at the table, typically $1.

The Hard 10 and Hard 4 payoffs are 7:1 (“7 to 1”).  The Hard 8 and Hard 6 payoffs are 9:1 (“9 to 1”).  We learned in our other lessons that craps is all about math, so let’s see if you’re getting the hang of thinking in terms of math.  Why is the payoff for the Hard 6 and Hard 8 more than it is for the Hard 10 and Hard 4?  That’s right!  Very good!  There are more easy ways to make an 8 or 6 than there are to make a 10 or 4; therefore, there are more ways to lose the Hard 8 and Hard 6 than the Hard 10 and Hard 4.  For example, consider how a Hard 4 and Hard 6 lose.  A Hard 4 loses when a 3-1, 1-3, or 7 appears before a 2-2 (i.e., it has three ways to lose).  A Hard 6 loses when a 2-4, 4-2, 5-1, 1-5, or 7 appears before a 3-3 (i.e., it has five ways to lose).  Because the Hard 6 has more ways to lose than the Hard 4, the Hard 6 pays more when you win.

Don’t be fooled by the casinos that try to sucker you by printing their layout to indicate the Hard 6 and Hard 8 pay “10 for 1,” and the Hard 4 and Hard 10 pay “8 for 1.”  The expression “10 for 1” equates to “9 to 1,” and “8 for 1” equates to “7 to 1.”  By displaying “for” instead of “to” on their layout, the casino is trying to fake you out by making you think their payoffs are better than their competitors’.  Suppose you make a $1 Hard 8 bet.  “10 for 1” indicates that the casino pays $10 when you win but the casino keeps the original $1 that you bet (i.e., when the payoff is complete, you have $10 in your hand).  “9 to 1” indicates that the casino pays $9 when you win and you keep the original $1 bet (i.e., when the payoff is complete, you have $10 in your hand).  In both cases, you end up holding $10, so this shows how the expressions “9 to 1” and “10 for 1” are equal.

As noted earlier, a Hardway can be removed (or turned off) whenever you want.  You typically see a player turn off his Hardway before the come-out roll for a new game.  If a shooter makes her point to end the game, everyone’s Hardway bets remain on the layout because, although the game has ended, the Hardway proposition bets are still active.  A proposition bet is like a side bet that doesn’t have anything to do with the game’s outcome, so even though the game has ended, the Hardway side bets are still active.  Since most people bet the Pass Line, they hope and cheer that the come-out roll is a winning 7 or 11.  Remember, a 7 is a loser for the Hardway, so this would put the player in an awkward position of hoping a 7 shows on the come-out to win the Pass Line but at the same time hoping that a 7 doesn’t show because the Hardway would lose.  So, some casinos do the players a favor by automatically turning off all Hardway bets just for the come-out roll of a new game.  Because the casino’s policy is that the Hardways are automatically off on the come-out, the stickman does not put an OFF button on any of the Hardway bets (i.e., the boxman and camera already know the bets are off as a matter of policy).

Therefore, it’s critical that you know the casino’s policy on whether they automatically turn off Hardway bets on the come-out.  Don’t be afraid to ask the dealers!  If the casino leaves them on and working, a good stickman usually reminds everyone before the shooter rolls the come-out by shouting, “Hardways work on the come-out!”  It’s your responsibility to decide whether you want your Hardways on or off for the come-out.  Remember, if you make a Pass Line bet before the come-out and if you have a Hardway bet working, then a 7 is good for the Pass Line but bad for the Hardway.  If you want to root for a 7 on the come-out so your Pass Line wins, then you should turn off your Hardway by firmly telling the stickman, “My Hardway is off on the come-out!” The stickman then puts an OFF button on your Hardway bet to indicate to the boxman and camera that it’s off and not working.  If the shooter establishes a point on the come-out and you then want your Hardway working again, tell the stickman, “My Hardway is back on!”  It’s your responsibility to turn your Hardway back on, not the stickman’s.  If you forget, the OFF button remains on your bet and if the shooter rolls the Hardway, you don’t win because your bet is still off (i.e., you forgot to turn it back on).

The stickman controls all Hardway bets, which means they’re not self-service bets (i.e., you can’t make these bets on the layout yourself; you must get the stickman’s help to make them).  Like all center-section proposition bets, you tell the stickman what you want, such as, “Gimme a Hard eight, please,” and then lob your chip to a spot on the tabletop not occupied by other people’s chips.  He puts your chip in the Hardway box based on your position at the table so the crew knows exactly whose Hardway bets are whose.

Let’s go through a short scenario to help you understand how Hardway bets work (if you haven’t learned about Pass Line bets in our other article, you might want to review it now).

  1. A new game is ready to begin.  You put $5 in the Pass Line for your Flat bet.  The shooter throws the number 5 to establish 5 as the point.  You make an Odds bet on your Pass Line for $6.
  2. The shooter throws the number 3, which doesn’t matter so the game carries on.  Because the point is 5, the only numbers that matter in terms of a decision to end the game are 5 and 7.
  3. Your gut tells you the Hard 8 is going to hit soon.  When you get the stickman’s attention, you toss a $1 chip near the center of the table and say, “Hard eight, please.”  The stickman picks up your chip and places it the proper spot in the Hard 8 box that corresponds to the location at the table where you’re standing.
  4. The shooter rolls an Easy 8 with the dice combination of 5-3.  The stickman says, “Eight easy, easy eight, the Hard eight is down.”  You lose your Hard 8 bet because an Easy 8 showed before the Hard 8.  Your gut still says a Hard 8 is going to hit, so you toss another $1 chip to the center of the table and say, “Give me that Hard eight again, please.”  The dealer moves your chip to the Hard 8 box.
  5. Shooter throws the number 10.  The number 10 doesn’t matter, so the game carries on.
  6. Shooter tosses the number 5.  “Woohoo!”  The game concludes because the point was made.  The Flat bet wins $5 and the Odds bet wins $9.  You make another $5 Pass Line bet for the next game.  The shooter rolled his point (i.e., 5) to conclude the game, but that doesn’t matter to your Hard 8 bet, so it remains on the table.  Remember, proposition bets are like side bets that have nothing to do whether a game wins or loses.
  7. The shooter is ready to begin a new game.  The stickman says, “Same hot shooter coming out.  Hardways work unless you call them off.”  Because you left a $5 chip in the Pass Line, you’re going to root for a 7 on the come-out roll so your Pass Line wins.  But you don’t want your Hard 8 to lose when the 7 shows, so you tell the stickman, “My Hard eight is off.”  The stickman puts an OFF button on top of your Hard 8 chip.
  8. Shooter tosses a 7, which is a natural, and the game concludes.  The Flat bet wins $5.  Leave the original $5 in the Pass Line for the next game.  For your Hard 8 bet, the number 7 is meaningless because you called your Hard 8 off and not working.  So, even though the shooter rolled a 7, you don’t lose your Hard 8 bet.  Your Hard 8 is still off on the next come-out roll (the OFF button still remains on your Hard 8 chip).
  9. Shooter throws a 6 to establish 6 as the point.  You make a $5 Odds bet.  Now that a point is established, you want your Hard 8 working again, so you tell the stickman, “Turn my Hard eight back on, please.”  The stickman removes the OFF button from your Hard 8 chip.
  10. The shooter rolls an 8 with the dice combination of 4-4.  The stickman shouts, “Hard eight, eight the hard way!”  Great call!  You knew that Hard 8 was going to hit.  The 8 doesn’t matter for your Pass Line with Odds bets because the point is 6, but your Hard 8 bet wins because the 4-4 combination showed.  After the dealer pays everyone else’s Place bets, the stickman points with his mop (i.e., stick) to your position at the table and tells the dealer, “Nine dollars.”  The dealer counts out $9 and pays you.  Your $1 Hard 8 chip stays on the table and continues working.
  11. Shooter throws a 12.  The number 12 doesn’t matter, so the game continues.
  12. Shooter tosses a dreaded 7-out.  Oh, rats!  You lose your Pass Line with Odds bets and the dealer takes your Pass Line with Odds chips.  Because a 7 showed before a Hard 8, your Hard 8 also loses.  The stickman picks up your Hard 8 chip.

You can now go to the page that we list the craps bets or You can now head over to the table of contents to find more great content.

Author
Written by John Nelsen in partnership with the team of craps pros at crapspit.org.