The Lay Bet in Craps

T he Lay bet is basically opposite of the Buy bet.  You bet that a 7 will appear before one of the point numbers (i.e., 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10).  For example, suppose you notice a temporary trend where the number 5 hasn’t appeared in the last 30 minutes.  You have a gut feeling that the trend will continue a little longer so you Lay the 5 (i.e., you bet that a 7 will appear before a 5).  The payoff is based on true odds.  Let’s review the true odds for each point number against the 7.

For the 4 and 10, the true odds are 1:2 (there are 3 ways to make a 4 or 10 versus 6 ways to make a 7, so 3:6 = 1:2).

For the 5 and 9, the true odds are 2:3 (there are 4 ways to make a 5 or 9 versus 6 ways to make a 7, so 4:6 = 2:3).

For the 6 and 8, the true odds are 5:6 (there are 5 ways to make a 6 or 8 versus 6 ways to make a 7, so 5:6).

roll7As noted, with the Lay bet, you hope a 7 appears before the number you bet against.  There are more ways to make a 7 than any of the point numbers, so like the Don’t Pass Odds bet, you have to Lay more than you expect to win.  The amount you Lay is based on true odds.  For example, suppose you haven’t seen a 9 in an hour.  The distribution variance took a wild turn and hasn’t shown a 9 in forever (but rest assured, the variance will eventually correct itself and when it does, it’ll seem like a 9 appears every other roll).  You decide to take a chance that the wild variance will continue a little longer, so you Lay the 9 (i.e., you bet that a 7 will show before a 9).  The true odds for the 7 against the 9 are 6:4, or 3:2.  You can see from the odds that you must bet a multiple of $3.  Let’s see if you’re paying attention and if you remember the material our other lessons.  Suppose you Lay the 9 for $9.  If a 7 shows before a 9, how much do you win?  Very good!  Yes, $6.  You’re getting good at this!  The true odds are 3:2, so do the little math trick to figure out how much you win.  Divide your $9 bet by 3 = $3, and then multiply the $3 by 2 = $6.  Remember, with the Lay bet against the 9, you have the advantage because there are more ways to roll a 7 and win than ways to roll a 9 and lose, so you have to bet your fair share, which in this case is that you Lay $9 to win $6.

As noted, the payoff for the Lay bet is based on true odds, which means there’s no built-in house advantage.  The house isn’t going to let you get away with that!  So, as with the Buy bet, you have to pay a vig for the privilege of getting true odds (review our article on the Buy bet to understand ”vig” and how the casino rounds it up or down to the next higher or lower whole dollar amount).  The vig for the Lay bet is the same as for the Buy bet.  Let’s look at an example where you want to Lay a bet on the 8 for $60.  If a 7 appears before an 8, you win $50 (i.e., the true odds are 6:5, so a winning $60 payoff is $50).  Calculate the vig based on the $50 win amount.  $50 x 5% = $2.50, which the casino rounds to only $2.  So, when the dealer pays you your winning $50, he says, “Drop me two dollars, please, sir.”  You pick up your two green $25 chips and then drop two white $1 chips in the apron for the dealer.  The cost of you getting true odds on that winning bet is $2.

You need the dealer’s help to make a Lay bet (i.e., the Lay bet is not a self-service bet).  When you have the dealer’s attention, put your chips inside the Come area in front of you and tell one of the crew members what number you want to Lay.  The dealer picks up your chips and puts them in the proper point box corresponding to your position at the table.  Then, the dealer puts a “LAY” button on top of your chips to show the boxman and camera that you have a working Lay bet.

Click HereSometimes you’ll hear a player refer to a Lay bet as a “No” bet.  Suppose the guy next to you puts two pretty black $100 chips in the Come box and says, “Gimme a No four.”  The dealer knows he wants a Lay bet so he moves the chips to the 4 point box and puts a LAY button on them.  The guy’s hunch was right; the 4 doesn’t appear and a 7 appears for a 7-out on the next roll.  How much does the guy win for his $200 Lay bet, and how much is the vig?  Do the little math trick.  True odds for the 7 against the 4 are 2:1, so divide the $200 bet by 2 = $100, and then multiply the $100 by 1 = $100.  The vig is based on the $100 win amount, so $100 x 5% = $100 x 0.05 = $5, which is a whole dollar amount, so it isn’t rounded.  In this case, the guy wins $100 and the cost for getting true odds is $5.

These bets usually are automatically left on for a come-out of the next game (i.e., the opposite of Buy bets, which are automatically off on the come-out).  But you’re able to make them on or off anytime you choose (and increase or decrease them anytime you choose).  For example, suppose you’re in the middle of a game and the point is 10.  The shooter has rolled lots of numbers except the 5.  You make a No 5 bet (i.e., you Lay the 5).  The very next roll, the shooter rolls a 10 to make her point and end the game.  Your Lay bet is automatically on and working for the come-out roll of the next game, but you decide to turn it off so you tell the dealer, “My No 5 is off.”  The dealer puts an “OFF” button on top of your chips.  On the come-out roll, the shooter rolls a 5 as the new point for the next game.  Wow!  Great call to turn off that Lay bet on the 5.  Since a 5 appeared before a 7, your Lay 5 would normally have lost, but you told the dealer, “My 5 is off,” so the bet was not working when the shooter rolled a 5.  Therefore, you don’t lose and your bet stays up.  When you decide to turn it back on so it’s working again, simply tell the dealer, “Turn my No 5 on so it’s working.”

Players usually keep their Lay bets on and working for the come-out roll because of the advantage they hold over the casino.  Remember, there are always more ways to make a 7 and win than ways to make any of the point numbers and lose.  If you have the advantage with the Lay bet, why would you ever turn it off?  You wouldn’t.  That’s why you seldom hear someone turn off their Lay bet.

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