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).

As 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.

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Sometimes 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.

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.
• MikeS

I’ve seen elsewhere that the minimum lay bet must pay off 4 times the table minimum before the vig (i.e. \$10 table must lay \$80 to win \$38 on no 4/10), is that prevalent? Thanks.

• crapspit

Hi Mike,
Thanks for visiting the website, and thanks for your question.

We’re very sorry, but we don’t fully understand the question. We’re hung up on the phrase, “…before the vig….” Are you asking if it’s normal practice to not apply the vig until the win amount is at least 4 times the table minimum? In other words, are you asking if the winning payoff must be 4 times the table minimum before you pay any vig? If that’s your question, then that’s not the norm, at least in the parts of the country where we play. If that’s truly your question, then it’s surprising such a rule exists in a for-profit casino because it’s hard to believe a casino would let you make a bet (other than the true odds bet) without the casino having an advantage–and the casino gets its advantage on the Lay bet by charging the vig. So, for example, if you lay \$20 to win \$10 and don’t have to pay a vig when you win, then the casino doesn’t make any money from that bet. However, if the casino that has such a rule is in a particular area where the competition is fierce, then the casino might use such a rule to entice players into their casino instead of the competition’s.

Again, we’re sorry for not understanding your question. You’re welcome to reply with a clarification so we can then try again with an answer. Thanks again for visiting the website, and good luck at the tables!

• MikeS

Sorry for the confusion. My question was mostly about the minimum lay
bet. At a \$10 table would I need to lay \$80 to win \$38 (\$40 minus 5%
vig) or could I make a smaller bet (i.e. lay \$40 to win \$19 (\$20 minus
5%)?

• crapspit

Hi Mike,

Thanks for the clarification. The answer is that it depends on the casino. We’ve never played where the minimum Lay bet requirement is so high, but nothing would surprise us in terms of a casino’s playing requirements. Some casinos where we play (such as in Biloxi, MS) don’t have such a requirement at all. Same for the Buy bet. For example, in some casinos, we can Buy the 4 or 10 for \$10, but in others we must Buy it for at least \$20 or \$25. So, when you ask if an \$80 minimum Lay bet on a \$10 minimum table is prevalent, our answer is no.

In our opinion, such a rule is outrageous and puts unnecessary limits on the players. If we walked into a casino and learned of that rule, we’d turn right around, walk out, and play at the casino across the street. If that casino is the only game in town, then that’s why they can get away with having such a high Lay requirement on a \$10 table. Does that casino have a similarly high requirement for the Buy bet? The only reason we can think of why a casino would have such high Lay and Buy requirements is that they want to discourage average players from making those bets because of their relatively low house advantages (in this context, an “average” player is one who typically makes bets close to the table minimums). Because the Lay bet on the 4 or 10 has a house advantage of only about 1.6%, the casino with such a high Lay requirement is doing only one thing—they’re trying to discourage you from making that bet because of it’s low house advantage.

The casino knows most players aren’t going to make such an expensive bet (i.e., an \$80 bet is way out of reach for the average player), so the casino has effectively removed that bet with its low house advantage from the table for a most players. If the casino doesn’t have much competition, it knows players will still play at their table even if their rules put the Lay bet out of reach for most players. The casino knows those players will forget the Lay bet and make other bets with higher house advantages, which means bigger profits for the casino.