In our lesson about Winning Systems and Craps Pros, we talked about the reason why we play craps even though we know the house has an advantage over us. As disciplined and smart players, we play because it’s so much fun and because we know how to extend our time at the table, which raises our chances that we’ll still be around when a hot roll finally comes. You ask, “How do I bet to minimize my losses so I can be around to win big when that hot roll finally does come, while at the same time have enough betting action to make it fun and exciting while I’m waiting for the hot roll? I don‘t want to just bet the Don’t Pass all night while waiting for the hot roll because that’s boring.” After trying lots of different systems, I’ve found that the following approach allows me to lose less money over longer periods of time, which gives me a better chance of being at the table when a hot roll appears. It also has enough action so I don’t get bored quickly.
The goal is not to win every session. That won’t happen, so don’t expect it. Instead, the goal is to minimize your losses for each session while waiting for the hot roll, and to enjoy it and have fun with it. Then, when that amazing hot roll does come, it’ll likely make up for all your losses.
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If you’ve read our lesson on Winning craps Systems, you might think, “You just got done telling me that all craps systems are bogus and now you’re going to teach me one of your own. Why should I bother learning your system if it’s just as bogus as all the rest of them?” Great question! There’s a subtle difference between the goal of my system and the claims of others that their systems will make you long-term profit. As noted, the goal of my system is not to be a consistently long-term winner. Instead, the goal is to minimize my losses so I can stand at the table longer and hopefully be around when a hot roll occurs that will replenish my chip stack so I can keep playing. With my system, I’m not lying to you about how it’s going to consistently win you gobs of money or to get you so pumped up on false hope of beating the casino that you’re willing to pay $89.99 for my secrets. Instead, what my system does for me is give me a better chance of lasting at the table so I’ll be around when a rare hot roll does occur so I can replenish my losses and continue playing. I play for the incredible fun and excitement of the game (not because of some crazy false expectation that I’ll beat the craps out of the casino), so my goal is simply to remain at the table as long as I can.
For example, suppose you’ve played several craps sessions in Vegas for a total loss of $200. After your stroll along the Strip with your wife, you start your next session with your standard $100 buy-in. Although you’re down $200 so far for the trip, you’re still a rock, still maintaining your disciplined smart play. After two hours, you’re down to the last $30 of your $100 buy-in. It’s getting close to dinner time. Your wife walks up and puts her arm around you.
“How’s it going, Honey?” your wife asks.
Like that knucklehead Clark Griswold in the movie Vegas Vacation, you respond, “I’m about even.”
The shooter rolls another 7-out. Good grief.
“Ready for dinner?” she asks.
“Yeah, just one more shooter, then we’ll go.”
The shooter rolls and establishes 4 as the point.
You turn to your wife and say, “This won’t take long. The way things have been going, there’s no way he’ll make a four.”
She smiles. You catch her glancing down at your pitiful chip stack. Her smile turns to a frown.
The shooter immediately rolls a 4. Woohoo! The first point made in a half an hour. You collect your winnings. The shooter is on fire hitting point after point, rolling number after number. Your bets are pressed up so high you’ve gone beyond those pathetic red ($5) and green ($25) chips. The dealer is now using black ($100) chips for your bets. Woohoo! This is heaven, baby!
Everyone’s screaming, laughing, clapping, and jumping up and down. You catch your wife glancing down at your chip stack again, this time with a big smile. Finally, the shooter rolls a 7-out. Game over. You count your chips and realize that you won $550. Woohoo! That makes up for your earlier losses and will probably make up for subsequent losses you’ll incur during the remainder of your trip. At this rate, you might break even for your whole four-day vacation. Woohoo!
After coloring out, you try to sneak the black chips into your pocket before your wife realizes what’s going on. Too late.
“Great job, Honey!” she says. “Now we can go to that fancy restaurant up the street. You can get a ribeye and I might try the salmon.”
Good grief. There goes a quick $250 on food, wine, and tip. Oh, well, at least your wife will be happy.
That’s the scenario you should hope for. You’ll probably lose a few hundred dollars over several sessions, but if you can hang around long enough for a hot roll, the winnings from that one roll might make up for all your losses. That’s the goal of the approach I’m about to describe. It’s not so you can quit your job and become a so-called craps professional. The goal is simply to stay at the table as long as you can during your Vegas trip so you can soak up all the fun that the game can provide.
You think, “Enough already. Just tell me how to do it!” Okay, relax. I’ll briefly explain my approach and then illustrate it in a scenario. In Vegas (or other destination), I usually play at a $5 table and my buy‑in for each session is $100. When playing at my favorite online casino (i.e., the Sun Coast), I play the $1 minimum and adjust my bet amounts accordingly. Ready?
Step 1: Make a $5 Pass Line bet and take single Odds. This keeps the house advantage less than 1% (i.e., 0.85%), which means the house barely has an edge on you. Wait for a point to be established.
Step 2a (if the point is 4, 5, 9, or 10): After the point is established, Place both the 6 and 8 for $6 each. Now, three different numbers are winners for you (i.e., the 6, 8, and the point number). The Place bets add extra betting action that greatly increases your fun and excitement (remember, the main reason you play is to have fun). Notice that these two initial Place bets are on the two numbers that have the lowest house advantage for Place bets, and they have the greatest numbers of ways to make them (i.e., five ways to make the 6, and five ways to make the 8; therefore, there are 10 ways out of 36 for you to hit one of those Place bets). This puts $23 in play for this game (i.e., $5 Pass Line with $5 or $6 in Odds depending on the point number, and two $6 Place bets), which means you have to lose four games in a row without hitting any winners before losing your $100 allotment for this session. That’s possible, but unlikely.
Step 2b (if the point is 6 or 8): If the point is 6, then Place the 8 for $6. If the point is 8, then Place the 6 for $6. This puts a total of $16 in play (i.e., $5 Pass Line with $5 in Odds, and one $6 Place bet).
Don’t make any other bets. Be patient and wait for your numbers to hit. Notice that you make good, smart bets that have some of the lowest house advantages. Also, your Place bets increase your action, so each roll is more fun and exciting than if you had made only Pass Line with Odds bets.
If the shooter rolls the point, pick up your Pass Line winnings and then make another $5 Pass Line bet. Leave your Place bets on the table (remember, they’re automatically OFF on the come-out roll of a new game).
Step 3: The first time any of your Place bets hit, put the winnings in your chip stack (i.e., don’t press or increase the Place bet, and don’t make any other Place bet).
Step 4: If your Place bets continue hitting before a 7-out, use the winnings to Place the remaining inside numbers until you have them all covered with the Pass Line and Place bets. (The inside numbers are 5, 6, 8, and 9.) For example, if the point is 6, your Pass Line bet covers the 6 and your Place bet that you made in Step 2b covers the 8; therefore, as your Place bet hits, cover the remaining inside numbers (i.e., the 5 and 9) with the winnings.
This intermediate objective is to cover the inside numbers with the Pass Line and/or Place bets. This won’t occur often because a lot of times the shooter rolls a 7‑out before you cover all the inside numbers.
If the shooter makes the point, leave all your Place bets on the table and continue with Step 4 after a new point is established.
Again, you won’t get this far very often. Be patient and disciplined. Get to know the dealers and your playing partners. Talk about last night’s game. Laugh with them. Have fun.
Step 5: After all the inside number are covered (i.e., 5, 6, 8, and 9), it’s time to keep the winnings. The next time one of your Place bets hit, put the winnings in your chip stack.
Step 6: If your Place bets continue hitting, use the winnings to cover the 4 and 10 with Place bets.
Your next objective is to cover all the numbers (i.e., 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, and 10) with the Pass Line and Place bets. This occurs only a few times during your entire four-hour session, so don’t expect it to occur very often.
Now, it starts to get really exciting. Stop talking to the hot hooker next to you. Now’s not the time to fantasize. Besides, your wife may come in at any moment. (Wives a mile away can smell when their husbands are about to win major moolah.)
Step 7: Now that you have all the numbers covered, if your Place bets continue hitting, alternate between taking the winnings and pressing the bet. I call this my “press mode.” I tell the dealer, “We’re in press mode now, baby!” By now, the hot babe next to me spilling out of her halter top is invisible. All my attention is focused on the game.
“Press” means to double the bet. For example, suppose your $6 Place bet on the 8 hits. Tell the dealer, “Press it.” Because the casino odds for a Place 8 are 7:6, your $6 bet wins $7. The dealer puts a $1 chip in the apron in front of you and puts the remaining $6 on your Place 8 to double it to $12. Pick up the $1 chip and put it in your chip stack. Notice that the dealer maintains your Place 8 bet at a multiple of $6 so you’ll continue getting the full casino odds of 7:6. For example, now if your $12 Place 8 hits, you win $14.
As long as the shooter rolls numbers, keep alternating between pressing and taking profit. Both the size of your chip stack and the size of your Place bets will grow. As your Place 4, 5, 9, and 10 grow to the appropriate amounts, don’t forget to change them from Place bets to Buy bets (refer to our lesson on Buy bets to learn why we do this). For example, if your Place 4 is pressed up to $20 and it hits again, tell the dealer, “Buy it for a quarter!” This means you want the dealer to take $5 of the $36 that you won for the $20 Place bet and increase the bet on the 4 from $20 to $25 (a “quarter”) and to change it from a Place bet to a Buy bet, and then pay you the remaining $31. The dealer then pays you $31 (i.e., $36 you won for the Place bet minus $5 that you’re adding to the 4) and then moves your chips for the bet on the 4 from the Place position in the point box to the Buy position, and puts a BUY button on top of them.
If it’s a true hot roll, you’ll soon have green and black chips in your chip stack, and your Place/Buy bets will be pressed up to $50, $75, and even $100 each. Think of that! Every time your $100 Buy 4 hits, you win $200 (minus a $5 vig). Woohoo!
Settle down. Don’t get too excited. This doesn’t happen very often. As noted earlier, you’ll probably lose most sessions. If you’re lucky enough to get to “Press Mode” in Step 7, the shooter usually then rolls a 7-out and you lose everything. When that happens, you have to start all over at Step 1.
Occasionally, there’s a “lukewarm” roll where you press and win some Place bets a few times before a 7-out. Those are the times that help replenish your chip stack for the next several losing rolls.
You might think, “If you can’t tell when a good roll is coming, why not just bet $5 on the Pass Line with $50 in Odds, and Place the 6 and 8 for $24 each? Then, if they hit a couple of times, you make $50, $75, or even $100 dollars.”
That sounds exactly like my brother. He has no patience at all. I dislike when he says, “Just put fifty dollars in Odds so we can get out of here. If we win, we win big. If we lose, we can go do something else.” I always respond, “Go do what? I’ve seen the stupid volcano a hundred times!”
The obvious danger with that approach is, after putting $100 in play in one game, the shooter could immediately roll a 7-out and you lose your entire allotment for that session. In less than a minute, you could lose $100. Now what? As we learned in our lesson about Planning and Budgeting, we never want to dig into our wallets for more money within a single session. If you lose your buy-in for a particular session, you should stop playing, go do something else, and wait for it’s time for your next planned session to start.
Reminder: You must never gamble with more than you can afford to lose. If you lose your entire allotment for a particular playing session, you must never “dig” into your wallet to borrow a few dollars from the next session’s allotment.
Using my brother’s philosophy, you could win or lose a lot quickly. If you’re willing to take that chance, and if you have something else to do for a couple hours if you lose, then go for it. But you’ve defeated your purpose for going to Vegas. You went to have fun playing craps. If you lose all your money for that session literally in one minute, you’re stuck with nothing to do but watch the water fountains and volcano. They get really old after seeing them five or six times.
The smart, disciplined approach allows you to lose less over a longer period of time, while still having enough betting action to keep it fun and exciting. It allows you to be at the table longer; thereby, increasing your chance of hitting the distribution variance just right so it causes one of those elusive hot rolls.
Let’s look at a hot-roll scenario so everything about this approach is clear. Remember, if the shooter rolls a 7‑out, you lose all your bets and you must start over at Step 1.
NOTE: The following scenario assumes you’ve studied our other lessons and learned the lingo for the various bet types. If you don’t understand something, go back and review the lessons for the bet types mentioned below.
- A new game is about to start. Make a $5 Pass Line bet. The shooter rolls a 5, so the point is 5.
- Take single Odds on the point, which in this case is $6. Then, put $12 in the Come box and tell the dealer, “Place the six and eight, please.” Remember, the Place odds for the 6 and 8 are 7:6, which means your bets should be in $6 multiples. The dealer splits your $12 and puts $6 on the 6, and $6 on the 8.
- The shooter immediately rolls a 5 to make her point. Game over. You clap, cheer, and shout, “What took you so long, shooter?” The dealer pays you $5 for your Flat Pass Line bet and $9 for your Odds bet. Pick up all your winnings, but leave $5 on the Pass Line for the next new game. Notice that your Place bets on the 6 and 8 remain on the table and are automatically OFF on the come-out for the next new game.
- The shooter rolls a 6, so the point is 6. Take $5 in Odds on the point. Note that the point is now 6, which is already covered by your Place 6 bet. You don’t want the 6 covered twice, so move your Place 6 bet to either the 5 or 9. Tell the dealer, “Move my six to the five [or 9, whichever you prefer], please.” The dealer picks up your $6 Place 6 bet and moves $5 of it to the 5 and returns $1 to you by placing a $1 chip on the apron. Pick up that $1 chip and put it in your chip stack. (Remember, the Place odds for the 5 and 9 are 7:5, so the bet should be in $5 multiples.) Your Place 8 bet that was automatically OFF on the come-out is now automatically back ON. Now, you have three numbers covered: the 6 is covered by your Pass Line bet, and the 5 and 8 are covered by Place bets.
- The shooter rolls a 10, which means nothing to you for this game. The shooter then rolls a 12, which means nothing to you. You blow off a little excitement by shouting, “Come on, shooter, gimme a six or eight!” The shooter rolls a 2, which means nothing to you.
- The shooter rolls a 5. You hit your first Place bet. Your Place 5 wins $7. Take the profit when your first Place bet hits, so tell the dealer, “Same bet, please.” The dealer puts $7 in the apron in front of you. Pick up your winnings and put it in your chip stack.
- The shooter rolls an 8. Your Place 8 wins $7. Cover the remaining inside number with a Place bet, so tell the dealer, “Place the nine, please.” The dealer splits your winnings and puts $5 in the 9 box, and then puts $2 in the apron in front of you. Pick up the $2 and put it in your chip stack. Now, you have all the inside numbers covered: the 6 is covered by your Pass Line bet; and the 5, 8, and 9 are covered by Place bets. Your adrenalin is pumping. You forget about your wicked hangover. You magically feel fantastic. You think, “This is the one I’ve been waiting for, I can feel it.” You shout, “Come on, shooter, give me some numbers!”Do you see how the excitement can build when you start covering numbers? At this point, all the shooter has to do is roll a 6, 5, 8, or 9 for a win. Out of 36 possible outcomes, those four numbers have 18 ways to make them. 18 ways out of 36 are winners for you! This situation is why we play craps. It’s so fun and exciting!
- The shooter rolls a 9. Your Place 9 wins $7. Pick up your winnings and put them in your chip stack.
- The shooter rolls an 11, which means nothing to you.
- The shooter rolls a 6 to make her point. Game over. Woohoo! “Winner, winner, chicken dinner!” The dealer pays you $5 for your Flat bet and $6 for your Odds bet. Pick up all your winnings, but leave $5 on the Pass Line for the next new game. Your Place 5, 8, and 9 bets remain on the table and are automatically OFF on the come-out roll for the next new game.
- The shooter rolls a 7 on the come-out. Game over (a 7 on the come-out is a “natural”). For the Pass Line on the come-out, 7 is a winner so the dealer pays you $5 for your $5 Flat bet. Pick up your winnings, but leave $5 on the Pass Line for the next new game. Notice that, although the shooter rolled a 7, you don’t lose your Place bets because they were automatically OFF on the come-out. The shooter prepares to make the come‑out roll for a new game.
- The shooter rolls a 4, so the point is 4. Take $5 in Odds on the point. You have four numbers covered: the 4 is covered by the Pass Line bet; and the 5, 8, and 9 are covered by the Place bets. Your Place bets are now automatically back ON.
- The shooter rolls an 8. Your Place 8 wins $7. Since you don’t have the 6 covered, tell the dealer, “Place the six, please.” The dealer puts $6 on the 6, and puts $1 in the apron in front of you. Pick up your $1 and put it in your chip stack. Now, you have the 4 covered by your Pass line bet; and the 5, 6, 8, and 9 are covered by Place bets.
- The shooter rolls another 8. Your Place 8 wins $7 again. Tell the dealer, “Place the ten, please.” The dealer put $5 on the 10, and puts $2 in the apron in front of you. Pick up your $2 and put it in your chip stack. Now, you have all the numbers covered: the 4 is covered by your Pass Line bet; and the 5, 6, 8, 9, and 10 are covered by Place bets. Holy moly! Is this it? Is this the hot roll you’ve been waiting for? You try to act like James Bond, cool and collected, and calmly tell the dealer, “We’re in press mode now.”
- The shooter rolls a 3, which means nothing to you. Good grief. With all those numbers covered, you have 24 ways out of 36 to hit a winner, but the shooter rolls a stupid 3. Good grief.
- The shooter rolls a 4 to make her point. Woohoo! The dealer pays you $5 for your Flat bet and $10 for your Odds bet. Pick up all your winnings, but leave $5 on the Pass Line for the next new game. Your Place bets remain on the table and are automatically OFF on the come-out for the next new game.
- The shooter rolls a 9 for a new point. This time, increase your Odds bet by taking $10 in Odds behind the line instead of only $6. Notice that the 4 is now uncovered because it was the point for the last game, and you have the 9 covered twice (i.e., covered by your Place 9 and your new Pass Line with Odds). Simply tell the dealer, “Move my nine to the four, please,” and the dealer moves your Place 9 to the 4. Now, you’re back to having all the numbers covered: the 9 is covered by your Pass Line bet; and the 4, 5, 6, 8, and 10 are covered by Place bets.
- The shooter rolls a 4. Your Place 4 wins $9. Because you increased your Odds bet from $5 to $10, you want to take profit on this win instead of pressing the Place bet. Tell the dealer, “Same bet, please.” The dealer puts $9 in the apron in front of you, and you pick it up and put it in your chip stack.
- The shooter rolls another 4. Wow, the 4 is getting hot! You feel this is definitely a hot roll in the making, so instead of simply pressing the 4 to $10, you drop $11 in the Come box and tell the dealer, “Buy the four for a quarter, please.”Huh? What just happened? You’re too impatient to gradually build up the 4, so you decide to press it up and Buy it. Your Place 4 wins $9, so instead of pressing the Place 4 from $5 up to $10 and putting the remaining $4 in your chip stack, you give the dealer $11, which he then adds to your $9 winnings for a total of $20. Then, the dealer takes that $20 and adds it the 4. Now, you have $25 on the 4. The dealer moves your chips from the Place position into the Buy position and puts a BUY button on them. After all that math, the bottom line is that you now have a $25 Buy bet on the 4.Now you have the following bets: the 9 is covered by the Pass Line; the 5, 6, 8, and 10 are covered by Place bets; and the 4 is covered by a Buy bet. You no longer care about acting like James Bond, cool and collected. You scream, “Come on, give me a four, give me a ten! Roll some numbers, shooter!” (James Bond would never scream like that!)
- The shooter rolls a 5. Your Place 5 wins $7. You tell the shooter, “That’s okay, it’s not a four or ten, but I’ll take it.” Time to take profit, so tell the dealer, “Same bet, please.” The dealer puts $7 in the apron in front of you. Pick it up and put it in your chip stack.
- The shooter rolls a 2, which means nothing to you.
- The shooter rolls a 4. Oh, my goodness! “Yeah, baby, I love that four!” Time to press, but you’re a bit reluctant to add all the winnings to the 4, so you decide to just double the bet from $25 to $50. Tell the dealer, “Bump it up to fifty, please.” Your $25 Buy bet on the 4 wins $50 minus a $1 vig. To make the dealer’s job easier, you drop $1 in the Come box to pay the vig instead of making him take the $1 out of your winnings. The dealer takes the $1 and then splits your $50 winnings by putting a $25 chip on your 4 and putting the other $25 chip in the apron in front of you. Pick up your $25 chip and put it in your chip stack. Your Buy bet on the 4 is now up to $50. You scream, “Give me another four! Four, four, four!”The difference between “press” and “bump it” is: “Press” means to take all the winnings of a particular bet and add it to the winning bet. In this example, if you had told the dealer to press it, he would have added the entire $50 winnings to the 4 to bring your Buy 4 bet up to $75. “Bump it” simply means to increase the bet by whatever amount you want. In this example, you doubled the Buy 4 bet from $25 to $50.
- The shooter rolls a 3, which doesn’t matter. The shooter rolls another 3, which doesn’t matter. You shout, “Stupid three. We don’t want no more three’s. Gimme a four, four, four!”
- The shooter rolls a 6. Your Place 6 wins $7. Time to take profit. Tell the dealer, “Same bet,” then pick up your winnings and put it in your chip stack. “Four, four, four!”
- The shooter rolls an 8. Your Place 8 wins $7. Time to press. Tell the dealer, “Press it.” The dealer adds your winnings to your Place 8 doubling it from $6 up to $12, and gives you the remaining $1, which you pick up. Remember, the Place 8 bet amount should be in multiples of $6, so when you win $7, the dealer knows to increase your bet by $6 and give you the leftover $1.
- The shooter rolls a 4. “Four! Yeah, baby! Winner, winner, shrimp dinner!” Your $50 Buy 4 wins a net of $98 (i.e., $100 for the 2:1 Buy bet, minus a $2 vig). Since this is your first big winning bet, even if it happens to be time to press instead of taking profit, I suggest taking the profit to significantly replenish your chip stack. Tell the dealer, “Same bet.” You drop $2 in the Come box to pay the vig. The dealer puts four green chips in the apron in front of you, which you pick up. Those green chips look so pretty in your chip stack (just don’t let your wife see them). Let’s get back to business, the game is still on. “Four, four, four!”
I’ll end the scenario here. From this point forward, simply alternate pressing your bets and taking profit. If it’s a scorching hot roll, your Place and Buy bets will eventually be pressed up to black chips. As the shooter makes a bunch of points, keep increasing the Odds bet on the point. The Odds bet should be an average of all your Place/Buy bets. For example, if your Place and Buy bets look like $25, $10, $18, $12, and $25, then make your Odds bet in the range of $15 to $20.
When the shooter finally rolls a 7-out, you lose everything. If your Place and Buy bets have green and black chips on them, it stings when you lose it all. But glance at your chip stack and notice how much you won. The only way to win big is to alternate pressing your bets unless, of course, you put all your money on one bet all at once (but we already discussed why that isn’t a smart play if you’re on a four-day Vegas gambling vacation with a limited bankroll). For every hot roll you encounter, it always ends in disappointment because of the high-dollar Place and Buy bets that you lose. That’s just the way it is. Accept it.
Remember, the goal of this approach is to minimize your losses so you can stand at the table longer and hopefully be around when a hot roll occurs that will replenish your chip stack so you can keep playing. On those rare occasions when a blistering hot roll occurs, you’ll hopefully be at the table to experience it and reap the big rewards.
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