When to Buy the 5 and 9 Instead of Placing Them

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This subject is addressed in the Crapspit articles about the Place bet and the Buy Bet, but I wanted to emphasize it with a real-life example so hopefully inexperienced players don’t fall into the same predicament as the poor guy I recently saw at the table.

I was at a $5 table. The shooter rolled 9 as the new point. A guy dropped some chips in the Come box and told the dealer, “27 across.” I never asked the guy his name, so let’s just call him “Jack.” The dealer took Jack’s chips and positioned them as Place bets on the remaining five numbers. After a few numbers hit, Jack began pressing his bets. So far, so good; Jack seemed to have an idea of what he was doing at the table. He pressed his Place bet on the 5 up to $10 and then the shooter immediately rolled another 5. Jack dropped a $1 chip in the Come and told the dealer, “Make it a quarter.” Jack certainly had command of the craps lingo, but don’t be fooled. You’d be amazed at the number of people at the table who appear to know what they’re doing, but actually don’t.

For the newbies who may not understand what just happened, let’s interrupt the story to explain. After the shooter rolled 9 as the new point, Jack put $27 in chips in the Come box and said “27 across,” which means he wanted the dealer to make Place bets on the remaining five numbers as follows: $5 on the 4, $5 on the 5, $6 on the 6, $6 on the 8, and $5 on the 10. Jack pressed his Place bets as the numbers hit, including pressing his Place bet on the 5 to $10. When the shooter rolled another 5 and Jack’s $10 Place bet hit, Jack won $14. By telling the dealer, “Make it a quarter,” he wanted the dealer to press the bet up to $25. But the $10 bet plus the $14 in winnings equal only $24, so Jack gave the dealer $1 by putting it in the Come box to bring his Place bet on the 5 up to $25.

The dealer said to Jack, “Sir, do you want to leave it at $24?” Jack looked at him with a what-the-heck-are-you-talking-about look. Jack then replied, “No, leave it $25 so I can get the full Place odds.” I didn’t say anything because I don’t offer advice at the craps table unless someone explicitly asks for it. I’ve been snapped at by know-it-alls for suggesting better plays at the table, so I just keep my mouth shut and let them continue showing their ignorance of the game. The dealer tried to explain, “Sir, it’s better to go with $24,” but he failed to explain why.

Jack could have responded with something like, “Really? Why is $24 a better bet than $25?” But instead, he apparently was another craps know-it-all who feared the table discovering he doesn’t know as much about the game as he pretended to know. So, he snapped sternly back at the dealer, “No, leave the $25 there.” From then on, the dealer didn’t say another word to Jack.

What’s so bad about making a $25 Place bet on the 5? Why would the dealer imply that $24 is a better bet? After all, Place bets on the 5 should be in multiples of $5; otherwise, you don’t get the full Place odds. So, why would the dealer suggest betting $24 on the 5, instead of the $25 that Jack wanted?

This is another great example of why you must understand the game; you must take the time to understand the numbers. As we’ve stated countless times in our articles, craps is a game of numbers. If you don’t take time to learn the numbers, then you might as well just give the casino your money. This is also a great example of why we here at the Crapspit recommend that you learn the game online at your favorite online casino before playing at a live casino. It’s better to learn and make mistakes at a $1 online table than at a $5 or $10 live table. Click here to read about online craps or click here to read an independent review of Sun Palace casino or you can even find another legitimate real money online casino here.

Let’s look at the numbers. Clearly, the dealer was looking out for Jack trying to help him (albeit he wasn’t the greatest communicator in the world), but Jack was too stubborn or too proud or too whatever to listen to the dealer. Let’s examine Jack’s mistake.

A Place bet on the 5 (or 9) has payoff odds of 7:5, which means for every $5 you bet, you win $7. That’s why a Place bet on the 5 (or 9) should always be a multiple of $5. For example, if you make a Place bet on the 5 for $8 (8 is not a multiple of 5), the casino can’t pay you the full amount that they should based on 7:5 payoff odds because the casino can’t pay in cents (the smallest chip denomination is $1). So, when your $8 Place bet wins, the casino pays you using one of two options, depending on the casino’s policy.

Option #1: The casino basically divides your $8 bet into two separate bets: (1) a bet that’s a multiple of 5, and (2) a bet for the remainder of your bet that’s not a multiple of 5. In this example, your winning $8 bet is divided into: (1) a $5 bet, for which you get paid the full Place odds of 7:5, which means you win $7, and (2) a bet for the remaining $3 (i.e., $8 – $5 = $3) for which the casino pays even odds, which in this case is $3. Using this option, your winning $8 Place bet on the 5 pays you a total of $10 (i.e., $7 + $3 = $10).

Option #2: The casino calculates the actual dollar amount you should win based on the payout odds of 7:5, and then rounds any cents down to the nearest whole dollar. In this example, your winning $8 Place bet should get you $11.20 (i.e., your $8 bet / 5 = $1.60, and then $1.60 x 7 = $11.20). The casino can’t pay cents, so they round down to the nearest whole dollar. Using this option, your winning $8 Place bet on the 5 pays you $11.

In both options, you’re not paid what you should be paid, so you’re basically giving away your money. By not paying you the full Place odds, the casino is making pure profit off your ignorance of the game. Let’s get back to Jack’s bet. His $25 Place bet is, indeed, a multiple of $5, which means he gets the full Place odds when he wins. With the payoff odds of 7:5, we calculate Jack’s winnings by dividing his bet amount by 5 and then multiplying the result by 7 (i.e., his $25 bet / 5 = $5, and then $5 x 7 = $35). So, if Jack is getting the full Place odds, what’s wrong with his $25 Place bet on the 5?

When Jack pressed his Place bet on the 5 up to $25, he crossed the threshold where you should change your Place bet to a Buy bet. (If you need to review our lessons on the Place bet and Buy bet, now is a good time to do it.) Although poorly communicated, the dealer was actually trying to ask Jack if he wanted to Buy the 5 for $24 instead of Placing it for $25. Jack’s ignorance of the game and stubbornness prevented him from seeing the light.

We know from our lesson on the Buy bet that a Buy bet on the 5 should be an even number (i.e., a multiple of 2) because the true odds are 3:2. That is, for every $2 you bet, you win $3. That’s why the dealer asked Jack if he wanted to leave the bet at $24 instead of adding the extra $1 to make $25 (i.e., $24 is an even number).

Let’s compare the payoffs and net wins for the Place bet and the Buy bet on the 5. We already know the payoff for a winning $25 Place bet is $35. For a winning $24 Buy bet, the payoff is $36 (i.e., the $24 bet / 2 = $12, and then $12 x 3 = $36). But for the privilege of getting true odds of 3:2, you have to pay a vigorish (or “vig”), which is $1 (for an explanation of the “vig,” refer to our lesson on the Buy bet). Therefore, the net payoff for the Buy bet is $35 (i.e., the $36 winnings – $1 vig = $35).

We see that the net payoff for each type of bet on the 5 (i.e., the Place bet and the Buy bet) is $35. So, if the payoff is exactly the same, why are we saying the Buy bet is better than the Place bet? You might be thinking, “If both bets have a net payoff of $35, which means we’re not losing anything with the Place bet, what’s wrong with the Place bet?”

Oh, but you are losing when compared to the Buy bet! Remember, craps is all about numbers. Think about the numbers. Do you see it now? The net payoff is the same (i.e., $35) for both bets, but with the Buy bet, you risk only $24 instead of risking $25 with the Place bet. When the shooter rolls a losing 7-out, you lose $25 with the Place bet; whereas, you lose only $24 with the Buy bet. Why would you give the casino that extra dollar? Those measly little dollars add up to a lot after a long night of play. From the casino’s perspective, imagine the extra dollars the casino could rake in if all players at all the tables gave up that extra dollar, 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. Isn’t it better to risk $24 to win $35 than to risk $25 to win $35? Most logically thinking people would say, “Yes, of course.”

Don’t give your money away to the casino! If you want to give it away, then donate it to your favorite charity. We here at the Crapspit.org can’t emphasize enough the importance of learning the game at a low stakes table before playing higher stakes. Remember, if you’re new to the game, it’s well worth joining an online casino and playing at their minimum table (e.g., a $1 table) before playing in Vegas at a live table. For example, mistakes are easier to swallow if they cost you only a $1 at the Sun Coast’s online table versus $10 at a live Vegas table. Once you know the details of the game, then you’ll be ready to tackle a live table. Click here for a comparison of LIVE table vs online craps table. Also, check out some best rated rtg casino such as Sun Palace, Casino Max, or Slots Plus to play craps for money. We also have a bonus guide and some Craps FAQ.

You can now head over to the table of contents to find more great content.

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

Comments 2

  1. Bryce, run the numbers to see exactly what happens in every what-if scenario you analyze. Don’t just assume something. Always run the numbers. So, let’s run them. Suppose we Place the 5 for $25, which means we have $25 leaving our chip stack (i.e., let’s call it “going out”). If the 5 hits, we win $35 (i.e., let’s call in “coming in”). If a 7 appears, we lose the $25. So, for $25 going out, we get $35 coming in with a win. Now, let’s Buy the 5 for $24 and pay the $1 vig up front, which means we have $25 going out. If a 7 appears, we lose the $25. If the 5 hits, we win $36. So, for $25 going out, we get $36 coming in with a win. Let’s compare the outcomes for the Place and Buy. In both scenarios, we have $25 going out. In both scenarios, if a 7 hits, we lose $25. With a Place bet win, we get $35 coming in; and with a Buy bet win, we get $36 coming in. For the same $25 risk, would you rather have $35 for a win or $36 for a win? Now, let’s bump the bet up to the $50 level. Let’s run the numbers (don’t assume anything). Suppose we Place the 5 for $50, we get $70 for a win (i.e., $50 going out and $70 coming in). Now, suppose we Buy the 5 for $50 and pay a $2 vig up front, we get $75 with a win (i.e., $52 going out and $75 coming in). Therefore, with the Place bet, we risk $50 to win $70; and with the Buy bet plus a $2 vig up front, we risk $52 to win $75. Compared to the Place, in this Buy scenario where you pay the $2 vig up front, you pay an extra $2 to win an extra $5. So, essentially you’re betting $2 to win $5. I’d take those odds every day! With the 7 against the 5, the true odds are 3:2. So, for a $2 bet with 3:2 odds, a win is $3. But in this case, the extra $2 (i.e., $52 instead of $50) gets you an extra $5 with a win (i.e., $75 instead of $70). So, for the 5 or 9, I’d rather risk $52 to win $75 than risk $50 to win $70. Good luck, and have fun at the tables!

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