Field Bet : Is the Field a Sucker Bet?

W e evaluate whether the Field bet is considered good or bad based on its house advantage, which depends on how the casino configures the bet.

There are three options for the Field’s payout:

Configuration #1. Pays double (2:1) when either a 2 or 12 shows.  This configuration has a 5.5% house advantage.

Configuration #2: Pays double for the 2, and triple (3:1) for the 12 (or vice versa, double for the 12, and triple for the 2).  The house advantage is 2.8%.

Configuration #3: Pays triple when either a 2 or 12 shows.  When the Field pays triple for both the 2 and 12, it’s a “zero expectation,” which means the casino has no advantage.

Unfortunately, most casinos have tables with configuration #1 that pay double for both the 2 and 12 with a 5.5% house advantage.  Configuration #2 is rare, so if you’re lucky enough to find this table, then the Field is an acceptable bet with only a 2.8% house edge.  You’ll probably never see configuration #3 because the casino can’t make any money from it.  Typically, this configuration is only available when a casino runs a limited-time-only promotion to attract new players.

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You think, “I see people play the Field all the time, so if it’s such a bad bet, why do they play it?”  The answer is simple.  They’re clueless about the game’s house advantage.  Unlike you, they didn’t take the time to read and learn the material in our articles.  On the layout, you can’t miss the Field box.  It’s big, it has lots of numbers, and it’s within easy reach.

Three key points make this bet attractive to the clueless player.

1. You make this bet yourself without the dealer’s help.  Simply reach down and put your chips in the Field box.  Newbies are typically nervous or embarrassed that they’re gambling their hard-earned money on a game they know little about.  They’re sometimes intimidated by the dealers and don’t know the dealers are there to help them.  Simply put, they’re more comfortable with the least amount of dealer interaction.

2. The Field bet is easy.  It’s a one-roll bet so it’s over quickly.  You don’t have to do any math in your head to calculate how much odds to put down or whether the bet multiple is $5 or $6.  You don’t have worry about bridging or heeling your Don’t Pass odds.  You don’t have to think or worry about anything.  To make this bet, simply put down any amount between the table minimum and maximum.

3. The third point is what’s so devious, yet artful, about the Field bet.  It gives the clueless player the illusion that it’s a good bet by making him think he has more ways to win than ways to lose.

Field BetRemember, the Field bet is a one-roll bet (i.e., it either wins or loses on the roll that occurs immediately after you put your chips on the layout).  As the layout shows, the Field wins if a 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11, or 12 appears.  It loses if a 5, 6, 7, or 8 appears.  The clueless player looks strictly at the quantity of winning numbers against the quantity of losing numbers.  He thinks, “There are seven numbers that win and only four numbers that lose, so I’ve got a pretty good chance of winning.”  That kind of thinking is exactly why this player is a consistent loser.

As you know by now, a critical part of craps is knowing how many ways there are to make each number (we tried to pound that into your head in our article about basic craps math).  The Field bet is a perfect example why that lesson is so important.  If you need to review that article to better understand the number of ways to make each number 2 through 12, now is a good time to do it.

First, let’s look at the winning Field numbers and the ways to make each.

  • 1 way to make a 2.
  • 2 ways to make a 3.
  • 3 ways to make a 4.
  • 4 ways to make a 9.
  • 3 ways to make a 10.
  • 2 ways to make an 11.
  • 1 way to make a 12.

So, for the winning Field numbers, there are a total of 16 ways to make them (i.e., 1+2+3+4+3+2+1 = 16).

Now, let’s look at the losing numbers and the ways to make each.

  • 4 ways to make a 5.
  • 5 ways to make a 6.
  • 6 ways to make a 7.
  • 5 ways to make an 8.

So, for the losing numbers, there are a total of 20 ways to make them (i.e., 4+5+6+5 = 20).

As we know from our article on basic craps math, there are 36 possible combinations when using two six-sided dice.  Notice that the Field bet covers all the numbers 2 through 12.  And notice that the total number of ways to make the winning numbers plus ways to make the losing numbers equals 36 (i.e., 16 + 20 = 36).  What the clueless player doesn’t recognize about the Field bet is, although there are more winning numbers (i.e., seven winning numbers versus four losing numbers), there are actually more ways to make the four losing numbers than there are ways to make the 7 winning numbers (i.e., 20 ways to make the four losing numbers against 16 ways to make the seven losing numbers).  The Field pays even money for all numbers except the 2 and 12.  Paying you double for the 2 and 12 isn’t enough to make up for the disadvantage you have with only 16 ways to win against 20 ways to lose.  So, even when the casino pays you double for the 2 and 12, they still have a 5.5% advantage over you.

When the layout shows the Field paying only double for the 2 and 12, stay away from the Field.  In this case, the Field is, indeed, a sucker bet.  Don’t give in to your emotions.  No matter how much you want to put your chips in that big beautiful box, don’t do it.  Don’t give the casino a 5.5% advantage over you.  There are plenty of other bets on the table that have much less house advantage.  Stay strong.  Be a rock.  No matter how many times the drunk next to you wins the Field, don’t give in.  That guy may be winning now, but over the long term, he’s going to be a big loser.  Don’t get in the habit of playing the Field when the payout is double for the 2 and 12.  You’re smarter than that.  So just don’t do it.

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