I know what you’re thinking. When it comes to casino games, including craps, nothing is free, so what’s this “Free Odds” bet? Sounds like something you’d want to take advantage of, right? Absolutely! We explain the Free Odds bet in detail in our other articles about the Pass Line and Don’t Pass bets, but we wanted to summarize the material in a separate article because many of our readers want to know the basics without digging into the details. Therefore, the following is a summary, and if you want the details, please refer to our other articles in which we teach you how to play craps.
The craps “Free Odds” bet is unusual because it’s the only bet on the table that doesn’t have a house advantage. Yes, you read that correctly…zero house advantage. The catch is (yes, there’s a catch, you didn’t think the casino was going to give you an opportunity to break even, did you?) that the Free Odds bet must be played in conjunction with another bet, either the Pass, Don’t Pass, Come, or Don’t Come. When adding the Free Odds bets to one of these “flat” bets, the casino still maintains its advantage over you, but their advantage is very small compared to most other bets on the table.
The approximate house advantages for these bets are as follows (they’re approximate because of rounding):
- Pass Line or Come alone (i.e., no additional Free Odds bet) = 1.4%.
- Don’t Pass or Don’t Come alone = 1.4%.
- Pass or Come with Single Odds = 0.8%
- Don’t Pass or Don’t Come with Single Odds = 0.7%.
- Pass or Come with Double Odds = 0.6%.
- Don’t Pass or Don’t Come with Double Odds = 0.5%.
As you can deduce, the more Odds you bet, the more you lower the casino’s advantage, but you’ll never be able to lower their advantage to zero. Remember, to make the Odds bet, you must first bet the flat Pass, Don’t Pass, Come, or Don’t Come, so when you combine the Odds bet with a flat bet, the casino always has an advantage (albeit comparatively small).
The “Free Odds” bet has zero house advantage because the casino pays true odds for this bet. That is, they don’t build profit into their payoff odds. (Refer to our other lessons on basic craps math to learn how the casino gets their edge by paying “casino” odds instead of true odds.) The true odds are based on the number of ways to roll the point number against the number of ways to roll a 7.
We know from our lesson on basic craps math that there are:
- Six ways to roll a 7.
- Five ways to roll a 6 or 8.
- Four ways to roll a 5 or 9.
- Three ways to roll a 4 or 10.
Consequently, the true-odds payoffs are:
- 6:5 for the 6 and 8.
- 3:2 for the 5 and 9.
- 2:1 for 4 and 10.
The casino limits the amount of Odds you can bet, and those limits vary among casinos. Common among many casinos is a limit of 5x Odds (pronounced “5 times Odds”). Some casinos have 10x, 25x, and even as much as 100x. The “times” means you multiply the flat bet (e.g., the Pass or Come) by the Odds limit to determine the maximum Odds you’re allowed to bet. For example, supposed your favorite casino allows up to 5x Odds, and suppose you make a $5 flat Pass Line bet. In this example, the maximum amount of Odds you can bet is $25 (i.e., 5 x your $5 Pass bet = $25 in Odds). Let’s see if you’re paying attention. Suppose the casino allows up to 25x Odds and you make a $7 Pass Line bet.
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What’s the maximum amount of Odds you can take to go along with your Pass Line bet? Very good! That’s right, it’s $175 (i.e., your $7 Pass Line bet x 25 = $175). The maximum allowable Odds are usually posted on the placard hanging on the inside wall of the table. If you can’t see the placard or if it isn’t posted, simply ask the dealer what the maximum is. Some casinos step up the maximum Odds depending on the point number. For example, “3-4-5x Odds,” usually means you can bet 3x Odds on the 4 or 10, 4x Odds on the 5 or 9, and 5x Odds on the 6 or 8.
Let’s look at a simple scenario to see how the flat and Free Odds bets work together.
- Following a 7-out to end the game, the stickman prepares to push the dice to the next shooter. You make a $10 flat Pass Line bet by putting two red $5 chips in the Pass Line directly in front of you.
- The shooter rolls a 6, so the point for this game is 6. You glance down at the placard to see that the table’s maximum allowable Odds are 10x. Your gut tells you that the table is heating up because the table is crowded and noisy, and the players’ chip racks are filling up with red and green chips. You decide to bet the full 10x Odds by placing $100 (i.e., your $10 Pass Line bet x 10 = $100) in chips behind the line (i.e., in the apron about an inch behind your Pass Line bet).
- The shooter immediately hits a 6 on the next roll. Woohoo! Winner, winner! You shout to the shooter, “What took you so long?”
- The dealer pays you by placing $10 in chips next to your Pass Line bet (it pays off at even money), and then $120 in chips next to your Odds bet (it pays off at true odds, which are 6:5 for the point of 6, so you win $120 for your $100 Free Odds bet).
Reminder: For details and help in understanding these basics, refer to our lessons on basic craps math and the Pass Line 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.