[sources: Skip Frey, How to Win at Dice Games; Bill Friedman, Casino Games]
This is one of the most popular casino games in the world. Unlike other casino dice games, “Bank Craps” offers players an opportunity to bet on a miss as well as a pass, and to actively participate in the casting of the dice.
John Scarne, the noted gambling authority, points out that “the many different types of bets [that] can be made gives “Bank Craps” an unequaled rapid action and a thrill and excitement no other banking game has ever offered.”
Playing Time Indeterminate. Players may join or leave a game whenever they choose to.
Number of Players Variable. As many players as can fit at the table can play.
Number of Dice Two.
Object of Game To bet on the shooter when he wins, and against the shooter when he loses.
To Start The players stand around a table on which a layout is marked to show the available bets and the odds offered on each bet.
In betting, a player places a chip or marker in the section of the layout that offers the bet he wishes to make. There is usually a House limit restricting the size of the wager a player may make.
House dealers pay and collect bets. One of these dealers, known as the “Stickman,” uses a long hooked stick to recover the dice when they have been thrown and to return them to the shooter.
A retaining wall surrounds the table, and the shooter must cast the dice so that they hit a wall and bounce back.
The Play The rules for “Bank Craps” are essentially the same as those for “Craps,” except, of course, that all bets must be made with the House.
The shooter begins the round by shaking the dice in his hand and making his cast on the table. The outcome may be decided on the first cast (known as the “Come-Out” roll) if any one of five numbers is thrown:
A 7 or 1 1 on the first roll is known as a “Natural,” and the shooter wins.
A 2, 3, or 12 on the first roll is known as “Craps,” and the shooter loses.
When one of these numbers is thrown on the first cast, all bets made as to whether the shooter will win or lose are settled; the shooter retains the dice; new bets are placed; and play begins again as before.
A 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10 on the first roll becomes the shooter’s “point. ” When the shooter has his point, he must continue to throw the dice until the game is settled.
If the shooter throws his point again before throwing a 7, he wins.
If the shooter throws a 7 before he is able to reproduce his point, he loses.
When the shooter loses by throwing a 7 before he makes his point, the dice pass to the player to the shooter’s left (or to the next participant who wishes to act as shooter).
The Layout In addition to bets made as to whether the shooter will win or lose, “Bank Craps” allows a great variety of other bets. These bets are displayed on the layout board.
A “Bank Craps” layout usually has three sections. The two outside sections are identical, so it does not matter at which end of the table a person plays. All players at the table may wager on the Proposition Bets in the center of the layout. A Crap table usually operates with four employees: the Boxman, two dealers, and the Stickman.
The Boxman sits at the center of the layout; drops all currency into the money box; directs the game; and watches the dice, chips, money, dealers, players, transactions, etc.
Two Dealers stand one on each side of the Boxman and either pay off or collect the wagers on their side of the table. Dealers also make change for the players.
The Stickman stands in the center on the players’ side of the table and is responsible for handling the dice and the Proposition Bets.
Click the image above for a printable sample “bankcrap” layout. (Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader)
Note that if the odds are listed as “for 1 ” the payoff is inclusive of the original bet. Thus, the actual odds to 1 are one unit less than the listing for 1. When $4 is returned on a $1 bet made at odds of 4-for-1, the actual payoff is thus equivalent to odds of 3-to-1.
Layouts vary from casino to casino, and sometimes from table to table. However, there is one thing all layouts have in common: a mathematical advantage to the House on every bet! The amount that the House may in the long run expect to keep out of every dollar bet is known as the “House percentage. ”
The House percentage varies according to the bet. A table of common bets with their odds and the resulting House percentages is provided at the end of this section.
Here are some of the bets and the terminology commonly encountered at a casino “Bank Craps” table:
Line Bets: These are bets made before the Come-Out roll as to whether the shooter will win or lose. Bets that the shooter will win are placed in the area of the layout marked either Line, Pass, Win, or Do. Bets that the shooter will lose are placed in the area of the layout marked Don’t Pass, Lose, or Don’t.
The House pays even money on these bets. Thus, a simple Don’t Pass bet would be a losing proposition for the House, since the odds are against the shooter winning. So the casino restores its advantage by barring a payoff on certain results, usually 1-1 or 6-6, but sometimes 1-2. These results are said to be Barred, Stand-Offs, or No Action, and do not constitute a loss for the player. Thus, if a player bets against the shooter and the shooter rolls a No-Action number, the player does not win, but his stake remains on the table.
Free Odds Bets: The House commonly offers players who have placed Line bets an opportunity to place a second bet after the shooter has his point. This is known as a Free Odds bet. It is not free, but the House pays off at the correct odds for the point.
The size of a Free Odds bet is limited to the amount the player has wagered on a Pass bet. The Don’t Pass bettor who wishes to make a Free Odds bet is limited to an amount which would yield winnings no larger than his original bet. Thus, a player with a $4 Pass bet may make a $4 Free Odds bet, but a player with a $4 Don’t Pass bet may bet only $1 on a 4-to-1 Free Odds proposition.
Note: In many casinos a $1 chip is the lowest marker and dealers cannot pay off any fraction of a dollar. A $1 bettor is therefore at a disadvantage in accepting a Free Odds bet on the points 5, 6, 8, or 9 (with House odds of 7-to-5 or 7-to-6) since he will only realize an even-money payoff if he wins. Only a player wagering $10 or a multiple of that sum will be able to take advantage of Free Odds bets on any point.
Place or Box Number Bets: Each of the numbers 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, and 10 has its own box on the layout. A player may place a bet in any of these boxes (or in several of them), and w’ms if the number is thrown before a 7. These bets are called Place or Box Number bets, and may be placed or withdrawn at any time.
The House offers odds on each number. The House percentage is extracted by offering payoffs at slightly less than the correct odds. For instance, 4 and 10 are 2-to-1 propositions, but the House pays 9-to-5.
If he wishes, a player may lay the odds on a Place or Box Number, betting that a 7 will appear before that number. He must give odds slightly higher than the correct odds, laying 11-to-5 on 4 and 10, for example.
Big 6 and Big 8: The Big 6 and Big 8 boxes on 19 the layout offer the player a chance to bet that one of these numbers will be thrown before a 7. Their presence and prominence on the layout may be attributed to the House’s desire to promote these bets.
The important thing to note about Big 6 and Big 8 bets is the better than 9 percent edge the House derives by paying even money on these bets when the correct odds against these numbers are actually 6-to-5.
Indeed, some casinos offer 7-to-6 on the Place or Box Number bets for 6 and 8 and even money for Big 6 and Big 8 bets, and still manage to entice more action on the latter two bets!
Field Bets: The area of the layout marked Field shows seven numbers (2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11, 12, or 2, 3, 5, 9, 10, 11, 12, depending on the layout). A Field bet pays off at even money, and the outcome of a Field bet is determined by the next throw of the dice. If one of the numbers in the Field appears, the bet is won; if any other number appears, the bet is lost. Field bets appear deceptively attractive. They offer seven winning numbers against only four losers, but many players don’t realize that there are more ways to make the four losing numbers than the seven winners.
Some layouts offer a double payoff to the Field bettor if a roll results in a 2 or a 12. Others pay 3-to-2 on either of these numbers, or 3-to-1 on just one of them. These offerings reduce the House advantage slightly, but the Field bettor is still bucking a healthy House percentage.
Come Bets: Most layouts have areas marked Come and Don’t Come where players may make Come bets with the House as in a private “Craps” game. Although the fact is not always marked on the layout, the House bars payoffs on one number in order to restore its advantage against the Don’t Come bettor.
In addition, the casino accepts One Roll or Come-Out bets that a specified number (or numbers) will appear on the next roll. Hard Way bets are always encouraged in areas so marked on the layout.
The House offers attractively high odds to entice players to make such bets. These odds are less than the correct odds, however, and the casino enjoys its biggest percentage edge on many of these bets.
Insurance Bets and Systems: Some players seek to improve their chances of winning by making multiple wagers to “protect” themselves. This form of wagering is known as “Insurance Betting.”
A good example of Insurance Betting is the placing of both a Line bet and a Come-Out bet on the Craps numbers (2, 3, and 12). If the player loses the Line bet on a first roll of craps, he wins the Come-Out bet at odds. If he loses the Come-Out bet, he may still win the Line bet. But he could lose both bets!
There are many complex methods of Insurance Betting, and numerous other betting systems abound. Eye-catching advertisements in newspapers and peri- odicals state “Win at Craps, A Sure-Fire System,” etc. What benevolence leads dice wizards to share their wisdom? Why don’t they just go out to Las Vegas and clean up? Why are they charging so dearly to share this information if they could make an easy living by utilizing it themselves? You might ask yourself such questions before falling for any of these ads.
Some systems involve betting in increments so that a winning bet will cover all losses and yield a profit. Others call for taking advantage of “hot” and “cold” streaks in the play. The thing to remember is that if any of these systems really worked, game proprietors would have to close up shop. This has never hap- pened, and is not likely to.
The percentages in favor of the House are such that anyone who plays long enough is destined to come out a loser. It is the proprietor, not the player, who makes his living from the game.
All of this information is not intended to deter you from enjoying the action at the “Craps” tables if you visit a casino, but only to let you know what you’re up against. The fact is, you have a better chance of winning at the “Craps” tables than anywhere else in the casino.
If you’re lucky, you may be a winner. If you’re smart, you can improve your chances considerably. We can’t improve your luck, but we can suggest the ways in which you can have the best chance of winning.
Your Best Cbance to Win in the Casino: As the chart below shows, the simple Pass and Don’t Pass bets are the best propositions offered by the House. That is, these are the bets on which the House has the smallest advantage (1. 4 percent). A Line bettor who avails himself of the Free Odds bets may actually cut the House edge to less than 1 percent.
(on $1 bet)
| Line (Pass)|
Don’t pass (barring
Don’t pass (barring 1-2)*
8 (or 6) before 7
Hard way, 4 or 10
Hard way, 6 or 8
Craps (2, 3 or 12 on
7 on next roll
Field (2-3-4-9-10-11-12, w/
double payoff on 2 or 12)
Any doubles on next roll
11 (or 3) on next roll
2 (or 12) on next roll
1.4 ¢1.4 ¢
9 ¢11 ¢
11 ¢5.5 ¢
|*If shooter’s Come-Out is a barred number, bettor does not win; bet remains on layout; bettor may withdraw or leave bet.|
Most bettors let emotion, intuition, and superstition influence their betting. Many are attracted by the high-odds payoffs on certain bets. They enjoy the thrill of the action and excitement of the game, but usually pay a price for their pleasure.
If you are interested in a more detailed analysis of the game, with extensive revelations on crooked dice and cheating, John Scarne’s Scarne on Dice is recommended.