Craps "Optimal Strategy"?

The "optimal strategy" for this game (like all other casino games): DO NOT PLAY THIS GAME! Take whatever chips you have remaining and cash them in at the cashier cage. Craps is not a beatable game using any strategy over the long run (barring cheating).

If perhaps you should find yourself "forced" (by gunpoint or coercion) to play this game then the optimal strategy changes somewhat. To get the lowest house edge you should bet the minimum on the Pass Line and take the maximum free odds allowed. By taking single odds you reduce the house edge from 1.51% to .85%. Ten times odds further reduces it to .18% and 100 times odds reduces the edge to .02% When betting on the Don'ts with 100 times odds you drop to an astonishingly low .014% house edge. By far the lowest house edge you can expect to find at any table game.

Of course, for you to get this low house edge you have to risk more money. If you want the minimal risk to your bankroll (and also the least variance) then you should stick to just betting on the Pass Line, Come, Don't Pass, or Don't Come.

Craps Definitions!

Craps has more words, phrases, and odd sayings than any other casino game. If you want to be the coolest kid on your block or if you want to become a dealer, boxman, or stickman then you should be able to recognize all the terms. Understanding the terms makes watching and playing the game a lot more entertaining.

The stickman calls out the total of every roll in craps (as long as the dice land in his field of vision). The stickman is also the most vocal of the dealers. He hustles the proposition bets in front of him and he talks to the shooters to help them out and to keep the game moving along quickly. A good stickman can make a craps game very entertaining. They have hundreds of funny and even slightly risque sayings for almost every situation that happens on the table. And when they're talking fast they can sound like auctioneers.
  • Aces - A roll of 2
  • Any Craps - A one roll prop bet that the next roll of the dice will be a 2,3, or 12. Pays 7-1 (should pay 8-1 so there's a 11.1% house edge)
  • Any Seven - A one roll prop bet that the next roll of the dice will be a 7. Pays 4-1 (should pay 5-1. 16.67% house edge)
  • Back Line - Another way to say Don't Pass Line.
  • bar the 12 - On Don't Pass and Don't Come bets the 12 is a push on the come out roll. This is how the casino keeps its advantage against wrong way bettors.
  • betting right - Betting with the players on the Pass Line and Come.
  • betting wrong - Betting against the players on the Pass Line and Come by making Don't Pass and Don't Come bets.
  • Big Eight - Pays even money if an 8 is rolled before a 7. (should pay 6-5. 9.09% house edge - a true sucker's bet because you can make the same bet by placing the 8 and the casino pays 7-6 which is only a 1.52% house edge)
  • Big Six - Pays even money if a 6 is rolled before a 7. (should pay 6-5. 9.09% house edge - a true sucker's bet because you can make the same bet by placing the 6 and the casino pays 7-6 which is only a 1.52% house edge)
  • Boxman - The person sitting between the dealers in the center of the table that guards the casinos money and oversees the payouts of the dealers and stickman.
  • Boxcars - A roll of 12.
  • The Boys - A name for the dealers. Often heard when a tip is being made. Sometimes players will make a bet "for the boys". If the bet wins the winnings and the bet itself are giving to the dealers as a toke.
  • Buy Bets - Paying a 5% commmision up front for the privilege of getting paid true odds on a place bet. Typically is only seen when buying the 4 or 10 as it is cheaper to just place the other numbers rather than pay the commission.
  • The Cedar - Another name for the wooden rail where your chips are stored: "Can't read 'er, she's in the cedar."
  • Center field nine - A roll of 9. The number nine is in the middle of field box on the craps layout.
  • Change - Said to dealer or boxman to get chips for cash or from larger denomination chips.
  • Check Change - Same as change.
  • Color - or "color in" or "color me up" - Said to dealer or boxman to exchange large amounts off small denomination chips for large denomination chips. Besides being easier to carry around fewer chips it also helps keep the crap game moving along. The casino won't have to stop the game to fill the table with new chips from the cage.
  • Come Bet - a bet placed after the come out roll betting that the dice will pass. Pays and plays the same as pass line bet.
  • Come out roll - The roll establishing the point for Pass Line and Don't Pass betters. (Notice during this roll the marker or puck is turned upside down in the Don't Come box showing the word {OFF] in white letters on a black background. This means that unless specified otherwise all odds bets and hardways will not be working for that roll.
  • "C" and "E" - A one roll prop bet that the next roll of the dice will be a 2,3,11, or 12. It's the same as betting a unit on Any Craps and a unit on Eleven. The C part pays 7-1 and the E part pays 15-1.
  • Crap out - rolling 2,3, or 12 on the come out roll.
  • Craps - A roll of 2, 3, or 12.
  • Crew - Another name for the dealers working the game.
  • Dealers - Another name for the employees on either side of the boxman and including the stickman that handle the actual payouts to players and run the game.
  • Disk - The round object that marks the point and informs people if their bets are ON or OFF.
  • Don't Come - Can only be place after the come out roll. It wins on 2 and 3 - loses on 7 or 11 - and pushes on a 12. Any other number is a Don't Come Point that will lose if rolled again before a 7 and win if a 7 is rolled first. Opposite of betting on the Come.
  • Don't Pass - Can only be placed before the come out roll. Wins on 2 or 3, loses on 7 or 11, and ties on a 12. Any other number becomes the point. If the 7 is rolled before the point you win, if the point is rolled again before the 7 you lose. Opposite of Pass Line betting.
  • Double odds - When the casino allows a free odds bet that is twice as large as the Pass Line, Come, Don't Pass, or Don't Come bet.
  • Easy or "easy way" - When a 4,6,8, or 10 is rolled and the dice are not paired. Opposite of hard or hard way.
  • Even money - A payoff of 1-1.
  • Fever - A roll of 5
  • Field bet - One roll prop bet that wins on a 2,3,4,9,10,11, or 12 and loses on a 6,7,8, or 9. Most places pay double for a 2 or 12 in the field. A few places pay double for a 2 and triple for a 12. The former has a 5.56% house edge the latter payout is a 2.78% house edge.
  • Floorman - A casino employee that oversees one or more table games and generally is the one that handles player comps and such.
  • Free odds bet - Can be placed after a point is established on a Pass Line, Come, Don't Pass, or Don't Come bet. All free odds bets are paid at true odds meaning there is no house edge to the wager. The wager can be picked up at any time before it is lost. Casinos generally allow single odds, double odds, 10 times odds, or 100 times odds. Double odds and 10 times odds are most common.
  • Front line - Another term for Pass Line. Dealers often shout "Front Line Winner!" when the Pass Line wins.
  • Hard way bet - Betting that a 4,6,8 or 10 will appear as paired dice before they appear as the total of mismatched dice and also before a 7 is rolled. Hard 4 and Hard 10 have an 11.11% house edge. Hard 6 and Hard 8 have a 9.09% house edge.
  • Hop Bet or "hopping" - A one roll bet on any number. A "hopping hardway" is a one roll bet on a 4,6,8,or10 coming up the "hard way" paid out at the same rate as the bet on the 2 or 12. Other hops where the dice aren't the same are paid out at the same rate as the 3 and 11. For example: you can make a bet on a hopping 5-2 which you will only win if the dice come up showing both a 5 and a 2.
  • Horn bet - A one roll prop bet in increments of $4 that places equal units on the 2,3,11, and 12. You can combine four small bad bets into one big terrible bet here.
  • Horn High Yo, "Horn High 2", "Horn High 3", "Horn High 12" - Said by players wishing to bet multiples of $5 on the Horn but instead of getting change they want to increase one portion of the Horn bet.
  • Lay or "lay odds". To make a place bet against a number or to take a free odds bet when betting on the Don't Pass or Don't Come.
  • Line away - Said by stickman after a seven out roll to indicate the losing Pass Line bets should be picked up by the dealers.
  • Little Joe - A roll of 4
  • Nickle - A $5 chip
  • Nina - A roll of 9. Pronounced "nee-na" by some dealers.
  • Off - Before the comeout roll the disk or button says "OFF" to signify that unless otherwise specified the free odds and hard way bets are not working for that roll. There are also small off buttons that can be placed on just your bets at any time. (Sometimes people have their bets "off" for one roll after something superstitious happens - like the dice leaving the table.)
  • On - After the comment roll the point disk or button says "ON" to signify that unless otherwise specified the free odds and hard way bets are working for the next roll. They also have small "on buttons" to be used for an individual player that wants his bets working during the comeout roll.
  • One roll bets - Any of the proposition bets in the center that are are either won or lost in one roll.
  • Pass Line Bets - A wager that the dice will come out with a 7 or 11 and not a 2,3, or 12 and if none of those a point is established and the dice must repeat before the 7 reappears or the bet loses.
  • Pit Boss - A casino employee that oversees all the tables in a particular area.
  • Place Bets - A bet on a particular number. Usually place bets are only made on the 5,6,8, and 9. When placed the 5 and 9 pay 7-5 (4.0% house edge). The 6 and 8 when placed pay out at 7-6 (1.82% house edge). It is cheaper to "buy" the 4 or 10 than to place either of them. You can also make place bets against a number by laying odds. A bet against a 6 or 8 pays 4-5 (1.82% edge), against the 5 or 9 pays 5-8 (2.58% edge). Again it is cheaper to Lay the 4 or 10 and pay the 5% commission than to make place bets against them.
  • Point - The point is the first number established after the comeout roll other than 2,3,7,11, or 12. The point must be repeated before a 7 appears for Pass Line bettors to win. If you make consecutive bets on the Come you can establish multiple points.
  • Press a bet - After a winning wager players often increase the amount of money on the wager. For example after winning a bet on a $12 place bet on the 6 you get paid $14. If you tell the dealer to press to $18 or press to $24 he will increase your wager on that number and return just your change.
  • Prop bet - A proposition bet. On the craps table they are located in the center of the table and they pay high odds, but not nearly enough. The house edge on prop bets is usually over 10%.
  • Quarter - A $25 chip
  • Rails - The area surrounding the table that holds the chips. (Drinks and ashtrays are not allowed on the rails - they go underneath them)
  • Right Bettor - Someone betting with the dice - on the Pass Line and/or the Come or placing bets on numbers.
  • Seven out - Said when the roll is a 7 after a point is established. The Pass Line loses and the dice are rotated to the next shooter.
  • Shooter - The person rolling the dice. Only one hand on the dice at a time please!
  • Snake Eyes - A roll of 2
  • Stickman - The dealer on the outside of the craps table on the players side. He runs the game with his words: calling out the dice totals, hustling bets for the casino, and encouraging speedy play. He holds a stick that is used to gather the dice together after each roll. He uses the stick to push the dice back to the shooter.
  • Toke - Another word for a tip. Most casinos pay their dealers very little money so dealers main income comes from tips. Don't feel that you "must" tip. If you don't think its your responsibility to pay the dealers wages then you don't have to.
  • The Wood - Another name for the rail which is often made of wood. Stickman sometimes say "No good, in the wood" when the dice land in the rail.
  • Three Way Craps - A bet of one unit on each hopping 2,3, and 12. The 2 and 12 generally pay 30-1 and the 3 pays 15-1.
  • Three Way Seven - A bet of one unit of each hopping (1-6), (2-5), and (3,4). If any of the three bets they pay 15-1.
  • Working - Means that your free odds bets, place bets, and hardways are ON. They are OFF on the comeout unless specificied you want them working. They are ON after the comeout unless you tell them they are OFF or "not working".
  • World - A one roll bet made in $5 increments. Places one unit each on Any Seven, 2, 3, 11, 12. Combines a whole bunch of bad bets together.
  • Wrong Bettor - Someone who bets against the dice. Someone betting on the Don't Pass Line or Don't Come or someone that bets against numbers by laying odds against the numbers repeating before the 7.

Let me know if you know of any others that belong in the list.