Craps is my favorite game in the casino. It’s far and away my favorite. Somewhere in second place are slots, Pai Gow poker, and blackjack. Craps is the game that gets my stomach feeling like butterflies when I first park my car and walk into the casino.
The sound of dice, the call of the stickman, the distinct sound of players and dealers handling chips. It almost makes me salivate. Craps is my greasy fried chicken on a Sunday afternoon. Craps is pure Pavlovian.
Here are five reasons why you should play craps.
IT HAS THE LOWEST HOUSE EDGE OF ALL TABLE GAMES
I’ve heard people say that blackjack has the lowest house edge. Wrong.
I’ve heard people say that Baccarat is the best game in the casino. Not even close. Don’t get me started on Baccarat. I love the game, but it’s far from the best game in the casino. I’ll cover that in a future blog entry.
The best blackjack game in Las Vegas right now, according to the Wizard of Odds, has a .19% house edge, aka the HE. That means you will lose 19 cents per $100 worth of action.
Craps has a combined house edge of .184% if you play at a 10x odds table. If you have the bankroll to play 20x, then the house edge falls to a near insignificant 9 cents per $100.
Of course, there are people who don’t believe in the house edge. They think that luck overcomes all and that if you’re going to be unlucky, then you’re just going to be unlucky.
CRAPS IS BOTH FAST AND SLOW
Craps is a game that moves both fast and slow. It’s slow relative to the number of actions that need to happen for there to be a result. Watch my craps videos on Youtube. Those are real craps games. Notice that it takes several rolls of the dice for most bets to win or lose.
Since every bet has an expected house edge, it’s good for you if a bet takes longer to resolve. That’s part of the reason why slots are so expensive. They have a bet resolution every two or three seances, meaning you win or lose every two or three seconds. With craps, it takes several rolls, for a bet to be won or lost. During that time that you aren’t winning or losing, but you’re still getting the craps highs (and lows), the gambling experience, the casino excitement, and adrenaline.
Craps also moves slowly in relation to games like blackjack. So not only does craps have a lower house edge, but it also has a lower hourly loss rate (meaning you will lose less per hour, assuming the same level of bets). The reason is that on a blackjack game, you win or lose most hands, barring a push.
Imagine if, in blackjack, you had to play four hands on average to win or lose. That’s craps.
But craps is also a fast game because the level of excitement means that the time just flies by. Sure, it takes four rolls on average to get a result per bet, but you can also bet in a way that you get a result more often than once every four rolls, but still keep the house edge low. The answer, come bets, which have the same ridiculously low house edge as a pass bet.
For those of you who hate come bets, I have a video in the future that may change your mind on come bets.
THE PLAYERS ARE SUPER FRIENDLY (SOMETIMES)
While craps may seem like an intimidating game with angry people, it is not. The player’s mood is always determined by if they’re winning or losing. A winning table is going to be a happy table. A losing table is going to be the …moody table. Don’t take it personally. They’re just mumbling to themselves and thinking, ‘if only that dice didn’t fly off the table earlier’.
If you’re still not sure, but you want to step into the action, read my guide on a script for beginning craps players.
If you want a piece of TL;DR advice for a complete noob, remember this: look for the black or white disc. If the disc is black, then step in with your money and say you want to play. The dealer will talk you through it, and you will be a part of the party.
Oh, at some point, I can guarantee that the dealer will tell you to move your hands back. Almost every new craps player, at some point, will be told that. It’s a ritual of initiation. Don’t worry, be happy.
Eventually, you’ll ease into it and find that it’s so easy that you’ll wonder why you were so intimidated.
Once you get in, you’ll find that the craps players are like a brotherhood and sisterhood. You will soon find yourself feeling a small collective gut punch when the seven rolls on a full table with bets all laid out. You will also be high fiving when the dice roll hot.
Welcome to the brotherhood and the sisterhood of the rolling dice. Barring the grizzled dice vet that’s seen it all and blew his retirement on a dice game that went too long, you’ll find that dice players are super friendly and accommodating (as long as you keep your hands out of the dice table area when the dice are in play)
Not only will you have a good time with awesome people, but you’ll find that with craps and the really low house edge, you will go home a winner more often.
But let me warn you of this…players love the long shot bets. I love them too, occasionally. My advice to you is to ignore the talk about the long shot bets. Don’t do it.
If you bet those long-shot bets, the house edge will go up significantly. You can have lots of excitement and fun keeping your bets limited to pass and come bets and odds. That’s the way I play, and I love it.
IT’S AN ABSURDLY SIMPLE GAME
I know, I know. You’re thinking this is complete BS. Craps is way complicated.
No, it’s not complicated. Everything looks complicated if you’re unfamiliar with it. Digging a ditch is complicated if you’ve never dug a ditch. No one would ever insult your intelligence if you didn’t know how to dig a ditch (although we might insult your intelligence if you didn’t know how to hold a shovel).
Think of it this way, in a deck of cards, there are 52 cards, assuming no joker, with almost infinite possibilities of order and arrangement. With craps dice…only 36 combinations are possible.
The heart of craps is that you take your money and you put it in the spot, and the dice tell you if you win or lose. There’s no hitting, no decision to stand, no strategy, almost no skill is involved. I say ‘almost’ because of reason number 5 below.
EVEN THE WORST MISTAKES ARE NOT THAT BAD
Craps strategy is all in the betting and in the amount you bet. Once you put your money on the felt, there’s very little in the way of decision. You just let the dice do the talking. The dealer will tell you if you win or lose by paying or taking your money. There’s no strategy after the initial bet (for now, let’s avoid the dice influence/control issue).
You can make strategy mistakes. For example, you can make a $5 place bet on the 6 or 8. This mistake brings your house edge from 1.52% if you had bet it correctly, to 9.09%. That means that instead of losing a theoretical 7.5 pennies on that $5 bet, you’ll lose 45 cents. Sounds like a big difference, but remember that craps moves slow. So that mistake is spread out over several rolls. Compare that to a slot machine that typically has a 10% house edge per bet; if you were to put the same $5 into a slot and do one pull, or even two pulls at $2.50 each, you would have a theoretical loss of 50 cents in the span of about 10 seconds. It will take you about 2 to three minutes for the place 6 or place 8 mistakes to resolve.
Still confused? Here’s the simple breakdown…$5 bet on slots will take about 10 seconds to lose a theoretical 50 cents…the same $5 that was poorly bet on a craps game will result in a loss of about 45 cents. However, since it takes about 2-3 minutes for a craps hand to win or lose, you will lose way less per hour playing craps badly than playing slots perfectly.
It’s the fact that bets take several rolls to come to a win or loss. That’s what makes craps so cheap to play, even if you mess it up.
Where craps can get really expensive is when you start making one roll bets. Don’t make one roll bets. I don’t care what people say about ensuring your bet on the come out roll. Just don’t ever make one roll bets.
Craps is just an awesome game that, at its heart, is so simple and so beautiful, and so cheap to play…so long as you can control yourself.
Get yourself a free cocktail, and cozy on up to the table. You’ll love it, you’ll probably win more when you have winning days, and lose less when having losing days; which will make you love craps even more. It’s a vicious and wonderful cycle of emotions that brings all of us back to the tables.