If you’ve been reading this website and watching the RoadGambler videos, you know that I’m a big craps fan. Whether played in a brick and mortar casino or online, craps is my favorite casino game.

My favorite craps bet is the free odds bet, and it’s my favorite bet by a wide margin. The free odds have zero house edge. Zero house edge does not mean that you are guaranteed to win. It just means that, unlike most other bets in the casino, the house pays true odds, thus effectively not taking any cut of the winnings.

For more details, read my write up on the free odds bet here: https://roadgambler.com/gambling-guides/craps-simple-beginners-guide-free-odds-bet/ 

In that article, I advocate the use of the odds bet over all other bets.

Having told you about how much I love the free odds bet, there are some legitimate and major downsides to the free odds bet. Some players hate the free odds bet. Oftentimes, the hatred and fear of the free odds bet is derived from misguided principals, one of the most common of which is the ‘number must hit twice’ for the odds to win. I cover the ‘hit twice’ fallacy here: https://roadgambler.com/craps/craps-myth-will-not-die-come-bet-must-hit-twice/

If you hate the free odds bet – as many craps players do –  then this article will provide you with some logically sound principles as to why the free odds bet…sucks!

Note that I will attempt to avoid as much ‘math of the game’ as possible because the ‘math of the game’ is not the purpose of this site; however, some calculations will be unavoidable, if I am to propound reasonable arguments.

Also, a second disclaimer: for purposes of keeping things simple, when making the risk of ruin calculations, it is necessary to analogize pure pass line play to pass+odds play, so that the reader may have an illustrative concept of the arguments presented herein.

I will assume the win percentages for come betting is the same for winning the point after the come bet is established. This assumption is only for illustrative purposes. The win percentages for the pass/come + odds are different after the point has been established than if the player had played the same amount entirely on the pass/come without any odds. Specifically, the probability of the pass/come winning is 49.29% across all possible scenarios; whereas after the point is established, the player will on average win 41% of the time, and lose 59% of the time. This inequity in win percentage is compensated by the casino paying true odds; however, this unbalanced win-loss rate and odds payout will result in a different risk of ruin.

While the actual numbers will vary, the concepts and arguments presented herein do not change, and thus remain valid.

In the interest of accuracy, you may go here for the precise calculation (you will understand why I used the illustrative approach): http://catlin.casinocitytimes.com/article/calculating-a-hold-percentage-1230

REASON 1. LARGE BANKROLL REQUIREMENT

When it comes to bankroll management, players who play odds will typically overbet their bankroll. In a full odds scenario, even at a 3x, 4x, 5x table, notice that on RoadGambler’s $300 buy in, with just a mere two points working with full odds, he had more than 1/3 of his bankroll at risk.

On a $300 buy in???

It would take three cold rolls before the bankroll was decimated and brought to zero. Anyone who has played any amount of craps understands that three cold rolls in a row is quite common. Thus, in order to take advantage of the odds bets and be able to ride out the inevitable bad waves, the player will need much more than a $300 buy in.

How much? The amount needed is relative to each player, however, it is possible to calculate the size of the needed buy-in or bankroll by using a risk of ruin calculation…

REASON 2. PLAYING FULL ODDS HAS A HIGH RISK OF LOSING YOUR ENTIRE BANKROLL 

This is the risk of ruin calculator: http://www.bjstrat.net/ror.html

It’s a great tool to calculate your probability of ruin (i.e., losing your given bankroll) before reaching a goal.

If we assume that RoadGambler’s average combined betting unit was $50 ($10 pass/come + $40 odds on average, roughly), that would be 6 units on the $300 buy-in. According to the risk of ruin calculator below, RoadGambler’s chances of losing the $300 bankroll before winning 10 units would be 67% (remember the disclaimer above).

Let’s say that the average gambler buys in for $500 and bets full odds.  Their average combined unit is also $50 at $10 pass/com and full odds. That combined bet would result in 10 units. The risk of ruin before winning 10 units is still a sky high 57%. The gambler is more likely to lose his $500 buy-in than win 10 units.

To bring the probability of losing the entire bankroll down to an acceptable level, given the same win goal, the required buy-in would have needed to be $5000. At a $5000 buy-in, the risk of losing everything before winning the same 10 units would be approximately 25%.

The point here is that without a large bankroll, the risk of losing everything, and thus cutting your vacation gambling activities short, is very high with full odds.

The vast majority of players are not willing or able to buy in for $5000.

On a curious note, a $5000 buy-in seems to be the sweet spot for achieving this goal. Any buy-in higher than a $5000 buy-in has diminishing returns. While a $2500 buy-in has a risk of ruin of approximately 30%,  a $10,000 buy-in has a risk of ruin of 24.78%, which is only marginally better than $5000.

Regardless of the sweet spot for the most acceptable risk of ruin, not too many players are willing or able to buy-in for the ‘sweet spot’.

This is probably the most significant downside of the odds bet.

REASON 3. THE PLAYER CAN BE LURED INTO MAKING MORE BETS 

Did you know that when people are given a food labeled ‘low fat’ or ‘low calorie’, people will tend to eat more than if the food was not labeled low fat? https://www.jstor.org/stable/30162434?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents

Almost every odds bettor knows the mantra: the house has no edge on the odds bet. Let’s also not forget the often stated premise that the pass line has a ‘low house edge’. For almost the exact same psychological reason that leads people to eat more if a food is labeled low fat, the odds bet tends to compel a bettor to make more bets.

This video of a real craps game at Bellagio in Las Vegas is typical of the average craps player: https://youtu.be/s1-VRm8QWKM

Notice that most individual place bets made by the players are much smaller than the total combined pass + odds bet by the average player.

Here is an analysis from the craps game linked above:

In the pic above, the red arrows are pointing to a player’s come bet + 2x odds. The same player also has a pass line bet with full 4x odds (bottom right of the pic). Compare the amounts wagered on the place bets, indicated by the blue arrows. The amounts bet on the place bets are significantly less than the amount bet on pass + odds.

So let’s do some simple math to calculate the expected loss. On it’s face, it appears that the ‘low house edge’ pass line and ‘no house edge’ odds bettor is better off than the place bettor.

Red Arrow player:

  • $45 total pass line bet + $105 worth of odds, total action is $150; combined house edge of .37%
    • Expected loss is 55 cents on total action, bets resolved basis.

Blue Arrow player:

  • $60 worth of total action; house edge of 1.5%
    • Expected loss is 90 cents on all action, bets resolved basis.

So you might say, ’55 cents is less than 90 cents’; however, if you watch the video I linked, you will see the red arrow player constantly making come bets, like this…

Over the course of the hour, his total expected loss will be greater than the total expected loss of the blue arrow player. Remember that every come bet he puts down has an expected loss.

Low house edge and no house edge? Bet more!

Next time you are at the craps table, be on the lookout for this phenomena.

RESON 4. NO COMPS ON THE ODDS BET

In the minds of many casual gamblers, this is the ultimate sin of the odds bet. The casino usually does not apply any odds bet to the ADT calculation for comps. For an understanding of ADT, go here: https://roadgambler.com/faqs/

While it’s possible to make deals with the casino or host based off of large buy-ins, once the casino finds out that a player limits the bulk of their betting to the odds bet, the house will either drastically reduce or cease to issue discretionary comps.

For many casual gamblers, the manifestation of the approximate 1.5% – 4% house edge from place betting or buy betting is difficult to notice. Most casual gamblers do not gamble for long enough periods where the ‘haircut’ from the house edge is significant enough to care about; they probably would have tipped the amount away to the dealers or cocktail waitress, anyways.

Furthermore, in the average casual gambler’s mind, being comped for a casino meal or show ticket is a pleasurable experience that is tantamount to being ‘spoiled’, as if the casual gambler was an important guest that casino is fawning over. Finally, casino comps leave the impression that the gambler won something or obtained something for free.

I can understand this feeling, as there are few feelings more pleasurable in a casino, than scoring a large win and then being treated to a fancy dinner, paid for by the house

This excessive meal was all for RoadGambler, and was completely comped.

Sure, one could argue that the player could pay the meal themselves with the money saved from avoiding the house edge, but pulling money out of your own wallet to pay for an extravagant meal doesn’t have the same panache as, ‘Sir, just sign here’.

It’s quite understandable that players would avoid the odds bet because the casino usually does not apply comps to the odds bet. Comps are just part of the casino experience.

CONCLUSION

Don’t get me wrong. I still love the free odds bet, and the vast majority of my craps action will continue to be on the free odds bet. But there is a significant downside to betting the free odds, which must be acknowledged.

That was the reason I bought in for $300 and was betting the amounts seen in the video. I wanted to show – in an actual game – the bankroll exposure and risk awaiting the casual gambler who takes full odds.

Next time someone tells you about the awesome odds bet, just rebut their arguments with this rhetorical question: ‘if I wanted to play craps for 4 hours a day over a five days in Vegas/Atlantic City/destination vacation, how much money do I need to bring to play full 3,4,5x odds and have a reasonable chance of not going broke in the middle of my vacation?’

I can assure you that the honest answer is quite high ($5000, if you didn’t read above and skipped to the bottom).

So there you go!

Posted in: Casino, Craps, Gambling

0 thoughts on “Craps: 4 Legitimate Reasons To Hate the Free Odds Bet

  • Good article RG, thank you. I use, which I’ve also seen on Color-Up videos, taking a 1x (4/10), 2x (5/9), 3x (6/8) free odds approach. It works for me as I am a conservative gambler (normal bankroll $300-$400). Leaving table after either losing or wining 50% of session buy-in.

  • I have been waiting for you to get to this subject. I have a little different take on it. No one other than the shooter should have a line bet. It is to the house’s advantage for you to place a line bet with odds. It leaves all those chips in the way for the dice to hit.
    I also have never understood you making come bets when if you placed the bet you would make the same or more money. It is because on the come, you are only making even money ex 10 come 40 odds on 9, you make $70. If you place it for the same $50, you make $70. So why bother with all that, why not just place your bets?

    • PayTheDonts says:

      As soon as you typed “ex” (for example) you lost the thread.

      That’s just it… it’s only an example. That’s only one way, out of many, that a Come bet can win.

      You are taking a Come bet, which has ways to win on 8 different numbers, and casually reducing it to only the ways it wins on a single number, and comparing it to a place bet, which can only ever win on 1 particular number. That leads you to a wrong conclusion. In fact, the place bet is the better bet.

  • I love the free odds get too…however, I have a hard time maxing my odds if the point is 4 or 10….the reason? I am a 2 to 1 dog that I will hit my point vs the 7… I am basically adding money to hit a difficult point….I know the math tells me otherwise when I get paid true odds….

    Here is an example…at your next craps session, keep track of 4 and 10 points and see how many times the point was made vs losing….

  • Good stuff, as always, RG.

    On the Don’t side, the Lay is a pretty hefty chunk of bankroll, too, but at least a single roll can’t wipe out all of your DP/odds and DC/odds bets.

  • I would have to agree with one of the other comments I would take the money from the come and odds and make multiple place bets or one big bet you will get payed moor and also have moor control of your bets turn off or take down after a win . this will help to save your bankroll from as much risk. Thanks RG love the work you are doing and the time you spend putting these articles and videos GREAT WORK!!!!!

  • Hey R.G.,

    re: “Lowest House Edge “or “No house edge” and “Free Odds”

    Your in a trance… you read FREE or Lowest House edge and you have been brainwashed. Let’s get things straight. The entire game is making money by going against the grain, not doing the one thing that “should” be done more often that not which is the 7. So… they want you to plunk down a big PASS line bet with you thinking that “I can roll a seven” it is easy. Now your locked into that bet but on the other side of it. PASS line is for suckers and for that matter COME bet as well. Learn how to throw on a hard surface and just place the number your throwing for.

    1) The pass line bet is a mandatory bet I have to make to throw. Otherwise I don’t want an even money on any bet except my Baccarat bet.

    Do you want even money on a blackjack..? No you don’t.. is Blackjack any harder than any other hand dealt.. no it is not. It is pseudo “random” It is the LURE and so is the PASS with FREE ODDS bet and the only reason it is kept low is for the dumb luckers who whip out 10G and hit. Casinos want your entire soal dedicated to them so you keep coming and play to your sense of “you can’t do that ” for (3,4,5 Odds) to give it the forbidden fruit mystic

    2) When a number hits, you want to get paid.

    Your “Free Odds” bet (makes me chuckle every time I say it) is costing you major money R.G. I’ve shown you this in a few of my posted examples and you will find this out over time. Every time you make that bet you must hit the number twice. Sure wish we could play together and I will bet and make more money than you every time because I’m getting paid from the box when the dealer is moving your chip to the box.

    Were just going to have to agree to disagree… you know my heart’s in it and I don’t know what your objectives are with this site but there is a side of gambling that is not based on facts.. it is based on the Billions of dollars spent V.S. the human psyche. It’s all a con of the greatest magnitude out in the open, where you have to see the opportunities. I have one I will never share but Craps is an easy money maker and you don’t have to have thousands… you must have patience (most don’t have it) and the time to revisit (most come rarely) over and over increasing your bankroll all the while slowly. I can’t find the link of my betting strategy I posted here but generally take your profit and play with casino money.

    Would like all your viewers and craps lovers to benefit from what I know and have done but I can’t… they would close the game entirely. Get a table (yes invest in yourself) ignore the people who will laugh (professional gambler) and practice. Then see if you can turn $100 into $120 (thats 20 %) which is more than any stock could ever return. Then imagine it is 10K into 12K. It can be done daily. I’m proof and I will share when I’m nearing death the How and Why. For now… any one who reads this… R.G. is doing you a gigantic favor here and he should be paid for his video content alone. I don’t know how you can shop for a coupon or look for the lowest gas price and thro (literally) hundreds away in a game you don’t even understand. This alone is reason enough to see how you can be rich off of everyday people and why the casino has billions. Folks are throwing money at them, please educate yourself of craps and you will not regret it, I haven’t.

  • I like the game if craps I been Spending $12,000 a year in casinos I have my own host in every casino I visit I get comped rooms food and shopping I usually come out winning because I always set the dice 🎲 🎲 fives up fours forward and throw the dice 🎲 🎲 just below eye level and barely hit the wall to stop the risk exposure fast I like these videos Road gambler makes us I hope I get to play with him at s craps game soon I know we will do good and I will for sure press his hard ways using my chips to thank him for this hard work providing us with these videos I watch them all

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