Craps: Are side bets a good bet?

Most beginners to craps are familiar only with the pass line and the call bets. And that’s for the best. You don’t want to complicate things until you have a basic knowledge of what everything means, and where things are on the field, etc… After you get the hang of that, though, the next logical step is to consider side bets. The six, the eight, the nine…are these worth your money in terms of risk return? It’s a great question that all craps players should ask themselves.

And, of course, the answer is solely determined by how risky of a gambler you choose to be. But given that craps has the lowest disadvantage against the house of any casino game, newcomers are probably there to play it safe and make a few bucks.

One side of things (pardon the pun) is that players will only bet on the 8 and the 9, believing that they have the highest probability of being rolled next to the seven. Sound reasoning, and like any casino game where money is at stake – especially one where the control of the result is completely out of your hands – probability has to play a huge factor in how you go about setting your wagers.

Craps

Another group will play the side bets at random. No pattern, just like – as they’d say – the dice themselves. The minimal strategy behind this is that at times it can raise your overall odds of seeing a return. They’ll be the first to admit is less science and more fun, but those are the people who won’t scream too loud or cry too hard at the craps table. They’re usually the ones laughing at the other people.

But they can’t disagree that knowing the odds helps in the decision-making process. So let’s run through that for everyone by listing the different possible ways of rolling each number from 1 through 12. It’s basic stuff, but it always helps to have it down for quick reference if needed. After all, everyone has to start with the basics. I’ll list the combinations and then in parenthesis show them in numbers as they’d appear of the dice.

There is only 1 way to roll a 2 (1:1). There are 2 ways to roll a 3 (1:2, 2:1). There are 3 ways to roll a 4 (1:3, 3:1, 2:2). There are four ways to roll a 5 (1:4, 2:3, 3:2, 4:1). There are five ways to roll a 6. (1:5, 2:4, 3:3, 4:2, 5:1). There are six ways to roll a seven (statistically the most likely to hit on every roll) (1:6, 2:5, 3:4, 4:3, 5:2, 6:1). There are five ways to roll an 8 (2:6, 3:5, 4:4, 5:3, 6:2). There are four ways to roll a nine (3:6, 4:5, 5:4, 6:3). There are 3 ways to roll a 10 (4:6, 5:5, 6:4). There are 2 ways to roll a YO’LEVEN! (5:6, 6:5). And rolling two 6s is the only way to roll a 12.

You might be saying, isn’t 6:1 the same thing as 1:6, why would that count twice? Yes, they’re the same combination, but it’s listing how the different numbers could show up on different die. So die #1 could get the 6 on one roll and die #2 could get the 6 on a second roll.

So, statistically speaking, a six and an eight have the best odds of coming up outside of a seven, not eight and nine. And for some, the payoff is worth the gamble. A popular “catch-all” side bet is a four rolls no seven, which means you just bet on a seven not coming up for four rolls in a row, and if it doesn’t, you win. Taking on some of those, that span a wider reach of numbers, might be a good option for those looking to take the next step in the craps ladder of gambling options.