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Craps School

The Hardways

Craps: How to Play the Hardways
by Wilson of

If you have ever played craps in a casino or online you probably remember that the middle of the table layout looks as complicated as the Los Angeles freeway system. However, if you do just a little research or simply read the rest of this article it may surprise you at how easy it is to navigate your way through the heavy traffic of betting options located in the middle of the craps table. The hardways along with the other bets available in the center layout are usually referred to as the proposition bets or sucker bets. For now I will focus specifically on the hardways bets, and the other bets will be discussed in another article.


What is a hardway bet? The hardways are four numbers which each have their own designated spot in the center of the craps table. These numbers include the 4, 6, 8, and 10. To roll a hardway number you must roll an exact pair of numbers (doubles), for example, if a player is putting money on the hard 6 the player is betting that the shooter will roll a 3,3. The 3,3 combination is the only way a player can win on a hard 6, any other combination that adds up to 6 is known as a soft or easy 6, for example, a 1,5 2,4 5,1 4,2. If a number "comes easy" your hardway bet is a loser.

The other hardway numbers include: 4 (2,2) 8 (4,4) 10 (5,5), again, these numbers must be rolled in the exact combination in order for the player to win otherwise the bet is a loser.


How do I make a hardway bet? Unlike the pass line or don't pass bet where the player places chips on a specific betting area, this bet must be placed by the stick person. The stick person is usually located at the center of the craps table directly in front of the hardways and neighboring proposition bets. To make a hardway bet the shooter must toss his chips toward the stick person and call out the bet, for example, “Hard 8 please.” Or “10 the hardway please.” After the player calls out the bet the stickperson will repeat out loud the players request and place the player’s chip(s) in the correct position based on the player’s physical location at the table. That’s all there is to it!

What is the payoff for a hardway bet? Depending on where you play craps the payoff may vary, but in any event, if you play the hardways you are giving the casino a huge advantage. Sure, the payoff is 9 to 1 or 7 to 1 depending on which numbers you bet on, but the casino advantage is between 9 and 11 percent. Remember the pass line bet with single odds allows the casino only a .85% advantage which is why the hardways are considered a sucker’s bet, but the payoff is what attracts most players. Who wouldn't want a chance to win 9 times their money? Personally, I've made a killing playing the hardways, but only after I've attained my goal for a particular session. The trick to gambling is self discipline, and sometimes that is hard to do at a hot craps table. There is a reason why the hardway payoffs are so big-it’s literally “hard” to win.

How do I win or lose a hardway bet? Once a point is established and the player makes a hardway bet the player will win if the shooter rolls a hard number before rolling a 7 or an easy number, for example, if the player bets on a hard four and the shooter rolls a 3,1 (easy four) the casino wins. However, if the shooter rolls a 2,2 (hard four) the player wins and is paid the 7 to 1 payoff. Please note that some casinos use different language regarding the payoffs. In Las Vegas a common craps table will read 7 “to” 1 as opposed to some in Atlantic City which read 7 “for” 1. What’s the difference? When a casino pays off a 4 to 1 bet, the player will be paid $4 plus the original $1 bet. Tables that pay 5 for 1 vs. 4 to 1 simply pay the player $5 for the win but the casino keeps the original $1 bet. Basically these two payoffs are the same the only issue is that sometimes the payoffs are different depending where you play.

Is my hardway bet working during the come out roll? In most cases hardway bets are off or not working during the come out roll. A "good" dealer will ask you if your bet is working or not. If a player wants to open or have the hardway bet alive during the come out roll all they have to do is tell the dealer to keep it on. In turn, the dealer will place an “on” chip or button on top of the player’s bet. Luck to ya!


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