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Craps School

The Pass Line

Craps: Playing the Pass Line
by David of

The first time I played craps was the first time that I actually felt alive and in control of my own gambling destiny. It’s one the few games in a casino where the player’s action determines who wins and who loses. Unlike Blackjack, where you’re always waiting for the dealer to flip over your fate; in craps it is you who throws the dice and draws a roar from the crowd whether it be on a cheerful note or a somber sigh as the guy next to you might have lost all of his chips. If you want to throw’em but feel intimidated by the “yard-sale” of bets which cover the entire craps table I would suggest focusing on the most simple and arguably best bet on the table; the pass line.

When you approach a craps table in a casino or click on a website to gamble from the comfort of your own home it doesn't matter which location, the table layout will be the same. To place your bet on the pass line all you need to do is simply place your chips inside the area labeled “Pass Line” which is located around the outside of the layout. Congratulations, you have successfully placed a great bet in favor of the shooter. The shooter is the person who is currently holding the dice and ready to throw’em. Now all you have to do is wait for the shooter to throw the bones (dice) and win you some cash.

How do you win? Every time a new shooter takes over the dice it is known as the “come out roll” which means the shooter wins if a 7 or 11 (known as naturals) is thrown. However, if the shooter throws a 2, 3 or 12 (known as craps numbers) it results in a loss and the dealer takes your money. Pass line bets pay even money, for example, if a shooter bets $5 and rolls a winning number the dealer will pay $5 which the shooter must pick up on their own and put in their chip rack or double up and go for another win.


What if the shooter rolls a number other than a natural or a craps on the come out roll? This is where the game gets exciting! If the shooter rolls a 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10 it is known as the shooter’s point. To win your pass line bet the shooter must roll their point number, which will be marked by a large circular black & white button placed directly on the point number. The only way for you to lose your bet on the pass line after the point number is established is if the shooter rolls a 7. If the shooter rolls a 7, all wagers are lost to the house except for those who are betting the “don’t pass” line. A simple rule to remember while playing the pass line: 7 or 11 on the come out roll are winners, and 2, 3, 12 on the come out roll are losers. Once the point number is known the only way to lose is if the shooter rolls a 7.

Let’s look at some examples of a typical series of numbers thrown at a craps table. You put your money down on the pass line and the following numbers are rolled in order: 7, 7, 7, 2, 8, 8, 11, 6, 7. You would win on the first three 7’s as they are naturals on the come out roll. You would lose on the 2 because it is a craps number on the come out roll. The first 8 is no loss as it is established as the shooter’s point number. The second 8 is a winner due to the shooter rolling the point number. The 11 would be a winner as the shooter has begun another come out roll after hitting the first point of 8. The 6 now becomes the new point number. The 7 is a loss because it was rolled before the shooter hit the point number.

What about odds? The odds bet is the best bet on a craps table. The reason it’s the best is it’s the only bet where the casino doesn't have an advantage. It can be quite complicated, so I'll try to simplify the process. First you must make a pass line bet in order to make an odds bet. By the way, you will not see a designated area that reads “Odds Bet” because the casino does not want you to take this bet. To make the odds bet you simply take at least the same amount as your pass line wager and place it right behind your pass line bet outside of the layout.

What are the odds payoffs for each point number? The payoffs are also tricky, but if Dennis Rodman can figure it out I’m confident anybody can. Here’s how it works, if the point is 4 or 10 the payoff will be 2 to 1. If the point is 5 or 9 the payoff is 3 to 2 and the payoff for a 6 or 8 is 6 to 5. For example, if you throw down $10 on the pass line and a $10 odds bet, you would win $10 for the pass line bet and $20 for the odds payoff if the point was 4 or 10, $15 for point 5 or 9 and $12 if the point was a 6 or 8. Most of the odds are easy enough to figure out but the 6 and 8 points are a little goofy. The 6 and 8 odds payoff of 6 to 5 means that for every $5 you bet you will be paid $6, so an odds bet of $10 will earn you $12.

If you are still confused, remember the following simple rules: for odds on the 4 or 10 you can put any amount down as long as it’s at least equal to your pass line bet as it pays 2 to 1; odds bet for the 5 or 9 should always be an even number as these pay 3 to 2, and the odds bet on the 6 or 8 should always be bet in $5 chunks as they pay 6 to 5. I don't encourage removing your odds bet, but most casinos allow you take them down at any time. As they say in Vegas, “Luck to ya.”


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