Tuesday, March 22, 2011

How To Win At Craps, Simplified...


I think you are heading to Vegas soon.  Allow me to share lessons from my glorious 10 year run at craps.  This is "Czaban eyes only" information---we can't risk it falling into the wrong hands:

1.  There is no such thing as a good strategy or bad strategy.  Like a
lottery ticket, a dumb bet is dumb until it hits...then it's smart.  Still, I prefer the pass line with max odds.  It's the lowest house edge you'll find in Vegas.  I'll also place the 6&8 if the table seems warm.  Also, for 5&9, I've had surprising good luck placing the number opposite the point (if point is 9, place 5 and vice versa).  I'll toss in a hard way for luck or entertainment, but I don't expect to win those.  One thing I would suggest is pick a strategy for a session (or weekend) and stick with it --- for example, you don't want to flip from the pass line to the don't pass, because you will almost certainly lose both ways and feel like the biggest loser in Vegas.

2.  Most important:  If possible, find that guy or girl.  They are rare and very difficult to locate, but some people are just plain lucky.  You will know them when you see them.  There is just something about how they act/talk/smile.  These people cannot lose.  I cross paths with one about every third trip.  The one lucky guy or girl will pay for all the other losers that week.  Keep your eye out for them.  It's the most important lesson here.  And, when they tell you how to bet, don't think, just do what they tell you.

3.  If you are fortunate enough to play along with them, when Lucky Guy or Lucky Girl leaves the table, walk away.  I have considered doing this every time, but have NEVER done it, and ALWAYS regretted it.  Luck follows these rare people, and so when they leave, your table will turn to ice. Guaranteed.  But, it's very hard to leave because it is so much fun winning money and laughing with Lucky Guy, you just don't want the fun to end.  You will tell yourself that maybe it was the table and not Lucky Guy --- but you'll be wrong.  You won't want to leave, but walk away.

4.  PBL (“Proper Beer Level”) is just as important in craps as it is in golf.  Everyone has their own level, but try to find yours and stick with it.

5.  Trying to use sheer will to turn a cold table warm does not work, except when it does.  I have had success by not giving up too soon, but it's hard to know when to give up on a bad table.  Oh, if you do walk away, keep walking.  Don't hover just to see how the table gets....it's 
bad luck and nothing good happens (if the table heats up you are pissed for leaving, and if the table remains cold you feel glad seeing other people lose...which is not what Vegas is about).

6.  The second hottest chick at the table will do better than the hottest chick.  Seen it a million times.  Everybody wants the 
hot chick to throw a hot roll and they load up, but she will go point seven.  The next chick, however, will quietly hit a few points and put some money in your pocket.

Good Luck and Godspeed
“Cowboy Mike”


  1. If I am a casino owner, I want that guy at my casino!

  2. Really, schmoe? Based on what that cowboy said exactly? You're not a casino owner and that one liner was the easiest thought that you could come up with?

  3. There is no strategic way to win at craps, or any game of luck or chance. Previous outcomes do not affect the next roll of the dice, nor does the hotness of the chick rolling the di cause a good toss. There are no systems for craps. The naive can continue to believe this, and as long as they do, casinos will continue to profit. Any good book on probability theory will explain all of this.

  4. Gracie,

    You got it, that was the easiest thought I could come up with. What else do I need to say? The guy had no statistical insights. No tips on improving the odds. Just a guy incorrectly divining meaning from randomness. He is a sucker. What casino wouldn't want that a guy?

  5. Jeff -

    I agree, no system works at craps. It is actually about money management... the best bets to make, knowing when to press and when to take down, and when to leave (whether ahead or behind).

  6. Jeff,

    The best odds in the casino are playing the pass line with full odds behind. While not a true system it is the best odds with the only other close one being playing blackjack with an expert card counter in a single deck blackjack deck deal where they don't reshuffle after each deal.

    If you want you could also place a come bet and then back that up with full odds which works like a pass line bet and then also acts as a hedge against a 7 on a point roll.

  7. Jeff,

    There are system's that work at craps ... this on is actually legal. Bet Don't Pass. Only bet in Vegas where you get House odds.

    Another simple method, and one that will get you booted out of a casino if you do it for very long ... take any game that is near 50-50. (Pass on Craps, Black Jack, Red / Black) Bet the minimum. If you win ... play the minimum again. If you lose double your bet. When you win, take the money and make your next bet the minimum.

    Outcomes ... starting with a $1 bet.

    Win first bet - Total bet $1 - Payoff $2 - Net $1
    Win 2nd Bet - Bet $3 - Payoff $4 - Net $1
    Win 3rd Bet - Bet $7 - Payoff $8 - Net $1
    Win 4th Bet - Bet $15 - Payoff $16 - Net $1.

    (Yes I know the expected value is slightly lower because not a true 50 percent chance of winning, but the expected ROI is still greater than 0.)

    One problem is if you hit a really bad run of luck, the beat gets high quick.

    There are other systems that are more complicated but also work. All the systems that work the casino watches for and will ask you to leave.

  8. Edge - PA,

    I've never heard of a casino kicking anyone out for using the Martingale system.

    You mentioned the one obvious flaw in the system. A bad run of luck means you are soon betting a fortune due to doubling your losing bet each time. The second issue (even if you had an unlimited bankroll) is that in addition to table minimums, casinos also have table maximums so if you go on an extended losing streak you eventually cannot double your bet to recoup your losses. Those casinos think of everything.

  9. Andy -

    They don't bother on low table limits ... try it starting at $500 a hand / roll / spin and see how long they let you play ... At $5 starting point your take is not worth the disruption ...

    Yes the Maximums are an attempt to prevent this method ... but there are variations on the basic system that will get around it ... (You cut short bad cycles before they get out of hand and double after winners to make up the loss ... i.e. more comlicated betting patterns ...

    You can simulate winning betting patterns using software like R. Roulette is the easiest to model as black jack you have to assume your skill level. Craps has a tougher outcome tree.

    With Roulette you can play the middle. Make bets that cover most of the squares and your odds of winning any one roll go up, reducing your chance of a long run of loses. This does reduce your win payback rate, but limits your loses in a run of bad luck.

    Again, you can get away with it making 1 dollar beats, but beat large amounts and you will eventually be asked to leave.

    The casinos will not let you have a system that beats the house.

  10. Don't forget to press (double) your bets when you are on a roll. I always forget this when I shoot past my PBL

  11. Awesome conversation. From a bunch of guys who wish they we're in Vegas with the Czabe. (Counting me!!)

  12. Edge -

    You're absolutely right that the casinos don't like player's having a system that gives them an edge (like card counting in Black Jack) but the Martingale system does not provide the player with an advantage.

    If the house has say a 51 - 49 edge over the player on any single bet. Varying your betting pattern will not at any point swing the advantage to the player. Look up Martingale System.

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