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Pulling up at the craps table, especially for a beginner, can be a daunting experience.  Trying to decipher all the different bets and what they mean is one thing.  Turning that knowledge into a profit is another.  As with any gambling, it’s important to understand the balancing act that exists between sheer luck and measured strategy, and how the powerplay between these two can be steered in your favour.

Know the Odds

This may seem like common sense, but memorizing the probability of rolling a 3 (11 to 1) versus a 7 (5 to 1) is a foundational skill, and can mean the difference between winning and crapping out.  But knowing the odds isn’t as simple as that.  As a game progresses, and depending on the kind of bet laid, being able to determine the likelihood of a number being rolled becomes an indispensable factor.

Know the Bets

This might seem obvious too, but having a well-rounded grasp of the different betting techniques ties in heavily with knowing the probability of individual rolls.  This is because, on the surface, a craps game can be divided into two kinds of bets:  single roll bets, and multiple roll bets.

For single roll bets, especially with the first come-out roll, this is a no-brainer.  Whether you’re a beginner or an advanced player, the passline bet is one of the most basic and assured bet.  If the next shooter rolls a 7, you win.  If they roll a 2,3, or 12, you lose.  It should be noted that that making the pass bet after the initial come-out roll is not always the best idea, since the value of the pass bet will be reduced.

Multiple roll bets are more complicated, and like their name, suggest long term planning.  These can include Lay and Buy bets, and also require the player to be vigilant and knowledgeable of the house-edge in any given scenario.

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Rotate your Press

Anytime you press, you’re raising the bet.  Many players can get carried away, either never pressing or pressing too much and losing everything.  A key strategy is variance.  Because you can never predict the outcome of a roll, fluctuating your presses and takes allows you to play it safe while challenging the house edge.

Playing the Dark Side

This refers to a player who bets against the flow of the game, and it can be a useful trick, especially in terms of psyching out other people at the table.  By betting on a Don’t Come and/or Don’t Pass bet, you’ll most likely be playing against the odds of everyone else at the table.  This can give a seasoned player a psychological advantage over a beginner – but it’s important to remember that ‘playing the dark side’ by laying the maximum bets has almost the same outcome as playing it ‘clean’ with a normal passline bet.

Turning Off/On

This little trick is a small part of the game, but an important one to know as well.  In some casinos, many of the bets can be temporarily turned on and off, and this can influence the flow of the game.  These include all Odds, Place, Place to Lose, Buy, Lay, and Hard Ways bets.  It’s important to note however that some of these bets are automatically ‘off’ on a come-out roll, and this includes Place and Buy bets.

As a general rule, a good craps player needs to have a variety of strategies at his or her disposal, depending on the shape and outcome of an individual game.  Understanding the probability of rolls will only get you so far if you’re not able to use that to determine the optimal bets.  For beginners, utilizing the passline bet remains a true and tested strategy in terms of learning the feel and language of the table.