This is an article about craps strategy. It's meant to provide general craps tips for players who want to have more fun playing craps and minimize the house edge. We're unaware of any craps strategies which can turn the house edge from negative into positive, although dice control proponents claim that controlled throws can accomplish this. (We have a separate section explaining dice control in detail, but I'm not convinced that it's a workable craps strategy.)
The first step in playing craps with a strategy is understanding the basics of the game. People unfamiliar with craps who walk up to a game that's already in progress probably think they've found a bunch of people speaking a completely different language. The best way to avoid feeling like you've wandered into a foreign country is to read up on the various craps bets available, play some craps online for practice, and take one of the many free craps classes that are offered throughout the day at various casinos. I did a ton of research before writing this site, and I still benefitted greatly from the casino class on craps.
Good Craps Bets
The best bet in a craps game on the come out roll is the pass line bet. The house edge on this bet is only 1.41%. Most of the other bets on the table offer much worse odds than this. If you're a beginner, or if you just want to minimize your risk, stick with this bet for starters. (If you want to split hairs, the actual best bet is the don't pass bet, which has a house edge of 1.36%, but most people don't like it when you root against them. And I'm not usually willing to antagonize the shooter over a 0.05% mathematical advantage.)
The best in a craps game after the come out roll is the odds bet. Once a point has been determined by the come out roll, you can make an additional bet that's a multiple of your pass line bet. This multiple varies from casino to casino, but 2X is pretty common these days.
The brilliant thing about taking the odds bet is that it pays out at true odds. In other words, the house has a 0 edge on the odds bet. You should always take the odds bet.
When you combine the potential win from the odds bet with the relatively low house edge of 1.41% on the come out roll, your overall disadvantage diminishes dramatically. And the more you're allowed to bet when taking the odds bet, the lower your disadvantage becomes. If you're allowed to take 2X odds, the overall house edge becomes 0.61% instead of 1.41%.
If you're lucky enough to find a casino which offers 100X odds on this bet, you can reduce the house edge to 0.02%, which is about as close to even money as you'll ever see at a table game. (Unless you're a card counter or a good poker player.)
Bad Craps Bets
While the odds bet and the pass and don't pass bets have really low house edges, some of the bets available at the craps table offer terrible odds. For example, the house edge on the "Big Six" bet is 9.1%. (A "Big Six" bet is a bet that a six will be rolled before a seven.) But a 9.1% house edge is worse than the edge on a roulette game. Those are terrible odds.
The "Big 8" bet is just as bad, also offering a 9.1% house edge. Avoiding these two bets, the "Big 8" and the "Big 6", isn't just good craps strategy, it's common sense.
Believe it or not, worse craps bets are available. The "Hard 4" and "Hard 10" bets offer a house edge of 11%+. That's twice as bad as a roulette bet. And roulette offers one of the lowest house edges in the casino. One of the best craps tips you'll ever receive is to avoid these four craps bets.
But guess what. Still worse odds can be found at the craps table in the form of proposition bets. A proposition bet at the craps table is a bet that something in particular will happen on the very next roll. (Most bets ride until the round is over.) The proposition bets that a 2 or 12 will be rolled next offer the worst odds at the table. The house edge is 13.9% on these bets. If you're looking for a worthwhile use for your money, and you're just desperate to give it away, this is a good way to do so, and fast.
Here's a summary of our craps strategy tips: know what you're doing before you play, stick with the good bets, and avoid the bad bets. These all seem like common sense, but common sense isn't always commonly found.