Just about every book on craps ever written, and most craps articles, rightly extol the excitement of the game. Few books or articles, however, bother to explain that while craps can be a super-exciting, adrenaline-soaked thrill ride, it can also be the most emotionally draining, exhausting, and depressing game in the casino when things are going wrong. Unfortunately, more often than not, that?s the exact direction craps goes in -- wrong. Although it?s no secret that often the most noise in the casino occurs at a craps table, it?s also no secret to craps players that this noise is more often the sound of anguish and hands clapping in utter frustration, then it is the sound of exuberance. In fact, the sounds of silence can also be heard at the craps tables when shooter after shooter sevens out. It can be a morgue.
Why is that?
While craps is indeed one of the very best games offered by the casinos, it is a game that can be tremendously explosive. That?s its greatness and its horror. By way of contrast, blackjack is not a very explosive game. You win a hand, you lose a hand; you win two hands, you lose three; win one, lose one. With the exception of the small percentage of the time when players split or double down, it is a relatively flat game with no explosive moments. You can go on losing streaks (I once lost 14 hands in a row) but those losing streaks see you losing one hand at a time.
In craps it?s different because most players aren?t betting one bet at a time. Some are betting two, three, four or more at once. When that awful seven shows, they get wiped off the board! The problem for craps players is the fact that they can only win one bet at a time.
Watch how it can work.
Say you?re placing the 6 and 8 for $12 each. The shooter sevens out without you winning a bet. You lose $24. You again place the 6 and 8 for $12 each and the shooter hits the 6. You win $14. Now, the shooter sevens out. You?ve just lost $24 again. You are down $34 dollars ($24 -$14 + $24 = $34). To win that back and get ahead, you will have to win three times on the 6 or 8. You?ll be $8 ahead if you do.
But that isn?t all. Because once you are $8 ahead of the game, if you don?t call off your bets, you can face the seven-out again, lose $24 and still be down $16! Yuch! So to assure that you will indeed be ahead, you have to win two more bets.
Let me go over this again. If you are down $34 because you only won one bet as above, you must win five bets in a row before the shooter sevens out to be guaranteed a win when he does. Down $34; win five bets in a row (+$70), up $36, in order to be ahead when you seven out (-$24), up $12. You can figure out what would happen if you get wiped off the board two or three times in a row. It?s dismal. You have to win a lot of bets to make that up. In fact, it is a safe statement to make to say that most craps players are down most of the time during a session of play.
So why do they continue to play?
Because the thrill of the big roll overcomes the anguish of all those losses. When a shooter makes number after number, point after point, there is no giddier feeling in the world. As you rake in handfuls of chips with each and every roll; when the players at the table start roaring and high-fiving each other; when your chip rack becomes so crammed that you have to color up just to fit all those reds, and greens, and blacks, and (maybe) purples in front of you, then all is right with the heavens and craps is just the easiest game in the world.
But to get to Easy Street, you have to go through some pretty rough neighborhoods. How can you avoid falling into a pothole so deep that no good roll can save you?
Here are my suggestions.
Do not go up on more than two numbers until you are ahead enough that a wipe out on three numbers will not take away your win. If you are playing on a short bankroll, only make one bet. That?s right. Play one number. My rule of thumb is that you should have 10 times the amount of your ?spread? as a session stake at craps. In our example above, the player placing the 6 and 8 for $12 each must have $240 for his session as $24 is his spread. If you have, say, $60 to play with, you would be wiser to just place the 6 or 8 (not both) for $6.
Too often I have seen craps players come to a table with $100, place all the numbers (?Give me $64 across!?) only to hear ?Seven-out!? on the very next roll. Then they say: ?Give me $32 across!? only to be greeted with a second: ?Seven-out!? In two rolls they have lost 12 bets for a total of $96. Sad. On $100, you want to go easy - especially if you desire to play for a few hours.
Frankly speaking, craps is a sunny day when the game is going right. But when tables get cold, it will be the winter of your gambling discontent!
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