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Craps - The good bets
The craps table offers a lot of variety when it comes to bets. Don't let it scare you, it's not as bad as it seems. Trust me, Fat Tony has taught some pretty unlikely characters how to toss the dice in his time; you'll be able to figure it out.
The essentials the casino won't tell you about include exactly which bets are the best for the player, and which are the worst. This page covers the good guys, it's shorter than the bad bets page, as you might have guessed.
The good news is though, that the best bets in Craps are the best bets in the casino. These include the Pass Line bet, anything you can take free odds on, the don't pass, the come bet, the don't come, and place bets on either the 6 or 8.
The Pass Line bet is probably the most common bet at the craps table. To place it you put your bet just inside the wide band labeled 'pass line' that runs around the outer edge of the playing area. A detailed explanation of the pass line bet, which is necessary for understanding the rest of the game, can be found here .
Free odds bets you can place on the craps tables only after you have placed certain negative expectation bets, to back these bets with better odds. If you place a pass line bet for $5, and the table allows for free odds up to 10 times, you can place $50 of free odds behind your original $5 wager. This in effect lowers the original house edge of the pass line bet (since winning and losing on the free odds bet is coupled to winning or losing the pass line bet, or whichever bet you back with free odds). The amount the edge is lowered can be significant, and increases the more you are allowed to place on odds. Not many casinos offer 10x odds, as doing so would bring the house edge of a fully backed pass line bet down to somewhere around 0.18%.
Free odds can be taken on the Pass Line, Don't Pass, Come, and Don't Come bets. Always take them, never fail to take them. It's that simple.
The Don't Pass Bet is the opposite of the pass line bet. You'll find a couple of different bets on the craps table let you play the exact opposite bet. The casino makes up for the loss in odds with an altered payout. In other words, if one of the two bets is a little easier to win, the casino will pay you back a little less for it than its opposite bet.
The don't pass bet wins when the pass line bet loses (both on the come-out roll and when a 7 is rolled before a point), and loses when the come out roll is a 2 or 3. The don't pass bet ties, or pushes, when the come-out roll is 12.
The Come Bet
The come bet, while simple, is the root of much confusion for new players. When a player places a come bet, it's the same as if they had placed a Pass Line bet for themselves. The difference is, you can place it any time after the point is set (not before, or it would literally be the same as a pass line bet). So if you place a come bet (by putting your chips in the middle of the come area) the next roll will either be a win or loss (7, 11, 2, 3, 12) or a point can be set. This point is known as the shooters personal 'come point'. The player may then back up this bet with free odds, just like the pass line bet (sense a pattern?). If the shooter hits their come point before a seven, they win, opposite, they lose.
The Don't Come Bet
The don't come bet sees the player place their bet, win or lose on the first roll exactly opposite of the Come Bet, and establish a don't come point on any other number. The don't come bet wins if a seven is rolled before it's point, and loses if the don't come point is rolled before a seven.
The Place Bet
The place bet is made after a point has been established. You can bet on any of 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10 - except for the one which has been set to the point for the session. The bet is that the placed number will be rolled before a seven. Since some numbers are more likely to be hit than others, not all place bets are equal. The two which have a reasonably low house edge are placing the 6 and placing the 8. This is not to be confused with the Big 6/8 bet, which actually exists to stop people from placing the six and eight in favor of an identical bet which pays back less.