The Free Odds Bet

by Michael Bluejay | Special for NextShooter.com

If there's one thing you learn from this site, the Boneman hopes it's that you shouldput as much of your craps money on the Free Odds bet as possible. Let'ssee what the Free Odds bet is, and why the Boneman is so insistent that you favorit over most of the other bets.

The House Edge

To understand why the Free Odds bet is so important you first have to understandthe house edge. The house edge is the casino's average profit on any bet.In craps, the house edge on the Pass Line bet is 1.41%. That means that for every$5 wager on the Pass Line, the casino will keep seven cents as profit on average.($5 x 1.41% = $0.07) This doesn't mean on a single wager the casino will keep $0.07and pay you back $4.93. The house edge is the mathematical average for thelong run. If you made $1,000,000 in Pass Line wagers, $5 at a time, by the end you'dprobably have lost around $14,100, or 1.41% of what you wagered.

Different bets carry a different house edge. The 1.41% for the Pass Line bet ispretty low for a casino game, and is one of the best bets in the casino. The houseedge on roulette is around 5% and slots are often 7-8% or more. Even in craps thereare sucker bets with a high house edge, such as Hardways (9-11%) and the Propositionbets (up to 17%). When you gamble it's important to seek out the bets with the lowesthouse edge, because you'll lose less money that way and have a greater chance ofwinning.

The Free Odds Bet

The Free Odds bet carries no house edge. The casino makes no profit on thisbet. This is the only bet you can make on a table game where the odds aren't againstyou. How can the casino make this bet available when they don't make any money onit? Simple: Most players aren't smart enough to make this bet. If all craps players made Free Odds bets and avoided the other bets, the casinowouldn't be able to offer craps!

How it works

Of course the Free Odds bet isn't totally free. You have to make a flat bet(Pass, Don't Pass, Come, or Don't Come) before you can make the Free Odds bet. Let'ssee how it works with a Pass Line bet. You make a Pass Line bet, and the shooterrolls a number to establish a point (4,5,6,8,9, or 10). Now you can make a FreeOdds bet, by putting your chip(s) below (due South) of your Pass Line bet. It'skind of like doubling down in blackjack. Now if the shooter rolls the point again,you not only win your Pass Line bet, you also win the Odds bet.

The reason there's no house edge on the Free Odds bet is that winning bets are paidat true odds. If there's a 2-to-1 chance of your winningthe bet, then a winning bet is also paid 2-to-1. The way the casino makes its profiton all other bets in the casino is by paying less than true odds.

The true odds varies according to the point, and so the payoff varies as well. Here'show much a winning Free Odds bet is paid depending on the point.

The PointPayoutExample
4 and 102 to 1a $5 wager is paid $10
5 and 93 to 2a $5 wager is paid $7*
6 and 86 to 5a $5 wager is paid $6
* Rounded DOWN from $7.50 on a Strip table layout. "Downtown" layout might pay actualratio of a full $7.50. Strip table layouts do not handle 50-cent pieces.

Multiple Odds

The amount you can bet on the Free Odds varies from casino to casino, and is postedon a sign on the table. It's always some multiple of the Pass Line bet. On a tablewith Double Odds you can bet twice as much on the Odds as on your Pass Line bet.(If you made a $5 bet on the Pass, you could bet $10 on the Odds.) Since the Oddsbet carries no house edge, it pays to seek out casinos that offer the maximum oddspossible. In Vegas you can get better odds downtown vs the strip; many downtowncasinos offer 10x Odds, or even better. The exception on the strip is the Casino Royale, which offers an amazing 100x Odds on craps. The Free Odds bethas the effect of diluting the edge of the flat bet you have to make before youcan make the Odds bet. Here's the overall house edge for the flat bet plus the maximumOdds bet.

House Advantage when you take the Odds
Table Odds
Taken
Pass LineDon't Pass
0x1.41%1.36%
1x0.848%0.682%
2x0.606%0.455%
Full Double Odds0.572%0.431%
3x0.471%0.341%
3-4-5X0.374%0.273%
5x0.326%0.227%
10x0.184%0.124%
20x0.099%0.065%
100x0.021%0.014%

With Full Double Odds means the player can take 2.5x odds on a point of 6 or 8,and 2x on the other points. 3-4-5X Odds means the player can take 3X on the 4 and10, 4X on the 5 and 9, and 5X on the 6 and 8. If the player takes the maximum oddsthen the payoff will conveniently be seven times the pass or come bet. (See ourseparate article about 3-4-5 odds

Laying Odds

The Free Odds bet works differently if you're betting the Don't Pass or Don't Comeinstead of the Pass or Come. With the Pass or Come you bet a smaller amount to wina bigger amount. On the Don't side it's the opposite: you lay a larger betin order to win a smaller bet. For example, on a point of 4, instead of betting$5 to win $10, you lay $10 to win $5. The bet is still paid at true odds and carriesno house edge, it's just made and paid in reverse. That's because once a point hasbeen made you're the favorite to win, since a 7 is more likely to be rolled thanthe point, so when you do win you're paid less.

When the Free Odds bet doesn't help

There's a subtlety of the Odds bet that's important to understand. Let's say youmade a $10 Pass Line bet, and a point has been made. Now you have the opportunityto make a Free Odds bet. However, if you make the Odds bet it won't increase yourchances of winning, and your expected loss will be the same whether you make theOdds bet or not: 1.41% of your $10 Pass Line bet. So if making the Free Odds betdoesn't increase your chances of winning, and doesn't decrease your expected loss,why would you make it?

To answer this question we have to back up a bit. The Free Odds bet is a good dealwhen you put money on it that you were going to bet anyway. If you wantedto bet about $10 per round, then you'll get a better deal by betting $2 on the PassLine and $10 on the Odds (on a 5x table), vs. betting the $10 on the Pass Line andtaking no odds. With no odds your expected loss is $10 x 1.41% = $0.14 per roll.But by putting $2 on the Pass Line and $10 on the Odds, your expected loss is only$12 x 0.326% = $0.04. Your expected loss is smaller, and you have a greater chanceof walking away a winner. So, for whatever amount you want to bet per round,get as much of it on the Free Odds as possible! This is the single most importantthing to know about playing craps.

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