Craps: Early and Middle Game


Casino games tournaments are fun, and they can be profitable too. In upcoming articles, we will continue to publish a series of excerpts from Stanford Wong’s book, Casino Tournament Strategy.

This article explains your first bet and all subsequent bets up until the final ten minutes or ten rolls of the dice. It explains when to make a move to become BR*, how to make a move to become BR*, and how to attempt to stay BR*.

BR* means any bankroll position that advances to the next round, and BRN means the minimum bankroll position that advances to the next round. For example, if the top three winners per table advance to the next round, then BRN means BR3, and BR* means BR1, BR2, or BR3.

First Bet

Initially you want to conserve your chips. There is a chance that preserving your starting bankroll will allow you to advance to the next round. This is particularly true if several people from your table will be advancing to the next round. If six advance from your table, for example, play very conservatively and start out betting the minimum required.

In craps, every bet you make has a negative expectation except for odds, which has a zero expectation. You are at a disadvantage no matter what bet you make.

However, this is not the reason you start out with a minimum bet; you start out with a minimum bet because of all the bets that might enable you to advance to the next round, a minimum bet give you the best combination of likelihood of advancing if you win and likelihood of advancing if you lose.

Generally you start with a minimum bet on the pass or don’t pass. Which of those you bet does not matter.

Subsequent Bets

Early on you do not know who your most serious opponents will turn out to be. All of your opponents have large enough bankrolls to be threats to you, so you have to play against all of them. Try to monitor your bankroll position continuously. That is, try to always have a good idea of whether you are BR1, BR2, etc. And always keep in mind how many people are going to advance to the next round. Keep track of which players have the largest bankrolls and notice what bets they make.

If You Are BR* in the Early Going

The important thing is to give yourself a chance to stay BR*. You may not be able to guarantee that you will still be BR* after the dice roll, but at least you want there to be some rolls that would keep you in the BR* spot. Generally most of your opponents bet small in the early going. When that happens, stick with minimum bets.

Sometimes, however, most of your opponents make bets larger than the minimum, and they all bet “right.” They make come bets and place bets and take odds. When that happens you should make small place bets and take odds on your pass-line bet. You should generally avoid come bets because of their lack of flexibility. If the bankrolls of your opponents drift upward, your bankroll will drift up too, but not as much. If your opponents lose, you do not mind losing as long as you lose less than they do.

While it is best to make minimum bets as BR* in the early going, if you want to make bets larger than the minimum or make bets in addition to the minimum required, go ahead but keep the bets small and try to bet the same way (i.e. right or wrong) as your most serious opponents are betting.

This article is part of a series, to be continued…

Excerpted with permission from Casino Tournament Strategy by Stanford Wong, edited for this format.


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