Should You Shoot the Dice in a Craps Tournament?

Tournament expert stanford wong on craps tournament strategy

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.

Tournaments differ from regular casino games like blackjack, Because the players compete against each other for the prize money, whether you win or lose in your bets against the casino doesn’t make much difference. What counts is whether you win more (or lose less) than the other patrons who are your opponents.

Unlike some table games where skill can be deployed to legally win the casino’s money, such as blackjack, which is watched like a hawk by employees in most casinos and winning patrons often rudely thrown out, casinos usually do not care who wins tournaments. Exceptions are when casino managers have a strong dislike of the particular player, or the player is simply winning so often that other players are complaining to management.

Craps is played with two dice that are rolled by a customer called the “shooter.” The shooter keeps the dice for a “hand” (explained later), after which the dice pass clockwise to the next shooter. Generally you have the right to pass the dice, meaning you do not have to be the shooter. In a regular crap game, there is no advantage or disadvantage associated with being the shooter.

In a tournament it generally does not matter whether you shoot the dice. An exception is that in some tournaments, on the last roll or last few rolls the bets must be placed in order, moving clockwise around the table starting with the bettor to the left of the shooter. It definitely is to your advantage to be among the last to bet on the final rolls. Tournaments with a bet-in-order rule generally do not allow a competitor to pass the dice. But if you are going to have to bet in order on the final roll or rolls, and if you have the option of passing the dice, then pass if you think it will give you a better shooting order for the end game.

Some tournaments are for a predetermined amount of time, some are for a predetermined number of rolls of the dice, and some are a mixture of the two. For tournaments based on time, you should like to shoot the dice because you can be quick and thus get in as many rolls per minute as possible. You do not do this just so the house advantage has a better chance of grinding down those of your opponents who are making high-house-percentage bets such as proposition bets; you also do it to cut down on the amount of time your opponents have for thinking.

In one tournament I had about $1400 in tournament chips and one of the people I had to stay ahead of had about $1200. I was the final shooter. My opponent kept saying “I think I should make a bet,” but every time the stick person gave me the dice, I threw them right away. My opponent never did make a bet.

Future installments of this series will explain the various bets that can be made at craps.

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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