Learn to Play Casino Craps: the Place Bet
Be smart, play smart, learn how to play casino craps the right way!
A Place bet is a “standing” bet, meaning the bet stays working, or standing, until it wins or loses, or until you remove it. A Place bet can be made on any of the point numbers: 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, and 10. Like the Pass Line bet, a Place bet works against the number 7. After making a Place bet, the only numbers that matter are the Place number and 7; all other numbers are meaningless. After making a Place bet, each subsequent roll can produce one of three outcomes: 1) a 7 shows and your Place bet loses, 2) the Place number shows and your Place bet wins, or 3) any other number shows and nothing happens to your Place bet (i.e., all others number have no affect on your Place bet).
Place bets don’t pay off according to true odds. Instead, the house gets its advantage by paying them off at less than true odds (i.e., they stick it to the player by not paying their fair share when the player wins).
The Place odds aren’t quite as good as true odds. The house sticks it to the player to make money by paying less than true odds. For a winning $5 bet on the 4 or 10, the Place odds pay only $9, but the true odds say we should be paid $10. For a winning $10 bet on the 5 or 9, the Place odds pay only $14, but the true odds say we should be paid $15. And for a winning $30 bet on the 6 or 8, the Place odds pay only $35, but the true odds say we should be paid $36.
You might think, “How much do I put down to make a Place bet?” As always, the bet amount depends on the odds. The Place odds for the 4 and 10 are 9:5, and the Place odds for the 5 and 9 are 7:5. Therefore, Place bets for the 4, 5, 9, and 10 should be in multiples of $5. For example, a winning $10 Place bet on the 4 gets you $18. A winning $15 Place bet on the 9 gets you $21. Don’t let the math scare you! Since these bets are in multiples of $5, simply divide your bet by 5 and then multiply by the winning odds to determine your winning amount. So, for your $10 Place bet on the 4 (which has Place odds of 9:5), $10 divided by 5 = $2, and $2 x 9 = $18. For your $15 Place bet on the 9 (which has Place odds of 7:5), $15 divided by 5 = $3, and $3 x 7 = $21.
The Place odds for the 6 and 8 are 7:6, which means the bet should be in multiples of $6. For example, a winning $12 Place bet on the 6 gets you $14. A winning $30 Place bet on the 8 gets you $35. Do the math. For your $30 Place bet on the 8 (which has Place odds of 7:6), $30 divided by 6 = $5, and $5 x 7 = $35.
Know the difference between Place odds and true odds. Learn the difference so you don’t have to think about it. You don’t want to look like a newbie fumbling around with how much to put down for each Place number. (James Bond never asked the dealer, “Um, excuse me, how much is the six?”) However, if you have trouble remembering the Place odds the first time you play, don’t be afraid to ask the dealer how much to drop. It’ll be as easy as pie after 15 minutes at the table.
If you’re like me, you’ll search out and play a table with a $3 minimum bet instead of the typical $5 or $10 minimum. Suppose you find a $3 table (a few are still left in the middle of the Vegas Strip). Since the minimum bet is only $3, you can make $3 Place bets, but you don’t get the full Place odds. The payoff odds for a $3 Place bet on the 6 or 8 are 1:1, or even money. For the 5 or 9, it’s 4:3 (i.e., your $3 bet wins $4). For the 4 or 10, it’s 5:3 (i.e., your $3 bet wins $5).
For a $3 Place bet, you get a little less than full Place odds because the lowest chip denomination at the craps table that casinos allow is generally $1, so they can’t pay you a fraction of a dollar (i.e., cents). For example, suppose you make a $3 Place bet on the 5. The full Place odds are 7:5, but the reduced payoff odds for a $3 bet are only 4:3. Why? Because it gives the casino another excuse to stick it to the player! The roulette table has chips for 25 cents or 50 cents, so why can’t the craps table have chip denominations less than $1? That’s right. They stick it to you again! The full Place odds are 7:5, which means for a $3 Place bet on the 5, we divide $3 by 5 = 60 cents, and then multiply 60 cents by 7 = $4.20. So, for a $3 Place bet on the 5 or 9 with full Place odds of 7:5, we expect to be paid $4.20 when we win. The craps table doesn’t have 20-cent chips, so the casino rounds down to $4.
Let’s look at a $3 Place bet on the 4 or 10. The full Place odds are 9:5, which means we divide $3 by 5 = 60 cents, and then multiply 60 cents by 9 = $5.40. So, for a $3 Place bet on the 4 or 10 with full Place odds of 9:5, we expect to win $5.40, but the casino rounds down to $5. (Notice how the casino rounds down instead of up.) The player isn’t giving up much by making $3 Place bets, so if you have a limited bankroll, these bets are fun and give you more action than just Pass Line bets. The point is, be aware that you get a little less than full Place odds and increase the house advantage when you make $3 Place bets.
Full Place odds aren’t as good as true odds. That’s how the house maintains its advantage. Remember, the house is in business to make money, not to gamble. Over time, the house wins because when you lose, you pay the true odds; but when you win, the house pays you less than true odds. So, by paying less than their fair share when you win, the house can’t help but come out a winner over the long haul. Let’s look closer at how the house sticks it to the player.
Let’s look at the number 4. The true odds for making a 4 compared to a 7 are 1:2 (i.e., three ways to make a 4 compared to six ways to make a 7, which is 3:6, which reduces down to 1:2). Therefore, since the number 7 is twice as easy to make as a 4, we expect to get paid twice as much as our bet when we win. For example, if we bet $5 on the 4 to hit before the 7, we expect to get $10 when we win (i.e., $5 x 2 = $10). However, for a Place bet on the 4, the payoff odds are only 9:5. This is close to 2:1, but not quite. Therefore, if we make a $5 Place bet on the 4 and win, the house pays us only $9. When the house loses, they don’t pay the true odds; they pay only $9 instead of $10 and keep that extra dollar. You might think, “For my $5 bet, I win $9, so I don’t care if they screw me out of that extra $1. It’s only a buck.” Okay, but think of it this way. That’s only one Place bet made by one player during one game. Imagine keeping that extra dollar when other people at the table make that same bet, multiplied by the number of tables in action, multiplied by the number of hours in a day, multiplied by the number of days in a month, and so on. It’s easy to see how the house rakes in the money over the long haul.
You can make or remove Place bets at any time during a game. You can also make them while the puck is OFF (before a new come-out roll), but typically, dealers prefer that you wait until a point is established and then make your Place bets. Occasionally, you see a player try to make a Place bet while the puck is OFF by asking, “Can you Place the six for me now, please, so I don’t forget after the come-out?” The dealer usually obliges (as he should; after all, you’re the customer), but sometimes a dealer in a bad mood will ask the player to wait until a point is established.
Dealers who ask you to wait to make a Place bet until after a point is established do so because they’re lazy. Suppose you Place the 6 before the come-out and the dealer moves your chip into the 6 point box. The shooter then rolls a 6 for the point. The dealer moves the ON puck into the 6 point box, and then has to ask, “Sir, what do you want to do with your six?” Since your Pass Line bet covers the 6 (because 6 is now the point), you likely don’t want it covered again by your Place bet. The dealer then has to move your Place 6 to whatever other number you want, or return it to you if you decide to take it down. You think, “Gee, wow, that sure is a lot of extra work for the dealer.” You’re right, it’s no effort at all, but it’s amazing how many dealers–even good ones–don’t like moving your Place bets around because you couldn’t wait until after the point was established to make them.
You can make as many Place bets as you want, up to a maximum of six (i.e., the 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, and 10), including the point. Yes, you can Place the point. For example, suppose you walk up to a table and see an ON puck in the 6 point box (i.e., a game is in progress and the shooter’s point is 6). Suppose you love the number 6 and you want immediate action, but you don’t want to make a Put bet so you decide to Place the shooter’s point. To do this, place your chips centered directly on the bottom line of the Pass Line (i.e., the line that separates the Pass Line from the apron). As long as you center your chips on that line, the dealer knows it’s a Place bet on the shooter’s point instead of Put bet in the Pass Line. If you don’t want to make your Place bet this way, simply drop your chips in the Come box and tell the dealer, “Place the point, please.” The dealer then moves your chips to the point box.
The dealer positions all Place bets (except when you Place the shooter’s point yourself), so you have to put your chips on the table and tell the dealer what you want. Then, the dealer puts them in the proper position in the point box for the number you want to Place. To an untrained eye, players’ chips appear to be scattered all over the point boxes. To the contrary, it’s well organized. Each player position has a corresponding chip position for each point box. The same is true for Lay bets, Come bets, and Don’t Come bets. For all bets in and around the point boxes, players’ chip locations correspond to their positions at the table.
Now you know! Remember, learn how to play casino craps the right way.