Understanding the 3% Rule

casino craps guideCraps is undoubtedly the most convivial and fast-paced game one could possibly engage in in any landbased gambling venue. The craps tables are also the easiest to find on the casino floor as basically the only thing one is required to do is to follow the shouts of the enthusiastic dice fans. Craps offers thrills and excitement aplenty, but is also considered the game with the worst built-in casino advantage ever. In order to turn a profit, players should become well acquainted with the types of bets, the corresponding house edge for each wager and how to incorporate it properly into one’s bet pattern.

Developing a suitable bet pattern is important in all casino games, but when it comes to craps, it is an absolute must. It enables players to minimize the losses they incur, but at the same time will allow them to collect more substantial profits while on a winning streak. Many different bet patterns exist, some are more suitable for aggressive players, others are intended to correspond to the needs of those who like to play it safe and place more conservative bets. At the end of the day, it all comes down to one’s individual preferences, temperament, bankroll size, and of course, to their expectations of the game as some players join the table only once in a while, because of its great entertainment value. All of these factors should be incorporated into a player’s bet pattern.

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The 3% Rule Explained

One important thing to take into account is that a player is not necessarily required to follow one and the same bet pattern at all times. It is possible, and also advisable, to switch between patterns for different craps sessions. It matters not which pattern you decide to go for, in all cases, it is recommended to stick predominantly to bet types which give the house a significantly smaller advantage.

There is an unwritten rule that dictates players should steer clear of placing bets with a built-in house advantage that exceeds 3%. Most bets in craps go hand in hand with a substantial house edge that surpasses 3%. Inexperienced players are often tempted and even encouraged by the stickman to place the so-called Proposition bets as these offer greater payouts. However, experts consider the Propositions the worst bets one could possibly go for as their house edge ranges between 11.11% and 16.67%, causing players to incur losses of $11.11 and $16.67% per each $100 bet. It certainly is not difficult to discern such bets violate the 3% Rule and should be excluded from one’s bet pattern altogether. According to the 3% Rule the closer the house edge for a given bet comes to 3%, the less frequently this wager should be incorporated into one’s bet pattern.

From this, it follows that craps players should stick predominantly to the Line bets like Pass, Don’t Pass and Come/Don’t Come as the built-in casino advantage for these is below 3%. It would be best to combine your Line bets with Free Odds as these will further decrease the house edge, causing it to drop nearly to 0%. Come and Don’t Come bets are recommended to be played in combination with double odds. Place bets on numbers 6 and 8 can be placed every now and then, though less frequently due to their higher edge. The same is valid for lay bets on numbers 4 and 10 and Field bets since their built-in house advantage exceeds 5%. The chart below represents the house edge for each bet type in craps as well as the bets’ recommended frequency of use during players’ gaming sessions.

House Edge Type of Bet Frequency of Use
0.00% Pass/Come Bets with Free Odds 100.00%
0.00% Don’t Pass/Don’t Come Bets with Free Odds 100.00%
1.41% Pass Line Bets 100.00%
1.41% Come Bets 100.00%
1.40% Don’t Pass Bets 100.00%
1.40% Don’t Come Bets 100.00%
1.52% Place Bets on 6 or 8 50.00%
2.44% Lay Bets on 4 or 10 25.00%
2.77% Field Bets (2 and 12 pay at 3 to 1) 20.00%
5.26% Field Bets (2 and 12 pay at 2 to 1) Never
4.00% Lay Bets on 6 and 8 Never
3.23% Lay Bets on 5 or 9 Never
6.67% Place Bets on 4 or 10 Never
4.00% Place Bets on 5 or 9 Never
4.76% Buy Bets on 4 or 10 Never
9.09% Big 6 and Big 8 Never
Proposition Bets
9.09% Hardways on 6 and 8 Never
11.11% Hardways on 4 and 10 Never
11.11% Any Craps Never
11.11% Yo-leven (when it pays at 15 to 1) Never
11.11% Three (when it pays at 15 to 1) Never
13.89% Two (when it pays at 30 to 1) Never
13.89% Twelve (when it pays at 30 to 1) Never
13.89% Hop Bet (when it pays at 30 to 1) Never
16.67% Hop Bet (when it pays at 29 to 1) Never
16.67% Any Seven Never

Buying numbers 4 and 10 is also an option. Originally, Place bets on 4 and 10 come with a built-in house advantage of 6.67%. However, it is possible to reduce it to 4.76% by paying the house a 5% commission, called a “vig”. This way if a given player’s bet on 4 or 10 wins, it will be paid out at “true” odds of 2 to 1, instead of the traditional 9 to 5. The casino, however, will collect the vig even if the player’s bet loses. Please note it is possible to take the bet down if it neither wins nor loses after several rolls of the dice, in which case the commission you were charged with upon buying the bet will be returned to you.

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