I. Introduction: "coming out" & the number 7

There are 2 ways to play the PASS LINE, 2 "modes of play" and 2 ways to win—one for each mode of play. We'll begin with what matters most, HOW TO WIN:

  1. Roll a 7 or 11 on the "come out" roll or
  2. Establish a point (4, 5, 6, 8, 9 or 10) and roll that number again before a seven.

7 is a winner on the come out roll OR the only "bad number" if a point has been established. Understanding this dual nature of seven is essential. So how do players know which mode of play the game is in and wether seven is a winner or a loser? The answer is a small round gaming device called a "puck" because of its likeness to a hockey puck. This puck tells the players and the "eye in the sky" which mode of play the game is in. Think of the come out roll as an introduction or pregame show with the goal of establishing a point. When the puck says "off" we're coming out and seven is a winner. When the puck says "on" we have a point, that point is the number its sitting on, that number is a winner for pass line wagers, and seven is the only "bad number" (don't say it or even think it).

II. Taking Odds: Best bet in the casino!

One advantage of craps is being paid odds, i.e. risking less to win more. Players betting the PASS LINE are encouraged to "take odds" or "back-up" their PASS LINE wager because it pays well. By well I mean the PASS LINE odds wagered earn a "true odds" payout based on the probability of success. Moreover, to establish a point and win is an opportunity lost without betting odds.

III. Playing the PASS LINE: Two methods

1) Riding with the shooter:

If you are the shooter, or choose to bet with the shooter, place a bet on the PASS LINE. The first roll is the "come out" roll:

  • 7 or 11 - you win!
  • 2, 3 or 12 craps - you lose.
  • 4, 5, 6, 8, 9 or 10 - Point established, game on.

Once this point is established, 7 becomes the only bad number--everyone on the PASS LINE loses if it rolls and the game is over. "Yo 11", a winner on the come out roll, is now irrelevant. 2, 3, and 12 craps are also irrelevant. The shooter must roll the number he or she established a point with again to win. If successfull, everyone on the PASS LINE wins and we start over with the same shooter. Betting the pass line as described above is optional, even for the shooter.

2) Placing or Buying the Point:

After the shooter establishes a point, place your wager directly on the outer rim of the pass line. If the point is 6 or 8 your wager must be in increments of 6. Ask your dealer if unsure of where to place the chips or how much, saying, "I want to place the point." He or she will understand and help, thats' their job.

On a point of 4 or 10 one can "buy" the point for a "vig." The true odds are what this vig actually pays for, usually $1 for every $20 bet. On the 4 and 10 you win 2-to-1(true odds) rather than 9-to-5(place bet odds). A $20 buy pays $40 minus the $1 vig =$39 versus $36 for the place bet. Technically one can buy the 5 and 9 or even the 6 & 8 depending on the casino's policy. For a buy on the 5 or 9 to be worth more than one extra dollar the bet must be for at least $50 Buying the point is appropriate when you wish to bet $20 or more on a point of 4 or 10. The following advantages apply to placing or buying the point:

  • Flexibility - The PASS LINE is the only "contract bet" in craps. Wether betting heavily or the table minimum, that wager is locked in once the dice are in the air. Placing the point allows more freedom in this respect because you can take it back or decrease your wager.
  • Efficiency - The odds wager behind the PASS LINE is the only true odds bet in the casino. However, the "flat bet" on the PASS LINE pays even money thus lowering the return on the combined investment. Unless betting in excess of $50 in odds at a casino offering 10X odds or better, the "place bet odds" are actually better.

One disadvantage of waiting for a point to be established before playing the PASS LINE is missing out on winner sevens and elevens on the come out roll, and there are can be several. However, you also miss out on the craps. Though a player actually has an advantage over the house on the PASS LINE's come out roll, this advantage goes away once a point is established. Moreover, these winners only pay even money versus odds.