This question has a simple answer. The don’t pass bet has a lower house advantage than the pass bet. If you’re comparing craps wagers by how likely they are to pay off, don’t pass bets are technically better than pass line bets.
Look at the house edge on various bets in craps. Poke around on that site long enough and you’ll see that the house edge on pass line bets is around 1.41%, while don’t pass bets give the casino a 1.36% edge.
Pass is the fundamental wager in the game of craps. Bettors who place a Pass bet are hoping that the shooter will roll a 7 or 11 on the come out roll. Otherwise, if the shooter rolls a 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10, a point is established and play continues. Once that point is set, pass bettors are hoping that number will appear again before a 7. The worst possible result for pass bettors is a 2, 3, or 12 – when this number appears on the come out roll, everyone who bets with the shooter is a loser.
Don’t pass bets are the opposite of pass bets. Don’t pass bettors are hoping the shooter rolls a 2, 3, or 12 on the come-out roll. If that doesn’t happen, don’t pass bettors are hoping that a 7 appears before the established point.
Understand that both of these wagers pay even money. Since they pay the same, but one has better odds than the other, you must be thinking: why do people place pass line bets at all?
Three important twists to the way the game is played explain why.
Spend any time reading up on craps and you’ll come across these phrases – “right bettors” and “wrong bettors.” Understand that don’t pass bets are literally the opposite of pass line bets. Betting on the pass line means betting WITH the shooter, while laying don’t pass bets means betting AGAINST the shooter.
Gamblers who bet with the shooter are called “right” bettors, while those lay wagers against the shooter are called “wrong” bettors. Believe it or not, a lot of people prefer to bet with the shooter (even at a slight disadvantage) than bet on the wrong side.
A don’t pass bet is a bet that the shooter will “seven out” before the point number reappears. Peer pressure and gambling tradition imply that you’d be better off betting with the shooter. It’s a stroke of genius on the part of casinos, because they’re gently pressuring customers to take less-advantageous bets.
Another reason commonly cited in discussions about pass vs. don’t pass bets – the idea that people don’t like “betting to lose.” What’s that mean?
Imagine the game of craps if everybody switched over to better don’t pass. The dice would be switching hands back and forth – losing would be the same as winning used to be. Wrong bettors are ignoring the appeal of the hot shooter, which is by far one of the most exhilarating things you can see on the casino floor. Once a shooter “gets hot,” customers start increasing their bets, the money starts flowing, and a crowd forms. People who wager on the don’t pass line are cut out of that excitement altogether. If “don’t pass” became the new “pass,” the game itself would change fundamentally.
Let’s be honest – the difference in edge between don’t pass and pass is very small. Craps appeals to a certain kind of bettor, one that is not likely to get all that excited about an additional 0.5% advantage. Sports bettors and blackjack players? Absolutely. Craps players? They’re not really known for their ability to slow down and calculate.
The fact that the difference in the casino’s advantage is so low is no doubt another factor in the popularity of the pass line. Let’s say you’re betting $5 per round and seeing 100 outcomes an hour. If you place only pass line bets, your expected losses are around $7 an hour. If you place only don’t pass bets, your expected losses are $6.80 an hour. To most people, betting with the shooter is totally worth that extra $0.20 an hour, just to protect them from the scorn of the rest of the table.
Those are all pretty powerful reasons to avoid don’t pass bets. But the fact remains – most people simply don’t want to bet against the shooter.
And now for a little extra wisdom – there’s nothing at all wrong with betting against the shooter. No casino employee will tell you that you can’t bet the “wrong way.” No dealer will kick you out of the game, and no other players are allowed to do anything to you just because you’re betting against them. What they can do is make your life a bit miserable – give you the cold shoulder, etc.
This is why you’ll often see wrong bettors sitting off to themselves away from the crowd betting with the shooter. All they’re really doing is taking the better bet – the one with the better chances of winning. But the culture of the game is such that a “wrong” bettor is likely to get a little guff from the rest of the table.