How Much Money Should I Bet in Craps?

Craps money management follows the same principles that bankroll management in other casino games follows. Advice for craps players need to be modified, because rolling dice is different than other forms of gambling. A single player can place multiple bets on one roll. Sometimes, it makes sense to place additional bets. Most of all, many craps bets are for suckers. This article on craps money management covers the basics of protecting your bankroll, then gives specific strategy advice for bankroll management at the craps table.


Bankroll Management 101

The basics of bankroll management is to set a number of limits on your betting. These limits are conditional on the results of your session. In practical terms, this means setting a win limit and a loss limit. When you’re on a lucky streak, this assures you lock in your winnings. When you’re having an unlucky stretch, it keeps you from chasing losses due to adrenaline or emotions. Let’s discuss setting limits on your bets.

Setting Win Limits

A “win limit” is simply a goal you have in mind. Let’s say you’re betting with a $250 bankroll. A natural win limit in this situation would be $250 (in winnings). If you double your bankroll to $500, then you walk away from the table the instant you win that 250th dollar from the casino.

Most gamblers in that situation feel like they’re having a hot streak. The last thing on their mind is leaving the craps table. So, they keep playing until their luck turns. Once they have a few losses, they walk away from the table, but they’ve lost back some of their winnings. Some gamblers keep at it and eventually lose everything they won and then some. If that becomes a habit, it’s called problem gambling.

The idea behind a win limit is it’s a rigid goal. If the player wants to practice good craps money management, they walk away as soon as they hold $500 in theoretical chips (or whatever their limit is). There are no exceptions.


Setting Loss Limits

Setting a loss limit is a more important concept. This assures that each betting session has a maximum loss. Beyond a certain amount of losing, you leave the table. Loss limits assure that you don’t get into the realm of problem gambling, where you chase lost stakes with bigger and more dangerous bets.

The loss limit in craps is pivotal. Because craps has high payout, low expectation bets on the table, it lends itself to problem gamblers chasing bets. They can make hardway bets and other sucker bets, hoping to win back a lot of money at once. Most of the time, this only accelerates the burn through their bankroll. It causes a kind of death spiral for their gaming finances, as they get ever more desperate to break even.


Setting Bet Sizes

One important thing money management does is it forces players to consider bet sizes before playing. Setting rational betting stakes allow players to throttle their gaming to a certain extent. Let’s discuss an example.

If you have a $250 bankroll for a session, then you’ll want to set a bet size. $5 bets are a natural option. Assuming you make flat bets, this means you would have to make 50 straight losing bets before your entire bankroll is gone. That is unlikely to happen, but a person who makes 50 straight losing bets is highly likely to walk away from the table. (They might think the dice are loaded.) Only a problem gambler is going to say they’re “due” and keep playing.

My Suggestion for Your Bet Size

A bet needs to be large enough to keep things interesting for you, yet small enough that it’s sustainable. Picking a bet that is 1% to 3% of the bankroll is bet. Gamblers who like thrills sometimes bet 5% of their bankroll. Others bet 10%, but that brings a high likelihood that you burn through your bankroll in the first 15-20 rolls, if unlucky. Obviously, it would not be unrealistic to lose the entire bankroll in 10 rolls. In my mind, 2% of the bankroll is a good bet size.


What about Progressive Betting?

It is assumed above that players use flat betting. You’ll read a lot about progressive bets like the Martingale betting method. Proponents make a good case for progressive betting, but they’re wrong. It seems to work at first, but mathematical simulations of one-billion bets have shown that flat betting is better than Martingale bets. Progressive betting is unrealistic for most low-and-mid stakes gamblers, and the risk of ruin (losing all your bankroll) is higher with the Martingale technique.

A progressive bet is one which increases after a loss. If you lose a bet, then you double that bet in the Martingale scheme. This creates an exponential increase in your wager. If you have several unlucky rolls at once, you’re suddenly wagering for 32x, 64x, or 128x the original bets. That is unsustainable for most (if not all) gamblers. When instituting a craps money management scheme, stick to flat bets.