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Introductory Strategy

The novice craps player-the intelligent beginner-should bet the pass line with full odds, and then go up on one or two come bets. This is the smart way to play. The casino edge is reduced markedly by betting in this manner.

Even with this conservative betting scheme, craps is an exceedingly volatile games. The reason for this has to do with the total bets potentially won or lost in relation to the appearance of that awful seven.

Let's say that you are up on three numbers (your pass line number and two come numbers). To come out ahead, you usually have to hit all three numbers before the seven shows. Even if this happens, you're usually only up a small amount.

If the seven hits before any of your numbers hit, you're wiped off the board. A few wipeouts and you can find yourself in a deep hole that will be hard to climb out of without an epic roll by a hot shooter.

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"I Declare!"
Betty declared both ways, but because her straight is beaten for high by Hal's full house, she loses everything, despite owning the best low. Who gets the rest of the pot is a matter of local interpretation.

In some games, the pot is split between Hal (the best remaining high, with a full house) and Lois (the best remaining low, with her 7-4). This method allows Lois to win half the pot even though she did not win the direction she declared for, an approach called "allowing players to back in." In other games, the entire pot goes to Hal, who won his direction and beat the both ways declarer for that half. Lance, whose 7-5 low is inferior to Lois's 7-4, gets no part of the pot in any interpretation.

The rules get even trickier when there is a tie in either direction (ties are much more common on the low side, but can happen either way). In some games, tying either way eliminates the two-way hand from contention. In other games, a tie earns the declarer a share of the pot.

The number of different permutations possible with ties and multiple both-ways declarers is truly astonishing, and is something better experienced than read. This is one reason why an absolute rule like "no backing in allowed" will sometimes make these complex situations easier to decide.

If you know before you play that a tie can cost you the entire pot, you'll declare both ways less often. If you don't know the rule before you play, you'll find out the hard way when the situation comes up. The zero, one, or two chip method also varies; some games use one, two, or three chips. Ask!

If you play in more than one private game and each uses a different method, it's easy to mistakenly use one game's method in the other game, thereby costing yourself a pot. Don't be ashamed to ask more than once a night.
Declaring can be a true art form. Suppose, for example, you are playing seven-stud high-low with a declare. Your hand is (4-5) Z-2-2-2 (7): Your four exposed cards are all deuces, so you are showing quads. Your opponent shows (?-?) K-K-K-Q (?).
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