Craps has a low house advantage when played well, but even a small advantage still gives the edge to the casino over the long run. Online craps tournaments give you the rare opportunity to play against other people rather than against the unbeatable house. Choose your bets wisely and you can very well walk away with a bundle of cash.
In online craps tournaments, you and the other players pay a buyin fee and then compete to earn the most chips over the course of play. The players with the most chips at the end earn real money prizes. Competition is fast and furious as you and the other entrants jockey for position and attempt to outmaneuver one another to emerge victorious.
One of the best parts of it all is that your entry fee is all you risk; your total exposure is known up front. You pay the fee to join and then compete with play-money chips. In a way, you get the best of both worlds. You get to compete for real money prizes but you’re not sitting there risking real money on every throw of the dice. The buyin fee is all you pay for an entire evening of fast-paced craps action.
Where to Play Craps Tournaments
For the sake of full disclosure, online craps tournaments are about as rare as unicorns. Online casino sites just haven’t gotten on board yet. You’ll find all the standard games at online craps sites, but nothing that involves multiple people competing for a prize.
I’ve searched the internet high and low for places to play craps tournaments online and have had no luck finding anything regular. If you run a search online, you’ll find no shortage of other websites that claim to have recommendations of the best places to play craps tourneys online. I’ve checked them all and it’s a bunch of bologna.
I believe those websites are simply recommending random casinos in the hopes that you sign up and forget about tournaments altogether. It’s either dishonest recommendations or outdated content because craps tournaments are very hard to find on the internet today.
You’ll have the best luck finding craps tournaments in Vegas or your nearest local casino. Real world casinos sometimes host special events to bring new players to the game or to reward loyal players. Entry fees range from absolutely free to several thousand dollars. Prize pools vary just as much, ranging from a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands of dollars.
The little bit of good news I can offer is that you can still sharpen your skills online in case you do find a craps tournament somewhere. One of the key strategies in competitive play is to understand every possible wager, its odds of hitting and the payout if successful. Sharpening up your skills in regular craps will give you a major advantage on tournament day.
How Craps Tournaments Work
Craps tournaments operate in a straightforward manner. Each entrant pays a buyin fee and receives a set number of play-money chips. Players are then sent to tables to play craps like they normally would. Depending on how many people are involved in the tournament, multiple tables may be used.
Some tournaments may run for a predetermined length of time (such as 1 hour) or after a number of rounds (such as going through 25 or 50 throwers). Your goal in the tournament is to earn as many chips as possible.
Tournaments can progress in one of two ways. In one format, the game simply continues until the time runs out or all rounds are played. Some tournaments are formatted as elimination events. In these, the play stops in intervals and the top few players at each table advance to the next round while the other people are eliminated.
At the conclusion of the tournament, the players with the most chips are awarded real money payouts. Top-heavy prize structures award a large payout to first place, a smaller payout to second place and so on down. The higher you finish in the tournament, the bigger your payout.
Know the Bets
Most importantly, you need to understand how every bet in craps works. Your betting strategy in a tournament relies on you knowing the odds of various bets winning and how much they pay. You need to know not only which bets are best for your particular situation, but also what your opponents are doing and the possible outcomes of their actions.
For example, if you’re the chip leader and you see the guy in second place placing lots of prop bets on 2 and 12, you need to know that he’s taking high risk wagers that pay 30 to 1 if successful. Your knowledge of these bets tells you that this guy is throwing everything he has at hitting it big and taking the lead. This is why it’s so important that you know how every bet works.
React to Your Opponents
Pay attention to your opponents and be ready to adjust your strategy based on what they are doing. Let’s step back and take a look at that same example outlined above. You have the chip lead and second place is throwing lots of high risk wagers in the hopes of playing a late game of catchup.
Instead of ignoring him and playing your own game, you should consider what he’s doing and set up a contingency plan. If you have the chips to spare, you can always cover his bets by placing the exact same bets with your money. This effectively ties your fate to his and makes it impossible for him to catch up.
If he hits one of those longshot payouts, you do too. You both win a bunch of chips and you keep your lead. Likewise, you both lose chips at the same rate when those longshot wagers are unsuccessful. Just remember to keep the rest of the table in mind. You’ll have to balance maintaining your lead over the 2nd place guy with keeping your lead over the other players.
You Have to Be Different to Win
You cannot play the same way in a craps tournament as you normally do in cash games and expect to win. Craps tournaments require a different strategy and a greater willingness to make odd plays. If the other players at the table are making all the standard bets you like to make, you’ve got to do something different to make any progress relative to the competition.
You’re never going to catch up to the chip leader or increase your lead if you simply follow the table and do what everyone else is doing. There will be times when you need to take calculated risks and forge your own path.
If you’re sitting in second place and you see the chip leader matching your bets, you know he’s just making sure that he keeps his lead over you. You’re going to have to bust out something different (and probably risky) in order to have a chance of catching up. Otherwise, you and the chip leader will simply win and lose as a pair with nobody advancing position.
Know When to Get Aggressive
Craps tournaments do not favor timid players. If you find yourself in bad position approaching the end of an elimination round, it’s time to put it all on the line. Don’t be afraid to put all your chips on the table and bust out. Chips left sitting in your rack aren’t going to do any good if you’re on the verge of being knocked out.
It is perfectly acceptable to begin with a conservative approach but eventually you’ll need to do something unique and aggressive to break away from the pack. So, keep your eyes open for the opportunity to make your move. You’re never going to win a tournament without taking some risk.
Be prepared for the other players to get aggressive as well. Everyone wants to win, so you can expect to see big moves from lots of people near the end of the round/tournament. Get too comfortable near the end and you could very well be taken by surprise when 4 players suddenly throw it all on the line and one or two of them hit it big.
Understand the Tournament Rules
The tournament structure should always play a role in your strategy. Read through the rules before the tournament and pay special attention to which bets are allowed, how the tournament ends, the payout structure and how elimination rounds are handled.
For example, consider the end of the tournament. Does it stop after exactly X number of throws or when the last shooter sevens out? If it’s the former, you can plan your last few bets in advance and know when it’s time to get aggressive. If it’s the latter, you’ll need to prepare yourself for the possibility of the throwing sevening out and ending the tournament before you’re ready.
Consider this: you’re in bad shape near the end of the tournament and know you’ll need to make some major aggressive plays to have a chance at winning. If the tournament ends after X throws or X hours, you know exactly how much time you have left and can plan accordingly. If the tournament ends after the last shooter goes out, you better make your aggressive moves sooner because he could very well go out sooner than expected.