About this time every year craps players start thinking about craps tournaments and the best way to play them. What is the best approach to tournament play? The answer, of course, is like a lot of answers in this game. It all depends.
First let’s take a look at a typical craps tournament format. Most tournaments require entry fees ranging from $300 – $500 or more. For that entry fee the casinos usually provide you with a hotel room, all meals, a welcome reception and some sort of tournament gift.
In addition, all of the money received as entry fees is typically paid out to the winning players in the form of tournament cash prizes. That means a small local tournament can have a prize as high as $10,000, and a large casino mega-resort can offer prizes totaling $1 million or more.
Depending on how many players sign on for the tournament, there may be four or five tables running for three to four rounds. Generally, the top two players from each round advance to the next round, until the final table is filled and the competition begins for the big prize. In this type of tournament, every player who advances to the final table may receive some sort of cash prize, and the top two or three will finish in the big money.
Before you play, familiarize yourself with the rules. Rules differ from tournament to tournament, and if you break one of the rules, another tournament player may complain and request you be disqualified from play. Some of the more common rules require that you to have a pass or don’t pass bet on every play. There will be limits on bet sizes, and time limits on how long you have to place your bets. Most tournaments mandate that your chips must remain in full view so that everyone can see how much you have won or lost. And players are not permitted to leave the table during tournament play. The purpose of this last rule is to prevent two players on separate tables from collaborating by combining tournament chips on a single table.
Tournament play is a bit different than when you’re normal craps play. You are still playing against the house, but you are also playing against the other players at the table. Your objective is to end up with the most money at the end of the round. Each round consists of a specific number of rolls – or a specific length of time. Since you are competing against the other players, you should keep a sharp eye on the other players’ racks and betting strategies. A common strategy is to bet the opposite of the chip leader if you get behind. For example, if the chip leader is betting the Pass Line with Max odds, you would bet the Don’t Pass with Max odds. Should his wager lose and yours win, you close the ground between you twice as fast.
Most tournaments wins are decided on the last two or three tosses of the round. A common ploy some players use is to take down all of their action on the final toss and play it in the Come. If the seven shows – the player doubles his stake. If not, odds are the chips will “travel” to a box number. Since all chips are counted and totaled after the last toss, the only exposure the player has is to the 2, 3, or 12.
Another common strategy, particularly among players who are well out of the hunt, is to make a maximum bet on the two or twelve, or to attempt an all-in the field parlay. These “lightening strike” strategies can work – but it is rare that they do.
Tournaments are not for everyone. They’re basically marketing strategies the casinos use to get players into the casino. But they are fun to play, and if you find yourself in a position where you are going to have to pay for a hotel room anyway, it might be a fun way to reduce expenses. Who knows? You might even win the big one.