Knowledgeable gamblers and even most novice craps players know that the proposition box at the center of the craps game contains bad bets. Even so, the promise of high 30 for 1 and 15 for 1 payoffs advertised on the felt entices many players. On a hot craps game, the proposition box is usually as jammed up with bets as the pass line and place bets.
Despite the aggressive house advantage on all proposition bets, the fact remains that for many people they are fun to play. First-time players at the craps table are always curious about the proposition bets. The horn bet sounds so mysterious and people want to know just what the “hardway” is.
How to play proposition bets and grasping what they actually pay are not easy aspects of learning craps. Game procedures restrict players from accessing the proposition box, and players must have their bets set up through the dealers. A player generally communicates to the dealer on the stick position which bet he or she wants and then tosses the chips to the dealer. Players can also tell their dealer on the inside position that they want a proposition bet, and then that dealer will get it set up with the stick dealer.
The most popular proposition bets are the hardways and then the horn bet. Hardways refer to the four, six, eight, or ten rolling as a perfect pair. For example, a hard six is the roll of three and three as opposed to the roll of four and two. A hardway bet wins when the dice roll this perfect pair combination. The bet will lose when the number rolls as a non-pair or the seven rolls. Other rolls do not affect the hardway bets.
Hard six and hard eight pay 10 for 1 and hard four and hard ten pay 8 for 1. Note that the statement is 10 for 1 and not 10 to 1. This means that for the 10 units that you win, you give up 1 unit to the house. Typically, a winner with $1 on the hard six, for example, will be paid $9 and left up on the bet for $1. The concept of giving up the original bet for the payoff often bothers new players who are expecting to get another dollar.
During come out rolls, hardway bets are automatically shut off, meaning that they are not in action until a point number is marked. Players have the option of turning their hardway bets on during come out rolls.
Horn bets, unlike hardways, are one-roll bets. A one-roll bet will either win or lose on the next roll of the dice. Because of the one shot nature of one-roll bets, they mostly have the high 30 for 1 or 15 for 1 payoffs.
The horn bet combines the numbers two, three, eleven, and twelve into one bet that is a four way split. A $4 minimum is required on a horn bet in order to place $1 on each part of the horn. If, on the next roll, one of the horn numbers wins, then the portion of the bet on that number will be paid. For example, on a roll of twelve, the $1 on the twelve won 30 for 1, or $29. However, the other three parts of the horn lost, which means $3 must be subtracted from the payoff. The result is then that the player receives $26 and still has a $4 horn up for the next roll.
Players seem to pursue proposition bets simply for the thrill of hitting the long shot. Many people who are doing well with the friendlier bets on the pass or don’t pass can fritter away winnings in the proposition box by keeping all the hardways in action or always betting horns on the come out.
The experience of playing the proposition box ranges from fun to frustrating, but it is always expensive. Good gamblers resist the temptation.