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After you learn the basics of craps and get some table experience under your belt, it would be wise to enter a craps tournament. Not only are these tournaments readily available, both online and in casinos, but they are usually free or relatively cheap to enter — especially considering your potential winnings. I have played in tournaments that cost a couple of hundred bucks to enter, and the payouts go up as the entry fees rise. There are many tournaments that are out of my league in terms of buy-in, but if your craps game is good and you have the money to drop, chances are your investment will be worth it.

Where to Play Online Craps Tourneys

Several casinos and online venues have weekly crap tourneys with no entry fee at all with perhaps a $25 or $50 buy in, the idea being that a low cost will put butts in the seats. Take advantage of these promotional tournaments — there’s good money to be made. Those craps tournaments that require a larger investment will almost always come with a valuable comp or perk. The one rather pricey tournament I participated in earned me two free nights at a nice hotel. Another craps player I know had his entire week of meals compensated, and cocktail parties or gift bags are common as well. Depending on how many people enter the tournament, the grand prize could be in the middle five figures — better than a week at the office, that’s for sure. In tournaments with payouts that high, generally the top two players from each round will advance to the next one, and there might be as many as ten prize winners at the end of the tournament.

Craps Tournaments Betting

Now that your mouth is watering for some serious money, let’s talk tournament details. When you’re playing in a tournament, you need to learn a new betting style — different from how you would bet in a standard game of craps. You are no longer playing against the house in tournament craps, you’re playing against each and every tournament contestant. You thought you were the only one smart enough to chase the grand prize? Your goal is to have the most money at the end of a certain number of rolls (the standard seems to be one hundred rolls) or a certain amount of time — here the standard is an hour. This means you need to stay alert. Coffee up and keep watch on the chip count on the racks of your fellow tournament players. This may seem like a lot of distractions, but hey, you’re a craps player, you can handle it. Bet awareness is also key. Sometimes the entire tournament floor can get into a slump. In this case, it becomes a loser’s game. The tournament player with the least amount of losses wins the tournament. In other words you can win by losing less than the other guys.

Craps Tournaments Rules

Although the basic rules of craps are the same during tournament play, as alluded to earlier the strategy you need to make use of is far different. It may seem impossible to keep an eye on the other players, but if you want to win this is a must.

If for example you have won $500 and your closest competitor has won $400, and he bets $90 on the six and eight, what will happen if a six or eight rolls? He’ll jump ahead, even if just barely, and beat you out. The game is constantly changing, but the changes are visible if you keep your eyes peeled. What to do in a situation like this? If a fellow tournament player is keeping pace with you, even if he’s a little behind, consider matching his bets exactly to at least stay even. Or what if you’re in second place with $200 and the number one player has $300? With the roles reversed, your strategy must also reverse. You’ve placed the six and eight for $90 apiece, and he matched you. Maybe you might bet hard ways, or place the five and nine, but the key is to do something different in terms of betting in order to overtake that no good front runner. Some people who are close to last place resort to bets not normally made – like betting the maximum on twos or twelves. In the last few rolls of the game, they realize it’s the only way they can win. Desperation rarely works — ask John McCain’s campaign staff — but it is better to fight hard into the night than to give up and hit the slot machines.

Craps Tournament Differences and Tournament Play

Tournaments are different — and different crap tournaments do require different strategies and end games. For instance, when there is a large pool of competition, you’ll almost certainly be playing in “rounds”. Each round is itself a miniature craps tournament. If you win the first round, then you advance to the next one, and so on. Before you play, familiarize yourself with the rules, because they are different for every tournament and sometimes are different for each round. As a gambler, regardless of what game you’re playing, this should be your method to begin with, but it needs to be said. For example, some casinos will require you to have a pass or don’t-pass bet on every play (think of this as a kind of craps “ante”) in addition to any other bets you might make. Others might not allow proposition bets over a certain amount of money. Still other tournaments or rounds might require a player’s chips to be fully in view so other tournament players can see what you’ve won or lost. This seems fair to me, and will really help you stick to the strategies already mentioned. These tournaments are my personal favorite. I’m all for more fairness in gambling, unless I’m on the losing end of course. As someone smarter than me once said “I want either less corruption or more opportunity to participate in it.”

In craps tournament play, it is also vital to understand when or if you can add money to your play. Hopefully, any unusual rules like this will be fully explained to tournament participants in some way — a flyer or even occasionally an orientation meeting that takes place just before the tournament. As usual, pay attention when you’re playing any casino game. There is a large amount of money exchanging hands, and these rules exist for a reason. Smaller tournaments will let you play with your own money like with standard casino play — you just purchase chips from the dealer — but once the prize money gets over $50 the casino will explain that the field must be “leveled”. The idea here is that all players must buy in before play starts and with a certain amount of money. For example — you may be required to purchase $1,000 before play starts and then play only with that money — you can not add more money to your stash later. When you hit zero, you are through, and you must leave the table. Sorry, Charlie, go get a cheap steak.

Players at Craps Tourneys

Two kinds of players exist at craps tourneys — conservative and aggressive. Your typical conservative players, like myself, play pass or come with maximum odds, while aggressive players bet hard ways and proposition bets pretty much every time. If these aggressive players continue, they tend to run out of money pretty quick. Perhaps I’m biased, but it seems that my conservative craps playing friends tend to go home with cash in their wallets. If you’re in the conservative play group, playing pass/come, you will need to come up with a way of breaking out of the pack. Otherwise you risk floundering in the middle of the field and not enjoying the benefits of big wins. You are going to have to make one or two aggressive moves to start doing something the other players are not doing or don’t seem willing to do. This is yet another reason for watching the tournament field’s play styles. Making a random and aggressive move will not just propel you towards victory, it will throw their attempts at pigeonholing YOUR play style off.

Okay, you’ve made it to the end, and you’re at the last few rolls of the round. Now is the time to turn Clark Kent into Superman. Find the nearest phone booth and walk out with an S on your chest. Sometimes this means betting your entire stash on one number. Often it means taking a risk that you would never take during early play. If you find yourself in this decision making spot (“Should I do it? I don’t normally . . .”) my advice would be to go for it. Craps tournaments are not for everyone, often because of this cut throat ending style, but they’re as fun to play as any tournament, especially the inexpensive or free ones. Unlike slot tournaments, crap tournaments involve looking at other player’s styles and maybe even learning a thing or two along the way. Be willing to take risks and you stand a good shot of walking away a big winner.


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