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Understanding Dice Odds

Last time I discussed the basics of playing craps. In order to play the game you obviously need dice. You also need an understanding of the dice and the odds and probabilities of rolling the numbers.

In the movies you will see the players picking up the dice and rolling them together in their hands before letting them fly down the table as they scream, "Baby needs a new pair of shoes!" or some other wild chant. This is fine in the movies but it is NOT allowed in the casino. When you are at the tables you are only allowed to handle the dice with one hand.

Dice are actually precision instruments manufactured to very strict specifications. They are inspected for any flaws such as nicks of chips before being put in to play. Rubbing them together or other rough handling can damage dice. If the dice are thrown off the table they have to be checked before being put back into play. The average life of a pair of dice is only about eight hours.

Let's take a look the dice.

Dice are cubes about three quarters of an inch square. One alone is called a die. Each die has spots called "pips" totaling a number from one to six on each side. If you add the corresponding sides you will get the number seven. The side with six pips will have one pip on the opposite side. Two and five are on corresponding sides as are the three and four. Since each die has six sides and the game is played with two dice, there are 36 (6 x 6) combinations that can be made giving totals of two through twelve.

Take a look at the Dice Chart

dice chart
.You will see that there is only one way to make the numbers two (1 and 1) and twelve (6 and 6). There are two ways to make the number three: (2 and 1) and (1and 2). If it helps you to understand the combinations, picture a blue and a red die. You could have number one on the red and two on the blue, or number two on the red and number one on the blue.
There are two ways to make the three and eleven.
There are three ways to make the four and ten.
There are four ways to make the five and nine.
There are five ways to make the six and eight.
There are six ways to make the seven.

By knowing how the numbers are made, you can calculate the odds of making any number before the seven is rolled. Since the number 7 can be rolled six ways, you divide the number six by the number of ways a number is rolled .

Number # ways to roll True Odds


2 to 1



3 to 2



6 to 5



3 to 2



2 to 1

Once you understand the odds and probabilities of the dice, you are on your way to mastering the game of craps.

Until next time, remember: "Luck comes and goes...Knowledge stays forever."

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