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Craps Tournaments…Seize the Lead To Seize the Gold Part Four



If you’ve read the first three chapters of this series, you know that I have a strong win-philosophy

predisposition of…


Seizing the Chip-Lead in Order to Seize the Gold

To my mind, the first five rolls of a tournament session are just as critical to your success as the final five rolls.

While other players are still settling in during the first five or ten or fifteen rolls, I like to double, triple or even

quadruple my bankroll during that acclimation phase; so this chapter is all about how to leap into a commanding

chip-count lead, as well as how to catch-up to a commanding chip-count leader if you are behind. The three

craps tournament betting-methods we are discussing today fall into the high-risk, high-return “proportional bankroll”

type of gambit. That is, you divide your starting or remaining bankroll by a given number, let’s say ten (10), and

then make that number of subsequent equally-sized bets of a particular type.


Let’s jump right in and I’ll show you what I mean…


The Proportional-Bankroll Horn-Bet  


Divide your tournament-bankroll into ten (10) equal-sized units if you are “aggressive play” minded, or twenty (20)

equal-sized units for a more conservative approach (if there is such a word in the tournament-winning context).


Ø       Wager 1/10th of your bankroll on the Horn.


Ø       If it loses, bet another 1/10th and so on for nine more dice rolls.


Ø       If your Horn-wager wins at any given point, then add the original Horn-bet plus your newly won payoff to

      your remaining bankroll, and then divide the whole thing by ten…and start the whole proportional-bankroll

      Horn-bet process over again.


I have seen a number of sessions successfully played using this method…in fact I once lost to a player who used

this method during the entire final round of an invitational tournament at Bally’s. In some cases, this approach will

vault you far past most PL w/Odds and Place-bet competitors; however if there is a drought of Horn-numbers, then

this same method will obviously put you far, far behind everyone else. Unlike most other players who eventually try

it out of desperation during the last five rolls of a session; I don’t wait until I am behind everyone else before I use

this proportional Horn-bet gambit.  Instead, it can be used during the earliest rolls of the session to vault you far

past your competitors, or used in mid-session to help you catch up to and pass the chip-lead herd.


The Philosophy of Coming From Behind
Let’s look at this in the simplest of terms:
Ø       My tournament-winning philosophy holds that you should avoid ending a session with any chips left over 
      if they are too few to advance to the next round. 
Ø       That is, your session-ending bankroll should be large enough to have a chance to advance to the next round,
      or you should bust out trying…avoiding the middle-ground between those two extremes.
Ø       In other words, in the late stages of a session, if it doesn’t look like you have enough chips to advance to 
      the next round, then you should use every last chip in an effort to get there, no matter how slim the chances.
Ø       For example, let’s say that there’s only three rolls left in the session and you have $1000 in chips but the 
      chip-lead herd (the ones who will advance to the next round) has $5000 or more. In this situation you’ll want 
      to bet your entire $1000 remaining bankroll on the very next roll even though there will still be two rolls left after
      that.  Since you need to catch up quickly, you’ll probably want to bet that full amount on a wager that has a 
      high decision-rate such as the Field. That way, you will have an opportunity to parlay the entire amount 
      three more times (table-limits permitting) if the Field-numbers continue to roll. However, you have to understand
      that most other players will also be trying the same desperation moves too.
Ø       The point is; if you are far behind the chip-lead, you have to be prepared to spend every last chip on high 
      hit-frequency bets in order to parlay your winnings into a session-advancing quantity.
Ø       Your only other choice at this last-few-rolls point is to make a couple of final-stand desperation wagers on a 
      high-paying but low hit-frequency Prop-bet.  Again though, most other players will be attempting the same 
      frantic-but-improbable ploy, and it is usually too late to redeem your pot-of-gold aspirations or change your 
      tournament-ending destiny.



A Note About Prop-Bet Max-Limits


When you are competing in a craps tournament, you have to be mindful of the maximum-allowable Prop-bet limits

(as well as the max-bets on Place-bets as well).  They usually are:



Type of Wager

Maximum Bet

Pass or Don’t Pass



typically 5x, 10x or 20x

Place-bets or Buy-bets



$1000 or $2000


$500 each

Ace-Deuce or Eleven


Aces or Twelve


Any Craps


Any Seven




While using the above-noted Proportional-Bankroll Horn-Bet gambit, it isn’t unusual to max-out on your Prop-bets extremely quickly.  When that happens, it gives you a chance to extend the number of rolls over which you can use this betting-approach.  For example, if the max-bet on the wagers you are planning to make is $200, but you have $2400 in remaining chips, then you can give this method twelve shots at success instead of the original ten.  In addition, it makes it extremely difficult for others to catch up to you by maxing-out their bets on those same props because you are making the same wagers at the same time as they are; so equal chip-count ground is either won or lost.


As a side-note, when you call out a Horn-bet or a World-bet to the stickman, most tournament rules stipulate that your wagers have to be set up as individual straight-up bets on their respective numbers, such as 2, 3, 11, and 12 for the Horn, and 2, 3, 11, 12, and 7 for the World (whirl) bet.  That tends to avoid confusion as to who belongs to which bet, especially during the final couple of desperation rolls when there may be more than a dozen individual bets in each of the prop-boxes.


The Proportional-Bankroll Field Parlay


Divide your starting or remaining bankroll into five (5) equal-sized units for “aggressive” play or ten (10) units for “conservative” play.


Remember, tournament chips are not real money and these methods are NOT designed for real-world, real-money play.  Rather, they are designed to win craps tournaments.  As such, they carry a high flame-out risk, so there is a significant chance that you will bankrupt your tournament bankroll before you get to proclaim yourself as king of the session.  On the other hand, the methods we are discussing today can vault you far into the chip-lead very quickly, as well as helping you catch up to a chip-leader even if you are far behind.


This method is as simple as the proportional-bankroll Horn-bet that we just discussed:


Ø       Wager 1/5th of your bankroll on the Field.


Ø       If it loses, bet another 1/5th and so on for four more dice rolls. If your wager wins at any given point, then you have a couple of options.


Ø       You can add your Field-bet and the payoff you just collected to your bankroll, and again divide the whole thing by five…and start the whole process over again; or,


Ø       You can parlay the entire Field-bet and its winnings for one more hoped-for Field-bet win; or,


Ø       You can increase your Field-bet by 50% (with one-half of your fresh payout), and hope for another hit.


Your decision, as always should be predicated on where you stand in the chip-count (relative to the chip-leader or the leading pack of near-leaders), as well as where the roll-count stands in relation to the duration of the session.


For example, if you are way behind the chip-lead with only three rolls to go; then a full Parlay is obviously called for.  However, if you are slightly ahead and it is only the second or third roll into the session, then a 50% press may be the way to go.


Winning craps tournaments is a thinking-man’s pursuit.


You have to put some thought INTO the winning process in order to get the pot of gold OUT of the tourney.


If you aren’t prepared to do all of those quick and simple chip-count calculations before, during and after pretty much every roll; then chances are you will have to rely on plain old dumb luck just like most other contestants.


If you want to increase your chances of winning the top place money, then you have to think and strategize in ways that will actually make it happen.



The Proportional-Bankroll Flat Don’t-Pass Wager


Again, this approach is very similar to the two previous methods.


Ø       Divide your bankroll into five (5) equal-sized units for aggressive play or ten (10) units for conservative play, although frankly, a one-tenth approach in a tournament may be WAYYYY too conservative for you to accomplish anything of note or advancement.


Ø       Wager 1/5th of your bankroll on the Don’t Pass line with NO ODDS.


Ø       If it loses, bet another 1/5th and so on for four more dice hands.


Ø       If your wager wins at any given point, then add your Don’t Pass wager and its just-won payoff to your bankroll, and again divide the whole thing by five…and start the whole process over again.


Ø       If a Come-Out 7 or 11 rolls, you simply replace your flat DP line-bet again.  Although a couple of C-O losers will erode your bankroll; that is the chance you have to take. 


Ø       Any Come-Out “2” or “3” wins are treated the same as a DP point-cycle win and you simply add those winnings to your bankroll and divide by five to determine the size of your next Don’t Pass wager.


Again, there is no sure way to win a craps tournament, but the surest way to lose is to try to safeguard and shepherd your chips as though they are yours to convert back into cash at the end of a session.  They are not.  Rather, they are ammunition that is to be used to battle, subjugate, overpower, and ultimately defeat other players.  If you don’t wager your tournament-chips in a compelling, definitive, imperative, and even an imperious sort of way; then there is very little likelihood that your chip-count will be sufficient to take you into the next round or to garner even the smallest slice of the prize-money pie.


If you play the tournament with the same safe and conservative methods that you do in everyday life (save and except for the actual size of your wagers); then you haven’t made the sufficient mindset switch to tournament play; and as such, your chances of survival, let alone any illusions about emerging as a victorious gladiator from this particular coliseum…are highly unlikely.


What Are Your Chances

Although the three methods that we’ve covered today are all based on the same concept of using a set proportion of your starting or remaining bankroll; each of them offers differing opportunistic prospects of success.


Type of


Random Occurrence



1-in-6 rolls






1-in-2.25 rolls





Don’t Pass

1-in-3.8 rolls






Clearly, each of these wagers carries it’s own inherent hit-frequency and risk-of-loss.  In using the proportional-bankroll approach that I’ve outlined above; you have to weigh those risks and judge for yourself just how far over the precipice you want to peer, as well as whether you are prepared to push your tournament-winning prospects to the absolute brink.


However I cannot understate just how incredibly important it is for you to be mindful that the single-most critical aspect of successful tournament-play is to vault yourself into the chip-lead as quickly as possible and to increase that lead as much as possible in the early segment of each session.

With that in mind, I’ll simply wish you…

Good Luck & Good Skill at the Tournament Tables…and in Life.



The Mad Professor

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