There are dozens of craps bets advertised right on the casino table felt - wagers including pass and don't pass, come and don't come, place numbers, the field, hardways, one-roll propositions.
But in some ways craps is like an American fast-food restaurant with a secret menu, ways of combining standard ingredients that aren't listed on the big board but are known to customers and workers alike.
Hop bets are prime offering on craps' secret menu. There's not a space on the layout to illustrate them. You have to know they're available to make them.
WHAT IS A HOP BET?
When you want to be the next roll will bring two specific numbers on the dice, you want a hop bet.
For example, if you want to bet the next roll will be a 6 on one die and a 4 on the other, you ask the dealer for 6-4 on the hop, or 6-4 hopping.
There are two types of hop bets: Easy hops and hard hops.
An easy hop is when you're betting the dice will land on two different numbers. Combinations such as 4-3, 5-2, 6-3 or 3-2 alls would be easy hops.
If both numbers are the same, it's a hard hop. 6-6, 5-5, 4-4, 3-3, 2-2 or 1-1 hopping are all hard hops.
The difference is that there are two ways to win at craps on any of the easy hops and only one way to win on a hard hop.
If you bet 6-4 hopping, you win if the first die is a 6 and the second a 4, and also if the second die is a 6 and the first die is a 4.
If you bet 4-4 hopping, both dice have to land on 4. That's only one roll.
That you're twice as likely to win with an easy hop is reflected in the payoffs. Winners pay 30-1 on hard hops and 15-1 on easy hops.
If you want to bet total of the two dice as a one-roll bet, you can give the dealer the total and tell him it's on the hop. You then get all the combinations that yield that total.
For example, if you tell the dealer you want 10 hopping, you would win on 6-4, 4-6 and 5-5. If you want 9 hopping, you would win on 6-3, 3-6, 5-4 and 4-5.
That affects payoffs, since there are more possibilities. If you bet on 10 hopping, it's the equivalent of having half your bet on 6-4 hopping and half on 5-5.
Imagine you've wagered $2 on 10 hopping. That's the same as $1 on 6-4 and $1 on 5-5. So if the roll is 6-4, you're paid 30-1 on $1 and the house keeps the other $1. If the roll is 5-5, you're paid 15-1 on $1 and the house keeps the other $1.
So it goes on other hop totals. An 8 hopping is essentially is three bets, easy hops on 6-2 and 5-3 and the hard hop on 4-4. On any winner, you're paid for that portion while the house keeps the portion of the overall wager that corresponds to the other possibilities.
HOW AND WHEN TO MAKE HOP BETS
Unlike pass, don't pass, come, don't come and the field, you can't just put your chips down and make a hop bet. The dealer has to know what you're doing.
To make a hop bet, you place chips on the layout and tell the dealer what you want -- 5-3 hopping, or 4-2 on the hop.
After the next roll, the dealer will pay you if you win or the house will keep your chips if you lose.
You can make hop bets before any roll, but it's rare to make them on the comeout roll.
Novices will notice there is a period for betting before the stickman pushes the dice to the shooter for the next roll. Once the shooter has the dice, you can't make any more bets. But until the dice are to the shooter, you can put your chips on the layout and ask the dealer for your hop.
ODDS AND PERCENTAGES
There are 36 possible rolls of two dice, with one way each to make 2 or 12, two ways each to make 3 or 11, three ways each to make 4 or 10, four ways each to make 5 or 9, five ways each to make 6 or 10 and six ways to make 7.
With easy hops, two of those rolls are winners. That leaves 34 ways to lose and two ways to win. Expressed as odds against winning, that's 34-2, or 17-1.
Looking at hard hops, there's only one potential winner and 35 losers for each hard hop wager. Odds against winning are 35-1.
Turning to the house edge, we have to consider not only the chances of winning, but the payoffs.
Easy hops pay 15-1, compared to those true odds of 17-1.
If you bet $1 each on 36 rolls in which each number came up once, you would win twice. On each win you would keep the $1 wager and collect $15 in winnings.
Add the two $15 wins and the two $1 bets you keep and at the end of the trial you have $32 of the $36 you wagered. The house keeps the rest.
Divide the $4 the house keeps by your $36 in wagers, and you get 0.1111. Multiply by 100 to convert to percent, and the house edge is 11.11 percent.
On hard hops, the payoff is 30-1. Per 36 rolls, you win once, keeping a $1 wager and claiming $30 in winnings for a total of $31. The house keeps $5.
Divide that $5 by $36, and you bet 0.1389. Multiply by 100, and the house edge on hard hops is 13.89 percent.
HOP BET PLAYING STRATEGY
Players seeking the lowest house edge in craps would avoid hops bets like the plague.
There are much better bets on the table. Pass and come have house edges of 1.41 perent while don't pass and don't come are at 1.36. All and be dropped to less than 1 percent with judicious use of free odds.
Place bets on 6 and 8 check in at 1.52 percent. All place bets, buy bets and bets where don't bettors lay the point numbers have lower edges than the 11.11 percent on easy hops and 13.89 percent on hard hops.
The hops are comparable to the center table one-roll propositions. The house edge on easy hops is lower than the 16.67 percent on any 7 and the same as on the one-roll any craps proposition, where you're betting the next roll will be 2, 3 or 12.
So what kind of bettor uses hops bets?
Mainly, hops are for players looking to make a big score on a single wager. Pass, come, don't pass and don't come pay even money. Winning place bets on 6 and 8 pay 7-6 odds.
The best bets, the ones that give you the best shot at long-term wins, do not yield big wins in one shot.
Hunch players and others hoping for a quick strike have hop bets among their favorites.
Alternatively, players who stick to the best bets overall sometimes will try to spice up their games during winning sessions by mixing in low probability, high yield bets such as hops. A pass and come player who is ahead might try for a quick bankroll boost with small hop bets.
However, hops are not part of any strategy designed for the best chance to grind out a profit for extended play.
Hop bets are one-roll bets that the dice will land on the two numbers you call. They pay 15-1 if the two numbers you call are different or 30-1 if you bet both numbers will be the same.
House edges of 11.11 percent on easy hops and 13.89 percent on hard hops are too high for a steady stream of hops bets to be profitable. To much exposure to edges like that will grind down your bankroll.
If you find fun in chasing long shots with big rewards on infrequent wins, then the hops might be part of your game. But keep your bets low, put more of your money in bets with lower house edges, and understand that the players who cut the house edge to the bone skip the hops altogether.