How to Handle the $15 Game

If you play the Strip casinos on weekends you’ll eventually come face-to-face with one of my least favorite animals – the $15 minimum craps game. And if you’re like a lot of players, myself included, you’ll do your best to avoid this anomaly. Oh, it’s not a question of being under-bankrolled. It’s not that I’m uncomfortable betting at higher levels. The real problem is that all of the press and regress moves I have memorized are designed for $5, $10, and $25 games – and most of them don’t work very well in a $15 game.

If I played a $15 game like I play a $5 game I’d probably start out with a table minimum Pass Line bet the take double odds once the point was established. At that point I’d place an amount equivalent to 3 – 5 times my base bet on the inside. Think in terms of $66 inside, $88 inside, or $110 inside. From there I would take one or two hits on the inside action, then regress to either $22 inside or $34 inside – high on the six and eight. On subsequent hits I’d press the six and eight in pairs up to the $30 level, and then press the winning number only for 50%. I’d do the same with the five and nine, taking them up to $25 each. At that point, with a decent guarantee for the hand locked up, I’d begin pressing my free odds bet behind the line until I reached 10X odds – assuming those odds were available.

All of this plays well in a $5 game. But what if we were going to play that same strategy in a $15 game? Well, to start with instead of having a total of $15 tied up on the Pass Line and in odds I’d have $45. And instead of $66 inside to $110 inside I’d have to have $186 to $330 inside. Let’s face it – that’s a lot of sevens exposure. Catch a couple of quick point-seven-out hands and it could get ugly early.

How about looking at a $15 game the way I look at a $25 game? In a $25 Game I play a minimum Pass Line bet and take single odds. Once the point is established I’ll bet $80, 85, or $110 inside. Or on occasion I’ll venture out with an across bet. Let’s assume we have a point of four and play $110 inside. The total at risk to the sevens is $160, including the line bet with odds. Since I’m at a table minimum bet, the only way to regress is to come down off a number. Typically I’ll collect two bets before regressing, locking up $70. Then I’ll take down the five and nine, leaving $30 each on the six and eight with a $10 profit on the place bets in the rack. I still need one more hit to assure me of a win for the hand, however. So an option off this play is to take two hits and take everything down – or to place the sister of the point number only. Either move will put you in position to make your move up and out on subsequent hits.

If we played a similar strategy in a $15 game we’d have $15 on the Pass Line and $15 in free odds. Then we’d place the inside numbers of $66 inside. After two hits on any numbers we would have collected $42. At that point take down the five and nine, leaving only the six and eight up and working at $18 each.

Of course, you can always “convert” a $15 game to a $5 game by playing both the right side and the wrong side.  Play $15 on the Don’t Pass and $20 on the Pass and suddenly you’re looking at having $5 at risk.  Plus, if you’re in a 3-4-5X odds game you’ll be able to take $100 odds on the six and eight – not that any $5 bettor should do that, but hey!  You could!

Let’s face it – the $15 game gets most of us out of our comfort zones. But with a little creative thinking you can play this game profitably. The key is to study these moves before hand, work through them in your practice sessions, then play them like you mean it.