Playing the Iron Cross at Craps
By Jerry "Stickman"
The lure of playing the Iron Cross bet in the game of craps revolves around the fact that you get paid when any number is thrown – any number but the 7 that is. The Iron Cross bet consists of a one unit place (or pass line) bet on the 5, 6 and 8 plus a one unit field bet. An example is a $30 6 and 8, a $25 5 and a $25 Field. The field bet pays when a 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11, or 12 is thrown. Most field bets pay double when a 2 or 12 is thrown, but sometimes the 2 or 12 pays triple.
I have mentioned in previous articles that the Iron Cross is not all that great a bet. Actually exhorting players to avoid this bet is a better description of previous articles. This is because the house edge on the total bet is simple a sum of each portion of the bet times the house edge on that portion. The house edge on the 6 and 8 is 1.52%. The edge on the 5 is 4.00%. Where the 2 and 12 pay double, the house edge on the field bet is 5.56% and if the 2 or 12 pays triple, the edge is 2.78%. Overall the total edge for the Iron Cross is 3.87% if the 2 and 12 pay double. It is reduced to 2.49% if the 2 or 12 pays triple. Even at its best, the Iron Cross extracts almost a full percent more than the 6 and 8 place bets, so logic dictates that the money should be placed on the 6 and 8.
But gamblers – actually human beings – are not necessarily logical creatures. I have to admit that I have watched sadly and somewhat enviously as others at the table collect on bet after bet while I patiently wait for a 6 or 8 to hit. So recently I decided to try the Iron Cross when my point was a 5. Though giving up some house edge I am not a masochist, so I only tried this in casinos that pay triple for a 2 or 12, making the house edge 2.49% - not great, but tolerable for a research project.
I was surprised by how excited I was when the first opportunity presented itself. My point was 5, so I placed the 6 and 8 (which is normal for me), and then added the field bet. The numbers rolled that first time were: 10 (collect one unit), 4 (collect one unit), 9 (collect one unit), 6 (collect 1.2 units but lose one unit on the field), 6 (collect 1.2 units and lose one), 8 (collect 1.2 units and lose 1), and it continued.
It felt great collecting on the 10, 4, 9 and other field numbers. It sure hurt, however, collecting a 6 or 8 and losing the field bet, making the net win only one-sixth of normal.
Wanting to give the research a decent test, I continued to bet the Iron Cross every time my point was a 5. Over the period of several days shooting there was ample opportunity to play it. On long rolls I would press the 6 or 8 with the extra units I won by hitting field numbers. By doing this, the effect of losing the field bet when hitting the 6 or 8 is lessened.
After a week of playing the Iron Cross, here are my observations and feelings.
It is nice receiving all the extra payoffs from hitting the field numbers. It is particularly nice making some money off the 11 and the craps numbers 2, 3, and 12. The double payoff on the 2 and the triple payoff on a 12 are really fun.
Although, as a "logical" person it shouldn’t have, the psychological effect of losing the field bet on a 6 or 8 really impacted me. Being used to collecting the full amount when hitting these numbers, having it diminished by ponying up another field bet affected me more than ever expected. In fact, it more than made up for the exhilaration of collecting on more numbers. Add to this the fact that nearly an extra 1% is donated to the house by betting the Iron Cross, any desire to play this system in the future has been purged.
No longer will I be envious of those collecting on field. I will continue to bet as in the past: place the 6 and 8, possibly buy the 4 and 10 if the vig is paid on wins only. If I want to get more numbers in play, adding a come bet or two is the way to go.
While not collecting as often, I will never lose one bet while winning another – and, the house edge will be limited to 1.5% or less on all my bets. That way I have the best chance of winning some of the casinos money.
While playing the best bets is sometimes not easy, winning more (or losing less) is much more satisfying. Stick with the math of the game and improve your results.
Jerry "Stickman" is an expert in craps, blackjack and video poker and advantage slot machine play. He is a regular contributor to top gaming magazines. The "Stickman" is also a certified instructor for Golden Touch Craps and Golden Touch Blackjack. For more information visit www.goldentouchcraps.com or www.goldentouchblackjack.com or call 1-886-738-3423. You can contact Jerry "Stickman" at stickmanGTC@aol.com