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Craps Guide: How to Play Craps

Richard Grant Written by Richard Grant
Richard Grant Reviewed by Richard Grant

Winning at craps

How to Play Craps

How to Play Craps
Craps is one of the most exciting Casino games around as it is high in Player involvement. You will regularly hear yelling and shouting at one of the tables in a land-based casino. It is played on a purpose-built table using two dice.

Like most Casino games, you play against the House (Casino) as opposed to other players and as there are lots of different betting options you can bet on when guessing what numbers will come up when the dice are rolled, there is plenty of choices to make too.

In this article we discuss how to play craps giving you a break down of craps rules and everything you need to win at the game. This is part 1 of a two part article. After learning the basics of craps rules, the second part is about more advanced strategies and tips.

Craps Rules

Craps rules can be more difficult than in other casino games, but once learned this can be a very social and enjoyable game with some terrific betting odds.

The Objective of the game

Players need to guess the outcome of 2 standard, 6-sided dice being rolled and what the total of the 2 dice will be.

Dice Values

The game is played with a set of two perfectly balanced dice with each die having six white dots numbered 1 through 6. There is an equal chance of each number being rolled.

Possible Dice Combinations:

Number Combination Ways To Roll
2 1-1 One
3 1-2, 2-1 Two
4 1-3, 3-1, 2-2 Three
5 1-4, 4-1, 2-3, 3-2 Four
6 1-5, 5-1, 2-4, 4-2, 3-3 Five
7 1-6, 6-1, 2-5, 5-2, 3-4, 4-3 Six
8 2-6, 6-2, 3-5, 5-3, 4-4 Five
9 3-6, 6-3, 4-5, 5-4 Four
10 4-6, 6-4, 5-5 Three
11 5-6, 6-5 Two
12 6-6 One

 

Names of Dice Rolls

6

1

Snake Eyes Loose Deuce Easy Four Fever Five Easy Six Natural

Loose Deuce Hard Four Fever Five Easy Six Natural Easy Eight

Easy Four Fever Five Hard Six Natural Easy Eight Nina

4

Fever Five Easy Six Natural Hard Eight Nina  Easy Ten

Easy Six Natural Easy Eight Nina Hard Ten Yo

Natural Easy Eight Nina Easy Ten Yo Boxcars 

 

Game Session Preparations:

Game Session Preparations

  1. Set your budget – As a general rule, you need enough for 50 bets when playing table games.
  2. Choose your table – All will have a minimum and maximum amount you can place on all different bets, choose one where each of your favourites is no more than one-fiftieth of your budget. i.e. if you have a bankroll of $/€/£200, you should be looking at betting no more than $/€/£4 per time.
  3. Find a space at the table – Unlike many Casino games, players always stand and do not have a specific area where they place bets – there are many different types of bets that all players can use. This is irrelevant when playing online.
  4. Decide how much you would like to change up and play with – You will be given chips, the sizes of which depend on how much you change up and the limits of the tables.

 

Game Progression

  1. The Shooter (one of the Players) needs to bet at least the table minimum on either the Pass Line or the Don’t Pass Line.
  2. The game is played in Rounds, with the right to roll the dice by each player moving clockwise around the table at the end of each round. A player may choose not to roll but can continue to bet.
  3. Once all players have made their desired bets, the Round begins. Each round has two phases: Come Out and Point. To start a round, the shooter makes one or more Come Out rolls.
  4. Payouts are sometimes made after each roll, and sometimes made after several rolls; see the individual Bet descriptions for details.

 

Craps Table Layout

Craps Table Layout

On the Craps table there are two Dealers, a Stickman, and a Boxman.

  • The Stickman uses a long flexible stick to push the dice around the table, gathering the dice after rolls and pushing them to the player.
  • The Boxman is the person in charge of the game and has final decision-making authority.
  • The Dealers cash chips and ensure that bets are placed on the table correctly.

Placing Bets in Craps

Placing Bets in Craps

  1. Out of 990 decisions at the craps table, you can expect to lose 14 decisions more than you win.
  2. As with any Casino game, there will invariably be swings, both large and small, either way when it comes to winning or losing.
  3. You can place bets at any time. The best time to start is when a new Shooter starts. The first thing he needs to do is Establish a Point.
  4. If a Shooter rolls a 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10 on his/her first roll, all other bets below can be made.
  5. If a 2, 3, or 12 are rolled, all Players will win their Come Out bets and the Shooter will continue rolling to establish a new Point.
  6. If a 7 or 11 are rolled, all Players will lose their Come Out bets and a new Shooter will be designated.

Types of Bets

Pass Line/Don’t Pass Line

  • An even-money bet that wins if you:
    • Roll a total of 7 or 11 on the Come-Out roll, or
    • Throw a 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10 on the Come-Out roll and repeat that number before you roll a 7.
  • The Pass line bet loses if:
    • The Come-Out roll is a 2, 3, or 12 (known as “craps”), or
    • A 7 is rolled before the established Point Number is repeated.

 

  • A Pass Line bet can be made at any time during a Shooter’s roll, even after they have established a Point.
  • However, a bet placed on the Pass Line after a Point has been established is a very poor bet since you have missed the opportunity to win on the Come-Out roll when the shooter throws a 7 or an 11.
  • The only way you can now win is if the shooter repeats their point before they Sevens-Out.
  •  

    don't pass bar
     

    Come Bets

    • A Come bet is identical to a Pass line bet, with one exception:
      • A Come bet may be made on every throw of the dice once the Shooter has established a Point.
      • A Come bet is made by placing the number of chips you wish to wager in the designated Come area of the table.

    Come Bets

  • Roll Outcomes for Come Bets:
    • Once you place a Come bet, the very next roll of the dice becomes the Come-out roll for that bet.
    • If the Shooter rolls a 7, you will win even though Pass line bettors will lose.
    • If an 11 is rolled, you will win while the Line bets will not be affected.
    • If one of the Craps numbers (2, 3, or 12) comes up, you will lose, but the Line bets will be unaffected.
  • Establishing a Point for Come Bets:
    • If the Shooter throws one of the Box numbers on the first roll of the dice after you’ve made a Come bet, this number becomes an established Point for your Come bet.
    • To win this bet, your Come point must be repeated before a 7 is rolled.
  • Dealer Actions for Come Bets:
    • Once a Point has been established for your Come bet, the Dealer will move the chips you have bet to the corresponding numbered box on the layout to await a decision for that Point.
    • When you win a Come bet, the Dealer will pay you off by placing your original bet, along with your winnings, in the Come section of the layout.
    • If you do not immediately retrieve your chips, they will be in action on the next roll of the dice as a new Come bet (this is collected for you automatically when playing online).
  •  

    The Don’t Pass Line Bet

    don't pass line bets

    • Winning Conditions:
      • Wins when the Shooter throws a Craps of 2 or 3 on the Come-Out roll.
      • Does not win if a 12 is thrown on the Come-Out roll (stand-off).
      • Wins when the Shooter rolls a 7 before repeating the established Point number.
    • Losing Conditions:
      • Loses when the Come-Out roll is a 7 or 11.
      • Loses when the Shooter repeats the Point number before rolling a 7.
    • Exceptions and Rules:
      • The Don’t Pass line bet is the opposite of a Pass line bet with one exception.
      • A roll of 12 on the Come-Out loses for Pass line betters, but for Don’t Pass betters, it is a stand-off (neither wins nor loses).
      • Casinos bar the number 12 on the Come-Out roll to retain a small edge. Some casinos bar the number 2, but the effect is the same.
    • Additional Considerations:
      • Unlike a Pass line bet, a Don’t Pass bet can be removed after a Point number has been established on the Come-Out roll.
      • Once a Point is established, the player has an advantage over the house, so the casino allows the removal of the bet.
      • Despite this option, it’s generally not recommended to remove the bet.
      • After facing an 8 to 3 house edge on the Come-Out roll, the player will have an overall average advantage of 18.8% after a Point has been established.

     

    Playing the Odds

    • When the Shooter establishes a Point number on the Come-Out roll:
      • Players who have made Don’t Pass line bets are permitted to Lay the Odds.
      • Don’t Come bets are the exact opposite of Come bets (except when a 12 is rolled on the Come bet).
      • The Laying the Odds bet is the exact opposite of an Odds bet, with no exceptions.

    Correct Payoffs for Lay Odds Bets:

    • Points 4 and 10 pay 1-to-2
    • Points 5 and 9 pay 2-to-3
    • Points 6 and 8 pay 5-to-6

    playing the Odds

     

    Don’t Come Bets

    • Don’t Come bets can be placed on every throw of the dice after a Point has been established.
    • After placing a Don’t Come bet, the very next throw of the dice becomes the Come-Out roll for that bet.
    • If the Shooter rolls a Craps number of 2 or 3, you will win while Don’t Pass line bettors will not be affected.
    • If a 7 is rolled, you will lose and bets on the Don’t Pass will win.
    • You also will lose if an 11 is thrown, although this number will not have a bearing on Don’t Pass bets.
    • A roll of 12 is a stand-off.

     

    Place bets on 6 and 8

    bets 6 and 8

  • A Place bet can be made on any of the Point numbers (4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10) at any time during a game and is simply a bet that one of these numbers will be rolled before the Shooter throws a 7. You cannot Take the Odds on Place bets.
  • Place bets on the 6 and 8 are paid off at 7-to-6 on correct odds of 6-to-5, which gives the casino an advantage of 1.51% on these numbers.
  • To ensure that you receive the full 7-to-6 payoff on the 6 and 8, you must make your bet in multiples of six, such as $6, $12, $18, and so forth (this isn’t the case when playing online).
  • Place bets on the 5 and 9 carry a house advantage of 4%, and Place bets on 4 and 10 carry a house advantage of 6.6%.
  •  

    Field Bets

    • This is a bet on the next number to be rolled. There are seven numbers inside the field area that if rolled, will result in a win. The numbers are 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11, and 12.
    • If you make a wager in the field and any of the above numbers show on the next roll you will win.
    • In many casinos and some online sites, you win double or even treble your bet if a 2 or a 12 are rolled.

     
    field bets

     

    Proposition Bets

    These bets can be made at any time and, they are all one roll bets.
     
    proposition bet
     

    • Any Craps: Wins if a 2, 3, or 12 is thrown. Payoff 7:1
    • Any Seven: Wins if a 7 is rolled. Payoff 4:1
    • Eleven: Wins if an 11 is thrown. Payoff 15:1
    • Ace Deuce: Wins if a 3 is rolled. Payoff 15:1

     

    Horn Bet

    • It acts as the bets on 2, 3, 11, and 12 all at once.
    • Wins if one of these numbers is rolled. The payoff is determined according to the number rolled. The other three bets are lost.

    horn bets
     

    Hardways Bets

    • This is a bet on a specific double coming out on the next roll.
    • For example, if a player is putting money on the hard 6, the player is betting that the shooter will roll a 3,3.
    • You can only bet on 2:2, 3:3, 4:4, or 5:5, and you are betting on a specific double to appear and not covering all of them.

     
    Hardways bets
     

    Best Craps Bets

    The best craps bets are the following:

    Taking the Odds

    • When the Shooter establishes a Point on the Come-Out roll:
      • Any player who has made a Pass line bet is allowed to “take the Odds.”
      • A single Odds bet is an additional bet, up to the amount of your original bet, that the Point number will be repeated before a 7 is rolled.
    • Important: The “Odds Bet” is the best one you can make in the game because the house has no built-in advantage.
    • Characteristics of the Odds Bet:
      • The Odds bet has no house edge associated with it.
      • There is no official designated space for the Odds bet on the table.
      • To take the Odds, you must place the appropriate amount of chips behind your Pass line bet in the open area of the Craps layout (this is the same when playing online).
    • Correct Payoffs for Odds Bets:
      • Points 4 and 10 pay 2-to-1
      • Points 5 and 9 pay 3-to-2
      • Points 6 and 8 pay 6-to-5

     
    taking the odds

    Craps Payouts

     

    Bet True Odds Payout House Edge
    Pass Line/Come Bet 251 to 244 1 to 1 1.414
    Don’t Pass/Don’t Come Bet 976 to 949 1 to 1 1.402
    Pass Line Odds/Come Bet Odds/Buy Bets (5% commission)
    Numbers 4 or 10 2 to 1 2 to 1 4.76
    Numbers 5 or 9 3 to 2 3 to 2 4.76
    Numbers 6 or 8 6 to 5 6 to 5 4.76
    Don’t Pass Odds/Don’t Come Bet Odds/Lay Bets (5% commission)
    Numbers 4 or 10 1 to 2 1 to 2 2.44
    Numbers 5 or 9 2 to 3 2 to 3 3.23
    Numbers 6 or 8 5 to 6 5 to 6 4.0
    Field Bets
    3, 4, 9, 10, 11 18 to 7 1 to 1 5.5
    2, 12 18 to 1 2 to 1 5.5
    Place Bets
    Numbers 4 or 10 2 to 1 9 to 5 6.7
    Numbers 5 or 9 3 to 2 7 to 5 4.0
    Numbers 6 or 8 6 to 5 7 to 6 1.52
    Hardways
    6 or 8 10 to 1 9 to 1 9.09
    4 or 10 8 to 1 7 to 1 11.1
    One Roll Bets
    Any 7 5 to 1 4 to 1 16.9
    Any craps 8 to 1 7 to 1 11.1
    2 craps or 12 craps 35 to 1 30 to 1 13.9
    3 craps or 11 17 to 1 15 to 1 11.1
    Horn Bet (3 or 11) 9 to 1 3.75 to 1
    Horn Bet (2 or 12) 18 to 1 7.5 to 1
    Big 6 or 8 3.6 to 1 1 to 1 9.09

    You can find a bet summary here.

     

    Continue to Part II – Advanced Craps Strategy & Tips

    Related Articles:
    Play Craps for Real Money

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    About the author

    Richard Grant
    Editor
    Richard has from an early age been interested in casinos and the thrill of playing casino games. After finishing his degree in Law and business he started this platform in 2007 as a complete resource to online gaming with the primary objective of reducing the house edge for players. Specializing in game guides, reviews, and strategic insights, Richard is devoted to helping you hit the jackpot.
    Last Updated: Jun 13, 2024