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How to Play Craps

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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:

NumberCombinationWays To Roll
21-1One
31-2, 2-1Two
41-3, 3-1, 2-2Three
51-4, 4-1, 2-3, 3-2Four
61-5, 5-1, 2-4, 4-2, 3-3Five
71-6, 6-1, 2-5, 5-2, 3-4, 4-3Six
82-6, 6-2, 3-5, 5-3, 4-4Five
93-6, 6-3, 4-5, 5-4Four
104-6, 6-4, 5-5Three
115-6, 6-5Two
126-6One

 

Names of Dice Rolls

6

1

Snake EyesLoose DeuceEasy FourFever FiveEasy SixNatural

Loose DeuceHard FourFever FiveEasy SixNaturalEasy Eight

Easy FourFever FiveHard SixNaturalEasy EightNina

4

Fever FiveEasy SixNaturalHard EightNina Easy Ten

Easy SixNaturalEasy EightNinaHard TenYo

NaturalEasy EightNinaEasy TenYoBoxcars 

 

Game Session Preparations:

Set your budget – As a general rule, you need enough for 50 bets when playing table games.

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

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.

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

To begin, 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

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.

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.

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

We will delve more into the table layout features below in the Placing Bets section. 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

Out of 990 decisions at the craps table, you can expect to lose 14 decisions more than you win.

As with any Casino game, there will invariably be swings, both large and small, either way when it comes to winning or losing. In the relatively short time you will be playing, there will be fluctuations in this house edge, so at times things will be going in your favor.

You can place bets at any time, the best time to start doing this is when a new Shooter starts. The first thing he needs to do is Establish a Point.

If a Shooter rolls a 4, 5, 6, 8, 9 or 10 on his/her first roll, all other bets below can be made.

If a 2, 3 or 12 are rolled, all Players will win they are Come Out bets and the Shooter will continue rolling to establish a new Point.

If a 7 or 11 are rolled, all Players will lose their Come Out bets and a new Shooter will be designated.

Pass Line/Don’t Pass Line

When it is your turn to throw the dice, you must determine whether to bet the Pass line or the Don’t Pass line. Most Shooters, as well as most of the other players at the table, will bet the Pass line, as it is the basic bet in Craps.
 
don't pass bar

The Pass line bet is an even-money bet that wins if you either roll a total of 7 or 11 on the Come-Out roll or if you 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 when 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 he has 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 his point before he 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

Once you place a Come bet, the very next roll of the dice becomes the Come-out roll for that bet. Therefore, if the Shooter rolls a 7, you will win even though Pass line betters will lose. If an 11 is rolled, you will win while the Line bets will not be affected. However, should one of the Craps numbers come up (2, 3 or 12) you will lose, but the Line bets will be unaffected.

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.

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

We know that a Pass line bet is simply a wager that the Shooter will win. But you also can bet that the shooter will fail to make a pass and thus lose.
 
don't pass line bets

The Don’t Pass line bet wins when the Shooter throws a Craps of 2 or 3, but not 12, on the Come-Out roll, or when he rolls a 7 before repeating his established Point number. This bet loses when the Come-Out roll is a 7 or 11, or when the Shooter repeats his Point number before rolling a 7.

The Don’t Pass line bet is the exact opposite of a pass line with one exception: Although a roll of 12 on the Come out loses for Pass line betters, it is not a winning number for Don’t Pass betters. It is a stand-off and neither wins nor loses. This is because if Don’t Pass betters were permitted to win in this situation, they would have an advantage over the house. So by barring (disallowing) the number 12 on the Come-Out roll, the casinos retain a small edge. Some casinos bar the number 2, but the effect is exactly the same.

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 you have an advantage over the house, thus the casino has no objections to your taking down the bet. Of course, you should never do this. After going up against an 8 to 3 house edge on the Come-Out roll, you will have an overall average advantage of 18.8% after a Point has been established.

 

Laying 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. In the same way, Don’t Come bets are the exact opposite of Come bets (with the exception of a 12 is rolled on the Come bet), the Laying the Odds bet is the exact opposite of an Odds bet (which no exceptions).

Correct payoffs for Lay Odds bets are as follows:

Points 4 and 10 pay 1-to-2

Points 5 and 9 pay 2-to-3

Points 6 and 8 pay 5-to 6
 
laying 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 you have placed 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 betters 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.
 
 
bets 6 and 8

 

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 a 11 is thrown. Payoff 15:1

Ace Duece: 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.

The Odds bet not only hasn’t any house edge associated with it, but also has no official designated space on the table. Therefore, 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 also the same when playing online).

The correct payoff for Odds bets varies from Point number to Point number, depending on the odds of a 7 being rolled before a particular point is repeated. Correct odds payoffs are as follows:

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

 

BetTrue OddsPayoutHouse Edge
Pass Line/Come Bet251 to 2441 to 11.414
Don’t Pass/Don’t Come Bet976 to 9491 to 11.402
Pass Line Odds/Come Bet Odds/Buy Bets (5% commission)
Numbers 4 or 102 to 12 to 14.76
Numbers 5 or 93 to 23 to 24.76
Numbers 6 or 86 to 56 to 54.76
Don’t Pass Odds/Don’t Come Bet Odds/Lay Bets (5% commission)
Numbers 4 or 101 to 21 to 22.44
Numbers 5 or 92 to 32 to 33.23
Numbers 6 or 85 to 65 to 64.0
Field Bets
3, 4, 9, 10, 1118 to 71 to 15.5
2, 1218 to 12 to 15.5
Place Bets
Numbers 4 or 102 to 19 to 56.7
Numbers 5 or 93 to 27 to 54.0
Numbers 6 or 86 to 57 to 61.52
Hardways
6 or 810 to 19 to 19.09
4 or 108 to 17 to 111.1
One Roll Bets
Any 75 to 14 to 116.9
Any craps8 to 17 to 111.1
2 craps or 12 craps35 to 130 to 113.9
3 craps or 1117 to 115 to 111.1
Horn Bet (3 or 11)9 to 13.75 to 1
Horn Bet (2 or 12)18 to 17.5 to 1
Big 6 or 83.6 to 11 to 19.09

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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FAQ

faq

What is Craps?

Craps is a hugely popular and commonly played gambling game. It is played with a pair of dice on a table. The goal of the game is to guess the outcome of the two dice being rolled and the total of the dice pair.

faq

Are there different Craps versions?

Yes. The two most popular variations on Craps are “casino Craps” and “street Craps”. Most players will likely be familiar with the casino variant, though street Craps is very popular all over the world as well.

faq

What is street craps?

As the name would suggest, street Craps are Craps played outside of an official casino. They are usually played on the street, between friends or strangers. In many ways, street Craps are no different than casino Craps, except there is no banker.

faq

Is street Craps legal?

It depends on the place where you live. If your country has really stern laws and rules against gambling, then you should assume that street Craps is illegal where you live. If the laws in your country are a bit laxer, then do some research and check whether street games are legal before you try your luck.

faq

What is casino Craps?

Casino craps is simply the game of Craps played in a casino. What separates it from street Craps is that there is the Boxman. A Boxman is a casino employee who controls, and takes the bets. In casino Craps, the players all play against the house rather than against themselves. In that way, it is a lot more similar to blackjack / baccarat.

faq

What equipment do I need to play Craps?

All you need for a game of Craps is a pair of 6-sided dice. In a casino, these dice will be perfectly balanced, clearly numbered with dots from 1 to 6, and will have an equal chance to land on any of the six numbers that the dice are showing.

faq

What does Snake Eyes mean in Craps?

Snake Eyes is a common parlance for a pair of 1s. When both of the dice rolled in Craps land on a 1, the outcome is commonly referred to “Snake Eyes”, as the two dots look like the beady eyes of a serpent. Similar slang terms are used for other kinds of pairings in Craps as well, like Loose Deuce for a 1 and a 2, Nina for any pairs that give the total sum of 9, and Yo for a 6 and a 5.

faq

Who is the Stickman in Craps?

Often time, in a casino, you will notice a man holding a long, flexible stick standing in the middle of the table. This man is often referred to as the Stickman, and his job is to control the dice on the table after they’ve been rolled and push them back towards the players.

faq

Who is the Boxman in Craps?

Often times, when at a casino, you will notice that there is a man or a woman standing in the middle of the table, opposite the Stickman. This is the Boxman. It is their job to control the game, and make sure that nothing unsavory is going on.

faq

Who is the Dealer in Craps?

The dealers are the people positioned around the table. Their job is to ensure that all chips have been passed around properly and that there are no faulty bets being placed.

faq

Who is the Shooter in Craps?

The shooter is the person rolling the dice in casino Craps. It is their job to establish the line, and roll the dice. From then, the players bet on where the dice will land.

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