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Basic Craps

In the game of casino craps, the players bet and the casino covers their bets.

Craps Strategy

Browse our best craps strategies here on Gambling Times.

Craps Countdown

The ancient and hallowed game of craps is played everywhere from city back alleys to the poshest of casinos. Craps offers a wide variety of bets on its various aspects, but at the core of it all it’s relatively simple: The shooter rolls a pair of dice, and if they come up with a total of seven or eleven, he wins; if they come up two or three or twelve, he loses; if they come up any other total (four, five, six, eight, nine or ten), then that number becomes his “point,” and he continues rolling the dice until he either equals that point number and wins or rolls a seven and loses. The probability mathematics of craps is fairly straightforward to work out and it shows that the shooter wins about 49.29% of the time.

In a casino’s intense competition for players and profits, it is always amenable to exploring innovative new ways to liven up the “action” in their games. Anybody who has ever hung out over a craps table knows that craps is already about as lively as a game can be, but here as an exercise in probability mathematics, we’ll offer a little “gilding of the lily” by looking into a possible new betting angle in craps.

Here it is, the “Countdown:” if the shooter’s first roll is a five or a nine, the shooter and all others who have bet on him have the option of doubling their original bets. Of course, because the odds are 6 to 4 against winning with a point of five or nine (six sevens lose, to only four fives or nines that win), no experienced player in that situation would ever take such an option to increase his bet—unless there was some other offsetting “plus” advantage in it for him. That plus here is that if the shooter goes ten more rolls without a normal win or lose outcome, then he automatically wins, or if the shooter does win by making his point number on exactly his tenth attempt, then he wins ten times his already doubled bet amount! Interesting, eh?

Here is how the probability mathematics of this new betting option described works out. First of all, normally with a five or nine point, the shooter expects to win 40% of the time (four dice combinations making his winning point number, six combinations making losing sevens), and for each $1.00 bet, that’s an average loss of 20 cents. With the new option for five and nine points, 94.65% of the time the issue will be decided anyway within the first nine additional rolls, the shooter making his point for a $2.00 win (after having doubled his original bet) 37.86% of the time, or rolling a seven for a $2.00 loss 56.79% of the time. But then the 5.35% of the times reaching the decisive tenth roll, the shooter would still be facing the six dice combinations for losing sevens, but now the 26 combinations that are neither sevens nor his point number would win for him; and best of all, he would have chances for his four combinations making his point number that now would win $20.00—twenty times each $1.00 originally bet.

How would these possibilities from this new betting option affect the average 20-cents-per-$1.00 loss for a shooter with a five or nine point under normal craps rules? Not much—increasing to only slightly 20.04 cents. But just imagine the “buzz” around craps table whenever the point is five or nine, and the steadily increasing excitement of anticipation with the “Countdown” toward the climactic tenth roll! Good luck!

Can’t loose craps

For those many Gambling Times readers of high refinement who are unfamiliar with the common dice game of Craps, here is a summary of the main rules:

1. The shooter rolls a pair of dice, and if they come up with a total of seven or eleven, he wins;
2. If they come up two, three or twelve, he loses;
3. If they come up any other total (four, five, six, eight, nine or ten), then that number becomes the shooter’s point, and he continues rolling the dice until he either equals that point number and wins, or rolls a seven and loses.

Craps has been around for a long long time, played everywhere from city back alleys to the poshest of casinos, and the probability mathematics of the game is fairly straightforward to figure. The shooter wins about 49.29 percent of the time.

“Craps Countdown”, the strategy above this one suggests a new bet in this old game, in which if the first roll is a five or a nine, the shooter and all others who have bet on him have the option of doubling their original bets, and if the shooter goes ten more rolls without a normal win-or-lose outcome (winning by making his five or nine point number, or losing by rolling a seven), then he automatically wins, or if the shooter does win by making his point number on exactly his tenth attempt, then he wins ten times his already doubled bet amount.

Well, as exciting as it might be through the countdown to the decisive tenth roll, this new bet still leaves one basic verity of Craps—that on any given roll of the dice, you can lose!

Here we will look at another Craps betting option in which, for one roll anyway, you can’t lose! If the first roll establishes a point number of four or ten, then the shooter and all those who have bet on him have the option of doubling their bets, and then, if on the very next roll the shooter makes his four or ten point, those bets win four times the usual even-money amount (that is, eight times the original bet before doubling), and even if that next roll is a losing seven, bettors don’t lose, but instead get their bets back, breaking even—no way to lose on that one next roll!

But for any such “can’t lose” proposition, there has to be a catch to balance out the underlying math, and here’s the catch: After that first attempt to make the four or ten point, the shooter can’t win! If he eventually rolls a seven, he loses as usual; or if he makes his point, he only gets his bet back, breaking even. But one beauty of this new betting option is in that bettors can play a hunch (as Craps players are rumored to do on occasion). If the shooter continues rolling the dice without either making his point or losing, and a bettor who had not taken the option earlier gets a hunch that something decisive will happen on the next roll, he can take the option then, doubling his bet, at any time of his choice.

Geez—playing hunches, doubling bets, 4 to 1 odds, “can’t lose!”—it sounds like Craps heaven!

Good Luck!

History of Craps

The history of the game of craps is murky at best, but is thought to have its origins in the game of Hazard, which also is mired in mystery.

It seems that the game of Hazard was either invented by Englishman Sir William of Tyre during the Crusades, or by an unknown source that spoke Arabic. If it was invented by Tyre, it was done by him and his Knights as a way to combat boredom (like many gambling games) during the Crusades. But there is also speculation that the word hazard came from the Arabic word ‘azzah’, which means ‘dice’.

Either way, Hazard was popular all over England and from there spread to the rest of Europe. Chaucer even mentions it in his famous tome, “The Canterbury Tales”. From there it went to France, where many people were leaving for America. It reached America by way of the French, and became very popular in the back alleys and illegal casino rooms of New Orleans, a French-American hotspot. It was through this American introduction that we got the name Craps.

From New Orleans, the game of Craps started being played (with simplified rules) in the Riverboats that populated the Mississippi River. Cheating was widespread, as people used special weighted dice to get the outcome they wanted and win at Craps.

Enter a man named John H. Winn. He made the final rule change that would make it useless to cheat at Craps. Before Winn, you could only bet with the player that they would win. With the new rules, you could also bet with the casino when playing craps. For this reason, Winn is recognized as the Father of the modern-day game of Craps, and is now a legend in Craps history.