Basics of Playing Craps
Basic craps is not hard to learn, and in our view, well worth the effort.The process of playing craps differs slightly between land-based and online casinos. Nevertheless, it remains largely the same across the board.
You can place a pass line or don’t pass line bet (both explained later) to open the round. Your bet(s) must be equal to or greater than the table’s minimum wager (e.g., $5).
The shooter rolls the dice to determine winning/losing combinations. They must make a reasonable attempt to hit the back wall with their toss to ensure randomness.
In land-based casinos, you take turns with other gamblers being the shooter. The option to act as the shooter moves clockwise after each round.
At gaming sites, you act as the shooter on every roll. You select “roll” whenever you’re finished betting and are ready to perform the virtual dice toss.
Pass line & don’t pass line bets
Again, pass line and don’t pass line are the two fundamental craps bets. You can place either of these even-money wagers before a new shooter makes their first roll (a.k.a. “come out” roll).
Pass line wins on the come out when the shooter rolls a 7 or 11. It loses if the shooter rolls a 2, 3, or 12.
Any other combination establishes a “point” number. In this case, you need the shooter to roll the point before a 7 for pass line to win.
Don’t pass line wins on the come out when you roll a 2 or 3. A 7 or 11 causes you to lose don’t pass line, while a 12 results in a push.
Any other number establishes a point. In this situation, you need the dealer to toss a 7 before the point for you to win.
The shooter continues rolling until they produce a win for pass line or don’t pass line bettors. Once the round is finished, a new player gets to act as the shooter.
Other Craps Bets
The craps table features many other wagers beyond pass line and don’t pass line. Below, you can see the different bet categories.
Come & don’t come
Come and don’t come bets are very similar to pass line and don’t pass line. However, they’re only available after a point number has been determined.
The shooter’s next roll becomes the come out when you place a come or don’t come wager. A point is established if their come out roll fails to decide your bet.
Here’s more on these wagers’ rules:
- Pays 1:1
- Wins on the come out with a 7 or 11.
- Loses on the come out with a 2, 3, or 12.
- Establishes a point with 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10.
- Point number must be rolled before a 7 to win.
Don’t come bet
- Pays 1:1
- Wins on the come out with a 2 or 3.
- Loses on the come out with a 7 or 11.
- Pushes on the come out with a 12.
- Establishes a point with 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10.
- A 7 must be rolled before the point to win.
A “place” bet involves wagering on any point number (4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10) regardless of the established point. You need the chosen point to be rolled before a 7 to win.
These wagers pay at slightly less than true odds. For example, Place 6 carries 6:5 true odds, but it only pays 7:6.
Here are the place bets and their respective odds:
- Place 4 / Place 10 - 2:1 true odds; 9:5 payout; 6.67% house edge
- Place 5 / Place 9 - 3:2 true odds; 7:5 payout; 4% house edge
- Place 6 / Place 8 - 6:5 true odds; 7:6 payout; 1.52% house edge
You can “buy” a bet that pays at true odds. The catch, though, is that you must pay a 5% commission on wins.
Other than the commission, these wagers are just like place bets. You can see the available buy wagers below:
- Buy 4 / Buy 10 - 2:1 true odds; 2:1 payout; 4.76% house edge
- Buy 5 / Buy 9 - 3:2 true odds; 3:2 payout; 4.76% house edge
- Buy 6 / Buy 8 - 6:5 true odds; 6:5 payout; 4.76% house edge
Again, casinos deduct a 5% commission from all payouts. Some gambling establishments reduce the commission, though, which lowers the house advantage.
Opposite to buy bets, lay wagers see you bet on a 7 being rolled before a chosen point number. Lay bets pay at true odds and carry a 5% commission on wins.
Here’s more information on these wagers:
- Lay 4 / Lay 10 - 1:2 true odds; 1:2 payout; 2.44% house edge
- Lay 5 / Lay 9 - 2:3 true odds; 2:3 payout; 3.23% house edge
- Lay 6 / Lay 8 - 5:6 true odds; 5:6 payout; 4.00% house edge
A “hard ways” bet involves wagering on a 4, 6, 8, or 10 to be rolled as doubles. For example, Hard 4 needs to appear as exactly 2-2 for you to win this bet.
Your chosen hard ways combinations must appear before a 7 is rolled. Here are the hard ways bets along with their odds:
- Hard 4 / Hard 10 - 8:1 true odds; 7:1 payout; 11.11% house edge
- Hard 6 / Hard 8 - 10:1 true odds; 9:1 payout; 9.09% house edge
All the wagers we’ve covered so far can require multiple rolls to be decided. However, craps also offers plenty of bets that conclude within one roll.
These wagers feature the longest odds of winning, but they may tempt you due to the high payouts.
Below, you can see the single-roll bets:
- 2 (“Snake Eyes”) - Wins on a 2; 35:1 true odds; 30:1 payout; 13.89% house edge
- 3 - Wins on a 3; 17:1 true odds; 15:1 payout; 11.11% house edge
- 11 (“Yo”) - Win on an 11; 17:1 true odds; 15:1 payout; 11.11% house edge
- 12 (“Boxcars”) - Wins on a 12; 35:1 true odds; 30:1 payout; 13.89% house edge
- “Any Craps” - Wins on a 2, 3, or 12; 8:1 true odds; 7:1 payout; 11.11% house edge
- “Hi-Lo” - Wins on 2 or 12; 17:1 true odds; 15:1 payout; 11.11% house edge
- “Any 7” - Wins on any 7 combination; 5:1 true odds; 4:1 payout; 16.67% house edge
- “Field” - Wins on 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11, or 12; 5:4 true odds; payouts vary; 2.78% house edge
- “Horn” - Wins on 2, 3, 11, or 12; 5:1 true odds; payouts vary; 12.5% house edge
- “Whirl” or “World” - Wins on 2, 3, 7, 11, or 12; 2:1 true odds; payouts vary; 13.33% house edge
- “C & E” - Wins 2, 3, 11, or 12; 5:1 true odds; payouts vary; 11.11% house edge
Many casinos also offer a special class of bets called “odds.” These wagers pay at true odds, hence the name.
Because they pay at true odds, these bets don’t carry a house edge, which is extremely rare in the gaming world.
How do you place an odds wager?
You can place odds behind a pass line, don’t pass line, come, or don’t come bet once a point is established.
You must make one of the four aforementioned bets to be eligible for odds. Additionally, casinos cap the size of odds that you can use.
Here’s an example of how casinos limit odds:
- You place a $5 pass line bet.
- The casino allows up to 5x odds.
- You place $25 worth of odds (5x) behind your pass-line wager.
You lower the overall house edge on your betting action by using the highest odds possible.
Some Las Vegas casinos allow up to 20x odds. Most other casinos, however, only let you use up to 2x-5x odds.
You win odds bets as long as your regular wager wins. If you bet on pass line, for example, then you need pass line to win for your odds to also be successful.
Here are the payouts based on each point number:
Pass line & come odds
- Pays 2:1 on point numbers 4 and 10.
- Pays 3:2 on points 5 and 9.
- Pays 6:5 on points 6 and 8.
Don’t pass line & don’t come
- Pays 1:2 against point numbers 4 and 10.
- Pays 2:3 against points 5 and 9.
- Pays 5:6 against points 6 and 8.
Play Craps Online or in Land-based Casinos
Craps is available in two distinct settings: brick-and-mortar and online casinos. Both options offer advantages over one another.
Land-based casinos feature a more exciting atmosphere. Tables boast a team-like camaraderie due to most gamblers betting on the shooter (player rolling the dice) to win.
Gaming sites, meanwhile, deliver a more convenient experience. You can play online craps anywhere through your smartphone, tablet, or computer.
For legal online casinos in the US, browse your state guide. For example, gamblers from New Jersey can browse the comprehensive NJ online casino list with information about welcome offers, land-based partners and much more.
Joining a Land-based Craps Game
To play craps in brick-and-mortar casinos, you must first exchange cash for chips. Dealers help you make this exchange at the tables.
You can lay your chips on one or more of the board’s betting spaces in between rolls. Wagering remains open until the shooter holds the dice and is ready to roll.
Joining an Online Craps Game
Many internet casinos require you to register for an account before playing craps. Therefore, your first step to playing online involves completing registration.
Once you’ve registered, you can open a craps table and begin playing. Unlike at brick-and-mortar casinos, you control the game speed and enjoy unlimited time to place wagers.
If you want to play for real money, you must deposit using one of the casino’s available banking options.
Browse our best craps strategies here on Gambling Times. When playing craps, it's important to have a nailed strategy.
"Craps is a casino game with a lot of online growth potential", says Zamedia N.V. CEO Erik King who runs the reputable websites Zamsino, Kiwislots and Gambla, so make sure that strategy is in place before you start playing.
1. 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!
2. 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:
- 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, three or twelve, he loses;
- 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!
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.