Craps is a table game where you place bets on what number will appear when someone throws a pair of dice. Sounds simple, right? Wrong. Explaining craps is sort of like explaining nuclear physics – it’s possible but it’s pretty darn complicated. If anyone ever tells you that craps is an easy game, they’re lying. Entire books have been written trying to explain it so don’t expect to learn everything you need to know here. I’m going to cover the basics that will allow you to play a simple game.
You can join a craps game at any time but the types of bets you may place depends upon what’s happening at that given moment. This will be explained in the bet breakdown below.
The bets are the same whether you are the one throwing the dice or not. The person throwing the dice is called the “shooter” and as a general rule they are only allowed to touch the dice with one hand at a time.
If you are the shooter, the croupier (the casino employee running the table) will offer you several dice to choose from. Select two by picking them up with one hand. After all bets have been placed by the people around the table, throw the dice (always underhand) toward the end of the table. The dice must bounce off the wall at the end of the table for the roll to count.
Here’s what the gaming area on a craps table looks like:
There is usually a mirror image of this to the left so there are two identical playing areas. There are several different types of bets that can be placed (whether you are throwing the dice or not):
PASS LINE BETS:
- Place these bets in the area marked “Pass Line” which runs around the bottom and side of the gaming area.
- When the “shooter” rolls a 7 or 11 on the first throw, known as the “come-out roll”, it is a “natural” and you win. If 2, 3 or 12 is rolled, it is “craps,” and you lose.
- Any other number 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10 becomes your “point.” If your point number is rolled again before a 7 is rolled then you win. If a 7 is rolled before your point then you lose.
DON’T PASS BETS:
- This is the opposite of a Pass Line bet and is made by placing chips in one of the “Don’t Pass” bars, located just above the Pass Line on the bottom and side.
- Since it is the opposite, you lose on a “natural” 7 or 11 and win if “craps” of 2 or 3 is rolled. A roll of 12 is called a “standoff” and no one wins.
- If 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10 is rolled it becomes your “point” and you win if 7 is rolled before your “point” is repeated. You lose if your “point” is made before a 7 rolls.
- Place these bets on the “Come” line in the center of the gaming area.
- The simplest explanation of “Come” bets is that you’re betting with the dice, exactly as on the “Pass Line”, except that “Come” bets are made any time after the “come-out” roll.
- You win on “naturals” 7 or 11, and you lose on “craps” 2, 3 or 12. Any other number becomes the “come-point” and you win if your “come-point” is made before a 7 rolls.
DON’T COME BETS:
- The opposite of “Come” bets, you place these wagers area marked “Don’t Come”, near the top corner.
- The reverse of betting the “Come”. You lose on a 7 or 11, and win on a 2 or 3. 12 is a “stand-off”
- Here you win if 7 rolls before your “come-point” is repeated, and lose if the “come-point” is made before a 7 is rolled.
- Place bets are made by putting your wager in the large numbered squares at the top of the gaming area (4, 5, six, 8, nine, and 10). These bets may be made at any time during the roll and you can place more than one at a time.
- If the number you have “placed” is rolled before a 7 you win and are paid nine for five on the 4 and 10, seven for five on the 5 and 9, and seven for six placed on the 6 and 8. If a 7 pops up first, you lose.
- This bet is placed in the area marked “Field”, just below the “Come” line.
- This is a one-roll bet that may be made on any roll. If 3, 4, 9, 10, or 11 rolls, you win even money. If 2 or 12 is rolled you win 2 to 1. If any other number is rolled you lose.
- Most people consider these to be sucker bets.
- These are one-roll bets that are placed in the boxes to the right of the “Pass Line”.
- There are four possible hardway bets. “Hardway Four” (Two 2’s) and “Hardway Ten” (Two 5’s) which pay 7 to 1, and “Hardway Six” (Two 3’s) and “Hardway Eight” (Two 4’s) which pay 9 to 1. You win if the numbers appear exactly the way the diagram shows. If the number comes up in any other combination (a 4 and a 6 as opposed to two 5’s), or if any other number is rolled, you lose.
- You can also bet on a roll of 2, 3, 11, or 12 with similarly high odds.
- In some casinos these bets are placed for you by the dealer.
- Most people consider these to be sucker bets as well.
There are a variety of other bets including Proposition bets, Betting the Odds, Buy and Lay bets, etc. but are usually only used by advanced players. Learn the basics first and then buy a book on how to take it farther.
VEGAS4VISITORS HINTS, TIPS, TRICKS
Understanding the odds of getting a certain number on the dice is key to placing your bets. Since each of the two dice has six numbers (1-6) there are 36 possible outcomes when you throw the dice. Take a look at this chart:
1-3, 2-2, 3-1
1-4, 2-3, 3-2, 4-1
1-5, 2-4, 3-3, 4-2, 5-1
1-6, 2-5, 3-4, 4-3, 5-2, 6-1
2-6, 3-5, 4-4, 5-3, 6, 2
3-6, 4-5, 5-4, 6-3
4-6, 5-5, 6-4
Therefore there is a 1 in 6 chance that a 7 will be rolled at any given time but only a 1 in 36 chance that it will be made with a 5-2 combination. This is why betting on numbers is smarter than betting on a specific combination on the dice such as with Hardway bets.
Betting strategy depends upon how brave you are. The most standard method is to make a Pass bet on the shooter’s come-out roll, and then to place Come and Place bets on the next couple of rolls. This will allow you to cover a variety of numbers with a variety of bets and hopefully win on enough of them to make money.
Here’s a scenario:
You place a $5 bet on the Pass Line as the shooter comes out. The shooter throws an 8, which then becomes the point.
Next you place a $5 bet on the Come Line and $5 on the Place 4.
The next roll of the dice is a 6. You’ve haven’t won or lost so far but have established 6 as the point for your Come Line bet.
Now you place another Come Line bet of $5 and put $5 on the Place 8. You now have $25 on the table.
The next roll of the dice is a 9. 9 becomes your point number for that Come Line bet and you place one more bet – $5 on a Place 5.
Now if the shooter throws a 4, 5, 6, 8, or 9 you’re going to win something and the odds are about 1 in 3 that one of those numbers will come up. Since the Place bets keep going even if one of your Point bets is won (the shooter throws an 8 for instance) you have multiple chances to win.
Of course if the shooter throws a 7 you lose everything but hey, that’s why they call it gambling.
Craps is not for the faint of heart. The games usually move quickly with all sorts of action happening at once. If you’re a beginner, try to find a table with few players and low betting limits so you can get used to what is going on.
Take advantage of the free gaming lessons that many casinos provide. This will give you a solid basis from which to leap into a real craps game.