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How to Play Craps

by Staff

Craps is a game of chance that is played with two dice on a casino table. Playing craps can be a refreshing game if you are getting tired of card games or slot machines. This game is completely dependent on luck so no strategies, tactics or skills are required while playing it. Learning the basic rules of craps is not difficult and players can usually test online craps in demo mode before they wager real money. Craps has several variants offering different bet types; you can make a number of different bets that come with different odds and payouts so you can choose the one that is suitable for your risk appetite. In this guide, we’ll give you a quick overview of how to play craps laid out in simple terms.

How to play craps

Craps is played around a rectangular table and players bet on the outcome of a roll of a pair of dice. The shooter (who is one of the players in a land-based casino) throws both dice with one hand so that the dice bounce off the far wall of the table. In online craps, the dice roll is computer generated and the so-called RNG (random number generator) technology ensures that the outcomes are fair and random. In live dealer craps, the shooter is the game presenter and he/she uses a pair of physical dice and shoots them on the craps table in a casino setting.

The main characteristics of the game are:

  • Dice are 6-sided and the numbers that face up are added giving a total value of between 2 and 12
  • Players can bet on the shooter or against the shooter
  • There are maximum and minimum bets in place
  • In a land-based casino, players place chips on the betting area of the table; in online casinos, they select the virtual chips by clicking/tapping on them and placing them on the bets they want to make
  • Dice are rolled and players win/lose or a point is established

Craps terminology

As mentioned before, the outcome of the dice roll can be anything between 2 and 12 but it makes a difference at what point in the game a certain roll comes out. Here is some basic craps terminology to help you understand the action:

Come-out roll

When the game starts, the first roll of the dice is called the come-out roll. If 7, 11, 2, 3 or 12 is rolled, a pass or don’t pass is established. Numbers 7 or 11 mean an instant win for the “Pass” betters. Punters who bet on 2,3 or 12 lose. If any other number comes up, a point is established, and the objective of the game changes. Now in order to win, players must roll the point number before the next 7 is rolled.

Natural numbers

Numbers 7 and 11 are natural numbers on the come-out roll. With pass bets, these numbers win, however, with don’t pass bets they will lose. They can also be called natural 7 and natural 11.

Craps Numbers

Numbers 2, 3 and 12. With don’t pass bets you will win with these numbers on the come-out roll. If you placed a pass bet, you will lose with them. When players lose with 2, 3 or 12 it is also called “crapping out”.

Point numbers

These are the rest of the possible outcomes, namely 4,5,6,8,9 and 10. On the betting area, they are in six large numbered boxes. When you bet on these numbers you are betting on any of them coming out before a 7 is thrown.

The Craps Table – Available Bets

The craps table is a green felt-covered table in land-based casinos where all the bets are labelled on the table. A maximum of 16 people can play at one time and they can place their own bets in the self-service area, while bets are placed for them in the dealer’s area by the croupier. In an online casino setting, players place all the bets for themselves.

The Self-service bets area

These bets carry the best odds and lowest house edge and they are considered the “basic” bets.

 

Pass Line & Don’t Pass

Players who place bets on pass win if 7 or 11 is rolled, and lose if 2, 3, or 12 are rolled. Don’t pass bets are the opposite.

 

Come & Don’t Come

These bets are only possible after the “point” has been established. They work just like pass and don’t pass bets.

Field

This is a one-roll bet on 2,3 4,9,10,11 or 12. It can be placed at any time in the game regardless of if the point has been established.

Big Six, Big Eight

When players place these bets, they are betting on 6 or 8 coming out before 7.

The Dealer’s area
These bets carry higher risk but the payouts are higher too. In land-based casinos, the croupier would place these bets for you.

Proposition

These bets are single roll bets for the next roll. They carry a high risk; however, the minimum bets are normally lower than those of the self-service bets.

  • 2 (Aces or snake eyes): This bet wins when the shooter rolls a 2
  • 3 (Ace-deuce): Wins when the shooter rolls a 3
  • Yo: Wins when the shooter rolls 11
  • 12 (boxcars, cornrows or midnight): Wins if the shooter rolls a 12
  • 2 or 12 (hi-lo): This bet wins when the shooter rolls a 2 or a 12
  • Any Craps (Three-Way): This bet wins if the shooter rolls a 2, 3 or 12

Place

Players can bet on one of the following point numbers: 4,5,6,8,9, or 10. If the number comes out before 7 they win.

Step-by-step Guide to Craps

Playing craps online is easy, once you understand the bets, the odds and the payouts. Whether you play online or live-dealer craps, the main steps are the same. The advantage of online craps is that you can play the game at your own pace and you don’t have to wait for other players to place their bets and the croupier to roll the dice. On the other hand, playing with a live dealer alongside other players feels almost like being in a land-based casino!

This is how the game goes:

  • Players select their wagers
  • They place a bet on pass or don’t pass
  • Depending on the outcome, players lose, win or a point is established
  • If a point was established players can bet on come or don’t come or any number on the table
  • Players who join the game at a later stage can place a “Come” bet which is the same as a “Pass”
  • If a player placed a winning bet, the payout amount will be added to their game credit
  • Now a new game can start

Odds and Payouts

Craps has a relatively low house edge. It is somewhat higher than that of blackjack or video poker but lower than roulette. Players can decide to make low-risk bets for a smaller payout or they can risk more with proposition bets for a higher possible payout. The house edge on a single roll bet (a bet that is always determined on a single roll of the dice) is between 2.78% and 16.67%. On a multi-roll bet (bets that may take several rolls to establish a win or a loss) it can be 0% with odd bets and up to 9.09% with a big 6 and 8.

Betting on a don’t pass or don’t come outcome has slightly better odds than the pass and come bets — 976:949 as opposed to 251:244 while the payout is the same: 1:1. In an online casino, there is no reason why you shouldn’t place these bets, however, in brick-and-mortar casinos this is called “betting on the dark side”. You will be betting against the shooter which doesn’t make for a nice social experience.

The highest payout in craps is a 30:1 for a single roll bet on 2 or 12. Your true odds on these two bets are 35:1 and the house edge is rather high.
Craps is a game of chance and everything depends on lady luck. In the long run, it is better to stick with low-risk bets to maximize your winning potentials.

Craps Variants

Craps is a very popular casino game. When you play it online, there are normally more variants available than in land-based casinos. The main variants of craps are:

Crapless Craps

This is a simple version of the original craps game and it is also called bastard craps. The house edge on this game is worse than in the original game as it is 5.38%. In this variant, the player can’t lose a pass bet on the come-out roll and there is no don’t pass bet in crapless craps.

Any number apart from 7 will be the point and as opposed to regular craps, players can make place bets on 2, 3, 11, and 12 before a 7 is thrown.

Bank Craps

Also known as Las Vegas craps as it is very popular in Nevada casinos. It is widely available online and this makes it one of the most popular types of online craps. This variant comes with a very low house edge: 1.4%. Bank craps uses a special table and all bets need to be placed against the house. In land-based casinos, the table has a wire in the middle and the shooter has to throw the dice over the wire.

New York Craps

This version of the game is popular on the East coast of the USA and the Bahamas and it is similar to Bank craps. New York Craps has a worse house edge than the original game. It is 5%. This game has many differences from the original game. One of them is that the pass line is called “does pass”, “line” or “win” and come and don’t come bets don’t exist here. Proposition bets are available and players can bet on box numbers 4, 5, 6, 8, 9 or 10. Numbers 2, 3, 11 and 12 are the point numbers.

Simplified Craps

This version of the game is perfect for beginners as this game uses a basic betting system. This variant comes with a 2.8% house edge. Pass and don’t pass bets don’t exist and neither do craps numbers and natural numbers. If players roll a 2, 3, 4, 10, 11 or 12, they win and if they roll a 5, 6, 7, 8 or 9, they lose. The payout amounts depend on the number that was rolled.

Tips on Playing Craps

Craps is a game of chance and skills and strategy that come in handy in poker and blackjack can’t help you here. That being said, there are a few tips that can help you manage your bankroll and minimize your losses.

1. Learn the rules of the variant you are playing

You should know the rules of the variant you are playing to make optimal bets. If you don’t understand what you are betting on, your chances of winning are slim. Some bets have much better odds than others. You should select a game that has a low house edge to maximise your profit.

2. Place the best bets

Free odds bets come with a 0% house edge after the point was established. These bets are always worth taking. Betting on don’t come and don’t pass has slightly better odds than come and pass bets.

3. Understand the House Edge

Some bets have really high house edges. As a general rule, you should stay away from single roll bets as these bets offer the highest house edge.

4. Avoid Betting Systems

Betting systems such as the Martingale system is used by some players at the craps table. The Martingale system prompts you to double your bet after every loss and can make you run out of money quickly so we don’t recommend using this strategy.