How to Play Craps

Craps is the liveliest of all casino table games. Players take turns throwing two dice and winners are paid on every roll. The game proceeds at a fast pace, with many options for betting and payouts as high as 30-to-1. What’s more the House edge is among the lowest of all games played in the pit area, so winning tends to be more frequent.

To first-time players, who may not be familiar with all of the jargon and slang that’s used, the action at the Craps table can seem a bit daunting. But with the possible exception of Roulette, it is actually one of the easiest table games to learn and play well. In fact, with the right combination of luck and skill, anyone can strike it rich playing Craps.

Craps Basics

To play the casino version of Craps, six-sided dice are used. Each surface is numbered with dots called “pips” or “spots” and representing the numbers one through six. When the spots showing face up on two dice are added, the total determines which bets win and which ones lose.

The player whose turn it is to throw the dice is known as the “shooter.” The shooter’s first throw of the dice is called the “Come Out” roll. Those who believe the shooter will win his/her series of rolls make their bets of one unit or more on the table’s “Pass Line.” Those who think the series will lose bet on “Don’t Pass.”

When coming out, the shooter wins immediately if the dice come up a “natural” 7 or 11. All Pass Line bets win even money at 1-to-1 odds. However, if the first roll is a 2, 3, or 12, which are called “craps,” then all of the Pass Line bets lose. Instead, Don’t Pass wagers win on a 2 or 3, paying 1-to-1, and a come out roll of 12 results in a push (no winner or loser).

Any other come out roll (4, 5, 6, 8, 9 and 10) establishes the “Point.” Then, the shooter continues to roll until the Point is “made” by throwing the same total again before a 7 comes up. Making the Point means all bets are paid or collected, and a new series starts as the shooter has a new come out roll.

However, if a 7 is rolled before the Point is made—“Seven Out”—that ends the series. All bets are paid or collected, the table is cleared, and the dice are passed to the next player clockwise, who becomes the new shooter. Note that craps (2, 3, and 12) and 11 do not affect the series at all after the Point has been established.

Other Wagers

Bets can be made on the Pass Line or Don’t Pass only before the come out roll. Thereafter, the initial bets can be increased by “Taking Odds” on it. This is accomplished by placing more chips on the apron behind the original wager. The limits on taking odds are up to the House. They are almost always at least 2X and can be as much as 5X to 100X the initial amount. Payouts on these increases are based upon the “true odds” of the Point to be made: 2-to-1 for a four or ten, 3-to-2 for a five or nine, and 6-to-5 for a six or eight.

Two other common wagers after the Point has been established are “Come” and “Don’t Come.” Essentially, these are exactly the same as the Pass and Don’t Pass bets, with the very next roll of the dice treated as the start of a new series. Even money is paid for a winner, and taking odds is allowed on subsequent rolls. This makes it possible to bet and win on every throw, rather than waiting for a series to conclude.

Other betting areas of the table offer higher than 1-to-1 odds. A unit bet on “C-and-E,” for example, pays 3-to-1 for any craps (2, 3, or 12) and 7-to-1 for an 11, also referred to as “yo.” Straight-up wagers can be made on any number, too, such as a 7 coming up, which pays 4-to-1. “Field” bets on totals of 2~5 and 9~12 will pay 2-to-1 for 2 or a 12, and 1-to-1 otherwise. Wagers on single numbers have varying payouts up to 30-to-1.

Most betting areas are closed (“Off”) until the Point is established (“On”). These include “Hardway” bets with both dice showing the same number of pips; Big 6 and Big 8, paying even money if rolled before a 7; and all of the “place” or “box number” bets on the single numbers 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10. Given the poor odds on many of these bets, beginners are well advised to stick with “right” bets (Pass/Come), “wrong” bets (Don’t Pass/Don’t Come), and Taking Odds, at least until they become more familiar with the game.