Game Guide for Craps
There is little argument that craps tops the list of highest-energy and most exciting casino games ever created. Tables are often slam packed full of cheering and energetic players hoping to hit it big with a streak of luck.p>Though it’s one of the greatest games in the casino and should be enjoyed by all, many people are shy when it comes to playing the game. This is typical because they assume the game is too confusing to understand.
If this is you, or you’re someone who has played before but is a little rusty, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide to help walk you through every nuance of the game. You’ll be a master at the craps tables and be teaching your friends in no time!
Why Play Craps?
Anytime a game is as globally popular as craps is, there has to be some reason why. It’s clear to see that craps is not going anywhere for a long time as patrons continue coming back for more and more. Here are just a few of the reasons why the game has gained so much popularity and why you should give it a try.
10/10 on the excitement and fun scale
If you’ve ever been within about 100 feet of a craps table, you know there is something different about this game. People are typically loudly cheering, high-fiving, and fully immersed in the action. Whether you’re at the casino playing with other patrons or at home playing online, the game is fast paced and packed full of fun. It’s hard to say what makes this game so much fun, but if we had to guess, it’s probably a combination of the fast pace, plethora of betting options, and the ability to win big with one throw of the dice.
Tons of Different Ways to Play
Unlike some of the simpler casino games, craps has a ton of different ways you can bet. Whether you’re wagering one small bet or wagering a bunch of big bets, everyone is included in the action on every toss of the dice. With so many different ways to play, you can experiment and find the most fun bets for you. These might be different from what other players like, which makes the game all that more interesting. You will never get bored with the many different ways to bet in craps.
Craps offers a few bets with NO house edge
This is a biggie. There are a few easy best available in craps where the casino’s edge is 0%! This means that in the long run, they won’t be making any money off of your bet. This is the only place in the casino where you will ever see this. Does this mean you have an edge to win? Still no, but these are the best odds you will ever receive in any casino.
Team Spirit and Camaraderie
This benefit is typically directed specifically to playing live in the casino. The way the game is structured, the majority of the bets on the table are aimed at achieving the same goal. This means that most of the players at the table are hoping for the same thing to happen and all win when the same numbers are rolled. You can imagine the excitement when one of those numbers is rolled, and the entire table gets paid!
How to Play Craps
In the simplest terms possible, craps is a game where you are able to make various bets on the outcome of two dice being rolled by a player. Seems easy right? There is a bit more to it. We will walk you through it slowly, though. Once you understand the general concept of the game, all the details will nicely fall into place.
The game starts with the dice thrower, known as the shooter, throwing the dice to establish what is known as the point. Once this point number is established, the dice thrower will continue throwing the dice trying to throw the same number again before a 7 is rolled.
Here are the three outcomes that can happen on a roll after the point is established:
- If the shooter hits the point number, most players will win, and the game resets and starts over.
- If the shooter rolls a 7, most players will lose, and the game resets and starts over.
- If the shooter rolls ANY other number, they roll again and again until one of the above two things happens.
This is, of course, an oversimplified view of how the game is played, but once you understand this, you can start to put the other pieces together. The parts that we left out of our explanation are that there are betting options before the roll to establish the point (known as the come out roll), bets that take place in between rolls, and also bet options where you can bet “against” the other players, effectively betting with the house. This is why we said above that most players, not all, will win when the point number is rolled again.
Typically, players will also make bets on the other numbers besides 7 and the point and will get paid every time those numbers are rolled before the 7 is rolled. As you can see, the more rolls without rolling a 7 after the point is established, the more money people are making.
The shooter also rotates around the table so every player can have the opportunity to throw the dice. It’s a lot of fun but can sometimes feel like a lot of pressure. You are never forced to be the shooter and can gladly pass the role, or pass the roll, to the next player.
Once this general idea of the game makes sense to you, we recommend reading our full breakdown of how the game is played.
Different Types of Craps Bets
The complexities of craps aren’t really in how the game is played. If you read our above description, that’s pretty much all there is to the flow of the game. Where the game becomes complex is with the various different betting options. Put your thinking caps on and buckle up as we’re about to dive into craps betting options headfirst. When you get done reading this section, you should have a strong grasp of the different ways you can bet and how they fit nicely into the flow of the game.
Pass Line and Don’t Pass Line Bets
The most basic bet in the game of craps is the Pass Line bet. Typically, casinos will require you to place at least the minimum bet on the pass line if you are the shooter. It’s optional for other players, but we recommend starting with this bet for beginners. You’ll also notice that most seasoned players are very fond of this bet.
There is a big ring that goes around the table that says, Pass Line. If you guessed this is where you place your wager, you’re a smart cookie. You place your wager here, and the shooter then fires the dice for the come out roll. A few things can happen depending on what they roll:
- If the shooter rolls a 7 or an 11, you automatically win on this bet.
- If the shooter rolls a 2, 3, or a 12, you automatically lose on this bet, and the game starts over.
- If the shooter rolls ANY other number, that number becomes the point, and your bet remains on the table. After this, if a 7 is rolled you will lose on this bet. If the point is rolled, you will win on this bet.
The opposing bet to the Pass Line is, of course, the Don’t Pass Line bet. This bet is commonly referred to as betting with the house or several other four-letter words we will refrain from sharing here. Basically, this bet wins when most of the other players betting the pass line and other point bets lose. Here is what happens with this bet on the come out roll:
- If the shooter rolls a 2 or a 3, you automatically win on this bet.
- If the shooter rolls a 7 or an 11, you automatically lose on this bet.
- If the shooter rolls a 12, the bet is a push.
- If the shooter rolls ANY other number, that number becomes the point, and your bet remains on the table. After this, if a 7 is rolled you will win on this bet. If the point is rolled, you will lose on this bet.
Come and Don’t Come Bets
These bets are fairly similar to Pass Line and Don’t Pass bets except they are made AFTER the come out roll, and the point is established. You can place a bet on one of these areas at any time between rolls that a point is established. Here is what happens to a Come bet based on what the shooter rolls:
- If the first roll after you’ve placed your come bet is a 7 or an 11, then you win your bet.
- If a 2, 3, or 12 is rolled, you lose your bet.
- If ANY other number is rolled, then your bet stays on the table, and that number is that particular bets “point.” After this happens, if a 7 is rolled, you lose this bet. If that particular bet’s “point” is rolled, you win that bet.
The Don’t Come bet is basically the opposite of the Come bet. You can place this bet at any time between rolls that a point is established. Here is what happens to a Don’t Come bet based on what the shooter rolls:
- If the first roll after you’ve placed your Don’t Come bet is a 7 or an 11, you will lose this bet
- If a 2 or 3 is rolled, you will win this bet.
- If ANY other number is rolled, then your bet stays on the table, and that number is that particular bets “point.” After this happen, if a 7 is rolled, you win this bet. If that particular bet’s “point” is rolled, you will lose this bet
Remember those bets we talked about with no house edge? You’ve made your way to them. These are bets that are made after the point has been established and are essentially extensions of the above four bets we mentioned (Pass Line, Don’t Pass Line, Come Bet, Don’t Come Bet). These bets will follow the same win and loss rules as the bet they accompany. For example, if you make an odds bet on your Pass Line Bet, your odds bet will win when your Pass Line bet wins and lose when it loses. The same goes for the other three bets.
The greatest benefit of this bet is that it pays out with true odds. This means that the casino has a 0% edge on this bet and will not make or lose any money on it in the long run. This is the best bet you will ever get in a casino!
As the payouts for these bets are based on the odds of how hard it is to hit the number, the payouts will be different based on what number it is. We know that was a mouthful so let’s try and rephrase it in simpler terms. In other words, there are fewer ways to roll a 4 or a 10 than there are ways to roll a 6 or an 8. This means 6s and 8s are much more likely to be rolled and will be rolled more often and therefore you will get paid slightly less every time you roll one.
Pass and Come Payouts
|4 or a 10||2:1|
|5 or a 9||3:2|
|6 or a 8||6:5|
These bets are commonly referred to as “taking the odds.”
Don’t Pass and Don’t Come Payouts
|4 or a 10||2:3|
|5 or a 9||3:2|
|6 or a 8||5:6|
These bets are commonly referred to as “laying the odds.”
As the casino has absolutely no edge on this bet, they limit the amount you are able to bet. Casinos will vary the amount they will allow you to take on odds bets, but the most common are what is referred to as 3-4-5x odds. This means that the maximum amount you are allowed to bet on an odds bet is dependent on what the number is. These bet maximums are the same for don’t pass or don’t come odds as well.
|Point Number||How Much You Can Bet|
|4 or a 10||3x your original bet|
|5 or a 9||4x your original bet|
|6 or a 8||5x your original bet|
It’s important to point out that you are not required to bet this much, it’s merely the maximum that you are allowed to bet. Also, some casinos will allow higher bet amounts here so just pay attention to what it says on the table live or online.
These are just a couple of the most popular bets when it comes to playing craps. If you can understand these bets, you’ve got enough knowledge to play the game comfortably. As these are just a few of the bet options, we have put together an extensive breakdown of all the other betting options available to you. If you’re a beginner, we recommend just sticking with these bets for now. If you’ve played some before, feel free to learn some of the more obscure bets that are offered by the casinos.
As there are so many various betting options, you can imagine that there are equally as many strategies out there on how to play craps. While none of these strategies will give you an edge over the casino, many of them are great starting points to simplify the game and make it much more enjoyable for newer players. These strategies can also help you to avoid the “sucker bets” and focus more on the bets where you have the best odds to win.
Let’s run through one strategy that aims to help you take advantage of the no house edge bets while not getting too confused about what’s going on. If you’re a beginner, you may love reading this strategy walkthrough because it will demonstrate how the game is played and give examples of the bets we talked about earlier. It’s also a great strategy to employ and is touted by many as the optimal way to play craps.
The best way to learn this strategy would be to see an example game step by step. If we were to put into words what we’re looking to do, we’re going to be making a Pass Line bet, taking our odds, and then making come bets until we are established with odds on two additional numbers. If that blew your mind, don’t worry. It will become clearer as we walk through it.
For the sake of this example, let’s pretend we are playing at a craps table with a $5 minimum bet and 3-4-5x odds bets.
- As the shooter gets ready for the Come Out roll, we place our $5 minimum wager on the Pass Line.
- The shooter throws the dice and rolls a 9.
- We take our maximum odds on the pass line bet of 4x by putting $20 right behind our Pass Line bet.
- We place a $5 bet in the Come area.
- The shooter throws the dice and rolls a 4.
- Our Come Bet is slid up to the 4 as that is its “point.” We take our maximum odds on this Come Bet of 3x by putting $15 on the Come Bet. This bet will now win if a 4 is rolled. Our Pass Line bet will win if a 9 is rolled.
- We place another $5 bet into the Come area.
- The shooter throws the dice and rolls an 8.
- Our Come Bet is slid up to the 8 as that is its “point.” We take our maximum odds on this Come Bet of 5x by putting $25 on the Come Bet. This bet will now win if an 8 is rolled. Our first Come Bet will win if a 4 is rolled. Our Pass Line bet will win if a 9 is rolled.
At this point, we basically hang out and hope for the shooter to roll 9s, 4s, and 8s a lot before the 7 is rolled. Some players will continue the Come Bet and maximum odds for other numbers, but having three numbers in play is plenty action.
We have two options for keeping our action going during this roll. These are completely up to your preference.Option 1 Place an additional Come Bet on every roll If we do this in our example and a 4 or an 8 are rolled, we get paid on our bet, and the bet stays on the 4 or the 8. This allows us to continue winning over and over again on those numbers. If a different number is rolled, the bet will slide up to that number, but we can elect not to take odds on that number. Option 2Don’t place anymore Come Bets onto the table If a 4 or an 8 is rolled in this scenario, we will be paid on our bet, and our bet will come down off the board. We will then want to place a new Come Bet and take the maximum odds when it slides to a number.The idea of this strategy is always to have your Pass Line number and two additional Come Bet numbers going at all times. You can always make just the Pass Line bet or just the Pass Line bet and one Come Bet number if you’d like a little less money on the table. You also are never required to take the maximum odds, though this strategy recommends doing so.
You can also do more numbers this way if you’d like more action and money on the table as well. We just find that the two additional numbers are a healthy amount of action where you still have the potential to make a lot of money.
This all continues until a 7 is rolled at which point you lose all of our bets. You will win $5 if the 7 comes while you have a bet in the Come area but you will still lose all of your other bets. It’s a tiny consolation prize, to say the least. With this strategy, it only takes repeating some of your numbers a few times, and you’re going to be making a profit on the roll. If you’d like to give this a try, check out one of the online sites we mention below as they’ve got super low limits you can play or even play money where you can practice for free!
Top Tips for Playing Craps
You don’t have to be an expert at craps to enjoy the game. That being said, there are several things that you can easily do to increase your chances of winning that don’t require any additional strategy learning or studying on your part. Here are a few tips that can help elevate your craps game and make sure you have an enjoyable experience, whether you’re playing the game live in the casino or in the comfort of your own home online.
Learn the Game Before You Dive In
This is true with all casino games, but is more important as the complexity of the game is increased. As craps can be a lot to take in, make sure you take the time to learn the rules of the games and the different bets before playing for any serious money. Online casinos are great for practicing and learning as they offer the ability to play completely for free or play for very low stakes. Don’t give the house a bigger edge than they deserve!
Keep Your Discipline
As with all forms of gambling, it’s extremely important to make sure that you stick to your plan that you set out before you started playing. Set the maximum you are willing to lose in a session and walk away from the tables if you have a bad run and hit that mark. Conversely, set a win amount that you will also walk away from the tables with so that you can lock up a winning session. Players will tend to wager larger amounts than they would like to when they start to win big or when they start to lose. Make sure you set out a plan BEFORE you start playing and stick to it. If you feel like you’re starting to waiver on your plan, walk away from the tables immediately and take a break.
Though this is important in all forms of gambling, it tends to be more important with craps as the game is much more fast-paced than some of the other games and you have the ability to get more money on the table without noticing if you stray from your betting strategy. If you’re playing live, the energy of the table and the other patrons can push you to take risks you normally would not be comfortable with which can result in a bad experience.
Focus On the Fun
We’re about to sound like your mother or a gambling intervention poster, but the information is important, and you need to make sure you take it to heart. Gambling is supposed to be fun, period. If you are playing for any other reason than fun and entertainment, you need to pick a new hobby. Obviously, you should be playing hoping to win, but you should never be playing expecting to win.
Don’t try to use gambling as a way to pay bills or win money needed for something important. Only gamble with money that you are comfortable with losing. The experience should be fun and give you an adrenaline rush, but it should never make you feel uncomfortable or sad. Make sure you’re always focusing on having fun and staying within your predetermined limits.
These are just a few of the most important tips you should know before playing craps. We highly recommend before you play that you read our entire list of craps tips.
Live Craps Etiquette
For those of you venturing out into an actual casino, it’s important to be aware of the basic table etiquette that is expected of you at the table. Most of these tips aren’t rules or mandatory, but you will severely anger some other players if you don’t follow them and could be asked to leave by the casino. Do yourself and everyone around you a favor, and take these to heart. They’re easy to follow; we promise.
Never get in the way of the roll
People that play craps are highly superstitious. It’s part of what makes the game fun for a lot of people, and we have to respect that. You’ll notice that a lot of players put effort into how they throw the dice and really feel like they have control over what gets rolled. Make sure that you never get your hands in the way of the dice being rolled. If you hit the dice and the other players lose, prepare to be scowled at or even berated by the players as well as warned by the dealers.
The best way to avoid this is to make your bets and pick up your winnings quickly after each roll. The dealers will not push the dice until they give all the players adequate time to do what they need to do. The easiest way to avoid an issue here is not to reach for anything or put anything on the table once the shooter has the dice in their hands.
Stack your bets respectfully
If you happen to be one of the players towards the end of the table where the dice land, please stack your bets in an organized stack. Don’t put out tons of chips if you have a higher denomination chip that will cover the bet.
If you want to bet $25 and you have a $25 chip, use it instead of 5 $5 chips.
The reason for this is that the dice will hit messy and taller stacks and cause a mess for the dealers. Your chips will go flying, and it will slow down the game as the dealers will have to figure out what bet went where. If you’re the one slowing the game down because you think your stacking looks cool, people will start to get mad at you. This is not a great recipe for having a good time.
Don’t say the “S word.”
As we mentioned earlier, craps players (even you might be) are highly superstitious. One of the most common superstitions is that you should never say the word seven while a point is established. Players most likely are aware that what you say has nothing to do with the outcome of the dice, but it’s kind of an unwritten tradition not to mention it while a point is established. If you want to say it on the come out roll, totally fine! We’re not trying to tell you what you can or can’t say, but if you want to fit into the crowd and not upset other players, this is a good rule to follow.
Smokers be careful
If you’re at a casino that allows smoking, just be careful of where your ashes go. Nothing can ruin a craps table quicker than a smoker who is ashing on the table. There is typically a ledge that runs the length of the table just under the ridge where you can set an ashtray and hold your cigarette. Also, keep in mind that at peak times the table can be very busy so you might want to look into just stepping away from the table when you need to catch a drag.
Please blow with care
A lot of players like to blow on the dice for good luck. It’s a popular thing that I’m sure you will see many times in your future craps sessions. If you choose to do this for good luck, please just blow lightly on the dice. No need to try and use gale force winds that will blow spit and germs all over the place. Trust me, other players will respect you for respecting this.
Don’t take years to throw the dice
Players typically have a strategy of how they like to throw the dice. Some players like to have the dice set to a certain number before they toss them across the table. Some players also have pre-throw routines that they like to do for good luck. These are totally fine and can make the game more fun. It’s important to make sure though that you don’t take an extremely long time every time you toss the dice.
If your pre-throw ritual is clapping five times, setting the dice to equal 10, and then singing the national anthem twice while doing 100 jumping jacks, you might want to look into shortening that ritual. Players like to play craps because it’s fun and fast-paced. We’re sure you’re a great singer and all, but spare us the performance every roll.
The accuracy of your paid bets
Two things we want to point out about the accuracy of getting your bets paid. First of all, dealers do make mistakes on rare occasions, but for the most part, they are masters at what they do. If you constantly think your dealer is paying you incorrectly, you are probably wrong about how the rules are played. If you’re unsure of a payout, kindly ask the dealer to explain it to you and check it. Please don’t do this for every single bet though as it will dramatically slow down the game by taking up all the dealer’s attention.
If you do think that the dealer made an error in paying your bet, address it before you touch your bet or try and pick it up. If you pick up your chips and put them in your rack, it’s going to be impossible for the dealer to verify if a mistake was made or not and we can guarantee you they will rule for the casino.
While tipping is never mandatory, it is customary in a few situations in the casino at the craps table. If a cocktail waitress brings you a drink while you are playing, it is customary to tip her at least $1 (this is fairly standard) for the drink regardless if you are winning or losing.
Tipping the dealers is also customary, but usually when you are winning. If you are losing but still want to toss the dealers a few bucks, totally fine. If you are crushing the tables, you have a few options of how to tip the dealers. The first is to toss them a few bucks every now and then when you get paid for a win. The second is to place a bet for the dealers. You can toss a chip to the dealers and instruct them to place a bet somewhere that is for the dealers. If the bet wins, the dealers will keep the original bet chip and the payout. The final way you can tip is to toss the dealers a slightly larger amount as you end your session and leave the table.
All of these methods are great and appreciated by the craps dealers. Craps dealers are some of the hardest workers in the casino and also do a great job of helping out newer players. Rewarding them is much appreciated.
FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions about Craps
Is craps just for high rollers?
A lot of people shy away from craps because they think that you have to have big money or be a high roller to be able to play at the tables. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Craps tables allow you to bet as little or as much as you’d like thanks to the tons of different betting options. Online craps is especially accommodating with table minimums that are sometimes less than 1% of that of live casinos. Don’t be scared to play the game just because higher rollers play the game. Most of them are there because of the amazing no house edge bets offered by the game.
Is craps too confusing to learn?
Besides the fear that the game is only for high rollers, the other reason most players shy away from craps initially is that they feel it is too difficult to learn. In fact, craps is not that complex of a game to learn if you take a few minutes to learn it. It is more confusing than other casino games, but not by much. If you’ve read through this guide, you probably already know more about craps than 90% of players at the tables. If you haven’t read through this guide, we highly recommend doing so. We’ve broken down the game in a way that’s easy for you to comprehend and in a way that will have you speaking the lingo in no time!
What are the “sucker bets”?
You might hear the term sucker bets thrown around when people are talking about craps. They are referring to a lot of the bets in the middle of the table. These bets typically advertise higher payouts but your odds of winning are significantly lower, and the house edge is significantly higher. Does this mean you shouldn’t play these bets? No. A lot of these bets are a lot of fun to play, and many craps players are big fans of them. Just know that you are accepting a higher house edge on a lot of these bets.
How long does each game of craps last?
The definition of one game of craps is from the first come out roll until either the point is hit or the table craps out (rolls a 7). This can last as short as a few rolls or can go on for a long time. The longer the game goes on, the more money the table is making! Here is a phenomenal story about a game that lasted 154 rolls of the dice before ending!
Are there really bets where the house has no advantage?
There are! The odds bets that we mentioned earlier in this guide have a 0.0% house advantage. This means that in the long run, the house will not win or lose any money on this bet. This does not mean that the player has the edge over the house, but this is by far the best bet you will ever get in a casino.
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