The Complete Guide to Playing Craps
Learning how to play craps may seem like a monumental task for the beginner, but the basics are actually easy to pick up. That’s part of the reason for its popularity over the years, not to mention the wealth of betting options and the fast pace of the game.
In this article, I’ll teach you how to play craps by providing a basic overview of the game. For additional details on individual aspects such as craps odds and craps systems, be sure to check out some of the other articles on this site.
The Craps Employees
The employees at a craps table include the following:
Boxman – Keeps an eye on the chips and the dealers, as well as exchanging large chips for smaller denominations.
Base Dealers – Two casino employees who stand to either side of the boxman. Responsible for collecting and paying out bets.
Stickman – Stands across from the boxman and keeps the pace of the game flowing. He takes bets in the center of the table, announces the outcome of rolls, and collects the rolled dice with a stick.
The Basics of Craps
The shooter takes the dice from the stickman and makes a wager on the Pass or Don’t Pass line. Other players can also choose to make their bets. Once betting is finished, the shooter rolls the dice down the table, making sure they are tossed hard enough to bounce off the far wall.
The initial roll of the shooter is known as the “come out” roll. A roll of 2, 3, or 12 is known as “craps,” and immediately ends the round. Players who wagered on the don’t pass line win, while those who wagered on the pass line lose. If the come-out roll is a 7 or 11 (also known as a “natural”), the round ends. Anyone who wagered on the pass line wins, while those who wagered on the don’t pass line lose their chips.
If a number other than the 2, 3, 12, 7, or 11 comes up, this number is called the “point.” The round continues, with bets being made between each roll, and it is the goal of the shooter to roll the point again before getting a 7.
If the shooter makes the point, they can roll for another round or pass the dice to the next player. If they roll a 7, the round ends and the dice are passed clockwise to the next player. This player now becomes the shooter, and another round begins.
Craps Bets and Winning Tactics
In addition to pass and don’t pass bets, players are also able to wager on a wide array of outcomes. They can bet on a specific number to come up during the next roll, or they can even try to predict which numbers will be rolled on each die. While some bets are only good for one roll, others allow the players to keep the bet on the board throughout the round.
Now that you know the basics of how to play craps, you’ll be able to take part in the most exciting casino game around. From the excitement of being the shooter to the cheers surrounding the come-out roll, craps is a unique community experience that’s perfect for those tired of the solitary nature of games like video poker.
Just remember to monitor your bankroll and never play with money you can’t afford to lose.
The rule of thumb for casino games is that the more complicated the rules are, the better the odds are for the player, and vice versa. For example, slot machines have a very high house edge. They’re also very easy to play. On the other hand, blackjack has a very low house edge IF you’ve memorized basic strategy (which can be quite a challenge in and of itself.)
That’s not to imply that a skilled craps player can get an edge over the house. Some craps strategies involve trying to control how the dice land.
I’m skeptical about dice control as a practical craps strategy, but I suppose it’s possible. But for me, the best craps strategy involves sticking with the bets which have the lowest house edge. when I lose money, I just chalk it up to the cost of entertainment. That’s one thing that craps can offer you in spades. No casino game is more exciting or fun than craps.
What makes craps seem complicated is the large number of bets which are available. And craps has a language all its own, and the action at the craps table is fast and furious. This combination of factors can intimidate new craps players, but it needn’t intimidate you, because you’re reading this site. And this site has a single purpose–to make craps strategy and tactics simple for the novice.
The only bets you really need to understand at the craps table are the pass line and the don’t pass bets.
The Pass Line Bet
When you bet on the pass line on the come out roll (the first roll in a series of rolls with a particular shooter), you’re betting that one of two things is going to happen:
1. The shooter is going to get a 7 or an 11 on her first roll.
2. The shooter is going to make her point.
If the shooter gets a total of 2, 3, or 12 on the come out roll, then you lose your pass bet.
If the shooter gets ANY number besides 2, 3, 7, 11, or 12, then that sets the point.
What does it mean for the shooter to make a point?
That means that if the shooter rolls the same total as she got on her come out roll on any subsequent roll, the bettors on the pass line win their bets.
The shooter rolls until she makes her point or until she gets a 7. If she rolls a 7 before making her point, then the pass line bet is a loser.
The Don’t Pass Bet
What’s a “don’t pass” bet? It’s exactly the opposite of the pass line bet. When you place a don’t pass bet, you’re considered a “wrong bettor.” Most people prefer to root for the shooter, but some people don’t care, and they always bet the don’t pass bet.
This bet pays out whenever the pass line bet loses. (Except in the case of a 12 on the come out roll, which is considered a tie.)
The House Edge
The house edge on the pass line bet is 1.41%, making it one of the bet bets in the casino. If you bet $100 per roll, over time, you’ll average a loss of just $1.41 per bet. That can make for a lot of entertainment at a pretty low price.
The house edge on the don’t pass bet is 1.36%, so it’s a slightly better bet, if you don’t mind rooting against most of the rest of the table. I’m willing to pay the extra nickel per bet average in order to enjoy the camaraderie at the table.
If that sounds too simple, then that’s because it is. Once the come out roll has happened and a point has been set, you have the option to place an additional bet, and this bet is called “taking odds.” The brilliant thing about taking odds is that it has a 0 house edge. This is the only bet in the casino where the casino pays out at exactly the same rate as the odds of winning the bet.
The odds bet varies from casino to casino, but it usually has a maximum equal to a multiple of your original bet on the pass line.
When you combine the odds of winning on the come out roll with taking odds, you wind up with a VERY low house edge game. In fact, the odds become less than 1%. This makes craps the best table game in the casino, unless you count cards in blackjack. (Which can hardly be considered “fun.”)
All of the Other Craps Bets
All of the other bets on the craps table have significantly worse odds than the pass line and the don’t pass bets. And that’s especially true when you take into account taking odds.
So what’s the best craps strategy? Always bet on the pass line, and then always take the maximum odds you can when a point hits.
Then relax and enjoy the excitement of the game. Since the house edge is SO low, you can have LOTS of fun and even come home a winner on a pretty regular basis. And craps isn’t nearly as complicated as you though, is it?