What is Craps?
Craps is a popular dice game in which the player make bets on a roll, or a series of rolls. In the casino version of the game the players wager against the casino, rather than the other players.
Craps is rare in that it usually has multiple staff working the table. The boxman is responsible for surpervising and stashing the cash, while the stickman pushes around the dice and calls out results. Next to the stickman stand the two dealers. These dealers are responsible for managing the bets, paying the winners and collecting the lost money from the losers.
The rest of space next to the dealers and behind the pass lines will be filled by the players.
The layout of a standard craps table.
Basic Rules for Craps
Craps can be a very confusing game at first. If you can't quite figure out how it works from this description then try playing a few rounds online, there will be some links to some places where you can play near the bottom of this article. There is also a lot of common and confusing lingo which is used, again, this can be found below.
You'll want to refer to the above image when we talk about this game. Remember, this is a game played with two dice. Now then, let's begin!
First Step – Pass Line
The first thing which you will want to take notice of is the Pass Line. This is the games' main bet, and the one with the smallest house edge. Bets placed on this means wagering that the shooter, the player, is going to win. This is also called making a pass. In live casinos the bets you make should be placed on the pass line directly in front of you.
If the first roll by the player is a 7 or and 11 then everyone on the pass line wins. If the first roll is a 2,3 or 12 then everyone on the pass line loses. This losing roll is referred to as craps.
Any other rolls will be considered point numbers. You can see these in the above image as 4,5, six, 8, nine and 10. When these are rolled a puck is placed on top of that number on the board.
If a point number is rolled then the player must shoot again and land on that exact number again before landing on a 7. At this point craps and the other numbers hold no value. If the shooter does manage to land on that same point number then everyone on the pass line wins, and another round begins.
On the occasion that a shooter rolls a 7 then everyone on the pass line loses. If this happens then the dice move counter-clockwise to the next shooter. This next shooter begins the next round, once the table has been reset by the staff.
Second Step – Don't Pass Line
When a player chooses to place their bet on the don't pass line then they are wagering that the shooter will not pass, as the name suggests. If a shooter rolls a 3 or a 3 on the first roll then everyone on the don't pass line wins. If they roll a 12 then the game enters what is called a standoff, or a tie. Another term for this is a bar roll. In this situation nobody wins or loses.
Players on the don't pass line will lose if the shooter scores a 7 or 11 on the first roll.
If the shooter hits point number and rolls again then players on the don't pass line can win if the shooter then rolls a 7, before rolling their point number again.
After the Shooter has a Point
If the shooter has landed on a point number, and before their second roll, a player on the pass line can bet again. They can do this by placing further chips just under the pass line. This is called taking the odds, and offers a greater payout.
This should generally be considered, as it has the lowest house edge.
Something to keep in mind are the odds when rolling two dice:
- Rolling a 4 or a 10 can be done in three ways which have the odds of 2-1.
- Rolling a 5 or a 9 can be done in four ways which have the odds of 3-2.
- Shooting a 6 or an 8 can be done in three ways which have the odds of 6-5.
- Shooting a 7 can be done in six ways, so it has the greatest odds of being rolled.
Also important to know is that the players can bet on more than one point number, if a point number has already been rolled.
In order to do this the chips must be places in the area of the table marked come. The player does not get to chose a new number, rather this number is dictated by the number next rolled by the shooter. Addition come bets can be places before each shoot.
A little complicated? Here's an example:
If the shooter hit a point number of 6 a player can then place their chips in the come bar. When the shooter rolls again and gets an 8 then the chips in the come bar will then be moved to the eight, where they will stay until a win or a loss.
A player can also take the odds on a come bet. This is done by placing further chips on the come line and requesting odds from the dealer.
A player does need to rely on rolls to bet on a specific number. Instead they can simple place their chips on the come line and tell the dealer that they want a specified number. The dealer will then place the chips on the small rectangular box between the come line and the numbers.
As the odds on the numbers used for place bets increase the payout decreases. This is why players often go with place bets instead.
These bets are placed, as you might predict, in the area labelled Big 6/8. For these to payout the shooter must hit either a 6 or an 8 before they roll a 7. While these have a smaller payout than most on offer by the game they also usually have a smaller minimum bet.
Note that some more modern tables don't include these sections, as they are shrinking in popularity.
These are the bets which are placed in the centre of the table in the section marked field.
Bets on this section need to come up on the very next roll. If the next roll does not hit one of these numbers then the bet is discarded. If it does not, however, then the shooter is able to let it ride, and continue the same bet for the next roll.
As these are riskier bets than most they have a greater payout.
Hard Way Bets
These are bets which can only be placed on the number 4, 6, 8 and 10. In order for one of these bets to payout these numbers must be hit with doubles, that is two dice of the same number. This would mean 2, 2's, 3's, 4's or 5's.
Put bets are bets where a player put down money on the pass line, or adds to the pass line, after a point has been established.
That's it for the basics! Craps is one of those games which is intimidating at first but becomes quite simple and very enjoyable once you learn how it runs. There is a reason these are some of most popular games around!
It should be noted that some of these bets, especially the later ones, are not always supported by casinos, so check before you play.
Important Craps Information
The house edge in craps runs from a low 1.41% to a high 16.67%.
There are also some important rules in casino craps which should no be overlooked.
A shooter needs to keep in mind that the dice must remain in one hand at all times, and should not be taken over the edge of the table. This helps to reduce the chances of cheater switching the dice out for a loaded pair.
When throwing the dice the shooter is required to throw the dice past a certain point. In some casinos this is the wall of the table opposite the shooter, in others it is okay as long as it passes the midway point of the table. The dice from these throws are generally required to be under eye level of the dealers.
Many casinos even allow their players to select the pair of dice which they would like to shoot from a set.
History of Craps
This is another one of those games where the origin is not fully understood.
Most scholars believe the game originated from the ancient Arabic game of Azzahr. This game was eventually taken from Arabia by the French crusaders who renamed it Hasard. Later still this game crossed the Channel into England where it received the name of Hazard, eventually crossing over into America.
As with many popular modern casino games, craps became well known in the west after becoming popular in the 1800's on New Orleans riverboats. It has been a mainstay ever since.
The name of craps came from the English term for the worst roll, crabs. This term changed a few more times due to regional dialects before finally settling on craps.
A roll of three.
When the game is in play and bets can be won or lost.
Another term for the don't pass line.
Behind the Line
The term given to bets odds bets which are placed behind the pass line.
A common term for the appearance of the number 7.
A popular term for the dice.
A bet on of a roll of 12
The Supervisor who sits in the space between the two inside dealers.
A slang term for number 9
A pair of dice which are constantly hitting 7. Sometimes also called a cold table.
The first roll by the shooter.
When a 2, 3 or 12 come out on the first roll.
A bowl which holds the excess dice which are not being used.
Two dice which land on the same number.
When a winning combination has two possible ways to roll.
A slang term for a field bet.
Rolling a 4,6,8 or 10 with a double.
A single roll bet for the numbers 2 or 12.
A bet on a roll of 12, also called boxcars.
A bet which has been divided and placed for the numbers 2,3,11 and 12.
The term given to when the dice are constantly hitting winning numbers, also called a hot table. The opposite of cold dice.
The statistical advantage the the house has over the players.
Bets which are placed on the numbers 5,6,8 and 9.
The name for the covering displaying the printout on which the action takes place.
A dice or pair of dice which have been modified to favour rolling certain numbers. This is a form of cheating.
The term given to person who controls the landing numbers of the dice through dice control.
Rolling either a 7 or 11 on the first roll.
When the dice go out of bounds or are otherwise counted as a non-roll. Also called no action.
Bet that are placed on the numbers 4,5,9 and 10.
When a player adds their winnings to their original bet.
The disk which is placed on the point when a point is rolled.
A double 1 roll. Also called aces.
The dealer in charge of controlling and moving the device via the stick.
A player who makes long and complicated bets which makes additional and unnecessary work for the dealers.
A tip which is given to the dealer.
A bet on the number 11
Where to Play Craps
As craps is one of the most popular games both in casinos and online it shouldn't be difficult to find a place to play. If you already have a favourite gambling website then check around, they might already have some craps games on offer. For a more specific list of just a few sites where you can find craps games check out below.