Complete Guide to Playing Craps

Written by: Jeremy Olson , Online Casino and Games Expert

Craps is a casino game where you bet on the outcome of rolling a pair of dice. Once you know how to play, gathering around the famous green felted table to wager on the action is an unmatched gambling experience.

This guide to Craps for beginners covers the rules, betting fundamentals, table layout, and how to play. We’ll show you how to find the best games and the legit online casinos with real money tables.

What is Craps?

online craps history

Craps is a dice-throwing game that people have played as far back as the Crusades, some 700 to 900 years ago. The game’s name comes from the French word “crapaud,” meaning frog. It describes the crouched way dice shooters stood when playing in the streets.

A French-Creole plantation owner named Bernard de Marigny brought Craps to New Orleans. Early players learned how to gain an advantage through dice techniques, so John H. Winn included the “don’t pass” rule to eliminate that advantage. Winn’s rule introduced the game we know today.

In World War II, dice shooting became popular with US soldiers. The post-war generation wanted to play it in casinos. Las Vegas was happy enough to accommodate. Today, it is a favorite table game for gamblers, and you’re sure to find it in every land-based and online casino.

Craps Rules

Despite its many betting options and unique terminology, Craps is a relatively easy casino game once you know the basic rules. There are only 36 combinations between 2 and 12 when you roll two dice.

The Basics

A few casino employees are running the game and assisting your bets. The one with a curved stick is usually called the stickman. There is also a boxman and a couple of dealers that help the game run smoothly.

Craps Dice with Money

Among the players at the table, one gambler will be the shooter who rolls the dice. They must throw both dice out of one hand and make sure both hit the back wall for the toss to be valid.

If the dice tumble off the table, the stickman will inspect them and put them back into the game or replace them.

Objective of the Game

The goal of Craps is to accurately predict the next dice roll by placing bets in various areas on the felt. All wagers must be on the table and in the proper position before the shooter rolls the dice.

Rules of Craps During a Round

Each round of Craps has a coming-out phase and a point phase. The gameplay begins after the initial wagers are on the table, and the stickman gives dice to the shooter. Before we get into the bets you can make, let’s look at the rules that define each of these stages.

Come Out Roll

Craps Dice With Poker Chips and Point Lines

At the start of a round, the shooter throws one or more come-out rolls. A couple of scenarios can happen in these initial dice rolls.

  • If they roll a 2, 3, or 12, these are craps, and Pass Line bets lose.
  • If they roll a natural 7 or 11, all Pass Line wagers win.
  • If they roll a 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10, then a point is set, and the game moves into the next phase.

The Point Phase

Craps Games Icon Full Color

A point is on when the shooter rolls a 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10. Based on the rules of casino Craps, the dealer then places the ON button on the corresponding number, and the game progresses to the 2nd stage.

The shooter continues to throw the dice until one of the following things happens, and turn the dealer button turns back to the OFF position.

  • They roll the come point. It is the same number as the point and does not have to be the same dice combination.
  • They can roll a 7 and seven-out, which ends the betting round.

The Craps Table

The Craps table is 12-14 feet long with a green felt betting area, a padded apron, and a studded back wall. The diagram below shows you some of the classic elements of the game you’ll find at the casino.

Craps Table Basics Explained Inforgraphic

Craps Bets Explained

Poker Chip with Spade Icon

There are several bets in Craps that you have the option of placing throughout any given round. Let’s look at all the wagering options on the table.

All Craps bets have different odds and payouts, but we’re going to focus here on what each one means and the correct time to place them.

Multi-Roll Bets

The multi-roll bets tend to be some of the most popular options. Many of them cover several dice roll outcomes and give the player a better chance at winning a prize.

Craps Table Layout Pass Line Bet Area Highlighted

“Pass Line” Bet

The Pass Line Bet at the Craps table is a common stake at the start of the round. This wager means you think a 7 or 11 will hit before a 2, 3, or 12 on the come-out roll.

When a point is set instead of a 2, 3, 7, 11, or 12, then the pass line bets remain active on the table. It stays there until the shooter hits the point again or sevens out.

Craps Table Layout Don't Pass Bar Area Highlighted

“Don’t Pass” Bet

The Don’t Pass Bet is the opposite of the pass line bet. So, a don’t pass wager means you think a 2 or 3 will land before 7 or 11 on the come-out roll. A 12, in this case, is a push.

It is far less common since most people play the pass line, and you’re essentially betting against them. It’s only bad manners if you celebrate openly on a “don’t pass” win.

Craps Table Layout Come Bet Area Highlighted

Come Bet

You can only make a Come Bet after a point is set. It means that you think the shooter will get a 7 or 11 on the dice before they land the come point again.

This wager is very similar to the pass line bet, except you place it at a different time.

Craps Table Layout Don't Come Area Highlighted

Don’t Come Bet

The Don’t Come Bet is the reverse version of the come bet. So you place this wager if you think there will be a 2 or 3 before the come point. Again, a 12 here is a push.

This bet is essentially the same as the don’t pass wager but placed after a set point.

Craps Table Layout Pass Line Odds Chip Placement

Taking the Odds / Laying Odds

Taking the Odds can only be done after a point is set if you’ve made a pass wager. These bets pay off if the point gets hit again before the shooter gets a 7.

You can Lay the Odds after a point is set if you made a don’t pass wager. You win this bet if the shooter throws a 7 before they roll the come point a second time.

Craps Table Layout Place buy and Lay Point Area Highlighted

Place Bets / Buy Bets / Lay Bets

Place and Buy Bets can happen anytime, but they only pay out when a point is set. These wagers mean you think that a 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10 will happen before a 7.

The casino takes a 5% commission on the buy bet for slightly better payouts. The lay bet is essentially the opposite of the buy bet and is rooting for a 7 first.

Craps Table Layout Big 6 and Big 8 Area Highlighted

Big 6 / Big 8

You can place these bets at any time. A Big 6 pays when the shooter rolls a 6 before a 7. Likewise, the Big 8 pays off when they throw an 8 before a 7.

These wagers differ slightly from the 6 or 8 place bets and buy bets since they are active even when a point isn’t set. They are usually regarded as sucker bets.

Craps Table Layout Hardway Area Highlighted

Hardway Bets

You can place these bets at any time. You are wagering on a 4, 6, 8, or 10 to show where both dice are the same numbers. For example, two 5s is a “hard 10.”

To win these wagers, you need the “hard number” to hit before the shooter rolls a 7. The hardway 2 and 12 are both Craps with their own betting area.

Single-Roll Bets

The Craps table also has several proposition bets in the center that are only good for a single roll. These side wagers payout well but have a much lower probability of hitting.

Single Roll Craps Bets Snake Eyes Two

Snake Eyes

You’re betting the shooter rolls a two. The single pips on the dice look like the eyes of a snake.

Single Roll Craps Bets Ace Deuce

Ace Deuce

This wager pays when the dice land on three. Also called “3 Craps,” it will always have a 1 and a 2 in combination.

Single Roll Craps Bets Yo Eleven


You’re wagering that the next roll is an 11. Also called Yoleven, this combo will always contain a 5 and a 6.

Single Roll Craps Bets Boxcars Twelve


This bet wins when the shooter rolls a 12. It is always two 6s and is sometimes called cornrows or midnight.

Single Roll Craps Bets E and C

C & E

The C bet is for “Craps,” and the E stands for “eleven.” You can make these wagers singly or combined.

Single Roll Craps Bets Big Red Seven

Big Red

Here you’re hoping for a 7 to hit. It’s unlucky to say “seven” in Craps, so this roll gets a nickname.

Craps Games Icon Big

Any Craps

This bet wins when the shooter rolls any of the Craps numbers 2, 3, or 12. It is also called the three-way.

Single Roll Craps Bets Horn

The Horn

Wagering on the horn is hoping for a 2, 3, 11, or 12. All these numbers only have a single combination.

Single Roll Craps Bets Field Area

Field Bet

The field pays off when the shooter hits a 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11, or 12. The payout for a 2 or 12 gets doubled here.

Multi-Bet Craps Bets World Icon

Multi-Bet Nicknames

Some wagering combinations have unique nicknames. For example, betting the world or “whirl” is when you put stakes on big seven and the horn, and Hard and Horny combines the hardway choices with the horn.

How to Play a Round of Craps

Once you know the basic rules, the next step is understanding how to play Craps from start to finish. The role of the shooter moves around the table to each player in a clockwise fashion. If you miss your chance, you can still bet and play like normal.

  1. Buy Into a Table

    At a land-based casino, you need to give your cash to a dealer at the table to get chips. It is best to do this when a new point is made or a new shooter is coming up. Online, you can join a table at any time as long as you have made a deposit and have funds in your account.
  2. Place Your Bets

    Place your chips on the felt in the appropriate area based on what you think the dice will do. If you’re having difficulty deciding or putting wagers in the correct location, you can ask a dealer to assist you. Remember, the table is pretty large, so chances are you’ll need help from time to time.
  3. Rolling the Dice

    After initial wagers are down, the stickman will pass a bowl of dice to the shooter and let them select two. The shooter then tosses the dice down the table, and the numbers show face-up.
  4. Game Progression

    The initial Come Out stage has a few outcomes. In the case of a natural or Craps, the same shooter will get to roll again until they set a point and the game progresses to the point phase.
  5. The End of A Round

    Once in the point phase, the shooter will keep throwing the dice until they roll the “come point” again, or get a 7 and “seven-out.” This is the end of the betting round. The dealer clears the bets and flips the dealer button to OFF. Finally, the entire process starts over with the gambler to the left of the previous shooter.

Rules for Rolling Dice – Dos and Dont’s

Simply knowing how to shoot dice properly is only part of the battle. You also want to know the dos and don’ts regarding basic rules and superstitions. The following advice will help you fit in at the craps table and have more fun.


  • Buy in correctly – Wait for the puck to display “Off” and put your money on the table.
  • Learn craps superstitions – Craps players are superstitious, meaning you should learn their customs before playing.
  • Attempt to hit the backstop – Casinos expect you to make a reasonable attempt at hitting the spikey backstop when rolling. You don’t have to hit it perfectly every time, but you should at least try.
  • Tip the dealer – Dealers rely on tips for part of their salaries. A $5 tip every hour is the standard for craps.
  • Focus on quality bets – Craps features multiple wagers with low house edges, with pass line (1.41% house advantage) being among the best.


  • Give money to the dealer when buying in – The croupier can’t take cash and can only pick it up off the table. 
  • Saying “seven” – The worst craps superstition you can violate is saying seven. Many players feel that they’ll lose when somebody utters seven.
  • Throw dice off the table – You get another shot if you toss one or both dice off the table. Regardless, other players see this folly as bad luck.
  • Mess with the dice – Casinos are suspicious if you switch hands with the dice or take them off the table.
  • Get caught up in controlled shooting – Some players believe they know how to roll high numbers consistently through controlled shooting. It is a fake advantage-play technique.

Is Dice Control Real?

There is a lot of discussion about whether knowing proper craps dice control is actually possible to learn and use in a casino setting. You can find books and websites that swear craps dice control is real and practiced by players around the world.

The Theory Behind Craps Dice Control

The theory behind this is that if you can throw a pair of dice the exact same way every time, the chance of the dice landing in the same way increases, and you can predict what you’ll roll.

The problem is you need to train your body to operate in the exact same way every time to have even a sliver of a chance at successful results. Even then, casinos are keen on strange behavior, and the tables are designed to prevent controlled rolls.

Craps Table Etiquette

Respectful Gentleman Icon

Craps is a social game with a set of unwritten rules that dictate polite and respectful behavior. Most are common sense, but beginners might not consider their manners when they first step up to the table.

If you adhere to these simple Craps etiquette tips, it makes the game more enjoyable for everyone. Remember, most of you are on the same side. If the other players and dealers at the table are happy, it makes for a better game.

  • DO NOT put personal items on the table. There is a ledge under the table for them.
  • DO NOT hold your drink over the table. Dripping on the felt is a big offense.
  • ALWAYS buy in when a new point is set, or a new shooter is coming up.
  • ALWAYS make bets in the fewest chips possible.
  • ALWAYS stack your chips in an orderly fashion if you’re near the pass line because the dice will roll near them.
  • DO NOT make late bets.
  • ALWAYS throw the dice in a timely fashion when you’re the shooter.
  • ALWAYS bring payout mistakes to the dealer’s attention BEFORE the next roll and BEFORE you touch your chips.
  • NEVER say the word “Seven” after the point is on.
  • Ask a dealer to hold your spot for you and watch your chips if you need to walk away briefly.
  • ALWAYS tip the dealers before leaving, even if you lost. They work hard for your enjoyment.

Casino Craps vs. Craps Online

While the gameplay is relatively the same, there are several differences between Craps at land-based casinos and online Craps games.

Online Craps

Online Craps is much faster since it’s just you and the software. There are no officials checking bets and no other gamblers making decisions.

Many players enjoy learning the game from home on the internet. The software tends to do a good job explaining the betting areas and illustrating payouts.

Casino Craps Tables

The energy of the Craps table in a casino and the game’s social nature are enticing and intimidating. However, the rounds happen more slowly, so take your time.

Make sure you follow the etiquette and respect everyone playing the game. There is a correct way to buy chips, roll the dice, and even place your bets.

Best Online Casinos for Craps

You can play online craps for real money without ever leaving your house. Sure, the table won’t be packed with rowdy gamblers, but you can get place your bets and roll the dice all the same. Sign up at any of these legit sites and go to the table games section.

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Practice Playing Online Craps for Free

Practice for free with this online craps game. Get a feel for how and when to place wagers in different areas on the table.

Get Ready to Have a Blast at the Craps Table

By now, you should have a good grasp of the rules, layout, how to play, and all the bets you can make at the table. Just make sure to follow some basic etiquette, and you’re sure to have a great time.

Sign up at any of our suggested real money online casinos to start playing today on your computer, phone, or tablet. You’ll be winning in just a few throws of the dice.

Craps FAQ

What is the house edge in craps?

Due to the complicated nature of betting in craps, the house edge varies drastically depending on which bets you make. The table also has different versions of house edge percentages due to the fact some bets stay in place for multiple rolls. To make things simple, the house edges listed here will be based purely on the end result of the bet.

The standard pass line bet, which most beginners should stick with, has a house edge of 1.41%. The don’t pass is slightly less at 1.36%.

Is it possible to win at craps?

In the long term, no, you can’t win at craps. This is due to the insurmountable house edge on every single bet that is placed on the table, except the odds. However, the 0% house edge of the odds bet and the fact you must have made a previous bet to the odds, which will have a house edge, still means you can’t win in the long term.

You can certainly have a winning session on a craps table, though. It’s all about choosing when to walk away. If there is an amazing shooter who is hitting point after point, then you should take advantage of this and stay at the table.

How does craps compare to other casino games?

One major factor is that by using the optimal betting method in craps, a player can lower the house edge to 1.36%. This is decent when compared to some other table games. Blackjack with the best possible rules has a house edge of 0.28% while baccarat is 1.06%, and roulette is 2.7% if you play on a single 0 table.

Additional Craps Resources

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Jeremy Olson

Jeremy Olson Online Casino and Games Expert

Jeremy Olson is a research writer in the gambling industry who has covered poker, casino games, and sports betting since 2004. He converted bad beats in blackjack and poker into a passion to learn and now specializes in several areas of the online casino market.

Learn More About Jeremy