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.
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What is Craps?
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.
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.
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.
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 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
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
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.
How to Play 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.
Buy Into a TableAt 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 any time as long as you have made a deposit and have funds in your account.
Place Your BetsPlace 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.
Rolling the DiceAfter 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.
Game ProgressionThe 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.
The End of A RoundOnce 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.
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 Bets Explained
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.
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.
“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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
You’re betting the shooter rolls a two. The single pips on the dice look like the eyes of a snake.
This wager pays when the dice land on three. Also called “3 Craps,” it will always have a 1 and a 2 in combination.
You’re wagering that the next roll is an 11. Also called Yoleven, this combo will always contain a 5 and a 6.
This bet wins when the shooter rolls a 12. It is always two 6s and is sometimes called cornrows or midnight.
C & E
The C bet is for “Craps,” and the E stands for “eleven.” You can make these wagers singly or combined.
Here you’re hoping for a 7 to hit. It’s unlucky to say “seven” in Craps, so this roll gets a nickname.
This bet wins when the shooter rolls any of the Craps numbers 2, 3, or 12. It is also called the three-way.
Wagering on the horn is hoping for a 2, 3, 11, or 12. All these numbers only have a single combination.
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.
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.
Craps Table Etiquette
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 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.