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 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
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.
Complete Video Guide for Playing Craps
Want a step-by-step summary of all this information? Or, maybe you are more of a visual learner. Check out the video below to learn all the ins and outs of playing craps.
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.
Craps Dice Control
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 the chances the dice will land in the same way increases. By doing this and having it land in the exact same spot over and over again you can influence the resulting rolls based on how you set or hold the dice before releasing them.
The problem is you need to train your body to operate in the exact same way every time in order to have a chance at successful results.
How Training your Body for Craps Dice Control Looks Like
You have to grip the dice with the same pressure, release them at the same time, use the same angle each time, then make them have the same amount of elevation and hit the same spot with the same amount of force.
This is a form of muscle memory. Muscle memory is a real thing that athletes practice to master their sport. So if other people can do it, in theory, dice throwers could do it too.
It does take a lot of practice, though. Depending on where you look, mastery time estimates range from 100 hours to over 1,000 hours.
Is Dice Control Worth It?
One of the first arguments made by people who don’t believe in dice control is that casinos aren’t doing anything to stop it from happening so they must not be worried about it, and that’s a valid point.
If you decide that it just can’t be done, then it’s clear you’ve decided it isn’t worth it. But if you believe that some players can control the dice enough to change the house edge, then you need to weigh the cost in time and money against the possible return.
Sometimes people start believing something because they want it to be true, not because they have solid facts or evidence. Most gamblers want to believe that craps dice control is real because it would be a great way to make money.
Study what you can find about it and decide if you think you can get an edge by controlling craps dice. If you decide to give it a try, we wish you the best of luck.
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.
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.
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.