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How to Play Craps: The Rules, Tips, and Strategies

Shane C

Apr 27, 2023

Guide to Playing Craps

The Story Behind Craps

If you’ve ever entered a brick-and-mortar casino, you know there’s always a buzz all over the place. The whirring sound of slots, the roulette going round and round, or even the people discussing possible plays near a Blackjack table. The pinnacle of the casino extravaganza is the spectacle presented around a Craps table. 

This 19th century fast-paced table game was developed in the United States deriving from a simplification of a Western European game named Hazard. Craps came into the spotlight during World War II. Craps’ street version became immensely popular among military members and the joyful memories of playing it during the war, made them want to play it when they returned from the field of battle. Such popularity turned Craps into the number one game in Las Vegas casinos post-war. After 2004, the game spread globally through online casinos.

Many hear stories and read reviews stating that this game is really complex and end up not even giving it a try. This guide intends to demystify this line of thought and show you how fun it can be to throw the dice at a Craps table.

Craps Rules & Gameplay

Understanding Craps - Rules and GameplayThis is one of the most exciting games you can play to win real money, either in a land-based or online casino, since it can be played and won/lost by many people simultaneously. In a nutshell, you have a player bet on the outcome of the sum of two dice. The flow of the game is mainly the same in both casino versions and it consists of six steps:

  1. Every single craps game starts with a bet named “Pass” which is only available at this stage. It is quite simple, if the dice lands on a 7 or 11- called a “Natural” - it passes and if it lands on a 2,3 or 12 – which are called “Craps” - it doesn’t. At this moment, there’s a small black button labelled “Off”, indicating that the round hasn’t started yet.

  2. After everyone places these bets, there is a first roll of the dice named “Come-out roll”. The player who throws the dice in this roll is called the “Shooter” – pretty neat isn’t it?

  3. Taking into account step 1, players who placed the “Pass” bet instantly win, as well as the “Shooter”, if the dice land on a 7 or 11. These have a payout of 1 to 1 and in this case, the house edge is 1.41%. On the other hand, the players who bet on “Don’t Pass” win if it lands on a 2 or 3, which also have an even payout. If the roll shows a 12, it is called a “Push” and “Don’t Pass” bettors neither win nor lose. If the dice lands on any other number, these bets stay put for the next rolls.

  4. Assuming the dice landed on a 4,5,6,8,9 or 10, the number it landed on is labelled as the “Point”. The small button is now turned to its white side labelled “On” and placed on the “Point” number. Now that a “Point” is set, players in the game may add to their bets - other bets besides “Pass” and “Don’t Pass”.

  5. This is where the fun really begins since the “Shooter” keeps rolling the dice until the “Point” number is rolled again or the number 7 shows on the dice, which is called “Seven-Ing out”. 

  6. If the “Point” shows again before the 7, everyone who bet on “Pass” wins. Whereas if the 7 is rolled first, all “Don’t Pass” bettors win instead.

It’s not that hard, right? Now that you know the basics of a Craps game, let’s dive into the other betting options details which become available right after a “Point” is set. 

Understanding the Craps Table

Understanding the Craps TableThe “Free Odds” is one of the most interesting bets in all casino games since it allows you, as the player, to get actual fair odds on a bet. Basically, if you place this bet, you’ll get paid at true odds, where the house has no edge. Another interesting thing about this bet is that, unlike the “Pass” and “Don’t Pass” bets, this one can be taken down or reduced at any time. The true odds for each of the point numbers, if you made a “Pass” bet are:

  • 4 and 10 give a payout of 2 to 1

  • 5 and 9 pay odds of 3 to 2

  • 6 and 8 give a payout of 6 to 5

If you made a don’t pass bet, the odds are:

  • 4 or 10, must lay 2 to 1 or put $10 to win $5

  • 5 or 9, must lay 3 to 2 or put $6 to win $4

  • 6 or 8, must lay 6 to 5 or put $6 to win $5

The “Come” and “Don’t Come” bets are the exact same as the “Pass” and “Don’t Pass” bets, with the twist that they can only be made after the “Point” has been set. This basically means that the next roll from the “Shooter” becomes your “Come-out roll”. 

A “Place” bet can be made anytime during a roll, and you’re betting on one of the numbers that are available to be set as a “Point” will be rolled. You win if it is rolled out before a 7. In this case, the payout of rolling a 4 or 10 is 9 to 5, 5 or 9 gives a payout of 7 to 5 and a 6 or 8 will result in a 7 to 6 payout.

The “Big 6 and Big 8” bets may be set when you want to bet that a 6 or 8 will be rolled before a 7. Finally, you have the bets that are only active for one dice roll. The “Field” bet is set when a player bets on a 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11 or 12, and the “Proposition” bets have the following bet-wins if pairs.

  • Any Seven” bet wins if the shooter rolls a 7

  • Boxcars” bet wins if the shooter rolls a 12

  • Ace Deuce” bet wins if the shooter rolls a 3

  • Horn” bet wins if a shooter rolls a 2, 3, 11 or 12

  • Aces” bet wins if a shooter rolls a 2

  • Any Craps” bet wins if a shooter rolls a 2, 3 or 12

Craps Strategy & Tips

Craps Strategy and TipsThe complexity of this game allows for the application of strong and diligent strategies in order to achieve good continuous returns. Some strategy tips are:

  • If you are playing online, make sure you take advantage of your casino bonuses. This is a very powerful tool when it comes to getting more game time and maximising your possible returns.

  • Take advantage of the free odds bet! This one comes with no house edge which is a rare gem in the casino world. Always bet in even amounts when making the odds bet on 5 and 9, and in $5 increments when making this bet on 6 and 8.

  • Find the Craps variant that best suits your needs. Online casinos offer many variants such as Vegas Craps or Bank Craps. Depending on your playstyle, make sure you choose the one where you maximise the fun-returns binomial. Also take into account the rules and odds of each variant since they may differ.

  • Take your time and stay in control. Emotional stability is a huge factor when it comes to keeping self-control after consecutive losses. This is essential for you to keep applying your strategy no matter the outcome.

The perfect strategy doesn’t exist. For you to come up with one that best suits your play style, you must practise it many times in order to refine it. This way you’ll feel more confident when you’re playing with real money.