How to Play Craps : Complete Guide| LeoVegas

How To Play Craps: Complete Guide

Strolling through any given casino, whether it’s the iconic Bellagio or the elegant Windsor, one table is sure to catch your eye: the craps table. Often the loudest, most energetic, and social spot in the casino—it's a hub of excitement and camaraderie unlike any other. No wonder you're drawn to it!

Table of Content:

While craps may seem daunting at first, fear not! Before joining and playing online a craps table, simply commit to learning the rules, strategies, and terminology so you can take in all the excitement without any anticipation. Let's demystify the craps table, so you can drop in with confidence and get a piece of the action.

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Basics of Craps

The Objective Of Craps Game

Craps is a dice game with a simple objective: to predict how the dice will land. But, truth be told, it’s more than just predicting the outcome. The essence of craps lies in making strategic bets rather than solely focusing on the results of a dice roll.

Before we really dig into the nuances of the craps rules, let’s first talk about the number seven. This lucky number is the number you’re most likely to roll when playing any dice game, and in craps, it can be your best friend or foe. Almost everything in this game revolves around its frequency.

In the first stage of the game, the come-out roll, you’re looking to see 7 or its favourite cousin, 11, as much as possible. In the beginning of the game, these two scenarios will either have you see a payout or take a loss.

  • 7 and 11 pay out immediately as a pass line bettor.
  • 2, 3, or 12 are an immediate loss.These immediate win or loss scenarios only apply in the initial state of the game: the come-out roll. So again, you’re going to want to see 7 or 11, a lot! When a number is rolled that doesn’t offer immediate results (7,11 for a win, or 2,3,12 for a loss) then that number is established as the point - and you’ve now entered the point phase.

Now, to win your original pass line bet, you must keep rolling the dice until you either hit your point or roll a seven, which ends the game with a ‘seven out’.

Understanding these two phases is key to learning the dynamics of craps, and making informed betting decisions, even when the crowd is going wild!

Anatomy of a Craps Table

Upon first glance, the craps table may seem a tad more convoluted than other casino table games like blackjack), roulette), and baccarat. But the craps table merely looks complex. Let’s break it down into the key betting sections of the craps table, each offering specific odds.

  • Pass Line and Don't Pass Line: This section is for bets on the shooter's success or failure. Odds however, will depend on the point. Generally, the pass line bet has a house edge of around 1.41%, while the don't pass line bet has a slightly lower house edge of around 1.36%. These odds may vary depending on a particular casino’s rules.
  • Come and Don't Come Areas: Adjacent to the pass line and don't pass line, these areas are for bets on subsequent rolls. Odds are similar to the pass line and don’t pass line.
  • Betting Zones: Scattered across the table, these sections are for bets on different outcomes, ranging from specific number combinations to overall dice roll results. As these bets vary, so too do their odds.

Understanding the Dice

Rolling a 7 can occur in six different ways out of the 36 possible combinations of a roll of the dice. So, you’ve got a 1 in 6 chance to hit a 7 during the come-out roll.

The next most common numbers are 6 and 8, with five combinations each. For example, rolling a six can happen with combinations like 1 and 5, 5 and 1, 2 and 4, 4 and 2, or 3 and 3. The last combination, where both dice show the same even number, is called rolling the six 'the hard way'. Betting on a hard way roll means you'll win if the number comes up as the paired version, but lose if it's rolled the easy way or if a seven ends the game.

The Shooter's Role

How to Become the Shooter

To become the shooter in a game of craps online, you must have a bet placed on the 'pass line' or 'don't pass line’. Then, it’s just a matter of waiting your turn. The current shooter has to either 'sevens out' or fail to make their point, before the dice will be passed on.

Responsibilities of the Shooter

The shooter’s main responsibility is to give the dice a toss! If that’s you, keep in mind that it's in good taste to handle the dice only with one hand and avoid excessive rattles and shakes.

Strategies for Shooting

Throwing a dice may seem like a simple task, but there’s great debate on this subject! Some say aiming for the dice to hit the felt on a 40-45 angle is best, while others go for a pre-toss pinch. The pinch holds the dice together with two fingers on one side and a thumb on the other, while the two finger grip sees dice pinched together with two fingers on one side and a thumb on the other. One thing to surely keep in mind that almost all techniques have in common, is to concentrate on finger placement for consistency, and keep those sweaty palms out of the mix.

Playing the Craps Game

The Come-Out Roll

When a shooter begins, their first toss is their come-out roll, and a lot rides on its outcome. If the shooter rolls a 7 or 11, it's considered a ‘natural’. Bets placed on the ‘pass line’ for this roll are winners, while those on the ‘don't pass line’ are losers. Rolling a natural also earns the shooter another throw. On the opposite side of this spectrum are rolls of 2, 3, and 12. This trio of numbers are ones you don’t want to see - so consider them your enemy. Roll any of them with money on the pass line and you lose.

Resolving Bets

Once the outcome of the dice roll is determined in craps, it's time to resolve bets. Winning bets are paid out to players, while losing bets are collected by the house.

Repeating the Cycle

After resolving bets, the cycle in craps repeats itself with a new come-out roll. The dice are passed to the next shooter, and players place their bets once again. This cycle of rolling the dice, resolving bets, and starting anew keeps the game dynamic and creates a consistent flow of action. As each new roll unfolds, players anticipate the outcome, ready to test their luck and strategy once again.

Craps Variations

Simplified Craps

As you would expect, it’s craps - simplified. Perfect for beginners, Simplified Craps offers streamlined rules with less betting options, designed to make learning how to play this game easier. The shooter gets one roll. If a 2, 3, 4, 10, 11, or 12 is tossed, it’s a win, while any other numbers result in a loss. It may be simplified, but rest assured, it retains all the excitement and entertainment you'd expect from the craps table. For newbs, it’s the perfect place to start a love of craps.

High Point Craps

In High Point Craps, the shooter aims for a high point. If the first roll results in a total of 2 or 3, it's disregarded, and the player must roll again until a different total is set. Rolling an 11 or 12 results in an immediate win. Any other total establishes the point, and the player must roll again, aiming for a total higher than the point to win. Payouts are even money, and the house edge for this game sits at 2.35%.

New York Craps

Originating on the streets of the Big Apple, New York Craps is similar to traditional craps, only it’s played without come and don’t come bets. Players place their bets directly on specific numbers, and the layout of the table differs from the conventional setup, with the boxman positioned opposite the stickman.

Betting in Craps

Here are a few bets that players can make in online craps now:

Pass Line Bet

The Pass Line Bet means that you are betting on the shooter to pass (or win) by rolling a natural (7 or 11) or by winning a point before they ‘seven out’. The bets made by the players are moved to the numbered positions on the craps table if the shooter is trying to score a point. If they do so, these wagers win. A craps number (2, 3, or 12) will lose in this bet.

Don’t Pass Bet

In this bet, you bet on the shooter to not pass (or to lose). This means that the shooter gets a 2 or a 3 on the first roll, or they fail to roll a point before a 7 is rolled out again. Rolling a 12 in this bet is called a push. If a 12 is rolled out, then you neither win nor lose. Rolling a 7 or 11 in the first roll means you lose the bet.

Come Bet

The players have to predict what the next roll is going to be. The Come Bet wins if the total is 7 or 11. If the shooter rolls a 2, 3, or 12, the Come Bet loses. If a point is rolled out, then it becomes a Come Bet point. This then goes on to work just like the Pass Line Bet. If the Come Bet point rolls out before a 7 does, your bet wins.

Don’t Come Bet

This is similar to the Don’t Pass Bet. If the shooter rolls a 2 or 3, it’s your lucky day. If it’s a natural roll (7 or 11), you lose. If a 12 is rolled out, it is a push, just like the Don’t Pass Bet. If a point is rolled out, you win only if a 7 is rolled out before the point. Pass/Don’t Pass bets and Come/Don’t Come Bets need to be played out fully; you cannot pull out of these wagers before the game ends.

Field Bet

This bet is active only for one dice roll. You win only if a 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11, or 12 is rolled. All these numbers are also written inside the field. If the shooter rolls a 5, 6, 7, or 8, you lose. This bet is suggested for beginners as it is easier than the others to understand.

Place Bet

In the Place Bet, it is the dealer who determines the point. The point numbers here include 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10. Once the point is set, the players can place their wagers. If the point numbers come before a 7 is rolled out, you win. If not, you lose.

Proposition Bet

In this bet, the players call out the bet and then toss their chips onto the table. The stick person positions them into the betting area of your choice. These are riskier bets.

Craps Odds and Payouts

Craps is a game with quite a wide range of payout odds – from 30:1 to 1:1. The payout is determined by the true odds of a bet and the house edge. True odds mean the probability of winning a bet. This is different for each bet.

Pass Line/Don’t Pass and Come/Don’t Come Bets have similar odds. These are considered low-odds bets where you have a 49.3% chance of winning. Place Bets have a 45.5% chance of winning while the odds are 44.4% for Field Bets.

Craps Strategies

Iron Cross Strategy

Following the Iron Cross craps betting strategy, multiple bets are placed on the craps table that end up resembling a cross-like pattern - hence, the ‘iron cross’. To play under this strategy, a bet is usually placed on the field area that covers 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11, and 12, and a pass line bet. This combination covers most of the numbers on the table except for the 7, which is the most common number to roll.

The idea behind the Iron Cross is to have multiple winning combinations on each roll of the dice, increasing the chance of a win. However, while this strategy offers the potential for frequent small wins, it also exposes players to higher losses if a 7 is rolled, as all bets would then be lost.

3 Point Molly Strategy

The 3 Point Molly strategy focuses on making three bets at a time to minimize losses and maximize potential wins. By placing bets on the pass line, odds, and a come bet, the goal is to take advantage of favourable odds and hot streaks, while hedging against losing streaks.

With three bets on the craps table, a win on any one produces a profit of at least two times the stake. All in all, it’s a balanced approach to craps betting, best put to use by experienced players looking for a conservative plan of attack.

6/8 Strategy

The 6/8 strategy has players wagering two equal bets on two numbers: 6 and 8. These two numbers are good bets, as their frequency is only outdone by lucky number 7. Plus, a bet on these two pays even money and to boot, bets stay up until the shooter ‘sevens out’. With the possibility of securing a profit whenever a 6 or 8 is rolled, this strategy offers a conservative yet effective approach.

Early Bet Regression Strategy

If you’re a roulette fan, the Early Bet Regression strategy may seem similar to the Martingale, as it adjusts bet sizes based on outcomes. But, where the Martingale has you doubling up after a win, the Early Bet Regression reduces bets after a win to protect those profits and manage risk more effectively at the table.

History of Craps

Craps traces its origins to ancient civilizations, where dice games were commonplace among Romans and Arabs. However, the modern version of the game, known as krabs in the late 18th century, is closely linked to the English game of Hazard, which gained popularity in the 17th and 18th centuries. Similar to modern craps, Hazard was a betting game where players, known as "casters" (similar to shooters), rolled dice to hit specific numbers while avoiding others.

By the time Hazard reached France it was known as crabs, a nickname for the worst possible roll. Legend also has it that craps derived from the French word crapaud, meaning toad. Nothing to do with croaking, the namesake of toad was more about the amphibian-like crouch dice players took when playing on the street. The game's history is also intertwined with various cultural influences and lingo. For instance, the phrase ‘rolling the bones’ is believed to stem from the game's Roman roots, where soldiers were rumoured to use shaved pig knuckles as makeshift dice.

Craps' journey continued as it crossed the Atlantic to the States, where it continued to evolve and flourish. Much like other card and gambling games, iImmigrants brought the game with them, and it quickly gained popularity, particularly in New Orleans. In the early 19th century, John H. Winn introduced significant innovations to the game, including the ‘Don't Pass bet’ and the implementation of a more balanced betting layout. These changes helped standardize the game and enhance fairness, solidifying craps as a staple in casinos across the US.

Craps Terminology

At any given craps table, you’re going to come across a whole lot of slang and craps lingo. Here are some of the most common terms you’ll hear at the craps table.

Ace deuce - a roll of three (1 ace + a 2 or deuce). Also referred to as an ‘easy three’ or ‘acey-deucey’ at the craps table.

Aces - a roll of two (each roll of 1 is an ace), also commonly referred to as ‘snake eyes’.

Any Craps - a bet on the next roll being a 2, 3, or 12.

Any Seven - a bet that the next roll will total 7.

Arm - a player who seems quite skilled at the art of throwing dice.

Betting right - wagering on the pass line, backing the shooter to win.

Big Red - a bet on any 7.

Box numbers - bets on 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, and 10.

Boxcars - a roll of two 6s, for a total of 12.

Boxman - much like a croupier oversees the action on a roulette table, the Boxman is a casino employee who supervises the craps table.

Come bet - similar to the pass line bet but made after the come-out roll.

Come-out roll - the initial roll that sets the point or resolves pass line bets with a 7 or 11 (to win), or 2, 3, or 12 (for a loss).

Craps check - a defensive bet in craps, placed on 2, 3, or 12 to cover another bet against a craps number on the come-out roll.

Craps numbers - 2, 3, and 12 are craps numbers that cause a loss on a pass line bet during the come-out roll.

Crap out - a come-out roll of 2, 3, or 12 (a loss for pass line bets).

Don't come bet - a bet in craps placed after the come-out roll that wins on 2 or 3, pushes on 12, loses on 7 or 11, and is tied to a specific point number if rolled.

Don't pass bet - a craps bet against the shooter, winning on 2 or 3, tying on 12, and losing on 7 or 11 at the come-out roll. Wins if a 7 comes before the point after it's established.

Double odds - an odds bet in craps where the player can bet twice the amount of their pass or come bet. It pays at true odds and has no house edge.

Easy way - a roll of 4, 6, 8, or 10 in craps where the dice show different numbers (e.g., 3 and 1 for a 4), as opposed to the 'hard way' where both dice show the same number.

Field bet - a single-roll bet that wins if the dice hit 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11, or 12, with varying payouts for different numbers.

Hard way - a bet on rolling a double to make 4, 6, 8, or 10 before rolling a 7 or the same number the easy way.

Hi-lo - betting the next roll will be a 2 (Hi) or 12 (Lo).

Hi-lo-yo - betting the next roll shows a 2 (Hi), 12 (Lo), or 11 (Yo).

Horn - a single-roll bet on 2, 3, 11, and 12.

Inside numbers - craps bet numbers 5, 6, 8, and 9, considered to be inside on the table layout.

Juice - ‘vig’ or ‘vigorish’, juice is the commission charged by the casino on certain craps bets.

Lammer - the marker used by the dealer to indicate the status of a players’ bets.

Lights out - when a player rolls a 7 and essentially ends their shooting round, it’s ‘lights out’.

Midnight - a bet that a 12 (two 6x) will be rolled next.

Put bet - a bet where a player can directly wager on a point number after the come-out roll without having made a pass or come bet initially.

Shill - a casino employee who uses house money to play craps, keeping the game running or encouraging action at the table.

Sleeper - a forgotten bet at the table that’s waiting to be collected.

Stiff - hopefully not you, as a ‘stiff’ is a player who doesn’t tip.

Stroker - a player who deliberately slows down the game with excessive questions or bets in an attempt to distract or manipulate the dealer for an advantage.

Tapping in - when a dealer joins a table to relieve another dealer. The ‘tapping in’ comes from the action of a light tap on the table or on the dealer's shoulder to indicate it’s time for a swap.

Two-way wager - a bet split between the player and the dealers, usually as a tip or to show that winnings will be shared.

Whip shot - considered a cheat move to manipulate the throw, the shooter holds the dice in a lock grip with the desired numbers they’re looking to roll facing up. They would fake a rattle, and toss in a very specific fast roll of the dice.

Craps FAQs

What are the basic rules of craps?

The most basic rule is that you roll a number with two dice, and then play the odds of getting the same sum again before a 7 is rolled.

How do you play craps for beginners?

Familiarize yourself with the basic rules and bets. As long as you are still a beginner, stick to the safer bets.

Is there a strategy for playing craps?

If you practice long enough, you can formulate a strategy for yourself and try to play the odds to your advantage. Choose an approach that suits you.

How hard is it to play craps?

Many casino players find craps to be overly complicated. It might be a bit overwhelming for beginners to start playing however, if you become more familiar with the game, it can be one of the most fun and entertaining casino games!

What is the best bet in craps?

The Don’t Pass/Don’t Come Bets are considered the best in craps due to their low house edge of just 1.36%.

What is the safest bet in craps?

The Pass Bet is the most basic and safest bet in craps.

What is the easiest way to win at craps?

Patience is the best way to win big at craps. Keep making small Pass Line Bets, take single odds, and then pounce when you get the chance. Start betting big only after you have a winner. You can also look for tables with winning streaks or hot shooters.

What numbers have the best odds in craps?

The number 7 is considered to be the magic number in craps. This is followed by 6 and 8, then 5 and 9, then 4 and 10, then 3 and 11, and finally 2 and 12.

What is C & E in craps?

This is a combination of two types of bets. The 'C' stands for Any Craps: Aces, Ace Deuce, and 12, while the 'E' is for Eleven or Yo. The C and E can be bet as a split (simultaneously) or individually (with different amounts on each).

What does 7 to 1 mean in craps?

This refers to the Any Craps Bet. If the shooter rolls 2, 3, or 12 rolls, you win and are paid 7 to 1. You lose with any other. If any other number is rolled, you lose. This is a one-roll bet.

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