Play Craps Like a Winner
Craps is the iconic game you've seen played in movies, but it's also a popular online table game. In the movies, it's usually a gang of GIs, tossing a pair of dice on a WWII battlefield. Or, it could be a gambler on a 19th century Mississippi riverboat. And you have certainly seen James Bond toss the dice in a glamorous casino. In fact, legend has it, that when a beautiful girl blows on the dice, it gives you good luck.
This casino game enjoys immense popularity in the United States, and all over the world, because nearly every Hollywood gambling film features a group of excited players joyously gathered around a craps table. From Old Westerns to James Bond and Oceans Eleven, craps takes center stage.
But why just watch, when you can play this classic game yourself? The game is both exquisitely complex, and as simple as rolling the dice. Keep reading, to learn the fascinating history of this classic game, the rules, and a few winning strategies. Once you're done, sign onto one of our featured casinos, to try your hand at rolling the dice.
What is Craps Exactly?
The game of craps centers around players’ gambling on the roll of the dice. What series of numbers will come up makes this a game of chance.
To a rookie craps player, this table game looks confusing, with very strange rules. It's certainly true that the game is governed by a lot of rules with many bets running at the same time, but don’t be discouraged. Craps are actually easy to learn and fun to play.
You can begin playing craps knowing only a few of the bets. But as you learn the intricacies of the game, you can take the game to the next level.
If you’re eager to learn about craps rules, gameplay, bets, betting systems, winning strategies, and much more, then you’ve come to the right page. We’ve put together one of the most thorough guides to craps available. Are you prepared to go to the next-level as a craps player?
A Brief History of Craps
It is believed that dice grew from ancient fortune-telling practices; for millennia, diviners have tossed knucklebones to forecast the future. Modern dice are believed to have developed from the playing pieces of Senet, an ancient Egyptian board game. The Ptolemaic Egyptians also had complex, twenty-sided dice.
Games using dice are also mentioned in the Rigveda of India. Some of the oldest dice ever found were made of bone, these were excavated from Skara Brae, a Neolithic site off the coast of Scotland. These dice have been dated to 3100–2400 BC.
Surprisingly, gambling was illegal in ancient Rome. However, that didn't stop passionate Roman gamblers from enjoying a dice game called aleam ludere. There were two types of Roman dice; big dice etched with one, three, four, and six on the four sides. There were also small dice with numbers one through six etched on the sides.
The history of craps spans as far back as the Crusades during the 12th and 13th centuries. Craps, as we know it today, was modeled after Hazard, a popular European dice game that made its way to the US in the early 1800s thanks to a young Louisiana landowner named Bernard Xavier Phillipe de Marigny de Mandeville.
Unlike modern-day craps, the hazard shooter can choose the main number ranging from 5 through 9. De Marigny made the game easier, by designating 7 as the main at all times.
The upper-class gentry of the Old South didn’t think much of de Marigny's new game. As a result, he introduced the game to the lower class in the area. Soon afterward, deckhands and other water workers adopted the new game upstream and on the Mississippi River.
The game eventually caught on with the folks living along the Mississippi River, especially with the famous riverboat gamblers. In fact, Mark Twain was known to play the game. To say that the game was well-received is putting it mildly. In a very short time, hundreds of craps variants were born.
One hundred years after craps was born, the game was being rigged by casinos using loaded dice. To remedy this unfortunate situation, a Philadelphia dice maker named John H. Winn, devised a new system. Winn's new way to play opened the game so that players could bet on both Pass and Don’t Pass bets. Winn's system proved so effective, it's still used to this day.
How to Play Craps - The Fundamentals
To get your craps game rolling, first, pick a shooter. This is the player whose job it will be to roll the dice. Once naming the shooter is out of the way, the first roll of the first round of bets is made. In the craps world, this is quaintly called the come-out roll.
But before the come-out roll, the shooter makes a Pass Line bet. At a live casino, a pair of dice is tossed onto the craps table. But when playing craps online, you simply click the “roll” button to start the game.
The outcome of each roll is determined by adding up the total value of the face-up numbers on the dice pair. For example, if dice 1 and dice 2 have face-up numbers of 2 and 5 respectively, then we say you rolled a 7.
The outcome of every roll is the total value of the face-up numbers on the dice. As an example, if the first and second die you threw has face-up values of 1 and 1 respectively, that adds up to two, or in craps parlance, snake eyes.
There are three potential outcomes for every roll: natural, craps, and point. Read on for what each outcome means.
Natural - This outcome is the best you can get on each roll. It’s when the dice add up to a 7 or an 11. Landing a natural means you win. The shooter rolls the dice again, and a new round of bets takes place.
Craps - This is a losing outcome that occurs when you roll a 2, 3, or a 12. It’s diametrically opposed to a Natural roll but doesn’t fret. While you may have lost this round, you have more chances to roll.
Point - This is simply any other number other than Craps or a Natural. This could be 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10. When this happens, the shooter will mark the Point.
For example, if you rolled an 8, a marker will be placed on the number 8 on the craps table.
For both live and online craps, the shooter will throw the dice again, giving you another chance.
The best possible outcome on a Point is to toss the same numbers again. So, if you roll an 8 again, you win big!
However, while rolling a 7 is the best on the come-out roll, after that, it's the worst outcome. Rolling a 7 after the come-out will end the betting. It's called sevening-out.
That's it for the come-out roll. We'll look into the other outcomes next.
How to Play Craps - The Available Betting Options
(a) Popular Bets
Although there are many types of betting options in craps, only a few of them will matter to you once you learn the finer points of the game. Here’s a rundown of the most popular craps bets you should know:
Pass Line bet
This is the easiest wager to learn in the game of craps. When you put money down on a pass line bet, you are betting that the result of the come-out will be either 7 or 11. If the shooter throws either a 7 or an 11 and you have money on a Pass Line bet, that money will be doubled.
However, if the come-out roll is a 2, 3, or 12, you lose your Pass Line bet. But, the good news is, you’ll get another roll of the dice.
If you'll recall, if the come-out roll results in a 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10, the Point is marked by the shooter. Now, the game is going to get interesting.
The shooter rolls the dice over and over until either a 7 or the Point number is rolled again. For example, if you threw a 6 in the come-out roll, you'll win your Pass Line bet if 6 rolls before a 7, which means you’ve lost.
Don't Pass Line bet
This is the flip side of the Pass Line bet, which means that you’re wagering against the crapshooter. If the crapshooter rolls a 2,3 or 12, you win the Don’t Pass Line bet. In craps speak, we say the shooter has crapped out. On the flip side, you will lose if the crapshooter rolls an 11 or a 7.
If a Point has been marked after the crapshooter rolled a 4,5,6,8,9 or 10, then the goal when placing a Don’t Pass Line bet is for the crapshooter to roll a 7 before hitting the Point number.
This is pretty similar to a Pass Line bet, and you can make it any time after the point has been set. In other words, a Come Bet wins if the crapshooter throws a 7 or an 11 after the come-out bet. Likewise, if the crapshooter rolls a 2, 3, or 12 after a come-out roll, the Come Bet also loses.
If the crapshooter rolls a 4,5,6, 8, 9, or 10 any time after a come-out roll, then you set your own Point number. If the point number gets rolled before the shooter rolls a 7, you win. However, the opposite is also true. Either way, they both pay off 2 to 1.
Don't Come Bets
This is the exact diametrical of the Come bet. You can put money down on a Don’t Come bet at any time after the point number is set. You will lose yours don’t come bet if the shooter rolls a 7. But, if the crapshooter tosses a 2 or 3, you will win. It's declared a tie if the shooter rolls a 12.
When a 4, 5, 6, 8, 9 or 10 is tossed, that number becomes your point. The crapshooter has to toss a 7 before your Point number if your Don’t Come bet is to win.
An odds bet is a side bet. You can only place an odds bet once you've already made a Pass/Don’t Pass bet or a Come/Don’t Come bet. In a live game, you can place an odds bet by putting your chips down behind your initial bet.
If you’ve made a negative bet, such as a Don’t Pass or Don’t Come bet, you can then lay odds. On the other hand, if you’ve made a positive bet, such as a Pass or a Come bet, you can take odds.
For an odds bet, you're betting on whether the Point number or a 7 will show first. For example, if you put money on a Pass bet and you're taking odds, you only win if the crapshooter tosses the point number before a 7.
But, odds bets can be limited to 2 to 3 times the amount of the original bet. The great thing is that at any time, you can take or lay odds. Also, you can drop them at any point or increase or reduce the amount of the bet at any time.
For number points 2 and 9, taking or laying odds pays 3 to 2. Rolling a 10 or a 4 pays double, and for points 8 or 6, it pays 6 to 5.
(b) Single-Roll Bets
You can place a single-roll bet at any time during a betting round. Just look for the applicable number combination on the craps table. But, single-roll bets have a low return percentage to the player, giving the house advantage. But, for players who just want to have fun, these can be ideal. Winning on a low-value bet is still fun.
(c) Proposition Bets
A series of single-roll bets grouped together on a craps table is called Proposition bets. Similar to single-roll bets, Proposition bets favor the house and disfavor the player. For that reason, savvy craps players avoid proposition bets. But, as you wait for your main bets to roll up, Propositions can make gambling on the dice more exciting.
Any Craps: This is a triple single-roll bet. If the crapshooter rolls any craps number, 2, 3, or 12, the player wins, with odds of 7:1.
Ace Deuce: Also known as three, this bet pays 15:1 if the crapshooter tosses a 3.
Any 7: Also known as Big Red, if the shooter rolls a 7, the payout is 4 to 1.
Snake Eyes: This is when both dice roll a 1. Rolling a 2 means a humongous 30:1 payout.
Twelve Craps: Also known as Boxcars or Midnight, rolling a 12 pays a hefty 30:1.
Eleven: Also called Yo, you win 15:1 if the shooter rolls an 11.
(d) Craps & Eleven (C&E)
On a craps table, you'll notice an area with 16 boxes marked C & E alongside the proposition bets. This adds 11 to any Craps bet, so, if the crapshooter rolls a 12, 11, 2, or 3, you win. A C&E bet pays out at 30:1.
However, you will lose half of your original bet, since half of your bet is on Eleven, and the other half is on Any Craps. That means the house's edge is 11.11%.
(e) Horn Bet
Horn bets are placed next to the proposition bets at the center of the craps table. By placing a Horn bet, you're wagering that 2, 3, 11, or 12 will come up in the next roll of the dice. Your bet is divided among those four numbers.
For example, if you bet a total of $300 on Horns bets, then $75 will be placed on each number. If 2 or 12 is rolled, it pays out 30 to 1, which means you will win $9,000. Numbers 3 and 11 pay 15:1 so you would win $4,5000.
(f) Horn High Bets
When you make a horn bet, your money is divided equally across the four numbers. But, you can make one number a Horn High by doubling your wager on that number.
For example, if you make 2 your Horn High number, and place a $20 bet, $8 will be placed on 2, and $4 each on 2, 3, and 11. If the shooter rolls a 2, you win twice the payout, minus the $4 on the 11 losing wagers. Obviously, you will need to reveal which number you want for your Horn High number. If any one of the 3 other numbers is rolled, and not your high number, you'll be paid for the winning bet minus $16.
(g) World Bets
This is sometimes called the Whirl Bet. This combination allows you to wager on Any Horn and Seven bets, for a total of 5 individual bets. That means you are betting in multiples of 5, similar to Horn High bets.
For example, if the shooter rolls a 7, then the Any Seven bet wins, and the four Horn bets lose. The Any Seven bet pays at 4:1, while the Horn bet pays out at 30:1.
When you bet on a hard number, you are wagering that it will be thrown as a double. For example, a hard 4 is a double of 2. So if 4 is rolled as a double of 2, it's been rolled the hard way.
Hardways bets are no-nonsense; winning a Hardaway depends simply on the hard double being rolled before a 7. You can bet on a hard 4, a hard 6, a hard 8, and a hard 10. The hard number you bet on determines the payout. Hard 10s and 4s pay 7 to 1. Hard 6s and 8s pay your 9 to 1.
By placing a Field bet, you are wagering the next roll will be a 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11, or 12. The area on the craps table for Field bets is above the Come Bar and Don’t Pass Bar.
If the crapshooter rolls either a 2 or a 12, the bet pays out at 2:1, but rolling a 3, 4, 9, 10 or 11 11 pays even 1:1.
(j) Big 6 and Big 8
These simple bets both payout even, 1:1 if you win. A big 6 bet wins if the shooter rolls a 6 before a 7. The same is true for big 8.
(k) Hop Bets
Like a proposition bet, you can make a hop bet any time during a betting round. The most exciting thing about hop bets is that you choose any dice combination you want and wager on the outcome of the next roll of the dice. However, not every casino has this betting option. If you want to place a hop bet, make sure that you can by checking the craps table.
(l) Lay/Buy Bets
Players love these, in fact, these are two of the most popular multi-roll bets. A buy bet is wagered on any of these numbers; 4, 5, 6, 8, 9 or 10. You are wagering that at any time during the betting round, your number will roll before a 7. If your number comes through, you'll be paid true odds; that means the casino will pay you back equal chances that your number will be rolled. However, it should be noted that the casino will deduct 5% from your winnings before they pay you.
A lay bet is the opposite since you are wagering against the crapshooter. In other words, you’re betting that the crapshooter will roll a 7 before your number is rolled. You can place a lay bet at any time during the game. Like a buy bet, the casino will offer a regular payout while deducting 5%.
(m) Place Win and Place Lose Bets
These bets work in the same way as buy/lay bets. But, the casino won't pay out true odds. You can make a Place Win bet at any time during the game. You are betting that one of the following numbers, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10, will come up before a 7 is rolled. If your number comes up before a seven, you win. A Place Lose bet is just the opposite.
Strategies for Winning at Craps
Depending on how you approach it, craps can be either the best game around or your worst nightmare. But, we do have a few tried and true tips to help increase your chances of winning at the roll of the dice.
Strategy #1: Always opt for the Come Bet
With a Return to Player of nearly 98.6%, the Come Bet is as close to a sure bet as you will come. The house is at a disadvantage. Your probability of beating the house is very, very good.
Strategy #2: Opt for the Pass Line Bet
Just like the Come Bet, a Pass Line bet has the house at a disadvantage of 98.6%. This is a very good bet since you can only lose $1.40 with a $100 bankroll.
Strategy #3: Don’t hesitate to place an Odds Bet
Did you know that Odds bets have a zero house edge? Absolutely nothing! Of course, there is a small catch. The best thing is, you can add more to your bets without increasing the house's edge.
Strategy #4: Don’t get caught up in the gaming frenzy
Craps is an adrenaline-packed, high-energy game, especially when played live with other people. Because it’s often a loud and rowdy game, it's easy for you to be thrown off balance. That means, your judgment isn't always the best, and it is easy to make the wrong call in the heat of the moment. By sticking to Any Sevens and wagers above that, you will minimize your mistakes and your losses.
Strategy #5: Always manage your bankroll
Set a win-loss limit, and don't stray from it. That is a simple, tried, and true bankroll strategy. If your losing streak persists, don’t try to recuperate your losses. The compulsion to chase losses is one of the first signs of a gambling problem.
Other Casino Dice Games
Craps isn't the only casino game you'll find involving dice. Sic Bo is an ancient Chinese dice game that's been gaining popularity in the West. However, most of the casinos in Macau have at least one table dedicated to Sic Bo. The probability-based game uses three dice and players can bet on the exact dice combinations, as well as exact numbers, ranges of numbers, sequences, and big and small wins. At least a few live dealer casinos feature Sic Bo, played in an Asian-themed gaming set.
Bitcoin dice games are not only completely modern but as you might expect, far more complex than Sic Bo or craps. Bitcoin dice games use random number generators, with numbers ranging from 1 to 10,000 or even more. With those crazy numbers, you better get your geek on.
Klondike is another American-born dice game. It's an exciting combination of poker, craps, and blackjack all rolled into one. Also, it's amazingly similar to Yahtzee. While you won't find Klondike at most casinos, some far-flung tribal casinos have the game.
The objective of Klondike is to roll a better combination than the dealer. Like poker or blackjack, you can roll one pair, two pairs, three of a kind, four of a kind, five of a kind, or a full house. If you tie with the dealer, you lose, and you only get one chance to roll the dice. That means you need to make the most of every roll. However, don't confuse this game with Klondike solitaire.
Banca Francesa, is a dice game popular in Portugal, and it's similar to baccarat. You play with three dice, for three potential bets. It's easy to learn, and it's fast-paced. The dealer keeps rolling the dice until one of three possible combinations appears. Those combinations are small, big, or aces. Players bet on which one they think will come up first. At least one game developer has adapted Banca Francesca for online play.
Chuck-a-luck originated in Australia but was also very popular during the American civil war. It's a simple game, involving a board written with the numbers zero to six, and three dice. If you do find Chuck-a-luck in a casino, the dice will be rolled out from a cage, sort of like bingo.
While dice games are not nearly as common as slots or card games, there will surely be more dice games added online as they gain in popularity. But for now, craps is the classic game that the Western world knows and loves.