How To Play Craps The Ultimate Guide
If you’ve ever watched a movie where dice are being thrown at a casino it is sure to be the game of craps. You might not have understood the gameplay, in fact, you might not have even known it was craps but I bet you were swept along with the excitement.
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Many craps enthusiasts are drawn to the game because of its high-energy and thrilling atmosphere but others take a look at the complicated looking layout and the myriad of complex bets and decide that it is too difficult to play.
The reality is that while mastering all the different bets could take a while, learning the basics of the game can take just 5 minutes and you only need to know one betting option to get started.
In this guide, you will find everything you need to know about the game, including how to play craps, how to bet and the best bets to place as well as learning tips and strategies to help you win this action-packed game.
Why Play Craps?
Craps is a fun game that can be as easy or complex as you make it. You can take five minutes to learn how to play two or three simple bets and start playing straight away. It also has some of the best bets in the casino with the lowest house edge allowing you to win more often than at many other casino games.
While in the past it was an intimidating casino game with crowded tables and lots of noise now it can be played online stress-free. There will be no waiting around trying to get a place at the table either when playing online, there will always be a craps game open to you at an Internet casino.
If you play online craps you get to play either free or real money games. The free play craps games give you the advantage of learning the game without risking your bankroll and most online craps sites will offer this option. If you want to play real money games you make use of the generous casino bonuses to boost your craps bankroll.
Craps: A Short History
Craps history has nearly as many different versions online as it has bets! What we do know is that dice date back to at least 4,000 years ago where it is thought they were initially thrown to divine the future before they were rolled for fun. The earliest dice found were usually made from animal bones and ivory.
The origins of the game of craps are much debated by gambling historians having different theories of where it began. Roman soldiers are cited as playing an early version of the game. The dice game Azzahr originating in Arabia is a popular contender and it was believed to be the same game that Merchants brought to Europe where the name was changed to Hazard. This game can be dated back to the 14th Century as ‘Hazard’ is mentioned in the famous English book The Canterbury Tales which was written at that time. The rules of Hazard certainly have similarities to craps if not a little more complicated.
It was particularly popular in France and remained so for centuries. The French game became known as crapaud which can be translated into English as ‘toad’ and this is where it began evolving into what we now play as craps. There are other theories about the origins of the name craps but we like this one and it’s as good a guess as any other.
French migrants to Louisiana introduced the game to the Americans and it soon prospered especially the ‘street craps’ version of the game that could be played anywhere with no extra equipment.
In 1907 John H Winn a dice maker and gambling enthusiast introduced a new set of rules and table layout which became the standard for the modern-day craps we now play.
In 1931 Nevada legalized gambling and craps became a firm favorite at the Las Vegas casinos, followed by other casinos around the world.
The biggest change for craps this century has been the rise of the internet casino and now the most popular way of playing craps is online.
How to Play Craps: The Basics
As the majority of craps games are played online these days we will show you how to play craps online. The rules are the same if you play it online or at a land-based casino. Playing online is a whole lot simpler and more relaxed. At a live casino, you will have a team of casino employees working at the table and up to 20 players, shouting and hollering each one taking their turn as the shooter. For the uninitiated, the shooter is the person who initially rolls the dice we will speak more on the shooter’s role shortly. Online you will always be the craps shooter.
Gameplay online is a little faster as everything is computer generated and you just need to click buttons to roll the dice and place your bets. Playing online has the advantage for experienced players to play more games in a shorter time For newbie craps players, they have the advantage that they can relax and take as long as they like before deciding on the bet they want to place.
Craps is played with two six-sided dice that are both numbered 1 to 6. Later in this guide, you’ll see how combining the two dice create different combinations that affect the odds.
Even though at a brick and mortar casino up to 20 people can play craps only one player is needed so it crosses over to the online environment very easily.
We are going to blow your mind with all the different betting options later but for now, you will just place a wager on the pass line bet on the craps table layout.
Every round of craps begins with the come out roll. As you will always be the shooter you will click the roll button and the two dice will be virtually rolled.
Once they are rolled there can be only three different outcomes;
If the come out roll is a 2, 3, or 12 then the player loses the bet and the round is over, this is known as crapping out.
If the come out roll is either a 7 or 11 then the round ends but this time you win and paid out evens, so if you had bet $10 you would get an additional $10 in winnings. So if you are a beginner player you can now see that on your very first bet you have a chance of winning!
The third outcome will be if the place numbers 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10 are rolled. If any of them are rolled you will have established a point. A disc will appear at the top of the table above the point number to indicate it is in play and we begin the next phase of the game.
The player now rolls the dice and keeps on doing so until either a 7 is rolled or the same value as the point. So as an example would be if the point that had been established was a 4 and this number was rolled before the 7 then the round is over and the player wins at evens odds. If the 7 is rolled first then the round ends and the player loses.
Basically that is a simplified version of how to play craps. What makes it more complicated is the huge amount of different bets you can choose to place. If you are new to craps we would suggest heading over to an online casino and playing the simple game that we outlined above, just betting on the pass line. After a few games, we are sure that you will be confident enough to then check out some of the other bets you can wager.
How to Play Craps: The Bets
There are over 100 different bets that can be placed when playing craps. But even craps experts who have been playing many years will ignore the majority of them and play the most profitable. We are going to look at all the different options here but also we will share the best bets and the ones you don’t want to wager on.
The Most Popular Craps Bets
We’ve already introduced you to the pass line bet and it is played after the come out roll. This is an easy bet craps bet and has a low house edge of 1.41% and pays out at even odds. To recap, if you roll a 7 or 11 on the come out roll it’s the end of the round and you’ll win at even odds. The pass bet loses if a 2, 3, or 12 is rolled. Any other number that is rolled [ 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10] establishes a point. If that point number is rolled before a 7 you double your wager. If the 7 is rolled first, you lose. Some beginner players get confused regarding the 7 as it starts out as being a winning roll and ends up as a losing one!
Don’t Pass Line
At a land-based casino when you play the don’t pass bet you are betting against the shooter and in craps jargon, you would be described as a ‘wrong player’. Online as you are playing solo you are always going to be the shooter so you can’t bet against yourself! This is another great bet for beginners and pros alike. It still pays even odds but has a very low house edge of just 1.36%. The bets are the opposite of the pass line. If you crap out with 2, 3, or 12 on the come out roll you win and lose with 7 or 11. If the point is established you will want to roll a 7 before the point is hit.
The come bet is another good bet for new players as it follows the same rules as the pass line bet but is made after the come out roll and after a point has been established. It has the same odds as the pass line and the same 1.41% house edge. On the craps table layout, you will see this betting section named ‘come’. Once again a 7 or 11 is a win, 2, 3, or 12 a loss and any other number becomes the point and needs to be rolled before the 7 to win the round.
Don’t Come Bet
Similar to the don’t pass bet and the reverse of the come bet, this is another great bet with a house edge of 1.36%. You will win the don’t come bet if a 2 or 3 is rolled, if a 12 is rolled it will result in a push and your bet is returned. Roll a 7 or 11 you lose and if a point is established you need to roll a 7 before the point to double your winnings.
This is the only bet you can place on a casino table game where the house edge is 0%. You can only place this bet after you have made a pass or come bet where you ‘take odds’ or don’t pass or don’t come bet where you ‘lay odds’. There is no section marked on the craps layout table for this bet you just place it behind your initial bet. Basically, for a pass/come bet you are betting on the established point to appear before the 7.
Odds bets can be made at any time, you are free to remove them at any time and are allowed to decrease and increase the bet amount during the round. Odds are paid out at 2:1 for 4 or 10, 3:2 for 2 or 9, and 6:5 for 6 or 8. The casinos will also limit the amount you can place on the odds bet for instance based upon multiplies of the original bet.
If you are laying the odds you are wagering on the 7 being hit, the same odds apply so if the point was 4 or 10 you would be paid 2:1 and so on. A combined don’t pass/don’t come and the odds bet is one of the best bets you can play in craps.
How to Play Craps: Multi-Roll Bets
The pass/don’t pass, come/don’t come and odds bets are the most popular wagers and the best for novice craps players to start off with. They are all multi-roll bets as are the ones below.
You have two options for this bet ‘place bet to win’ or ‘place bet to lose’. If you have a particular number that you feel is going to bring you luck and want to place it before the come out roll this is your chance. You can also play it or take it down at any other point in the game. You can place your bet on 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10 to win or lose. If you have placed the bet to win then if any of those numbers are rolled before the 7 then you win. If you placed a bet to lose the opposite is the case. Winning bets are paid at 7:6 with a house edge of 1.52% on 6 and 8, 7:5 with a 4% house advantage for 5 and 9, and 9:5 and a house advantage of 6.67% for 4 or 10.
Buy bets are similar to place bets but are paid out at true odds but to give the house an advantage any winnings have 5% deducted before they are paid out. You can wager on 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10 to be hit before the shooter rolls a 7.
This is the reverse of the buy bet and you are betting on the 7 appearing on the dice before the chosen point. The same as the buy bet these payout out at true odds with a 5% commission paid out to the casino.
Big 6 and Big 8 Bets
You will see this bet in a big attention-drawing section of the layout, it’s designed to lure in the new craps newbie as any player who has been playing for a while will know to avoid it. For the big 6, you are betting that the shooter rolls a 6 before a 7 and a big 8 that the 8 is rolled before the 7. You can make either of these bets at any time in the game. They both payout at evens so you would be better off making a place bet on the 6 or 8.
There are four hardways numbers you can bet on 4, 6, 8, or 10 if a number is rolled the hardway then each dice will show the same number for instance for a had 4 the dice will show and 2 and a 2. These numbers are called hardways as there is only the chance of one pair combination being made. To win this bet if the shooter rolls a hardway the player wins, if a 7 or an easy way is rolled then they lose. Before we get ahead of ourselves and easy way is any other combination of one of these numbers. So an easy 8 could be a 6 and a 2 or a 5 and a 3.
The hard way 4 bet pays out 7-1 odds if a 2 and 2 is rolled before 7 or the two easy way combinations of 1 and 3 and 3 and 1. The house edge is 11.11%,
The hard way 6 bet pays out 9-1 odds if a 3 and 3 is rolled before 7 or easy way combinations of 5 and 1, 1 and 5, 2 and 4, 4, and 6. The house edge is 9.09%
The hard way 8 bet pays out 9-1 odds if a 4 and 4 is rolled before 7 or easy way combinations of 2 and 6, 6 and 2, 3 and 5, 5, and 3. The house edge is 9.09%
The hard way 4 bet pays out 7-1 odds if a 5 and 5 is rolled before 7 or the two easy way combinations of 6 and 4 and 4 and 6. The house edge is 11.11%,
How to Play Craps: Single Roll Bets
Most experienced craps players will tend to avoid the single roll bets as they have a big house advantage. If you want to take some risks and make the game more thrilling from time to time then you might enjoy making these bets though not too often! While the outcomes of the multi-roll bets are decided over a number of dice rolls, the single roll bets take just one roll to determine if you win or lose.
You will see the field bet section on the layout between the don’t pass and come bet. This is a popular single roll bet and on first viewing, it looks pretty good. For this wager, you bet on the probability that you will roll a 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11, or 12. With a chance of rolling 7 numbers and only 4 numbers; 5, 6, 7, and 8 preventing you from winning it looks like a great wager. But you need to study the dice combinations, the field bet has 16 while the non-field number 20 makes it not the great deal it seemed before. For this bet, the 2 and 12 pay 2:1 odds and the rest of the field numbers evens.
For this bet, you are betting on one of the craps numbers being rolled, namely 2, 3, or 12 it pays out at 7:1 with a player unfriendly 11.11%, house advantage.
If you want to learn some craps lingo then this bet is also known as the ‘Big Red’. It’s a simple bet to make, you are just predicting that a 7 will be thrown before any other number combination. It pays out at 4:1 and has a horrendous house edge of 16.67% you’d be a brave or foolish player to take those odds.
This is a bet on the number 12 to be rolled as there is only one possible dice combination 6 and 6 it’s a high-risk bet. While it pays 30:1 the house advantage is 16.67%.
An Ace and a Deuce make three and if you play this bet you are predicting the 3 will show before any other number. If you win this bet you will be paid 15:1 and it has a house edge of 11.11%
Betting on a 2 to show it pays 30:1 and a 13.89 % house advantage.
Bet on the 11 to win at 15:1 and a house advantage of 11.11%
Craps and Eleven
If a player places a Craps and Eleven bet they are wagering on a combination of the craps bets 2, 3, and 12 and the Yo bet 11. Craps are paid out at 3:1 while Yo is paid out at 7:1 this is another with an advantage to the casino of 11.11%.
If you want to bet on four of the hardest numbers to roll, be my guest and bet on one of the worst bets. You are betting on either 2, 3, 11, or 12 to win and the bet is divided into four. If you place a $40 bet it would be split into four $10 bets. Win one and the other three obviously lose. 2 and 12 are paid out at 30:1 and 3 and 11 at 15:1. The house edge is between 11.11% to 13.89%
As you have probably gathered there is a big difference between the pass line and come bets that have a house edge as low as 1.36% and the single roll bets that give the casino an advantage of as high as 16.67%. New players should avoid them completely and stick with the pass line bets.
Craps Dice Odds Theory
To understand craps you should start with the dice roll and the odds and probability of each combination of numbers thrown. Craps uses a standard pair of two dice each with six numbers making a total of thirty-six different number combinations. If you roll the dice they show eleven possible outcomes between 2 and 12.
Knowing the frequency of how often or not a combination of numbers on the dice will show is the starting point to understand craps betting odds.
The odds and probabilities for craps dice are;
12 or 2 – These two numbers can only be made in one way, for the 12 it is 6+6 and the 2 it is 1+1. The probability of this being rolled is one out of thirty-six rolls. Giving either the 2 or 12 odds of 35:1 or as a percentage 2.78%
3 or 11 – These numbers can only be made in two ways 2+1 and 1+2 and 5+6 and 6+5 making the odds 17:1 or percentage odds of 5.56%
4 or 10 – Each has 3 possible combinations with odds of 11:1 or 8.83%
5 or 9 – With four possible combinations these numbers hold odds of 8:1 or 11.11% as a percentage.
6 or 8 – The 6 and 8 can be made in five ways making them the second most commonly rolled numbers. The odds of them being rolled are 13.89%
7 – Can be made in six ways; 1+6, 6+1, 2+5, 5+2, 4+3, and 3+4 with odds of 5:1 and a percentage chance of being rolled at 16.67%.
Craps is a game of luck and it’s all about the bets you place and the probability of them occurring. While most craps enthusiasts tell you to bet on certain outcomes and stay away from others, how you play will come down to your level of risk. If you want to play a more thrilling game and are aware of the risks then fate might be with you.
Big Six and Eight is a Sucker Bet – When you place bets on the 6 and 8 the house has a small advantage of 1.52% but place the bet on the Big 6 and 8 bet on the layout and it leaps to 9% in the casino’s favor. There would be no logic in placing this bet for any reason!
Bet Against the Shooter – When you are playing at a brick and mortar casino it’s considered bad manners to bet against the shooter though many craps players do. When you are playing online you are always going to be the shooter so you don’t need to worry about offending yourself! For this reason, it makes sense to play the Don’t Pass and Don’t Come bets with a house advantage of 1.36% rather than the Pass/Come bets at 1.41%. The small percentage difference can make a difference in the long term.
Grab Your Free Odds – As the odds bet have a house edge of 0% it would be crazy not to take advantage of it. If you place a free odds bet on Don’t Pass or Don’t Come at single odds you reduce the overall house advantage to 0.7% if you place double odds it reduces further to 0.5% which is as good as it gets!
Are bonuses offered on craps at online casinos?
Yes, they do, all the best casinos will offer fantastic bonuses and promotions to craps players. To be safe if you stick with the online casinos that we list and review on this site you’ll bolster your bankroll and be guaranteed a safe and fun experience.
Can you play craps on a smartphone or tablet?
Playing craps on the go is more popular than ever and the mobile casino providers offer you the same great games to play on your mobile devices as you would get on a desktop. You can expect the same great graphics and sound effects. If you use an iPhone or iPad you will be equally catered for.
Is playing online craps totally random?
To ensure fair play when playing craps online the casino will use an RNG [Random Number Generator] to guarantee a fair and random outcome for each game played. The casinos will be regularly audited by reputable independent authorities such as eCOGRA to check for any irregularities.