Craps is an exciting casino game, played with two dice. The objective is to predict correctly the outcome of the dice toss. At first glance, craps seems like a rather simplified game because it is based entirely on chance. However, less experienced players often struggle to understand how the different bets work and how they pay out. The jargon and the etiquette one is expected to comply with at the craps table can make the head of any novice spin. The good news is beginners can master the game at their own pace from the comfort of their homes as craps is available in many reputable online casinos.
If you are new to craps, we suggest you take a look at the articles that are to follow. There, you will be able to find extensive information on the rules, the available bets, and their payouts. But first, let’s take a quick look at the origins of the game.
The Origins of Craps
Tracing where the game originated from is certainly not an easy task. Evidence suggests a similar game was played in Ancient Rome where soldiers from the legions would carve pig knuckles into small cubes to use as dice.
According to some historians, craps resulted from the simplification of the game of “hazard” which was allegedly an invention of an English nobleman by the name of William of Tyre. It was in the Middle Ages that craps started to gain popularity, especially among the privileged nobility of France and England.
In the beginning of the 18th century, craps traveled to the New World, when the French established the colony of Acadia in what is now Nova Scotia, Canada. After France lost control over Acadia, the French settlers moved down South, bringing the dice game to the state of Louisiana. It quickly spread throughout the continent with the Mississippi steamboats, but it was in the mid 19th century that the name “craps” officially prevailed.
The rules of play we follow today were outlined at the start of the 20th century. The Don’t Pass bet was introduced in order to prevent players from implementing dice control and manipulating the outcome of the rolls. After the end of World War II, craps spread throughout the globe and quickly acquired a status of an absolute classic in gambling establishments the world over. A status it maintains to this very day.
The layout can be divided into three separate sections. Two of them are completely identical and are positioned at each side of the table in order to accommodate a greater number of players. This is where the chips for Pass/Don’t Pass, Come/Don’t Come, Place, Field, Big 6 and Big 8 bets are placed.
The center section of the table houses the grid where the so-called proposition bets are placed. These include Any 7, Any Craps, and the Hardways, which fall into the category of one-roll bets and offer higher payouts.
The table is manned by several members of the casino personnel. There are two base dealers on each side of the table. One of them is in charge of the puck that indicates whether a new round is about to start, while the other collects the chips for the losing bets and pays out the winnings. The two base dealers also place the chips for Lay, Buy, Place and Free Odds bets in the respective boxes on the layout.
The stickman is in charge of the dice and moves them around the table. Another job of his is to call out the outcomes of the rolls and make Big 6, Big 8, and Proposition bets for the players. The boxman is in charge of the casino’s bankroll and observes everything that happens at the table. This person exchanges players’ cash into chips (and vice versa) and resolves any arising disputes. Finally, there is the floorman, who oversees the boxmen at two to four tables, tends to the needs of the players, and authorizes credit for them on the spot.
Basic Rules of Play
The rules of play in craps are actually quite simple, it is the bet types that most novices struggle with. The two dice used in the game are rolled by one of the players at the table, who is referred to as the shooter. After a shooter has completed a round of throws or has hit a 7, another player can roll the dice.
Players are taking turns at shooting in a clockwise fashion. Sometimes, the shooter is allowed to roll the dice for several rounds in a row. More importantly, players are permitted to make bets even if they do not shoot the dice for a particular round. Also, in order for a roll to be valid, the dice need to hit and bounce off the opposite wall of the table.
Each round starts with what is called a come-out roll, which is the first toss of the dice. Prior to the come-out roll, the puck on the table reads “Off” to indicate no point has been established. If the shooter throws 7 or 11 on the come-out roll, the Pass Line bets win and this round is over. Throwing any of the craps numbers 2, 3 or 12 on the come-out roll results in a loss for Pass Line bettors. If 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10 are thrown, the respective number becomes the point, the dealer turns the puck so it reads “On”, and places it above the box containing the point number. The shooter throws the dice until they either roll the point or lose by hitting 7.
These are practically the basic rules of play in craps. What makes the game more complex is the huge number of available bets players can make. You can find more about the types of bets in craps and their respective payouts below.
Types of Bets in Craps
The bets in craps can be divided into two major categories, depending on how many rolls is takes to resolve the outcome. There are multiple-roll bets which often require the shooter to toss the dice several times in a row to determine the outcome. Then again, there are one-roll bets that win or lose after a single toss of the dice.
- Pass Line bets – one of the most fundamental multiple-roll bets in craps. It wins whenever the shooter throws 7 or 11 on the come-out roll and loses if craps numbers 2, 3 or 12 hit. If numbers 4, 5, 6, 8, 9 or 10 are rolled, the respective number becomes the point and Pass Line bets win if it is rolled again before 7 hits. Pass Line bets pay even money and have a house edge of 1.41%.
- Don’t Pass bets – this is the opposite of the Pass Line. This multiple-roll bet wins when 2 or 3 are thrown on the come-out roll and loses if 7 or 11 hit. A toss of 12 results in a push. If the shooter comes out on a point, the Don’t Pass bet wins if 7 hits before the point number. This bet also pays even money and offers a house edge of 1.36%.
- Come bets – this wager is an extension of the Pass Line bet and can be made at all times as long as a point has been established. It wins when 7 or 11 hit on the come-out roll and loses when 2, 3 or 12 are thrown. When the shooter establishes a point on the come-out roll, the Come bets pay one to one if the point is rolled prior to 7. The house edge for these bets stands at 1.41%.
- Don’t Come bets – Don’t Come bets are similar to Don’t Pass bets in that they win when 2 or 3 are tossed on the come-out roll and lose on 7 or 11. A roll of 12 is a push and the bet neither wins, nor loses. If a point is rolled, the bet wins if the shooter fails to throw the point prior to a 7. Players can reduce or take down their Don’t Come bets at all stages of the game. The house edge is 1.36%.
- Free Odds bets – players can take odds on their Pass Line/Come wagers by placing a side bet. The winning Pass Line/Come bets pay even money while the side bets pay at true odds of 2 to 1, which reduces the house edge almost to zero. Another option is to lay odds for the Don’t Pass/Don’t Come bets which works in the same way. Both the side bet and the Don’t Pass/Don’t Come bet win if the shooter sevens-out, but the former pays at the correct odds while the latter pays even money.
- Place bets – these are multiple-roll bets, placed by the dealer and made on individual numbers 4, 5, 6, 8, 9 or 10 after a point has been established. The number should be rolled before 7 hits. Rolls of 4 and 10 pay out 9 to 5, rolls of 5 and 9 pay out 7 to 5, and 6 and 8 have a payout of 7 to 6.
- Place Bets to Lose are made against the shooter and win when 7 is thrown prior to the respective point number. Their payouts are as follows: 5 to 11 for bets against 4 or 10, 5 to 8 for bets against 5 and 9, 4 to 5 for bets against 6 and 8.
- Field bets – this is a one-roll bet which covers numbers 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11 and 12. Rolls of 5, 6, 7 and 8 result in a loss for Field bettors. A roll of 12 pays 3 to 1 and a roll of 2 pays 2 to 1, while numbers 3, 4, 9, 10 and 11 pay even money.
- Big 6/Big 8 bets – multiple-roll bets which win whenever the shooter rolls 6 or 8, respectively, prior to throwing 7. These are considered two of the worst bets in craps as they have a huge house edge of 9.09% but pay even money.
- Buy bets – these are multiple-roll bets on individual numbers 4, 5, 6, 8, 9 or 10. They pay at true odds if the given number is rolled prior to 7 but players are required to pay a 5% commission on their winning bets. The payouts for Buy bets are as follows – 2 to 1 for 4 and 10, 3 to 1 for 5 and 9, and 6 to 5 for numbers 6 and 8. The house edge stands at 4.76%.
- Lay bets – this group consists of wagers against individual point numbers 4, 5, 6, 8, 9 and 10, with a 5% commission on all winning bets that goes towards the house. The player wins if 7 hits before the point number they are betting against. Winning Lay bets pay out 1 to 2 against 4 and 10, 2 to 3 against 5 and 9, and 5 to 6 against 6 and 8. The house edge fluctuates depending on the number you are laying your bet against.
- Any Craps bets – a single-roll proposition bet which pays out 7 to 1 if any of the craps numbers 2, 3 or 12 hits on the next toss of the dice. All other numbers result in a loss for Any Craps bets. This wager comes with a house edge of 11.11%.
- Yo-leven bets – Yo-leven is yet another one-roll bet that pays out 15 to 1 if 11 hits on the next throw of the dice. Its house edge stands at 11.11%.
- Ace Deuce bets – the Ace Deuce is a one-roll bet with a payout of 15 to 1 if number 3 is thrown on the next dice roll. The house edge coincides with that of the Yo-leven bet.
- Big Red bets – the Big Red is one-roll bet on number 7. Therefore it wins only if 7 hits on the very next throw of the dice. The payout is 4 to 1, with a house edge of 16.67%.
- Aces bets – the Aces bet wins if 2 hits on the next roll of the dice. It offers a higher payout of 30 to 1, with a house edge of 16.67%.
- Boxcar bets – this is a one-roll wager which wins if number 12 shows on the next dice toss. The payout and house edge for Boxcar bets coincide with those of the Aces bet.
- Hardway bets – this is a sub-category of one-roll proposition bets which includes individual numbers 4, 6, 8 and 10. Hard 6 and Hard 8 pay 9 to 1 when the next roll results in a combination of 3-3 or 4-4. The house edge for Hard 6/Hard 8 stands at 9.09%. Hard 4 and Hard 10 win when the dice show 2-2 or 5-5, respectively, and offer a payout of 7 to 1, with a house edge of 11.11%.
The House Edge in Craps
The house edge is the key thing players need to understand prior to joining any table at the casino, be it the blackjack, the roulette or the craps table. However, understanding the house edge is even more crucial in the game of craps because it enables players to make informed decisions as to which bets to place and which ones to avoid.
The term house edge is used to refer to the built-in advantage gambling establishments have over their players. It is typically expressed in percentages to reflect the ratio of the expected loss to the original wager the player has made. This is precisely how casinos turn a profit – since most of the bets in craps are not paid in accordance with the true odds of rolling a given outcome, the house ends up collecting money on all wagers, regardless of whether they win or lose.
The house edge in craps varies wildly depending on the type of bet players make. For instance, for bets on the Pass Line, the tilt in favor of the casino stands at 1.41%. This means that the house collects an average of $1.41 per every $100 wagered on the Pass Line. Then again, we have bets like the Aces and the Big Red where $16.67 per every $100 wagered go towards the house because the edge for both bets is 16.67%. It goes without saying players should steer clear from such bets.
There is a way to reduce the house edge on Pass/Come bets and Don’t Pass/Don’t Come bets even further by taking or laying free odds on such wagers. If you do this, the edge on your bets drops almost to zero because the house pays free odds bets at true odds.
|Craps Bets Payout and House Edge|
|Type of Bet||Payout||True Odds||House Edge|
|Pass Line/Come Bet||1 to1||251 to 244||1.41%|
|Don’t Pass/Don’t Come Bet||1 to 1||976 to 949||1.36%|
|Free Odds Bet on the Pass Line||2 to 1 (4 or 10), 3 to 2 (5 or 9), 6 to 5 (6 or 8)||Same as Payout||0.00%|
|Free Odds on Don’t Pass Bets||1 to 2 (4 or 10), 2 to 3 (5 or 9), 5 to 6 (6 or 8)||Same as Payout||0.00%|
|Free Odds on Come Bets||2 to 1 (4 or 10), 3 to 2 (5 or 9), 6 to 5 (6 or 8)||Same as Payout||0.00%|
|Free Odds on Don’t Come Bets||1 to 2 (4 or 10), 2 to 3 (5 or 9), 5 to 6 (6 or 8)||Same as Payout||0.00%|
|Place Bets on 4 and 10||9 to 5||2 to 1||6.67%|
|Place Bets on 5 and 9||7 to 5||3 to 2||4.00%|
|Place Bets on 6 and 8||7 to 6||6 to 5||1.52%|
|Place Bets to Lose 4 and 10||5 to 11||3.03%|
|Place Bets to Lose 5 and 9||5 to 8||2.50%|
|Place Bets to Lose 6 and 8||4 to 5||1.82%|
|Field Bets on 3, 4, 9, 10 and 11||1 to 1||5.56%|
|Field Bets on 2 and 12||2 to 1||5.56%|
|Hardway Bets on 6 or 8||9 to 1||10 to 1||9.09%|
|Hardway Bets on 4 or 10||7 to 1||8 to 1||11.11%|
|Big 6 or 8||1 to 1||9.09%|
|Lay Bets on 4 and 10 (5% Commission)||1 to 2||2.44%|
|Lay Bets on 5 and 9 (5% Commission)||2 to 3||3.23%|
|Lay Bets on 6 and 8 (5% Commission)||5 to 6||4.00%|
|Buy Bets on 4 and 10 (5% Commission)||2 to 1||4.76%|
|Buy Bets on 5 and 9 (5% Commission)||3 to 1||4.76%|
|Buy Bets 6 and 8 (5% Commission)||6 to 5||4.76%|
|Big Red/Seven Bets||4 to 1||5 to 1||16.67%|
|Any Craps Bets||7 to 1||8 to 1||11.11%|
|Proposition Bets on 2 and 12||30 to 1||35 to 1||13.89%|
|Proposition Bets on 3 and 11||15 to 1||17 to 1||11.11%|
Smart craps players are able to maximize their profits and bring their losses to a minimum through proper money management and strategic play. There are several aspects of money management. The first thing novices need to do is determine the size of their bankroll or the amount of money they have allocated for betting on craps for a specific period of time, say a month. The overall bankroll is divided into smaller sums depending on the number of betting sessions, planned for the month.
Another aspect of money management is deciding on the size of your base betting unit or the amount you bet per dice roll. As craps is a very dynamic game, a betting unit of about 1% of the overall session bankroll is generally recommended. The next thing craps novices need to do is set a win goal and a loss limit for themselves. Knowing when to quit, regardless of whether you are winning or losing, is key.
Following the principle of Guarantee and Excess is yet another good idea. Once players have achieved their win goal, they need to split their net profits in half. One half they put aside as their “guarantee”. The other half, or the “excess”, can be used for more bets. This way you will always leave the craps table on profit.
Following a betting system does not guarantee you can beat this game. However, it may help with money management. Players are recommended to avoid negative-progression systems where bets are increased aggressively after each loss and reduced following a win as this might exhaust their bankrolls quickly. If you do insist on following a system, make sure you adopt one that is based on a positive betting progression i.e. bets are increased following a win and reduced after losing rolls.
Above all, make sure you understand the rules, the different bet types, their payouts, and the house edge they come with. Experienced craps players are said to never place bets where the edge comes close to or exceeds 3%. Combining Pass Line/Come bets and Don’t Pass/Don’t Come/Field bets is also a smart move. Last but not least, do not succumb to the Gambler’s fallacy! Remember the outcome of each dice toss is neither influenced by previous rolls, nor does it affect the outcomes of the following rolls.