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How to Play Craps

S. Stoynova (editor) |

The Ins and Outs of Playing Craps

How to Play CrapsMany inexperienced players fall prey to the misconception craps is easy to play because the outcomes of the dice rolls are based on chance. But as soon as they join the craps table, they find themselves overwhelmed by the sheer number of betting options and the fast pace of the game.

While craps is indeed a game of chance and players cannot affect the outcome of the tosses in any way, understanding the rules, the table layout, and the types of bets, is essential if you want to end your betting session on profit. If you are new to craps, we suggest you take a look at the following article to learn more about the game and the betting options it offers.

The Table Layout

The Table LayoutThe game is played on an oblong, baize-covered table with high sides. Most craps tables are identical and have a padded resting rail to further the convenience of players. There are wooden troughs, running throughout the entire length of the padded rail where players can place their chips.

Typically, a craps table can accommodate up to sixteen bettors, with eight players positioned on each of the two sides. The layout itself consists of three sections. The two identical side sections, manned by the dealers, are located at each end of the table. Each of the two side sections can be separated into two areas – the self-service area and the dealer’s area. The self-service area allows for placing Pass Line/Don’t Pass bets, Come/Don’t Come bets, Field, Big 6 and Big 8 bets.

Craps table layout

The dealer’s area has six square “point” boxes, containing the numbers 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, and 10. Numbers 6 and 9 are actually written out as “six” and “nine” to prevent confusion. After a point is established, the dealer would place a puck on that particular number to indicate it is the point.

The craps table has “off” and “on” stages. When the table is “off”, no Pass Line and Don’t Pass bets are accepted because the shooter is yet to make the come-out roll and establish a point. Once the shooter rolls a point, the table is “on” and Pass/Don’t Pass bets can be placed.

The center section of the layout is where the chips for the so-called Proposition and Hardway bets are placed. It matters not whether you are playing in a brick-and-mortar casino or are betting online from the comfort of your home – either way, you will find that the layouts of the online and land-based craps tables are pretty much identical.

In order to make sure that the chosen craps table is perfectly suited for you, you should not forget to check the bet limits, along with the odds. The minimum and maximum amounts players can wager will vary vastly from one craps table to another, but, considering the variety, players will certainly find a game, which lives up to their requirements.

Risk-averse craps fans should know that low-limit craps tables are not uncommon, and there are variants that offer a bare bet minimum of $5, $3, or even less. The upper limits on the bets also vary greatly, and while most online variants of the game have a rather low maximum bet amount, there are brick-and-mortar casinos where players can stake up to $1,000.

Something important to take into account about craps is that normally, the bet limits that are featured on the placard apply to all bet types, but the odds and proposition ones.
  • With proposition bets, the least amount players can wager is determined by the smallest chip denomination, which is available on the table. As for the ceiling on such wagers, the amount will be based on arbitrary maximum payout players can come by. Thus, if we presume that gambling enthusiasts have joined a table where bets of up to $1,000 are accepted, this should go to show that the upper limit on proposition bets will be $3,000.
  • Another thing to point out is that the maximum on the odds bet will be dictated by a multiple of the flat bet, and it can run into $4,000 for the Don’t Come and Don’t Pass bets. Yet, such bets might also be limited to $2,000.

Still, gambling enthusiasts should remember that this formula cannot be applied to the Don’t Come and Don’t Pass bets, and this is so because when placing such bets, they will not take but lay odds.

While playing craps at a brick-and-mortar casino, players might be allowed to pick from several bet ranges, which will make it exceptionally easy for them to find a table, which is friendly to their bankroll.

The Table Staff

The Table StaffEach craps table is typically manned by four people. The stickman handles the dice and dictates the speed of the game. Note that this individual is not allowed to touch the dice with his bare hands, he pushes them around with a flexible stick with a crooked end, instead, hence the name “stickman”. The stickman would also announce the outcome of each dice roll. Another important function of his is to place the chips for Proposition and Hardway bets on the layout.

Craps Table Staff

Two dealers are positioned on each side of the layout to exchange players’ money for chips and ensure the bets are paid out correctly. They are not allowed to touch the dice under any circumstances.

The fourth person is the seated boxman, who observes the action, supervises the dealers, and keeps track of the house’s bankroll. Should any disputes arise between a player and one of the two dealers, it is the boxman’s job to settle the issue and administer the standard rules of play.

Buying Credits When Playing Craps

Buying CreditsGambling enthusiasts who prefer the appeal of land-based casinos should know that before they start their betting session, they will need to buy some credits. If you are a total novice at playing this game, you should bear in mind that you will need to buy in at the craps table.

In order to do so, gambling enthusiasts will need to put their money on the betting layout and ask the dealer to exchange this amount for chips. It is vital to remember that you need to leave the preferred amount on the betting layout instead of trying to hand it to the dealer. Do not attempt to hand money to the dealer as this is strictly against the casino rules, and you will not see him/her taking money directly out of the hands of players.

Please note that even if the game is already in progress once you join the preferred table, this will not mean that you will need to wait for the current round to end in order to buy chips. Instead, gambling enthusiasts should attempt to grab the attention of the dealer, given that the stickman keeps the dice in the middle of the craps table. Players should make it clear that they want to exchange this amount for chips and that no bets are already made using this money.

Once the boxman counts the money, the dealer will give you your chips, and you will be free to commence your craps betting session. Before they attempt to pick up their chips, players should ensure that the current round is still on hold, which will be the case if the stickman still holds the dice in the middle of the craps table. If such is the case, they need to collect their chips, and make sure that they will not roll all over the table.

Yet, if you notice that the shooter is getting ready to roll the dice, you need to leave your chips where the dealer has placed them and take your hands off the betting area as otherwise, you might call down the anger of the other players.

One of the best ways to figure out if a player is a total novice or an old hand is to check out the way he/she has arranged his/her chips. As soon as players get their chips, they should always place the ones with a higher denomination in the middle of their stack, and position the lower-value ones on both sides of the high-value ones.

In this way, it will be exceptionally easy for players to make their bets as their chips will be neatly organized all the time.

The Actual Process of Playing Craps

Playing CrapsOnce players have exchanged their money for chips, they will be ready to proceed with the actual play. Needless to say, there are more things gambling enthusiasts should be aware of if they prefer to place their bets in a brick-and-mortar casino.

First and foremost, craps fans should know that with most bet types that are available at the craps table, they will need the assistance of the dealer. Usually, craps bets are divided based on the number of rolls that are needed until their outcome is determined, and for this reason, they can be single and multi-roll ones.

Craps bets can also be distinguished based on the way they are placed, and depending on this criteria, there are bets handled by the dealer and self-service ones. When the latter type of bets is concerned, they are handled exclusively by players, and they will only be allowed to place their chips on the table if they want to make a Place or Field bet.

If players want to make any of the other available bet types, they will need to place their chips in front of themselves and tell the dealer what bet type they have chosen and how much they would like to stake. Once gambling enthusiasts notice that the croupier has moved their chips to the field from the betting layout, which corresponds to their bet, they should wait to see what the outcome of the current round will be.

An important thing to consider is that the bets handled by the dealer are also referred to as contract bets. This is so because once they are made, the chips cannot be removed from the betting layout until their outcome is determined. Naturally, players will not be allowed to increase or decrease the value of such bets.

The shooter also plays a crucial role in craps, and we will discuss it in greater detail in the next sections.

In craps, the first toss of the dice is known as a come-out roll, and based on the combination, which will be formed, there are three ways in which the game will turn out. If 11 or 7 comes out, all players win and the round finishes. If 2, 3, or 12 happen to come out, right bettors will get a payout, while wrong ones will lose the staked amount. As for the rest of the numbers, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10, the outcome of the round will not be determined right away as a point will be established. We will pay more attention to this in the following sections.

All these things might sound too complicated, especially for players who are new to the game of craps. Fortunately, they can easily save themselves the hassle to memorize all this information simply by placing their bets over the Internet.

Table Etiquette

Table EtiquetteOne important thing to remember is to place your bets when the dice are located in the center of the table. Tossing chips on the layout while the dice are in mid-air is considered a breach of etiquette.

Also, you are recommended to follow the instructions of the table personnel, especially if you are new to the game. The personnel is there to ensure the game runs smoothly, so there is no need to become quarrelsome when they enforce the rules.

Inexperienced craps players are advised to learn the ins and outs of the game before they dive into their gambling adventures because the game is played at a rather fast pace and it has high levels of complexity. Yet, if you are not certain what you should do next, there is no problem asking the dealer for assistance, but just make sure that this will not happen all the time.

When shooting the dice, do your best not to throw them off the table. Shooters should try and hit the table’s opposite wall with both dice. Players are not allowed to remove the dice from the sight of the boxman and stickman. Hitting the chips on the layout with the dice is to be avoided as many superstitious players believe it to be a jinx.

Speaking of the dice, when you notice that the shooter is standing on the opposite side of the craps table, you should make sure that your hands are not in the playing area because the dice might bounce and hit you.

As you can see, playing craps at an established online casino will not only enable you to enjoy the game at your own pace, but will also spare you from having to follow the elaborate etiquette at the table. As a matter of fact, this is one of the biggest advantages of online craps.

Players can also tip the dealers, but do it reasonably. One of the most suitable ways to give a tip is to make a “two-way” wager by placing one bet for yourself and one for the dealers. Of course, all two-way bets will be appreciated, but placing a Pass Line bet for your dealers is usually the best idea.

Basic Rules of Play

Basic Rules of PlayIn craps, each player makes individual bets against the house. The person who throws the dice is called a shooter. Every player has the opportunity to be the shooter as his turn comes. The turns change in a clockwise direction. The shooter surrenders the dice when a 7 is thrown. The dice can be handled only by the shooter and the stickman.

Each new round begins with a come-out roll or the first toss of the dice, so that their combined value can indicate what the point number is. On the following throws, the shooter aims at rolling the point number again before a 7 is tossed. If 7 is rolled after a point has already been established, this is called a seven-out and the shooter must surrender the dice to the next player.

Only numbers 4, 5, 6, 8, 9 or 10 are used to establish a point on come-out rolls. Numbers 2, 3 and 12 are called craps numbers and when they are rolled by the shooter, the throw automatically results in a loss for the Pass Line. When the come-out roll results in a 7 or 11, it is considered “a natural” – bets on the Pass Line win, while Don’t Pass bets lose. When a point has been established on the come-out roll, the shooter must throw the dice until the point number is rolled or until he sevens out. All other numbers thrown in the meantime are called “waiting” numbers and do not affect the shooter winning or losing the round.

Types of Bets in Craps

Types of Bets in CrapsThere are more than 30 possible bets on the outcome of the throw (the combined value of the two dice), but wagers can also be made for or against the shooter. Payouts differ depending on the type of bet players make. The wagers can be divided into two major categories – one-roll bets and bets that involve multiple throws of the dice.

Pass Line Bets

Craps Pass Line Bet

Pass Line bets are among the most important wagers in craps. If players understand how the Pass Line works, they will not experience any difficulties in following the game. These bets are made before the come-out roll.

Bets on the pass line pay even money if:

  • The shooter throws 7 or 11 on the come-out roll
  • The shooter establishes a point on the come-out roll and manages to throw the point number before 7 is tossed
  • Numbers 7 and 11 are called “naturals” because if they are thrown on the come-out roll, all bets on the Pass Line immediately win

Don’t Pass Bets

Craps Dont Pass Bet

Don’t Pass wagers involve betting against the shooter, that is betting the shooter will lose. In other words, Don’t Pass bets are precisely the opposite of Pass Line bets. These bets are winning when:

  • The shooter scores 2, 3 or 12 (craps) on the come-out roll. Don’t Pass Line bets win on 2 or 3 and tie on 12
  • The shooter establishes a point on the come-out roll but sevens out before rolling the point number

Come Bets

Craps Come Bet

This wager functions as an extension of the Pass Line. It can be placed as an additional bet after a point has been established on the come-out roll. The Come bet pays even money if the shooter rolls 7 or 11. If craps numbers 2, 3, or 12 are thrown, the Come bet loses.

When the shooter rolls a point number like 4, 5, 6, 9, or 10, the chips for the Come bets are moved to the point number box corresponding to thrown point number. The Come bet wins if the point number is thrown again and loses if the shooter rolls a 7. Players can make Come bets on every throw if they wish as long as a point has been established.

Don’t Come Bets

Craps Dont Come Bet

These wagers are the opposite of the Come bets and function as an extension of the Don’t Pass bets. Thus, they can be placed only when a point for the Pass Line has been established. Don’t Come bets win on rolls of 2 or 3 and lose on a roll of 7 or 11. A toss of 12 results in a push for all Don’t Come bets. All winning wagers of this type pay out even money.

If a point number is thrown, the chips for the Don’t Come bets are moved behind the point number box of the corresponding number. If the shooter rolls this number again, the bet loses, but if the toss results in a 7, the Don’t Come bets win.

Taking the Odds

If a point has been established on the come-out roll, a player can bet up to 2 times his Pass Line bet that the point number will be thrown before a 7 comes up. This is considered one of the most favorable bets as it comes with 0% house edge and increases the winnings from your original Pass Line wager. Players can take odds on their Pass Line bets at any stage of the game.

Laying the Odds

This is the opposite of taking the odds, although not as favorable. The player bets that a 7 will be thrown before the point number is rolled. As the odds for the Don’t Pass bets are reversed, the player will collect fewer chips than they have originally bet.

Place Bets to Win

Craps Place Bet

Place bets involve multiple rolls of the dice. These are side wagers that can be made at any stage of the game as long as a point has been established. They practically involve betting that the point number (4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 or 10) will be thrown before a 7 comes up. Winning Place bets have higher payouts but still pay less than the true odds. Players are allowed to raise, decrease or remove their Place bets whenever they like. Also, these wagers are automatically taken off on the come-out roll for the Pass Line. Their payouts are as follows:

  • Rolls of 4 or 10 pay 9 to 5
  • Rolls of 5 or 9 pay 7 to 5
  • Rolls of 6 or 8 pay 7 to 6

Place Bets against 4, 5, 6, 8, 9 or 10

Craps Place Against Bet

These wagers are precisely the opposite of Place bets as the player is betting that 7 will come up before the shooter throws the point number the bet is placed on. The payouts for winning bets of this type are as follows:

  • Rolls of 7 before 4 or 10 pay 5 to 11
  • Rolls of 7 before 5 or 9 pay 5 to 8
  • Rolls of 7 before 6 or 8 pay 4 to 5

Buy Bets

Craps Buy Bet

This type of wager resembles the Place bet, the only difference is it pays true odds. The player bets that 4, 5, 6, 8, 9 or 10 will be thrown before a 7. Buy bets pay true odds because they involve the player paying a 5% commission (known as “juice” or “vig”) to the house. If the player loses with a Buy bet, they lose both the commission and their original wager. The juice is returned to the player if they take down their Buy bet before the dice are rolled. The payouts are as follows:

  • Rolls of 4 or 10 before 7 pay 2 to 1 with a 5% commission
  • Rolls of 5 or 9 before 7 pay 3 to 2 with a 5% commission
  • Rolls of 6 or 8 before 7 pay 6 to 5 with a 5% commission

Lay Bets

Craps Place Against Bet

Lay bets mirror Buy bets because they win whenever a 7 is rolled before the shooter throws the respective point number the bet is placed on. Note that the player is required to pay a 5% vig on their winnings. Winning Lay bets have the following payouts:

  • Rolls of 7 before 4 or 10 pay 1 to 2
  • Rolls of 7 before 5 or 9 pay 2 to 3
  • Rolls of 7 before 6 or 8 pay 5 to 6

Big 6 and 8

Big 6 and 8 Bet

These are one-roll wagers, which involve betting that 6 or 8 will be thrown before a 7. When winning, Big 6 and Big 8 bets pay even money. However, players are recommended to avoid them altogether because they have a shockingly high house edge.

Field Bets

Craps Field Bet

These are one-roll bets, which can be made at any stage of the game. The player bets that 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11, or 12 will be rolled before numbers 5, 6, 7 or 8. Provided that numbers 3, 4, 9, 10 or 11 are rolled, the Field bet will pay even money. When 2 is thrown, the payout will be 2 to 1. A roll of 12 will result in a payout of either 2 to 1 or 3 to 1, depending on the casino. Numbers 5, 6, 7 and 8 are outside the field and when thrown, result in a loss for Field bets.

Hardway Bets

Craps Hardway Bets

The chips for Hardway bets are placed in the center section of the layout and are handled by no other than the stickman. This is a sub-class of the Proposition bet which consists of Hard 6, Hard 8, Hard 4 and Hard 10 bets. The player is betting their number will be rolled out the “hard way” (the toss results in the same value on both dice, for instance 3 plus 3 makes for a Hard 6) before a 7 comes up. Hard 4 and Hard 10 pay out 8 for 1. Hard 6 and Hard 8 pay 10 for 1.

Proposition Bets

Proposition Bets

Proposition bets involve a single toss of the dice, have higher payouts, and are handled by the stickman. The chips for these wagers are placed in the center section of the layout. Basically, these wagers are resolved after a single toss of the dice. There are several sub-types of Proposition bets:

  1. Any Seven: A roll of 7 pays 4 to 1

  2. Any Craps: A roll of 2, 3 or 12 pays 7 to 1

  3. Horn on Craps 2: A roll of 2 pays 30 to 1

  4. Horn on Craps 3: A roll of 3 pays 15 to 1

  5. Horn on Craps 12: A roll of 12 pays 30 to 1

  6. Horn on 11 (Yo-leven): A roll of 11 pays 15 to 1

  7. Whirl bets: They involve betting four units on numbers 2, 3 and 12 and one unit on 7. A roll of 7 results in a push for this bet

  8. Three-Way-Craps bet: A three unit bet on craps numbers. Rolls of 2 and 12 before a 7 pay 30 to 1, while rolls of 11 pay 15 to 1

  9. High-Low Bet: A roll of 3 results in a payout of 15 to 1. Also known as Ace Deuce bet

  10. Three-Way Seven: This is betting that 7 will be rolled out on the next toss. It requires players to bet three units for each of the three combinations that add up to

    5-2 and 4-3). The payout is 15 to 1

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