Craps is a true casino classic. It’s relatively simple too – all you have to do is wager on the outcome of a roll or series of rolls of a pair of dice.
Craps may be a simple , but if you want to play like an expert you need to understand the basics. Here you’ll find strategies, tips and gameplay rules, as well as the best craps casinos to play at.
Craps requires hardly any equipment, so it’s popular as a casual game, known as ‘street craps’ or just as ‘shooting dice’, with players able to bet against each other.
When played in the casino, sometimes called ‘table craps’, there is a bank to play against. This is the form seen on online casinos too.
Players stand at an oval table, with a dealer. The table is decorated with a complex grid, which may put off a lot of new craps players. The table simply displays the various betting possibilities that exist. Pay out information may be here too. The players bet on the outcome of a round, then the ‘shooter’ rolls the dice (this is a player and the responsibility moves each round). For online craps, the player is the shooter each time.
The shooter begins with the ‘Come-Out’ roll, which will either end the game there and then, with bets being calculated based on an initial ‘Pass’ or ‘Don’t Pass’ bet, or it will set up a point which leads on to more rounds. The subsequent rounds revolve around the score rolled in the come-out, attempting to roll the same amount again before rolling a 7.
Stick to these two simple principles and you will be playing baccarat like a pro in no time:
The key to playing craps is the Pass line. The game begins with this and there’s little reason to bet otherwise initially, except on some particular hunch. The Pass line bet has a low house edge of just 1.41% too, making it one of the lowest on the table.
Players get the option to make an ‘Odds’ bet. This very important wager is crucial in craps and it can be matching the previous Pass or Don’t Pass bet, or a multiple thereof depending on the casino’s rules. Now, the player is essentially doubling down on the point number coming out again, as the Pass line bet and the Odds bet both pay out. This bet carries a 0% house edge, something very rarely seen.
Betting on the Don’t Pass line is sometimes considered a little impolite at a craps table and won’t earn the player friends, as they are relying on the rolls to fail to get a pay out. However, for online craps this bet can be made freely and you should use it to your advantage.
Play begins with the shooter, who typically must bet on either the ‘Pass’ or ‘Don’t Pass’ line as a kind of ante. The dice are rolled (they must be rolled both at the same time, but this is no issue with online craps) and the results are added together.
If the result equals 2, 3, or 12, then this is ‘crapping out’ and the round is over; a bet on the Don’t Pass line will pay out on the 2 or 3 and tie on 12. However, if the result is a 7 or 11 (a ‘natural’), then the round is also over, but the Pass line pays out. The ideal result is to get any other amount, which becomes the ‘point’ and forms the basis of the next round.
The dealer now flips a button to ‘on’ to signify a kind of sub-round. The shooter continues to roll. If the point value is hit again, the Pass line wins. If a 7 is rolled instead, the round ends and the Don’t Pass line pays out. Players can make several different bets at this stage, including the Come and Don’t Come bets.
A Come bet pays off if the next roll is a 7 or 11, If a 2, 3, or 12 is rolled, then the player loses. Any other number becomes a new point for the come wager, a personal version of the Pass Line bet for the player. A Don’t Come bet is just like the player’s own Don’t Pass bet, which will lose with a 7 or 11 is rolled and win if a 2 or 3 is rolled.
Anything else establishes a point; it will win if a 7 rolls but lose if the point rolls. These bets are both even money. There are many more bets that can be placed, discussed in the glossary.
Improving your chances at craps is very difficult, because of course this is a game of chance. There is little that players can do in terms of skill or choice to affect that. Starting with the Pass Line bet on the Come-Out roll is ideal, as the house advantage is just 1.41% and you have a higher range of rolls to win on.
Taking the Odds bet after this is another way to shift the odds in your favour, since this bet has 0% house edge and that’s a rare thing.
Remember also that some of the numbers on the dice are more likely to appear than others. There are six ways to get a 7 on two dice (1-6, 2-5, 3-4, 4-3, 5-2, 6-1) but only one way to get a number 2 (1-1).
This information can make certain bets far more appealing as they are more likely. There are several ‘proposition bets’ in craps which are settled on the next roll, such as ‘Any 7’ which pays out of a 7 is rolled next. This pays 4:1. In general, these bets are avoided as they are high risk, but they are also high reward.
The standard version of craps played in casinos does have some variations, which are not seen often with online craps but do crop up.
Bastard Craps or Crapless Craps is a simplified version where the shooter is at a disadvantage and has a house edge of 5.38%. Also, a player can bet on rolling a 2, 3, 11 or 12 before a 7 is thrown.
Bank Craps, also known as Las Vegas Craps, is very popular in Nevada and has become popular online too. The lowest house edge for the Pass or Don’t Pass bet is around 1.4%. This is more or less the standard game of craps.
High Point Craps is a version where an initial roll of a 2 or 3 is ignored. A 2 causes the player to roll again. A roll of 11 or 12 is a win. Anything else is considered a 1-point roll with a re-roll.
Die Rich Craps, also known as Open Craps, Fading Craps or Money Craps, uses just one dice and has a high-stakes approach. This is often played in private games and may even be considered illegal.
New York Craps has a higher house edge, around 5%, and uses a double-ended dealer table. This version does not allow Come or Don’t Come bets.
Simplified Craps has a house edge of 2.8% and allows a win by rolling 2, 3, 4, 10, 11 or 12, a loss on 5, 6, 7, 8 or 9.
Craps is not seen on all online casinos, but several top names do make a provision for this casino classic.
Craps is believed to have developed from an old English game called ‘hazard’, which may even date back as far as the Crusades. This itself was a simple two dice game, referenced in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. The game was influenced by French gamblers, then much later, a more modern version made its way to New Orleans thanks to Bernard Xavier Philippe de Marigny de Mandeville, a gambler and politician.
This version of the game suffered from a flaw that players could exploit, but an American dice maker named John H. Winn introduced the Don’t Pass bet to fix the issue.
The game was first known as ‘crapaud’, meaning Toad in French, which refers to the way players would crouch over the dice as they roll on the floor. Street craps is played in this fashion and it became popular with soldiers, who could play anywhere with an army blanket as a surface. Meanwhile, the formal version took off in casinos and soon spread around the world.