Anyone that’s ever visited a casino knows how exciting it is to play craps. While you’ll often hear a murmur of applause after a great hand at a poker or blackjack table, craps tables are usually the place to hear excited shouting and cheering. Knowing the craps rules is the best way to win. Here’s how to play craps:
It Starts With a Shooter
The person that throws the dice is called the shooter. Craps rules specify that a shooter can play alone by wagering at least the table minimum, but any number of people can wager on the shooter’s throws. The shooter is normally offered up to five dice by the stickman, and chooses any two before beginning. A stickman is an attendant that takes and pays bets and moves chips and dice around the craps table with a hooked stick, and announces the results of each roll.
Craps rules only allow the shooter to handle and throw dice with one hand. The dice are thrown down the length of the crap table, and to count as a regulation throw, the dice must hit the wall on the opposite end of the table. Craps rules specify that if one or both of the dice leave the table on a wild throw, the throw doesn’t count, and the dice must be inspected by the stickman or other casino personnel before going back into use.
Craps is played in rounds, with the next shooter chosen from among players in a clockwise order around the table. The initial shooter places a bet on either the Pass line or the Don’t Pass line. A Pass line bet is for the shooter, and the Don’t Pass line is a bet against the shooter. The shooter can bet against his throws, if desired.
The Come Out Roll
The first roll is called a Come Out roll. If the shooter throws a 2, 3, or 12, he craps out immediately and anyone betting on the Pass line loses their bets, while Don’t Pass bettors win. If the shooter throws a 7 or 11 on their Come Out throw, it’s an automatic win, and all the bets on the Pass line are paid out, and the shooter Comes Out again.
If the shooter throws one of the remaining six possible numbers on his Come Out roll, this number is recorded as the Point, and a marker is placed on the craps table area marked with this number above the Come line. Craps rules direct the numbers 9 and 6 to be spelled out in letters in order to avoid confusion with bettors that can be standing on opposite sides of the table.
Once the Point has been established, if the shooter rolls the same number before rolling a 7, the bets on the Pass line are paid out, and the Don’t Pass line loses. In all cases but one, a winning throw for the Pass Line is a losing throw for the Don’t Pass line. The exception is if a Come Out throw is 12. This causes the shooter to crap out, the Pass Line bets to lose, but Don’t Pass bets neither win nor lose, and can remain on the table for the next round, or be withdrawn if desired.
Between rolls, the stickman or another dealer manning the craps table makes payouts for winning bets, and collects losing wagers. Then new bets are made, and the dice are given to the shooter for the next round. It’s against craps rules to make bets after the shooter has the dice.
Here’s a List of the Bets You Can Make at Craps:
Pass Line bets win if the first roll is 7 or 11. They lose if you roll 2, 3, or 12, all known as crapping out. If the roll is 4, 5, 6, 8, or 9, a Point is established, and the sticker places a marker on that number. Craps rules state that the shooter must roll the Point number again before rolling a 7 in order to win. Pass Line bets generally pay even money. A bettor can increase the odds by making additional bets on the Point number. The odds for additional Pass Line bets vary from 2:1 to 6:5 depending on the Point number. You lose everything if a 7 is rolled before the Point number.
Come Bets are similar to Pass Line bets, but are made by anyone after the shooter’s initial Come Out throw. In essence, the next throw of the dice becomes the bettor’s Come Out throw, and craps rules say that a 7 or 11 automatically wins their bet no matter how it affects the shooter’s wager.
If a 2, 3, or 12 is rolled, a Come Bet loses. If a 4, 5, 6, 8, or 9 is rolled, it becomes the Point number for the person that placed the Come Bet, and is moved to a marked box on the craps table with the number displayed on it. Craps rules allow Come Bet players to make additional bets after their original wager, which are placed slightly off-center from the original bet. If the next roll is a Come Out roll, Come Bets lose on a 7 roll, but the odds bets are returned to the player. This is referred to as the odds bets Not Working. If the bettor tells the stickman or dealer that he wishes the odds bets to be Working, the entire wager is won or lost together. Don’t Come bets are the opposite of Come Bets in the same way that Pass and Don’t Pass bets work.
Field Bets are active for one roll of the dice. If a 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11, or 12 is rolled, you win, with the 2 paying out at 2:1 and the 12 paying 3:1, and all other numbers paying even odds.
Big Six and Big Eight Bets can be made on any roll, and pay even money if a 6 or 8 is rolled before a 7 is rolled.
There is a grid on the center of the table that has Proposition Bets that are available for the next roll, except so-called hardway bets that ride until decided.
Any Craps – Pays 8:1 for 2, 3, or 12
Any Seven – Pays 5:1 if a seven is rolled
Eleven – Pays 16:1 if an 11 is thrown
Acey Deucey – Pays 16:1 if a 3 is rolled
Aces or Boxcars – Pay 30:1 if a 2 or a 12 is thrown
Horn Bet – Wagers on the 2, 3, 11, and 12 at the same time
Hardways – Specifies that the number you wager on will be made up of a pair of identical numbers on the dice, and will turn up before the same number appears in any other combination of dice, or a 7 is thrown. Hardways are the only proposition bet that rides until they are decided, not only for one throw
When learning how to play craps, you can stick to the easy to understand Pass and Don’t Pass bets, or simpler proposition bets. Once you’re familiar with the craps rules, the pace of the game, and its terminology, you can feel more confident about placing more complicated bets that can return much larger payouts and add more excitement.