How to Play Craps
Learning how to play craps lets you play the cool game at the casino, where all the people who love the action go. Craps is also a social game and a betters game, because if you make the conventional bets, you and the people to the left and right of you are likely to be making the same bet. When all of you have money riding on the same proposition, it creates camaraderie.
Besides, the craps table is where people go to be seen on a casino floor. Sure, the poker table is full of characters trying to be cocky like Phil Hellmuth and or have their own “look” like Jesus Ferguson, but if you’re amidst a bunch of slot machines and blackjack tables, that big spectacle over at the craps table is going to stand out. It only helps that playing the dice is a lot more fun than counting cards or hitting the spin button.
Guide to Playing Craps
Some new casino gamblers shy away from the craps area, though, because all the casino staff huddled around and all the crazy looking bet options overwhelm them. Craps is easy to learn, though, so read this guide to playing craps and start playing craps at the casino.
Craps is a dice game played at the casino. Craps players place bets by setting chips in various betting squares that have a variety of names. You’ve probably seen from tv and movies that, in craps, you want a 7 or 11 to start, but if you roll something besides a 7, you need that number again before those numbers come up again.
Rules of Craps
Learning how to play craps is mainly a matter of learning what all the various betting options are. While the names of the bets might sound difficult, they’re actually pretty simple, once you start to list them. After that, craps rules are about “what not to do”, which falls into the craps etiquette category.
With that in mind, let’s look at the craps bets.
Pass Line Bet – This is the basic bet and the one you’ll probably make most of the time. You bet money on the “pass line” on the original roll, which is called the “come out” roll. When you see a black laminated market saying “off” on the table, you know it is a come out roll.
When the dice come out as 7 or 11, you win even-money. On a 2, 3 or 12, you lose your wager. Any other set of numbers – 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10 – is called “the point”. You’ll see the dealer turn the off button over to reveal “on”, and then set that button on a particular number. You and everyone who made the pass line bet know you need that number again, before another 7 is rolled.
The house edge on this wager is one of the least of all craps bets, which is why good gamblers make this wager most of the time.
Don’t Pass Bets – The Don’t Pass bet is the opposite of the Pass Line bet (almost). On come out roll, if you get a 2 or 3, you win. On a 7 or 11, you lose. That leaves the 12, which is a push, like every other total. In Lake Tahoe and Reno, the 12 is a win and the 2 is a push (no idea why).
When you place the “Don’t Pass Bet”, keep in mind you are betting against most of the other people at the table. For this reason, “Don’t Pass” betters are called “wrong betters”. It’s a bit of an unfriendly act and craps etiquette states you shouldn’t really play up these wins, jumping up and down and whatnot, when you get the win (and the rest of the craps players lose).
The house odds are slightly higher on the Don’t Pass Bet than the Pass Line Bet, so if you want to go with the odds always, bet on the Pass Line.
Come Bets – This is a bet for those who are tired of waiting for the point to be thrown. It’s like the Pass Line bet, but is made on any roll.
Don’t Come Bets – Like the Don’t Pass bet, but made on any roll.
Place Bets – You bet on a particular number to be rolled before 7. The odds tend to be much worse on these bets, especially 5, 9, 4 and 10. 6 and 8 are in the range of the Pass Line bet, but still are worse odds. Though “place bets” pay odds, they are considered sucker bets.
Buy Bets – Same concept as the place bets, where you buy a number to beat 7, but with different payouts. Once again, the house edge hovers around 5%, so these are a bad idea.
Big 6 and 8 Bets – Like place bets, except the payouts are different. The house edge is over 9% on the Big 6 & 8, so bad that it’s illegal for the casino to have these bets in Atlantic City. Las Vegas casinos often have other sucker bets, instead of these, on this part of the felt.
Hard Way Bets – You bet on the “hard way” to roll a positive number, before a 7 or that same number is rolled the easy way. For instance, the hard way to roll 4 is to roll two 2’s. The hard way to roll 6 is two 3’s; 8 is two 4’s; 10 is two 5’s.
Let’s assume you bet on a “hard 6”. The dice need to come up 3-3, before a 4-2, a 5-1 or any combination that makes 7 comes up. You get big payoffs on this bet, but the house edge is absolutely huge. In other words, don’t make the hard way bets.
Lay Bets – You bet the 7 comes up before one of the place numbers (4-6, 8-10). Because this is likely to happen, you give the house odds on this happening. If you want to win a lot, play this bet, but know your payback percentage won’t be the same as a pass line bet.
Put Bets – Pass line bet you make without going through the come-out roll. Casinos offer odds on these bets.
Proposition Bets – These bets are always resolved on the next throw of the dice. You bet on unlikely circumstances to happen, and get odds between 4-to-1 all the way to 33-to-1. Unfortunately, these have among the worst odds at the table, and most knowledgeable craps players never make prop bets.
Field Bets – The gambler bets on the next roll being a 2-4 or 9-12. The odds pays 1-to-1, though the 2 and 12 pays a little more in most places outside Las Vegas and Reno. Decent house edge.
Taking the Odds – After you have made a pass line bet, you can “take the odds” after the point has been made. You can usually bet a multiple of 3-5 times your original bet on taking the odds. This is an additional wager that the point is going to be rolled before 7. You win better than even money when this happens. This is a bet with no house edge (you heard right – no house edge).
Taking the odds doesn’t lower the expectation that you lose, but it does lower the house edge, all things accounted for.
Laying the Odds – The opposite of taking the odds, so you are betting that a 7 is rolled before the point.
It’s essential that you understand craps etiquette if you plan to play at live games, especially in a casino setting. Be sure you follow these tips.
- Never use the word “seven” at the craps table, because it’s considered bad luck.
- When you throw the dice, bounce them off the side of the table.
- Don’t put drinks on the table.
- Don’t cheer when you win and others lose.
- Players take turns throwing dice, until they seven out. Pass the dice, if you don’t want to throw.
- Know the rules at busy tables, so dealers don’t have to help and slow down the game for everyone else.
- Don’t lean on the table. Don’t sit down. Stand up like a craps player would.
- Tips the dealers, especially helpful dealers. One way to make a bet is to place a Hard 8 bet and announce “boys” or “for the boys” – that is, for the dealer.
- Don’t point out people making sucker bets.
- Don’t jack with the dice before you throw them.
- Toss the dice – don’t literally throw them.
- Don’t use two hands when throwing the dice.
- Don’t place a bet after the shooter has the dice.
- Don’t whine and complain about everything. Negativity is bad.
- Don’t hold your drink over the craps table. You don’t want the bad blood that comes with spilling your drink on the table and causing it to stop down for repairs.
- Don’t tap cigar or cigarette ashes onto the felt.
- Respect other players’ superstitions. Craps players are notoriously superstitious, so don’t do something to foul up their superstition.
- Men shouldn’t announce this is their first time to play craps. Male craps virgins are considered unlucky.
- Women should announce this is their first time to play craps. Female craps virgins are considered lucky.