|When you stand at a craps table for the first time, you may feel
overwhelmed by the hub-bub. All those bets, all that shouting, it seems so
complicated! Really, it's not.
The objective of playing Craps is for the shooter to establish a
"point" number and then roll that number again (called making the point) before
rolling a 7 (craps). Only the numbers 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10 can be a point number. There
are a variety of bets for you to choose from, but it is in your best interest to first
understand the basic concepts of the game. Then you can place wagers on those other
The game is played by tossing the dice from one end of the
table to the other. Both dice should hit the far wall to be
considered "fair" but the crew at the table will overlook the occasional short
throw, especially if the shooter is obviously a novice. The payoffs for
each wager are based on the the probability of a number combination being rolled
versus the probability of the seven being thrown.
For instance, the probability of the 4 being rolled is 3
out of 36 while the 7 will appear 6 out of 36 rolls. Therefore the "true
odds" for the 4 is 6-to-3 or 2-to-1. The 4 is actually paid at 9-to-5.
Those are the "house odds". The difference between the "true odds"
and the "house odds" is just another way the casino makes money. So, in
the example above, if you wagered $5 on the number 4, and the shooter "made
their point", you would be paid $9, and your $5 bet would be returned.
Don't get too bogged down with payoffs at the beginning. The table crew is
there to help you. Don't hesitate to ask them questions!
Each throw of the dice is called a "roll". Players take
turns rolling the dice, passing clockwise around the table. The player rolling the
dice is called the "shooter". You do not have to shoot the dice when it is
your turn. You may be inclined to "pass". When a new shooter is given the
dice, his or her first roll is called the "Come Out" roll. The stickman
(the crew member with the stick) will generally call out, "New shooter comin'
Each new game in Craps begins with the "Come Out" roll. A
"Come Out" roll can be made only when the previous shooter fails to make a
winning roll -- more correctly known as not making the "Point" or
"Seven Out". If the current shooter makes his "Point", the dice are
returned to him and he then begins again with a new "Come Out" roll. The
shooter will retain the dice until he or she fails to make their point, ie: "Sevens
When the shooter "Sevens out", the dice are then offered
to the next player for a new "Come Out" roll and the game continues in the same
manner. The new shooter will be the person directly next to the left of the previous
On the "Come Out" roll, there are two primary wagers.
The "Pass Line" and the "Don't Pass Line." If you place a bet on the pass
line, you are betting that the shooter will make their point. If you place
a bet on the don't pass line, you are betting that the shooter will "Seven Out."
If on the "Come Out" roll, the shooter rolls a 7 or an 11 (called a "natural"),
the pass line automatically wins and the don't pass automatically loses.
If on the "Come Out" the shooter rolls *2, 3 or *12, known
as "rolling craps", the pass line automatically loses while the don't pass
automatically wins. (Either 2 or 12 will be a "push" number, but don't
concern yourself with that now). If the shooter rolls either a natural or craps
on the “Come Out“ they still retain the dice. If the shooter rolls 4, 5, 6, 8, 9
or 10, they have established that number as the "Point" and the shooter must
roll this same number again to win before rolling the number 7.
Establishing the "Point" is the immediate result of
the "Come Out" roll, unless that "Come Out" roll results in 7, 11, 2, 3 or 12,
in which case another "Come Out" roll will be made until a "Point" is
Once the shooter establishes the "Point", the dealer will
move a puck that says "On” to that "Point" number and turn it the white side up.
The puck stays on this "Point" until the shooter either makes his "Point" or
until he "Sevens Out".
When a shooter "Sevens Out", the puck is moved to the
"Don't Come" bar 12 area and turned black side up, "Off". The significance of
this device is only in tracking the game. White side up over a "Point" indicates
the game is in progress and that this number is the "Point". Black side up means
a new "Come Out" roll is about to take place.
As with all table games, you will begin your play by
exchanging your cash into gaming chips. In Craps you do this by throwing your
money on the table and yelling, "change". DO NOT try to hand your money to one
of the dealers!
They will not take the money out of your hand. Also it is
a good idea to wait and ask for change between rolls of the dice. Some old time
players also consider it bad form and bad luck if change is made any time other
than just before the “Come Out” roll.
In Craps, winning or losing depends on a variety of different
possible outcomes on any roll of the dice. The two dice can produce 36 different number
combinations; some can be made several ways, others only one way. For example, the number
6 can be thrown the following ways: 5/1, 4/2, 3/3, 2/4 and 1/5. But the number 2 can only
be rolled one way: 1/1.
Numbers such as 6, which can be rolled several ways, don't
pay as much as numbers which can be rolled only one way, unless you are betting
that the number will be rolled in a specific way, such has 3/3, known as "Hard
Six" (hard 10 is 5/5, hard 4 is 2/2 hard 8 is 4/4, they are known as a group as
the "Hard Ways" ). All winning payoffs are, therefore, determined by the
frequency in which a two-dice combination can be rolled.
Generally, the harder the combination is to roll, the more
it will pay, and vice versa. Although really taking advantage of the many
betting options can involve a considerable degree of mastery, in its simplest
form, Craps is a game where players bet either that the shooter will make his or
her "Point" or that he or she will not make their "Point".
Betting that the shooter will make his/her "Point" is
called betting "with the shooter" (also called "betting right") and betting that
the shooter will not make his/her "Point" is called "betting against the
shooter" (also called "betting wrong").
To bet with the shooter, you must place your bet in an area marked
"Pass Line", before the new shooter "Comes Out." To bet against
the shooter, you must place your bet in an area marked "Dont Pass". This
area is generally located just inside "Pass Line" on the table layout.
No matter what stage the game is in, whether before the
"Come Out" roll, or after a point has been established, you can jump in
immediately and place any bets. The only exception to this is "Pass Line" bet
with odds", which can be made only on the "Come Out" roll.
You can, however, bet with the shooter even while the game
is in progress by placing a "Pass Line" bet without odds. Placing your chips
halfway over one of the two lines framing the "Pass Line" area accomplishes
Before the new shooter rolls the dice on his or her "Come
Out" roll, there are a variety of bets that can be made. The "Pass Line"
and Dont Pass Line" bet are the most common bets to make. Once the shooter
establishes a "Point", you can then place an additional bet behind your
"Pass Line" bet. This is called "taking odds".
In most casinos you can bet up to three times the amount of your
"Pass Line" bet. This is called "taking full odds". Some casinos offer
up to 100 times odds! This simply means that you can bet up to 100 times the amount of
your "Pass Line" bet once a "Point" has been established.
Betting the "Don't Pass Line" is the exact opposite of
betting the "Pass Line". The "Don’t Pass" bet wins if the shooter rolls any
craps; 2 or 3 (12 is considered a push; the bet neither wins nor loses, merely
stays in limbo till a decision is reached on subsequent rolls) and loses if
shooter rolls a 7 or 11.
Once the shooter establishes a "Point" your "Don’t Pass"
bet stays in action, until the shooter rolls a 7 or make his/her "Point".
Therefore, a "Don’t Pass" bet wins if the shooter fails to make his "Point", but
loses if the shooter makes their "Point". You can also take odds on a "Don’t
There are several other common bet types, "Place" bets,
"Field" bets and "Proposition" bets and "Come"/"Don't
You make "Place" bets by making a wager on any (you may
choose as many as you like) of the point numbers 4,5,6,8,9,10. These bets pay house
odds so, if you make a "Place" bet on the number 9 for $5, it will pay $7 every
time the shooter rolls a 9 before sevening out.
The advantage of "Place"
bets is that they can be placed or taken down at any time during a shooter's roll.
On a $5 table, the minimum "Place" bet is $5 on the 4,5,9,10 and $6 on the 6 and
8. The 6 and 8 "Place" bets have to made in $6 increments because the
payoff odds are 7 to 6 for them, and a $6 wager can be paid off correctly and easily at
You may also "Place" numbers to lose. This means you are betting
that the 7 will appear before the "Place" to lose number is rolled again. These
wagers are paid in inverse odds and the minimum bet can sometimes be quite hefty because
of the odds. You also frequently have to pay a 5% "vig" (vigorish) just
to place the bet because the advantage is so much in your favor.
For instance, you
can "Place" a "No 4" bet. (You're betting that the 7 will be
rolled before a 4 is rolled) You have to wager $40 to possibly win $20 AND pay a $1 vig.
These are by no means poor bets, but they do require a little more knowledge of the
game than "Place" and "Pass Line" wagers.
For simplicity's sake, consider "Come" and "Don't Come"
bets to be a continuation of the "Pass Line" / "Don't Pass Line". These
wagers can made any time after the "Come Out" and once placed act exactly like
their "Come Out" counterpart.
A "Come" bet acts like a "Pass Line" bet, a "Don't Come"
bet acts like a "Don't Pass" bet. For the nuances of all of these wagers,
I would recommend one of the books in the BOOKS area of this site.
The "Field" is an alluring bet. It's right there in
the middle of the table in BIG LETTERS. The "Field" is a one roll wager
that the shooter will throw any of the following numbers; 2,3,4,9,10,11,12. The
"Field" is payed off at 1 to 1 for 3,4,9,10,11 and sometimes double or triple
for the 2 and or 12. Some people swear by field bets, but most experienced gamblers
stay away from them.
The last major bet types are called "Proposition" bets.
They have wonderful names like "Any Craps" and "Horn." These too are one
roll bets and most of them have high payoffs. For instance the 11 pays 15
to 1 and the 12 pays 30 to 1.
They're very seductive, but are poor bets especially for
the beginner. A rule of thumb for the novice craps player is any wagers
that the stickman is hustling before a shooter throws the dice, "Who's got a
hard way bet?", is a wager to stay away from.
There are many other wagers on the table. As your knowledge of
the game increases, you will become acquainted with them. As a beginner, stick with
the basics, learn, have a good time.
Now that you're done here, be sure to check out
Lesson 2 -
The "Lingo" of Craps