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Learn How to Play Craps!

Lesson 1- An Overview of the Game Called Craps

  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 alluring bets.

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' out!" 

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 Out."

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 shooter.

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 established.

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 "Don’t 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 this.

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 Don’t 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 Pass" bet.

There are several other common bet types, "Place" bets, "Field" bets and "Proposition" bets and "Come"/"Don't Come" bets. 

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 $7. 

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


See You At The Tables,


Soft Touch


PS Review the Books and products listed. I would love to see you at one of our live events!



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