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How To Play Craps - A Beginner's Guide

Craps is a fast-paced and exciting dice game that has been popular in casinos for decades. The game utilizes a pair of dice which are rolled by one player, known as the "shooter". The objective is to correctly bet on the outcome of the shooter's dice rolls.

Calvin Penwell
Nov 27, 2023633 Shares63348 Views
Craps is a fast-paced and exciting dice game that has been popular in casinos for decades. The game utilizes a pair of dice which are rolled by one player, known as the "shooter". The objective is to correctly bet on the outcome of the shooter's dice rolls.
The origins of craps can be traced back centuries to dice games played in Europe in the Middle Ages. The modern version was developed in New Orleans in the early 19th century. From there, it quickly spread to other casinos and gambling halls across the United States.
Today, craps remains one of the most popular table games offered in casinos. Part of its enduring appeal is the fast action and communal atmosphere around the craps table. Players often root for the shooter and bond over the collective excitement.
The craps table has a special and carefully designed layout. It is generally oval or rectangular in shape, with high walls around the edges so the dice can be contained when rolled. At one end is the boxman who oversees the game. Arranged around the inner walls are various betting areas, which allow for the wide range of wagers available in craps.
The gameplay itself is centered around the act of shooting, or rolling the dice. Multiple players can bet on each roll, hoping to predict the outcome and win based on different betting options. The shooter rolls until he or she "sevens out" - rolls a seven after the point is established. Then a new shooter takes over.
With its rich history, communal atmosphere, fast gameplay, and betting excitement, it's easy to see why craps has become an iconic casino game. It offers an unparalleled experience at the table.

Craps Bet Types

There are a variety of different bets that can be made in a game of craps. Understanding the types of bets, how they work, and the odds is key to playing the game properly. Here are some of the most common craps bets:

Pass Line Bets

The pass line bet is the most basic and popular bet in craps. This is an even money bet made on the come out roll. If the come out roll is a 7 or 11, you win automatically. If a 2, 3, or 12 is rolled, you lose automatically. Any other number becomes the "point" number. To win a pass line bet, the point number must be rolled again before a 7.
The house edge on pass line bets is only 1.41%. This makes it one of the best bets you can make in the casino in terms of favorable odds.

Don't Pass Bets

Don't pass bets are the opposite of pass line bets. You are essentially betting against the shooter. A don't pass bet wins automatically if the come out roll is a 2 or 3. You lose automatically if a 7 or 11 is rolled. If the point number is rolled before a 7, you lose. If a 7 is rolled first, you win.
While don't pass bets also have a low house edge of just 1.36%, they are less popular because you are rooting against the shooter.

Come Bets

A come bet is similar to a pass line bet but is made any time after the come out roll. You are betting that the next roll will be a 7 or 11 to win, or a 2, 3, or 12 to lose. Any other number becomes your "come point" which must be rolled again before a 7 to win.
Come bets and pass line bets have identical odds. The key difference is come bets can be made at any time, not just on the come out roll.

Don't Come Bets

Just like with pass line bets, you can also make a don't come bet which works in the opposite way of a come bet. It wins automatically on a 2 or 3, loses on a 7 or 11, and establishes a "don't come point" on other rolls that you want to avoid repeating before a 7.

Place Bets

A place bet is made any time after the come out roll and you are betting on a specific point number - either 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10. If your number is rolled before a 7, you win. The odds payoff is different for each point number:
  • 4 or 10 pays 9:5
  • 5 or 9 pays 7:5
  • 6 or 8 pays 7:6
The house edge on place bets ranges from 1.52% to 4%. Higher point numbersare better odds.

Field Bets

These single roll "one off" bets win if a 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11, or 12 is rolled. You are literally just betting on the next roll. Payouts vary based on the number rolled. Field bets have a house edge of 5.56%

Proposition Bets

Proposition bets, or prop bets, refer to the various one roll bets in the center of the table. They have names like "Any Craps", "Aces", "Ace Deuce", etc. These bets pay out very high amounts but have poor odds, with house edges from 11% to 16%.

Hop Bets

Similar to prop bets, a hop bet is a one roll wager on a specific dice combination, like hopping a 6 and 3. Payouts are 15:1 or 30:1. While exciting, the house edge on hop bets runs from 11% to 16%.

How a Round of Craps Works

Now that you understand the various bets available, let's walk through how an actual round of craps is played from start to finish:

The Come Out Roll

Each new round starts with the come out roll. The shooter rolls the two dice and you can place one of the following bets:
  • Pass Line
  • Don't Pass
  • Come
  • Don't Come
  • Field Bets
  • Proposition Bets
If a 7 or 11 is rolled on the come out, Pass Line and Come bets win. If 2, 3, or 12 is rolled, Pass Line and Come bets lose. Any other number becomes the "point" number.

Establishing the Point

If a point number is rolled (4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10), that number must be rolled again before a 7 to win. The dealer places a marker on the point number on the table layout. Come bets and Don't Come bets will also establish a point number for you during this phase.

Rolling for the Point

The shooter continues rolling until the point number is rolled again or a 7 is rolled. If the point is rolled, Pass Line bets and Come bets win. If a 7 is rolled before the point number, Pass Line and Come bets lose. Don't Pass and Don't Come bets win if a 7 is rolled first.

Other Bets

While all this is happening, players can continue making proposition bets, place bets, and field bets trying to predict each individual roll as the shooter keeps rolling the dice.

Seven Out

If a 7 is rolled before the point number, this is called a "seven out". The round ends, and the shooter passes the dice to the next player. All bets are cleared off and a new come out roll begins starting the next round.

Winning and Losing

To summarize, you win on Pass Line and Come bets if the point is rolled again before a 7. You lose if a 7 rolls first. Don't Pass and Don't Come bets win if the 7 rolls before the point number. Your other bets during the round will win or lose based on each individual dice roll.
Craps rounds continue with each new shooter until one player is left standing!

Craps Odds and Payouts

Now that you understand how to play a round of craps, let's take a look at the odds and payout ratios for the various bets:

Pass/Don't Pass Odds

  • Pass Line Bet: 1.41% house edge
  • Don't Pass Bet: 1.36% house edge
  • If you take max odds, the house edge drops to just 0.40% on these bets!

Come/Don't Come Odds

  • Identical payouts and odds as Pass/Don't Pass bets

Place Bets

  • 6 or 8: Pays 7 to 6, house edge 1.52%
  • 5 or 9: Pays 7 to 5, house edge 4%
  • 4 or 10: Pays 9 to 5, house edge 3%

Field Bets

  • 3, 4, 9, 10, 11 pay even money
  • 2 pays 2 to 1
  • 12 pays 3 to 1
  • House edge on Field bets: 5.56%

Proposition Bets

  • Any Craps: Pays 7 to 1, house edge 11%
  • 2 or 12: Pays 30 to 1, house edge 13%
  • 3 or 11: Pays 15 to 1, house edge 11%

Hop Bets

  • One-roll combos: Pays 15 to 1 or 30 to 1
  • House edge 11% to 16%
As you can see, the best odds come from making Pass Line/Don't Pass bets and taking max odds. Field bets and proposition bets have the highest house edge. Knowing the true odds is important for managing your bankroll and minimizing losses. Many players stick to making just Pass/Come bets combined with odds for this reason.

Craps Etiquette and Tips

When playing craps, there are some general etiquette and tips to keep in mind:


  • Let the shooter finish their roll before betting - don't reach in mid-roll
  • Don't handle or interfere with the dice
  • Wait for the dealer to pay out bets before collecting winnings
  • Tip the dealers for good service
  • Keep side conversations to a minimum during rolls
  • Don't celebrate excessively on wins or complain on losses
  • Avoid standing directly next to the shooter

Money Management Tips

  • Set betting limits and manage your bankroll
  • Avoid proposition bets with high house edges
  • Take odds on Pass/Come bets to get better payouts
  • Don't chase losses by betting bigger than you can afford
  • Color up and collect chips when ahead
  • Have fun! It's about entertainment, not necessarily winning money

Common Mistakes

  • Betting without understanding odds or payouts
  • Getting too drunk to play properly or annoying others
  • Taking out betting frustrations on dealers or other players
  • Throwing dice too hard or off the table
  • Not tipping dealers
  • Forgetting to place odds bets behind Pass/Come bets
Following the etiquette and tips above will ensure you have the best craps experience and avoid any awkward moments at the table. Craps is a communal game, so maintain mutual respect and stick to proper conduct.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are answers to some common craps FAQs:

What is the house edge in craps?

  • The house edge varies based on the bet.
  • Pass/Don't Pass have a low 1.41% house edge.
  • Proposition bets can have a house edge of 11-16%.
  • Taking max odds drops the edge to just 0.40% on Pass/Come bets.

Is there a strategy for playing craps?

  • There's no foolproof strategy, but some tips can improve odds:
  • Stick to Pass/Come bets with max odds
  • Avoid proposition and hop bets with high house edges
  • Manage your bankroll wisely
  • Learn proper etiquette to avoid distractions
  • Play at full tables - more rolls mean more chances to win

What is a “natural” in craps?

  • A natural is rolling a 7 or 11 on the come out roll.
  • This results in an automatic win for Pass Line and Come bets.
  • The term comes from it being the most "natural" or common rolls.

How do I bet craps with the best odds?

  • The best odds come from making Pass Line/Don't Pass bets and taking maximum odds.
  • The house edge drops dramatically when you play the odds.
  • You can also place 6/8 bets, which have a lower house edge than other place bets.
  • Avoid one-roll proposition and hop bets for better long-term results.
Following proper strategy and bankroll management will give you the best odds when betting on craps. It's still gambling, but making smart wagers goes a long way!


Now that you've reached the end of this beginner's guide to playing craps, let's recap the key points:
  • Craps is a fast-paced, exciting dice game played at a specialized table
  • The shooter rolls two dice and players can bet on each roll's outcome
  • There are many bet types, but Pass/Don't Pass have the best odds
  • Stick to proper etiquette and manage your bankroll wisely
  • Come out and point rolls determine the round's winner and loser
  • Odds and payouts vary, so understand them before betting
  • With its communal atmosphere and frenetic energy, craps provides an iconic casino experience
Craps may seem chaotic and complex at first, but this overview should have provided a solid foundation for basic gameplay, rules, strategies, and etiquette. It's a game of chance, but smart betting improves your odds and enhances enjoyment.
Now that you understand the pass line, place bets, proposition wagers, and other essential craps concepts, it's time to hit the casino floor! Play at an open table with experienced dealers who can help newcomers. Set a budget, go with the flow, and have fun interacting with other players. Craps truly thrives on camaraderie.
With a bit of practice, you'll quickly gain confidence and come to appreciate the rich excitement of craps. It's remained enduringly popular for good reason. The enthusiasm is contagious once you start rolling those dice. So don't be afraid to jump right in and let the good times
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