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Craps - The Casino’s Most Sociable Table Game

The Game of Craps

Ever seen a gorgeous woman blowing on a man’s dice in a casino? This kind of behaviour takes place on one table and one table alone, the famous Craps table, of course, which has played a central role in many well-known movies such as Ocean’s Thirteen, The Cooler, Big Town and the musical Guys and Dolls. At first glance, Craps can come across as an intimidating table game to the average person. Far from it! In reality, it’s the most common dice game and one of the most sociable and fun games across land-based casinos. It’s essentially a prediction game involving a set of dice and different types of bets which can be made. Equivalently to Baccarat, Craps is another table game surrounded by superstition; as mentioned earlier, having a lady blow on your dice is believed to bring good luck, whereas the mere mention of the number seven during a game is thought to bring the player misfortune. The main objective of the table game is to correctly predict the outcome of the two dice thrown, and whether or not they will present a winning combination. A second objective is for the shooter (the person throwing the dice) to get a specific total in a single roll, before reaching a total of seven. Craps is one of only two games that offers a bet with no house edge, the other being the double-up feature in some video Poker games. What makes the game thrilling and exciting is that any player around the table (including the shooter) can place bets on the action.

Why play Craps?

  • It’s sociable and fun
  • Has a low house edge
  • It’s a game of pure chance and therefore requires no skill

The History of Craps

History tells us that the first form of Craps appeared in Egypt in 1573. It also dates back to the time of the Crusades and was called Hazard (an early English game played with two dice as was described in a text by the greatest English poet of the Middle Ages, Geoffrey Chaucer, in his Canterbury Tales). Over the course of history, the French seem to have had quite an influence on many table games, in fact, they aided in the naming of Craps, which comes from the French pronunciation of the word “crabs”, which was the nickname for Hazard at the time. It was first named “Crapaud”, the French word for "toad," in reference to the way that people would crouch or scoot in a toad-like stance over the floor or pavement to play. Supposedly, it owes its following today to the street version of the game that spread through African-American communities many years ago. Street Craps also became popular with soldiers during the Second World War. It was only in the 20th century that the layout and design of the modern Craps table was created.

Playing Online Craps

Forget wandering to your local casino to play the game. With the invention of the internet, you can play Craps for free or for real money in any online casino of your choice out of the comfort of your favourite armchair. If you’re unfamiliar with the popular table game and want to avoid the jeering crowds around the Craps table down at your local casino, it might be best to learn through trial and error online for free, to begin with. To be able to play Craps, there are a few bets and some terminology that you must familiarise yourself with first. So, before you roll those dice, here’s what you need to know.

If you have a look at the design and layout of the Craps table, you will see various labelled sections and numbers which will guide you throughout play. The table is divided into three areas; the left and right side, and the centre. Each side is a mirror image of the other side and includes the following series of wagers that can be made; Field bets, Place bets, Odds bets, Come and Don’t Come bets, and Pass and Don’t Pass Line bets. Both sides share the centre, which also holds what we call, the Proposition bets.

The game is initiated by a round of betting before the shooter rolls the dice. You start off by placing your basic bet, or Pass, by placing your wager in the form of a chip or chips along the Pass Line; this is the most fundamental bet in Craps. And with the flick of a wrist, the dice are thrown, this is the ‘come-out roll’, the first roll in the series. The shooter automatically wins if a 7 or 11 (a ‘natural’) is rolled as these numbers are Pass Line bet winners. The shooter loses if a 2, 3, or 12 is thrown, these numbers are automatic Pass Line bet losers, or craps. The game continues if any of the following values appear on the dice; 4, 6, 8, 9 or 10. They become what is called the shooter’s ‘Point’ which is marked on the board by a white counter. This means that the shooter will keep rolling the dice until he either rolls the Point again or a total of 7. Pass Line bets win and the series ends if the Point is rolled first. However, Pass Line bets lose and the series ends if a seven is rolled. The house edge on the Pass bet is 1.41%.

These are the basics of the game. What may confuse and intimidate some players is the wide range of betting options at hand, so it’s important to familiarise yourself with the most common bets in order to get ahead in the game.

After making a Pass Line bet and establishing the Point, the player may make an additional side wager that the Point will be rolled before a 7 is rolled. The odds pay 2:1 on Points of 4 and 10, 3:2 on Points of 5 and 9, and 6:5 on Points of 6 and 8. To make an Odds bet, put it behind your Pass Line bet. There will be some restriction as to the maximum multiple of the Odds bet to the Pass Line bet, which varies from casino to casino. This bet has no house edge, therefore the player can only bet so much compared to the Pass bet. Most casinos allow what is known as "3- 4-5X Odds." This means the player may bet up to three times his Pass bet on the odds after a point of a 4 or 10, four times after a 5 or 9, and five times after a 6 or 8.

Come/Don’t Come bets are similar to the Pass/Don’t Pass wagers, except they are placed on rolls other than the come-out. The roll after the bet is made will count as a come-out roll for the Come bet. Just like a pass bet, you may bet the odds on top of a Come bet. For example, if 5 is established as the Point on the come-out, you now may place a Come bet by laying a chip or chips in the area on the board marked "Come." If the next number rolled is a 7 or 11, the Come bet wins. On the other hand, if the dice read 2, 3, or 12, the bet is lost. If it is any other number, that number becomes the Point for your Come bet. For example, if a 9 is rolled, the dealer moves your wager into the box marked "Nine," and if another 9 is rolled before the next 7, your Come bet wins. If the 7 comes up first, the Come bet loses. If you wish, you may then place another Come bet; Don't Come bets work exactly like Don't Pass -- they lose if the next roll is 7 or 11, win on 2 or 3, and push on 12. If a Point number is rolled, Don't Come bets lose if that number comes up again before the next 7 and win if the 7 comes first. Ultimately, the house edge on the Come bet is the same as the Pass bet at 1.41% and similar to the Don’t Pass bet, the house edge on Don’t Come is 1.36%.

Place bets are comparable to Odds bets but differ in that there is no need to have made a Pass or Come bet initially. To win a place bet all that has to happen is for the number to repeat before a seven is rolled. The player basically “buys” a number by paying the house a 5% commission on the bet. In return, the casino pays Buy bets at true odds. The odds on this type of wager pay less but can be made at any time other than during a come-out roll. Place bets on 4 and 10 pay 9:5, for a house edge of 6.67% (buying these numbers can reduce the house edge to 4,76%) whereas place bets on 5 and 9 pay 7:5, for a house edge of 4.00% and lastly, Place bets on 6 and 8 pay 7:6, for a house edge of 1.52%.

The Field is a single-roll Proposition bet (a bet that can be resolved in just one roll of the dice by the shooter). If a 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11, or 12 is rolled you win. However, if the total on the dice is a 5, 6, 7 or 8, you lose. Wins pay even money, except a total of 2 pays 2:1 and a total of 12 pays either 2:1 or 3:1, depending on how generous the casino is. The house edge is 2.27% if the 12 pays 3:1 or 5.56% if it pays 2:1.

There are several other Proposition bets which can be made at any time during the course of the game. They are all one-roll bets apart from Hardways. The house advantage for all these bets ranges between 2% and 17%.

  • Any Craps: This is a bet on the numbers 2, 3 or 12 and pays 7:1. The odds of winning this bet are pretty slim as there aren’t too many ways to roll these particular numbers.

  • Any Seven: Is a high-risk bet wherein the player wins if a 7 is rolled. There are six ways in which to roll a seven, deeming it a weak wager by most seasoned players. The odds pay 4:1.

  • Yo Eleven:Is one of the most popular bets in all gambling. Hitting 11 on the dice wins. The true odds on this payoff is 17:1.

  • Ace Deuce:Is a roll of 3 which pays the player 15:1.

  • Aces or Boxcars:A Boxcar is a roll or bet on 12 and pays 30:1.

  • Horn Bet:Is commonly known as a “sucker bet” as the house edge is rather high in comparison to some of the other bets. It is aC bet split between the numbers 2, 3, 11 and 12. If one of your numbers, 2 or 12 hit, you are paid 30:1, whereas 3 and 11 pay 15:1.

  • Hardways:Are bets made on four numbers, 4 (2,2), 6 (3,3), 8 (4,4) and 10 (5,5), which have their own spot on the Craps table. To roll a Hardway number you must roll an exact pair of numbers (doubles), for example, if a player is putting money on the hard 6 the player is betting that the shooter will roll two 3s. The 3,3 combination is the only way a player can win on a hard 6, any other combination that adds up to 6 is known as a soft or easy 6, for example, a 1-5, 2-4, 5-1 and 4-2.

Beginners’ Tips

Before you play any table game, especially if you’re playing with real cash, the first step is always to learn the rules. Remember that you can play for free without putting your hard-earned money at risk. Here’s a little bit of guidance for you newbies.

  • One of the most important rules in gambling is to limit your bankroll as well as to set how long you play for. Being disciplined means you won’t lose all your winnings or experience considerable losses. It’s a thrilling game which makes it very easy to get hooked. Setting these limits will reduce the chance of getting addicted.

  • It’s best to avoid Preposition (single-roll) bets as they have a high house edge. The dealer is one to encourage such bets, but in reality, the chances of winning are quite minimal.

  • Being new to the game, it is likely that you will seek the advice of other players around the table, be it in a land-based casino or online faced with a live dealer, or even in a live chat. This is highly unrecommended as many other players might also be new to the game. Moreover, it’s very improbable that seasoned players will give you any good advice.

Variations of the Game

There are a number of different versions of Craps, each with their own unique rules and odds. Normally, the only major differences lie within the rules for the come-out roll. However, in a variation like Simplified Craps, for instance, the game shares almost nothing with the original version, with a wholly new betting system and rules.

  • Crapless Craps:Is a popular variation of the game which gives the player better odds by reducing the house edge on come-out rolls. In this version of the game, you cannot lose on the Pass bet. It’s also called “Ruse Craps” or “Never Ever Craps” and is predominantly played outside casinos.

  • Open Craps:Or Private Craps, is the illegal variation of the game with worse odds than the standard version which means that players can win more or lose more, in turn, making it even more exciting. There are a couple more side bets in this game which pay 5% commission to the house, as well as Win and Lose line bets along the numbers 4, 5, 6, 8, 9 and 10.

  • High Point Craps:In this alternative if your first roll is a 2 or 3, it is ignored until a different total is made. A roll of 11 or 12 wins even money (1:1), and anything else sets the Point number. The next move is to roll a number higher than the Point to win, anything less will cause you to lose. Apart from this, the basic rules and bets of the standard game apply. The house has a 2.35% edge in this version.

  • New York Craps: Is largely played in New York, some parts of Britain and in the Bahamas. It is very close to the standard version, except that Place bets or Come/Don’t Come bets aren’t featured in the game. The table design is also slightly different and the casino takes a 5% edge on all winning bets.

  • Simplified Craps:As the name tells, it is ideal for beginners with some uncomplicated rules and a basic betting system, meaning that there aren’t any Pass/Don’t Pass line bets, Craps or Naturals. You roll the dice and win or lose depending on what number features on the dice. You can win on a throw of 2, 3, 4, 10, 11, or 12 and lose on 5, 6, 7, 8, or 9.

Playing Craps for Real Money

Once you are feeling confident in your knowledge of the game and are ready to take your play a step further, you can up the ante and play Craps using real money. You can do this at your local bricks and mortar casino, in online virtual casinos or you can feel the realness of the live game online with a live dealer. One thing’s for sure, the thrill is significantly doubled when playing with real cash. Some casinos even give special bonuses when you sign up and play, although you have to deposit and gamble to be eligible. Furthermore, you’ll be far away from all the distractions typically associated with the table game when playing online.


Is there a strategy to follow in Craps?

Craps is clearly a game of chance, so there isn’t a guaranteed winning strategy. However, there are some things you can do to neutralise the house edge and thus improve your chances of winning. Learning all there is to know about the game is one such way. When it comes to the wagers to make, the Pass line bet is your best bet on the come-out roll. You should also always take the Odds bet as it has no house edge. Placing Come bets is another good idea, as is steering clear from those Proposition bets. A great strategy is putting down two Come bets following the initial Pass line bet. In this way, you’ll have three numbers working to your advantage – you know what they say, three is the magic number! When one of your numbers wins, simply put down another wager, so you will have three bets on the table every time. Many pro gamblers consider this the optimal number of bets.

What is the difference between live Craps and online Craps?

First of all, they share a similarity as they are both played online. They differ in that online Craps is a single player game wherein the croupier is replaced by a computer program. In live Craps, you are playing against other players on a live feed with two or more ‘in the flesh’ dealers (Craps in a casino usually requires four croupiers at a single table). Finally, the online Craps tends is a faster game as you don’t need to wait for any other players to make their move.

Important: US residents are only permitted to play for real money at casinos that are licenced and regulated by the State they reside in. Please ensure you are familiar with your local laws if you intend to play slot games online or take part in any other form of online gambling for real money.