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How to Play Craps


Experiences and thoughts about playing at the craps table . . .
- by W. Young

Craps is one of my favorite casino games because the craps table is one of the most enjoyable places to be in a casino. People seem to come out of their shells and act like they are enjoying life while rooting for the shooter to roll a 7 or an 11 on a come out roll or to hit the point again before rolling a 7 on the other rolls. Rarely does an air of excitement not surround the craps table.

Don’t worry if you don’t know what a come out roll or a point is. I’m going to give you a quick tutorial so you can join the excitement and play craps like a pro on your next casino trip. Though craps is now one of my favorite games, I avoided learning how to play for many years because it looked so complicated. Once I learned the basics, I realized that craps is not a complicated game at all. Here is what you need to know.

Craps is played around a table with high rails, betting possibilities printed on the felt table top, 2 dice and 3 or 4 casino personnel. The high rails are used to keep the dice in the field of play when the shooter (the person who throws the dice) rolls the dice down the table. All bets are placed before the roll and the dealer and stickman take care of the winning and losing bets afterward. The dice pass to a new shooter when the current shooter craps out.

The best way to learn how to play craps is to lead you through a sample round. To begin, place a bet on the pass line. The outcome of a pass line wager depends on the total of the dice roll. When the shooter rolls a 7 or an 11 on the come out roll, the pass line bet is paid one to one. If the roll is a 2, 3 or 12 the pass line bet is lost. On any other roll, a point is set and the pass line bet is neither won nor lost. Once a point has been set, the shooter must roll the point again before rolling a 7 in order to win the pass line bet. If a 7 is rolled before the point the pass line bet is lost. This sequence forms the basis for the entire game of craps, and this is all you need to know to play.

There are many other possible bets you can place while playing craps, and these are what make the game appear to be so complicated. Here is an explanation of the most common bets at the craps table.

Don’t Pass – A don’t pass bet is the opposite of a pass line bet. If a 2 or 3 is rolled the bet wins and if a 7 or 11 is rolled the bet is a loss. On a roll of 12 the bet stays in place. Once a point is set, the bet is won on a roll of 7 before the point is rolled again and lost otherwise.

Odds Bet – An odds bet is placed just behind a pass line bet when a point has been set. It wins if the point is rolled before a 7 and loses if a 7 comes up first. The importance of an odds bet is it is paid off at true odds so the casino has a zero house edge on all odds bets. That is why there isn’t a place designated for the odds bet on the table because the casino prefers not to have too many people know about the even betting opportunities.

Come and Don’t Come Bets – These are exactly like Pass and Don’t Pass bets except they are placed on any roll other than come out rolls. You can also place odds bets on these wagers.

Place Bets – These are bets that a particular number will be rolled before a 7. Your choices for place bets are 4, 5, 6, 8, 9 and 10.

Hard Way Bets – Hard way bets are wagers that the dice will come up as 4, 6, 8 or 10 by rolling doubles before a 7 or the number bet on comes up in any other combination. For example, a hard way bet on 2-2 wins if the dice each come up 2 before a 7 or a 3 and a 1.

Proposition Bets – You can place a prop bet that the next roll will be a 2, 3, 11 or 12. Any other roll loses. These bets offer the highest payouts on the table, but also the worst odds.

There are a few more betting combinations available, but you can pick these up at the table as you play. All of the other bets offer poor odds though, so you should avoid them. Best of luck at the Craps table!