With its origins going back over 500 years, craps is a popular dice game in North America. Based on a game called hazard that is referenced in books dating back to the 14th century, craps was brought to New Orleans in the early 1800s. The game found a foothold with fieldhands and deckhands of the time, allowing its popularity to spread up the Mississippi River.
The word “craps” is actually a mispronunciation of the word “crabs”, which were the numbers 2 and 3 in the game hazard (which were the numbers that were automatic losers).
The Basics of Craps
At its core, craps is a dice shooting game. The goal is to match or avoid certain numbers. Boiled down to the essentials, the rules of the game are:
- In the first roll of the dice, if you shoot a 7 or 11, you automatically win.
- In the first roll of the dice, if you shoot a 2, 3 or 12, you automatically lose.
- If you roll a 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10, you roll again, this number becomes the “point”.
- You will then keep rolling and each time the point is hit, you win. The game continues until the player retires or a 7 is rolled ending the game
The hard part of the game is understanding the table and the betting. But if you understand the essentials, the betting becomes easier to understand.
The 5 Smartest Craps Bets
The Pass Line
The most common and popular bet at the craps table is the pass line bet. This bet the bet that backs the shooter. A bet of this type means that you are betting on the shooter to roll a 7 or 11. If he does so, you win instantly.
If he rolls a 2, 3, or 12, you automatically lose.
If he rolls anything else, he must roll again and this number becomes the point. Each time he rolls the point, you win. If he rolls a 7, you lose.
Most of the bets on a craps table will be pass line bets. There are a few reasons for this. First, it is an easy bet to understand. Second, there are chances for multiple wins without having to bet over and over again. Third, it is an even bet. And fourth, the house edge is only 1.41% which is not only one of the lowest on the table, it is one of the lowest in the whole casino.
The Don’t Pass Line
Another smart bet in craps is the don’t pass line. In this bet, you are betting against the shooter. In this scenario, you are betting that the shooter rolls a 2, 3, or 12 for an automatic win. If he rolls a 7 or 11, you lose.
Much like the pass line, if he rolls a 4, 5, 6, 8, 9 or 10, he rolls again to try and hit point. If he hits point, you lose, if he rolls a 7, you win.
The house edge on this bet differs slightly from the pass line and is 1.36%.
There is a pitfall to this bet. Because craps is a communal game, you are betting with other people on the results of the roll. This can cause issues with people around you if you are continually betting don’t pass line and they are betting pass line and you win. It might be a bit intimidating and can even cause friction with other bettors. So if you do choose this bet and are doing so regularly, you might want to limit your celebrations as it may draw the ire of your fellow gamblers.
If you bet the pass line, don’t pass line, a come bet or a don’t come bet (which I will cover later) you can place an odds bet. Because of the way the bet is placed, it makes it a pretty integral part of the game.
A good way to think of an odds bet is like raising in a card game. An odds bet is simply adding a wager to the bet you made when the shooter started (assuming he didn’t crap out with a 2, 3, or 12.
Each casino has different rules about odds bets. Some will only let you match the original bet. Some will let you bet several times more than the original, so you’ll need to know the casino’s rules before entering into this type of bet.
On an odds bet, you’ll win the even-money payout on the original bet. For example, Lets’s say the point is 10. If you bet $100 on the pass line, you’ll win $100 each time he hits point before he rolls a 7. In this case, you win 2 to 1 odds on the odds bet. Therefore if you added $200 to the bet, you’ll win another $400.
An odds bet is one of the only neutral house advantage bets in the casino with a house edge of exactly 0%.
The odds vary based on the point and whether you are betting pass line or don’t pass line. The odds for pass line bets are:
- Point of 4 or 10 – 2 to 1 odds
- Point of 5 or 9 – 3 to 2 odds
- Point of 6 or 8 – 6 to 5 odds
For don’t pass lines, they are the opposite:
- Point of 4 or 10 – 1 to 2 odds
- Point of 5 or 9 – 2 to 3 odds
- Point of 6 or 8 – 5 to 6 odds
One of the wonderful things about odds bets is that you can decide on each roll whether you want to continue. So you can do it for one roll, skip a roll and start again while the same shooter is playing the same point.
Odds bets are a real money maker for players when played correctly especially considering that there is zero house edge.
Betting on 6 or 8
While 7 is theoretically the most common roll in craps, the second most common roll is a 6 or an 8. And the great thing about craps is you can bet on the shooter rolling it.
With a house edge of only 1.5% and the odds of rolling a 6 or 8 being 13.89% (second only to the probability of a 7 which is 16.67%), you can make a decent amount of money betting the 6 or 8
After the shooter makes the point, you can simply tell the dealer how much you want to bet on either 6 or 8 or both. (If you bet on both, you’ve just doubled the probability of winning.)
A bet on a 6 and/or 8 pays 7 to 6.
You can bet on other point numbers but the probability of landing on these are lower and the house edge increases. On 4 0r 10, the probability is only 8.33% and the house edge is 6.7%. On a 5 or 9, the probability is 11.11% and the house edge is 4%, so the 6 and/or 8 is the best bet.
The come bet is playing an on-demand pass line bet, the same way a place bet work. At any point after the come out roll, you can place a come bet which essentially creates your own personal pass line bet.
In a come bet, after the shooter has rolled the come out roll and established a point number – any point number – you can then place a come bet. Then, on the next roll, you’re playing out your own pass line bet separate from everyone else at the table.
So, if the next roll is a 7 or 11, you win even money on your come bet. But, if the next roll is a 2, 3, or 12, your bet is lost to the house. And any other number (4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10) will establish the new point number going forward, but one that only you care about.
With this bet, you are really playing 2 games at once. Which can make it a bit harder to keep track of, but the house edge is the same as a pass line bet at 1.41%
The 5 Dumbest Craps Bets
To me, dumb bets are long shots where the odds are not in your favor. Is it possible to win? Yes. Is it likely that you’ll win? Not very. Craps have a few bets that are long shots just like they have bets that are really good to make.
Betting on 4 or 10
One of the worst bets to make is on the 4 or 10 (especially individually). I discussed earlier that the odds of rolling a 4 or 10 are the least like point rolls in the game with a probability of 8.33% on either. But placing a bet on these also have a house edge of 6.7% making it one of the tougher bets, not only in craps but of most bets you can place in table games in the casino. A win on this bet does pay 9 to 5, but you can make better bets that will yield you a better return with less risk.
Betting on 5 or 9
Another dumb bet in craps would be betting on the 5 or 9. The probability of a roll of a 5 or 9 is 11.11%, which is higher than the 4 or 10, but not enough to make it a good bet. Also, the house edge is 4%, which is still more than twice that of a 6 or 8 bet. The payout on this bet is 7 to 5.
A field bet is when you place a bet on the shooter rolling a 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11, or 12.
I like to think of this bet similar to endcaps at a grocery or department store. The items they display on the endcap may be on sale, but if you look in the right section, there are much better deals elsewhere. Much like an endcap, this bet looks attractive because it has a wide field of possible results, but they have some of the lowest probabilities of actually being rolled. In the chart below, you can see the probability of each total:
- 2 – 2.78%
- 3 – 5.56%
- 4 – 8.33%
- 5 – 11.11%
- 6 – 13.89%
- 7 – 16.67%
- 8 – 13.89%
- 9 – 11.11%
- 10 – 8.33%
- 11 – 5.56%
- 12 – 2.78%
The house edge on this bet is 2.78%. The payout on this bet is 3 to 1 on a roll of 12, 2 to 1 on a roll of 2 and even money on all others.
Betting on 2 or 12
We can see from the chart that a 2 or 12 (also known as “snake eyes” or a “boxcar”, respectively has only a 2.78% probability. So this is a sucker bet. It will pay 30 to 1 if you win. The house edge on this is 13.89%. Just remember, the higher the payout, the lower the chances of it happening.
Betting on 3 or 11
While the odds of hitting these numbers versus a 2 or 12 is double, it is still highly unlikely and that makes if also a dumb bet. This bet has a house edge of 11.11% and pays out 15 to 1.
For the new or casual gambler, safe is always the way to go. Betting online bets are going to be the best chance of winning.
The great part about this game is that you don’t have to shoot, you can bet on the abilities of others, so if you find someone that is “hot”, you can keep betting on him and keep winning.
But if you do shoot, remember the pitfalls of the 7 on the point. And don’t be afraid to invest in yourself by betting odds or come bets.
I recommend that you try to learn a bit before going to the casino by checking out some videos on YouTube or another video site. This way you’ll be prepped when you get there and you can focus on having fun and winning.