The Game of Craps
Craps is a popular dice gambling game that can be played against other players (street craps) or against someone playing banker (bank craps). The latter version is the most commonly played, and you'll find craps tables at most casinos in the world. The vast majority of online casinos offer craps too. The basic principle of the game is pretty simple; players make bets on the outcome of two rolled dice.
There are, however, also a few complexities involved, and it helps to understand them before playing. We have explained how the game works on this page, and we have listed the best places to play craps online. We've also provided some basic strategy advice and some tips on the proper etiquette for playing the game in a brick and mortar casino.
How To Play Craps
Craps can be played by just one single player against the house, but you'll typically see a few people at the table playing at the same time. The two dice are rolled by one of the participating players, known as the shooter. The game is played in rounds and usual process is for the dice to be passed to another player at the end of each round or when a player rolls a seven. This rule is obviously not relevant if you are playing online, as the virtual dice are rolled automatically.
At the start of each round, the shooter must place a bet on either the pass line or the don't pass line. They then roll the dice, in what is known as the "come-out roll". If the player rolls a 2, 3 or 12 then the round is immediately over, and any bets on the pass line lose. Bets on the don't pass line will win at even money, unless a 12 is rolled in which case it's a push (i.e. the stake is returned).
If the player rolls a 7 or an 11, then all pass line bets win at even money and again the round is over. Bets on the don't pass line will lose. If any other number is rolled (4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10), then a point is established, equal to the number rolled. So, for example if a player rolls 9, then the point is established at 9. The player then keeps rolling, until they either roll the point again or roll a 7.
If the player does roll the point again, then the round is over. All pass line bets win, and all don't pass bets lose. If the player rolls a 7 before the point, then the round is also over. All pass lines bets lose, and don't pass bets win. When multiple players are playing, the dice are typically passed around when the player doesn't roll their point again, and the next player will make the come-out roll. If the player does roll their point again, then that player will usually be offered the chance to make the next come-out roll.
In addition to the pass line and don't pass bets, there are a range of other wagers that can be placed on rolls too. For a detailed look at the various wagers that can be placed, please see Types of Bet in Craps. You'll need to understand these wagers if you want to employ the best strategies.
Craps is a game of chance, because there's nothing you can do to influence what numbers are rolled, even if you are the shooter. All you can do is try to maximize your return by making the bets that have the smallest house edge. This isn't necessarily the most exciting way to play craps, and you are unlikely to ever win big unless you go on a lucky streak. However, it's the mathematically correct way to keep the house edge as low as possible.
Quite simply, you should always bet the don't pass line on come out rolls and then lay odds (at the maximum possible) after a point has been rolled. Laying odds basically means you are betting against the point being made. If you make just these bets, then the house edge is basically as small as you can make it in the short term. Luck is still the overriding factor though, and you may win or lose more than your fair share in the short term.
Most players actually tend to bet the pass line and then take odds (betting that the point will be made), and the house edge isn't much different. Betting the don't pass line and laying odds is slightly better for the player though. There's one rule that you should definitely stick to though and that is to never make a pass line bet after the come out roll. This is simply because after the point has been established it's considered a poor value bet.
If you are playing craps in a brick and mortar casino as opposed to at an online casino, then there's certain etiquette involved. These are some guidelines and some actual rules that you really should follow. It's unlikely that you'll upset anyone too much if you get something wrong, but it doesn't hurt to familiarize yourself with the etiquette before hitting the tables.
You shouldn't handle the dice with more than one hand at any time, and moving the dice from one hand to another is frowned upon. If you want to change hands you should set the dice down on the table and then pick them up with your hand. When rolling, make sure that you try to hit the opposite end of the table with your dice.
When you are at a table you need to remember that other players will usually be betting too, and craps players are notoriously superstitious. There are some things that are believed to bring bad luck, and it's best to avoid doing them. For example, don't say the word seven after a come-out roll. It's also considered bad luck for a shooter to change dice during a round, or to leave the table after a successful come-out roll.
If you are male and playing for the first time, it's probably not a good idea to mention this as first time male players are thought to bring bad luck. On the other hand, first time female players are thought to bring good luck.
Where to Play Craps Online
You'll rarely find an online casino that doesn't offer craps, so it's not really too difficult to find somewhere to play. It is, however, advisable to only play at high quality sites that are trustworthy and reliable. We have some recommendations for the best casinos sites for playing craps, and we have listed these below.
- Winpalace Casino
Author: Brad Johnson
Updated: March 2015
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