We present the rules of basic casino games and some specific
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Craps can be an intimidating game for the beginner. The table seems to have about a hundred different kinds of bets, the players are barking out commands in what seems to be a foreign language, and the pace is too fast to ever ask a question. I can sympathize with the beginner because it wasn’t that long ago that this was how craps appeared to me.
If this is how you view the game I have good news. There is one fundamental bet that almost all players make. You can easily get by knowing just this bet your first time. As you get more experienced you can add more bets to your repertoire.
After just your first five minutes you should feel comfortable with the flow of the game and can start acting natural, like you’ve been a craps player for years.
Critical to the understanding of craps is that it is a game of rounds. The first roll in a round is called the come out roll. Sometimes the outcome of a round will be determined on the come out roll. In particular a 2, 3, 7, 11, or 12 on the come out roll immediately ends a round. If any other total is rolled (4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10) that number is called the point. The dealer will place a white puck on an area of the table to designate what the point is, in case you forget. If a point is rolled the dice will be rolled continuously until the same point is rolled again or a 7.
To truly understand craps it is helpful to have a foundation in the basics of dice probability but this is not absolutely necessary. To see how the house edge is derived for all bets visit my craps
Before going further let me explain how I define the house edge in craps. In general the house edge is the expected casino profit per bet made. Craps has a variety of bets, some that are resolved on every roll and some that take multiple rolls to resolve. I treat the house edge as per bet resolved, counting a 12 on the come out roll a resolved push on the don’t pass. For those who feel that
this treatment is inconsistent I welcome you to visit my craps
appendix 2, which shows the house edge of all the major bets on both a per bet resolved and per roll basis.
The Pass Line
The pass line is the most fundamental bet in craps, almost every player at the table bets on it. The house edge on the pass line is only 1.41%, which is not bad compared to most other bets on the table and other games in the casino.
The pass line is an even money bet. You start by placing your bet on the pass line area on the table on a come out roll. If the come out roll is a 7 or 11 you win. If the come out roll is a 2, 3, or 12 you lose. If any point is rolled on the come out roll if the point is rolled again before a 7 you win. If a 7 comes before the point you lose. Never place a pass line bet after the come out roll. This is allowed but is highly illadvised because the odds of winning on the come out roll are much greater than those of losing.
That is all there is to it. Once you understand the pass line bet you are ready to play craps. You may want to practice on the kitchen table a few times before playing for real money.
Taking the Odds
Have you ever wanted a bet with no house edge? Craps offers just such a bet, as long as you bet on the pass line first. Once a point has been thrown you may bet up to some multiple, usually 2 times, your pass line bet on the ‘odds.’
The odds are simply an additional wager that the point will be rolled before a 7. Because the probability of the point being rolled first is less than 50% you win more than you bet if it happens. Specifically if the point is a 6 or 8 the odds pay 6-5, if the point is a 5 or 9 the odds pay 3-2, and if the point is a 4 or 10 the odds pay 2-1.
The multiple you may bet on the odds is usually twice the pass line bet for points of 4,5,9, and 10, and two and a half times the pass line bet on the 6 and 8. The reason you may bet more on a point of 6 or 8 is so that you can place a $5 odds bet on top of a $2 pass line bet. A $4 odds bet on a 6 or 8 would win $4.80 and nobody likes to deal with small change at the craps table. A $5 odds bet on the 6 or 8 wins an even $6.
The table below shows the house edge when you combine the pass line and odds:
|Combined house edge on the
pass line and taking odds
|Full double odds||0.572%|
“Full double odds” means the player can take 2.5 times odds on a point of 6 or 8, and 2 times on all other points. “3-4-5 times odds” means the player can take 3X odds on the 4 and 10, 4X on the 5 and 9, and 5X on the 6 and 8. Assuming the player takes the maximum allowable odds the payoff on any odds bet will conveniently always be 6X the pass or come bet.
The don’t pass is almost the opposite of the pass line bet. If the come out roll is a 2 or 3 then you win, a 7 or 11 you lose. A 12 is a push. Otherwise the dice are rolled over and over until either the point or a 7 is rolled. If the 7 comes before the point you win.
A person betting on the don’t pass is called a “wrong” bettor and is usually winning when everyone else is losing, and vise versa. You definately want to keep a low profile if you take this bet, nobody is going to want to see you boasting about winning if everyone else just lost. The house edge on the don’t pass bet is 1.364%.
Laying the Odds
This is the opposite of taking odds, in other words betting that a 7 will be rolled before the point.
If the point is a 4 or 10 the don’t odds pay 1-2.
If the point is a 5 or 9 the don’t odds pay 2-3.
if the point is a 6 or 8 the don’t odds pay 5-6.
The amount you may win by laying odds is the product of your don’t pass bet and the multiple of odds allowed per the table rules. If the table allows five times odds then you can win five times your don’t pass bet by laying odds. Note that the multiple applies to how much you can win, not how much you can bet.
For example if you bet $2 on the don’t pass and the table allows full double odds then you can bet $8 to win $4 on a point of 4 or 10, $6 to win $4 on a point of 5 or 9, and $6 to win $5 on a point of 6 or 8.
The following table shows the combined house edge on both the don’t pass bet and laying odds:
|Combined house edge on
don’t pass and laying odds
|Full double odds||0.431%|
Have you ever become bored waiting for a point to be thrown and didn’t want to waste your money on the sucker bets to guarantee a money flow on every throw?
If so then the come bet. It is like the pass line bet but may be made at any time. Like the pass line bet you may also put money on the odds if a point is thrown on the first roll after the come bet is placed and has a house edge of 1.41%.
There is a nuance to the come bet the player should know about. If a point is thrown and there are still active come bets on the table waiting for a different point then special rules apply for the following come out roll. The come out roll will still apply to active come bets but it will not apply to their respective odds bets, unless it is requested to leave the odds “on.” In the event a come
bet is resolved on a come out roll then the odds bet will be returned.
A good strategy for the player who likes constant action is to have a new bet on either the pass line or come on every throw, and to always take the maximum allowable odds.
The don’t come bet is like the don’t pass bet, but is made on a non-come out roll.
The Place Number Bets
In craps the 4,5,6,8,9, and 10 are known as the “place numbers.” For the player who must have money on some or all of them immediately they may make certain bets to cover any place number(s) they desire. These bets work just like the
odds but pay worse odds, with the exception of the “hard way” bets which are described below. Like odds bets on top of come bets, place number bets are turned off on a come out roll.
There is a high price for impatience in craps in the form of a higher house edge. To further exploit the impatient or ignorant player there can be two or three different bets on the exact same thing, and they will all pay different odds. You might think players would only bet on the option with the best odds but you would be quite wrong, it is routine to see players throwing their money away on the higher house edge versions of the same bet. For example the place
bet on 6, the buy bet on 6, and the big 6 all are betting that a 6 will be rolled before a 7 but pay 7-6, 23-21, and 1-1 respectively, for house edges of 1.52%, 4.76%, and 9.09%. Specific descriptions of the various bets are below.
- Big 6: A bet that a 6 will be rolled before a 7. Pays even
money. house edge of 9.09%. Note that this is exactly the same as a place
bet on 6, only the place bet pays 7-6 and has a house edge of only 1.52%.
Only a fool or someone ignorant of the game would bet on the Big 6.
- Big 8: The same as the Big 6 only that an 8 will be rolled
before a 7.
- Buy bets This is essentially the same as the place bet, only with a different payoff. The player may “buy” any of the points (4, 5, 6, 8, 9, and 10), which means to bet that the number will be rolled before a 7. When making a buy bet you must pay a 5% commission and your bet will pay fair odds
if it wins. Fair odds are 2-1 on the 4 and 10, 3-2 on the 5 and 9, and 6-5 on the 6 and 8. A buy bet should be an increment of $20 so that the 5% commission can be an even dollar amount. Another way to look at it is that the buy bet pays 39-21 on the 4 and 10, 29-21 on the 5 and 9, and 23-21 on the 6 and 8.
If the bet is not divisible by $20 the commission will be rounded up or down to the nearest dollar. The house edge on all buy bets is 4.76%. The house edge on the 5, 6, 8, and 9 place bets are all lower than the buy bet, thus the buy bet on these numbers should be avoided.
Note 1: If the commission is rounded down the player can cut down the house edge by betting just under $40 for a commission of $1. A buy bet of $39 on the 4 or 10 has a house edge of 2.5%. A buy bet of $38 on the 5 or 9 has a house edge of 2.56%. A buy bet of $35 on the 6 or 8 has a house
edge of 2.78% which is still not as good as the place bet.
Note 2: Some Las Vegas casinos, the Golden Nugget to name just one, charge the commission on the buy bet on 4 and 10 only if it wins. This lowers the house edge to 1.67%.
- Hard ways: There are four different hard way bets. For
example a hard 4 bet is betting that a pair of twos will be rolled before a 7 or any other way to roll a total of 4. This is called “the hard way” because it is harder to roll two twos than a one and a three. Likewise you can bet on a hard 6,8, or 10, each of which is a bet that the hard way of rolling the given number will occur before a 7 or any “easy” way.The casino pays 7-1 on a hard 4 or 10 with a house edge of 11.11%.
The casino pays 9-1 on a hard 6 or 8 with a house edge of 9.09%.
- Lay bets The lay bet is the opposite of the buy bet . The lay bets may be placed on the 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10. The bet itself is that a 7 will be rolled before the number you choose. Because the 7 is the most likely number to be rolled you will wager more than you can win. The player must pay a 5% commission on the possible winnings and the fair odds are paid on the bet itself. Fair odds are 1-2 on the 4 and 10, 2-3 on the 5 and 9, and 5-6 on the 4 and 10. Another way to look at it is that lay bet pays 19-41 on the 4 and 10, 19-31 on the 5 and 9, and 19-25 on the 6 and 8. Bets on the 4 and 10 should be in increments of $40, bets on the 5 and 9 should be in crements of $30, and bets on the 6 and 8 in crements of $24, so that the 5% commission will be divisible by $1. If the commission is not divisible by $1 it will be rounded up, thus increasing the dealer’s edge. For example if you want to bet on the 10 the least bet should be $40 (not including the $1 commission) and if a 7 is rolled before a 10 you will win $20. The house edge on the 4 and 10 is 2.44%, on the 5 and 9 it is 3.23%, and on the 6 and 8 it is 4.00%.
Note: If the commission is rounded down the player can cut down the house edge by betting so that the winnings will be just under $40. A lay bet of $78 on the 4 or 10 has a house edge of 1.27%. A lay bet of $57 on the 5 or 9 has a house edge of 1.72%. A lay bet of $42 on the 6 or 8 has a house edge of 2.33%. All of these are better than the place bets to lose.
- Place bet: This is very similar to laying odds. You may bet on a 4,5,6,8,9, or 10. If the number you bet on is rolled before a 7 then you win according to payoff schedule below. Unlike laying odds you don’t need to have a pass line bet, you don’t have to bet on the point, but there is a house edge. I personally often make a place bet on the 6 and 8, which have the lowest house edge. A place bet on 4 or 10 pays 9-5 with a house edge of 6.67%.
A place bet on 5 or 9 pays 7-5 with a house edge of 4.00%.
A place bet on 6 or 8 pays 7-6 with a house edge of only 1.52%.When a place bets wins the dealer will return your winnings but leave the original bet on the table, essentially establishing a new place bet. You may request that the original bet be returned of course. In fact you may take back an active place bet at any time or you may “turn them off” temporarily.It should be noted that on a per roll basis the house edge on place bets is much lower. In other words if the player makes a one roll only place bet, taking it down if it hasn’t resolved then the house edge on the 4 and 10 is 1.67%, on the 5 and 9 is 1.11%, and on the 6 and 8 is 0.46%. However the house edge per bet resolved are the larger numbers above.
The table below is a summary of the various place number bets for quick comparison.
Cells that are in red indicate that there is an identical bet that pays better odds.
|Big 6||6 before 7||1-1||9.09%|
|Big 8||8 before 7||1-1||9.09%|
|Buy (4)||4 before 7||39-21||4.76%|
|Buy (5)||5 before 7||29-21||4.76%|
|Buy (6)||6 before 7||23-21||4.76%|
|Buy (8)||8 before 7||23-21||4.76%|
|Buy (9)||9 before 7||29-21||4.76%|
|Buy (10)||10 before 7||39-21||4.76%|
|Hard 4||Hard 4 before 7 or easy 4||7-1||11.11%|
|Hard 6||Hard 6 before 7 or easy 6||9-1||9.09%|
|Hard 8||Hard 8 before 7 or easy 8||9-1||9.09%|
|Hard 10||Hard 10 before 7 or easy 10||7-1||11.11%|
|Lay (4)||7 before 4||19-41||2.44%|
|Lay (5)||7 before 5||19-31||3.23%|
|Lay (6)||7 before 6||19-25||4.00%|
|Lay (8)||7 before 8||19-25||4.00%|
|Lay (9)||7 before 9||19-31||3.23%|
|Lay (10)||7 before 10||19-41||2.44%|
|Place (4)||4 before 7||9-5||6.67%|
|Place (5)||5 before 7||7-5||4.00%|
|Place (6)||6 before 7||7-6||1.52%|
|Place (8)||8 before 7||7-6||1.52%|
|Place (9)||9 before 7||7-5||4.00%|
|Place (10)||10 before 7||9-5||6.67%|
A put bet is a combination of making a pass line or come bet after a point is established and betting on the odds. It is in general a bad idea to make a line bet after a point is established, however by taking the odds the combined house edge can be lower than a corresponding place or buy bet. The following table displays the combined house edge according to the point and the multiple of odds taken.
|Odds Multiple||Point of 4,10||Point of 5,9||Point of 6,8|
If the point is a 4 or 10 the house edge on the put bet with six times odds is the same as a corresponding buy bet. If the point is a 5 or 9 the house edge on the put bet with four times odds is the same as a corresponding place bet.
If the point is a 6 or 8 the house edge on the put bet with five odds is the same as a corresponding place bet. In other words you have to back up the put with with 4 to 6 times odds for the house edge to be equal to the best option between a corresponding place or buy bet. It should be noted that put bets are not allowed in some casinos.
The Proposition Bets
Proposition bets either win or lose on the next throw. In general these have the highest house edge of all the craps bets and for the player with any sense are to be avoided completely. Specific descriptions of the various bets are below.
- Craps 2: A bet that a 2 will be thrown on the next roll. Pays 30-1.
house edge 13.89%.
- Craps 3: A bet that a 3 will be thrown on the next roll. Pays 15-1. house edge 11.11%.
- 7: A bet that a 7 will be thrown on the next roll. Pays 4-1. house edge 16.67%.
- 11: A bet that an 11 will be thrown on the next roll. Pays 15-1.
house edge 11.11%.
- Craps 12: A bet that a 12 will be thrown on the next roll. Pays 30-1.
house edge 13.89%.
- Any craps: A bet that the next roll will be a 2, 3, or
12. Pays 7-1. house edge 11.11%.
- Field bet: This is a one time bet that the next roll will
be a 2,3,4,9,10,11, or 12. The 3,4,9,10, and 11 pay even money and the 2 and 12 pay 2-1. In some casinos, largely confined to downtown Las Vegas, the 12 will pay 3-1. Some casinos pay on 5 instead of the 9. If the 12 pays 2-1 the house edge is 5.56%, if the 12 pays 3-1 the house edge is 2.78%. On the surface this seems like a great bet because 7 numbers win and only 4 lose. However the 4 that lose are much more likely to be rolled.
- Hop Bets: These are among the worst bets on the craps table. There is no specific place on the table for these but the dealers will broker your bet if you ask. At any time you may bet on what the next roll will be, exactly. For example you can bet that the next roll will be a 5 and 3. If you take two different numbers as in the 5 and 3 example the payoff is 15-1
with a house edge of 11.11%. If you take two of the same number, for example 5 and 5, the payoff is 30-1 with a house edge of 13.89%. Note that there are already proposition bets for 1 and 1, 1 and 2, 5 and 6, and 6 and 6.
- Horn Bet: This is a combination of the proposition bets on the 2, 3, 11, and 12. The player is betting that the next roll will be any one of these numbers. The bet pays 27-4 on the 2 and 12 and 3-1 on the 3 and 11. Bets must be made in increments of $4. The house edge is 12.5%.
The table below is a summary of the proposition bets for quick comparison.
|2||2 on next roll||30-1||13.89%|
|3||3 on next roll||15-1||11.11%|
|7||7 on next roll||4-1||16.67%|
|11||11 on next roll||15-1||11.11%|
|12||12 on next roll||30-1||13.89%|
|Any craps||2, 3, or 12 on next roll||7-1||11.11%|
|Field (loose)||2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11, or 12 on next roll.||see above||2.78%|
|Field (tight)||2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11, or 12 on next roll.||see above||5.56%|
|Hop (two numbers)||Any specific two numbers on next roll||15-1||11.11%|
|Hop (one number)||Any specific pair of numbers on next roll||30-1||13.89%|
|Horn||2, 3, 11, or 12 on next roll||see above||12.50%|
Net Gain/Loss per Session
The chart below shows the net gain or loss you can expect over 100 trials, or come out rolls. For purposes of creating the chart the player would bet $1 on the pass line and take full double odds.
Here are some actual numbers that show the probability of falling into various intervals:
|loss of over $100||0.0422%|
|loss of $76-$100||0.6499%|
|loss of $51-$75||4.6414%|
|loss of $26-$50||16.3560%|
|loss of $1-$25||30.0583%|
|win of $1-$25||28.6368%|
|win of $26-$50||14.4257%|
|win of $51-$75||3.9097%|
|win of $76-$100||0.5639%|
|win of over $100||0.0418%|
The graph and table were created by simulating 1,000,000 sessions of 100 trials, or come out rolls, and tabulating the results of each session.
- Most bets can be removed, added to, or deducted from at any time. Exceptions would be the pass and come bets, and you can not exceed the maximum bet on
the odds. With the place number and proposition bets the dealers will often pay winnings only and let the original bet ride, unless otherwise requested.
- The players take turns throwing the dice. In general the same person will throw until they seven out. The player may pass the dice if they want to.
- Know the rules and what to do before you arrive at the table, especially a busy one. Try not to rely on the dealers for answering questions.
- Craps has a language all its own. It is beyond the scope of this page to define all the terminology but you can pick it up as you go. For example “Two way yo” is craps slang for a bet on 11 in which half is for the player and half is a bet for the dealers.
- When you throw the dice they are supposed to rebound off the other side of the table. A throw that doesn’t make it that far looks wimpy and the dealer may make you roll over. However overthrowing the dice off the table will make you look klutzy and slow down the game while there is a search for the missing
dice and the dealer examines them to make sure nobody switched them with loaded dice. Dealers prefer a high lob as opposed to a low roll down the table. They don’t like it when the dice knock down stacks of chips.
- Don’t put drinks on the table. There is a little shelf under the chips for glasses and bottles.
- Don’t sit or lean on anything. Except for some sit down tables I have seen in Laughlin players must stand.
- Don’t listen to the advice of the other players. Most craps players are fools who waste their money on the sucker bets. Unless you tip, the dealers usually also give bad advice.
- As in all games you should tip the dealers, especially if they are being especially helpful.When you tip don’t make a bet for the dealers on a sucker bet as most players do. Personally I will toss them a tip and say “for the table.” The dealers will appreciate that you’re not wasting their tip on a bet with a high house edge.
- Blend in with, but do not interact with, the other players. The players at the craps table tend to be a tough and superstitious crowd who prefer to be left alone. Do not rebuke anybody for making sucker bets. Do not do anything
that can be interpreted as being unlucky, like saying a number that would cause the table to lose. I know this sounds irrational but don’t forget that gambling should be for fun so don’t take from anyone else’s experience.
- If you are playing for the first time don’t announce this if you are male.
Male virgins to the game are said to be unlucky, and the opposite for females.
This is evidently because virginity is despised in men and valued in women.
In my ten commandments of gambling I advise that you avoid gimmicks and this is an illustrated example. Some casinos in Mississippi proudly boast of “crapless craps.” In this game the player can not lose a pass bet on the come out roll. If any number other than a 7 is rolled on the come out roll it becomes the point. What you are giving up is the sure winner of 11 on the come out roll. To the mathematically challenged it may seem a good deal, that you are only giving up 1 sure winner for 3 sure losers. The catch is that the probability of hitting a point of 2 or 12 is only 1/7, and the probability of hitting a point of 3 or 11 is only 1/4. So the player is not gaining much on the 2, 3, and 12 since they will likely lose anyway, but is giving up a sure winner on 11 for only a 1/4 chance of winning. Overall the house edge on the pass bet in crapless craps is 373/6930 =~ 5.382%.
Crapless craps does offer free odds of 6-1 on the 2 and 12, and 3-1 on the 3 and 11. The following table shows the combined house edge by combining the pass line and the odds:
|Combined house edge on
pass and buying odds
in crapless craps
You can also make place bets on the 2, 3, 11, and 12. The 2 and 12 pay 11-2 with a house edge of 7.143%. The 3 and 11 pay 11-4 with a house edge of 6.250%.
There is no don’t pass bet in this game.
craps appendix 1 shows how the house edge for each bet was derived.
craps appendix 2 displays the house
edge of all the