Craps: How to play and strategy

30-second Summary:

  • Craps is an exciting casino dice game that has been around since at least the 1800s.
  • This is a lower house-edge game and easy to play since you only need a set of dice.
  • Essentially, a player shoots the dice and your bet is won or lost based on the total.
  • There are different bets and prop bets, but the game centers around the Pass/Come bets. 
  • The pass sequence starts with a roll and pass bettors win if the roll is 7 or 11 and lose if it is 2, 3 or 12.

If you’d rather play a game that throws you into bursts of cheers and excitement, learn how to play Craps. It’s among the most electrifying of casino table games, both in the online live casino and land-based casino floor. And definitely worth your while if you like quick-paced table action, multiplayer options, and good betting odds.

 Craps gets a lot of players involved and allows each one to exert control over the dice. The shooter is the one who gets the dice throw for that round and determines the fate of all the players at the table. However, there’s more to it than that. If you’ve played before, we suggest reinforcing your knowledge with the game’s basics below. Then building on that with some Craps strategy tips. If you’re new to the game, then this is also where you start.

 What is Craps? How do I get the edge over the house? We’ll answer these questions as we discuss how to play Craps optimally, including Craps strategy tips. And if you’re starting out, you can even learn how to win at craps with a small bankroll. Helping you to build up to a bigger bankroll and higher stakes.

What is Craps?

Craps is a casino dice game that seems to have landed in New Orleans in the US in the 1800s. However, it may have originated in Europe way before that. And it’s one of the most exciting games you’ll find in your land-based or online casino.

It may have got its name from the way players crouched on sidewalks like crabs or toads (French: crapaud). Playing “street crabs” using just a set of dice. Evolution Gaming has recently launched Craps in some jurisdictions. At stakes levels ranging from high to medium to low, players will bet against the house, and on the side - against each other. Otherwise, you may be able to have a craps practice table among friends, because said, all you need to play is a set of dice.

 You may have skipped this table game in the past after hearing concepts like odds bets, betting on the pass line, come-out roll, snake eyes, and lay odds. However, craps is a simple game at its core. Essentially, you have a player (the “shooter”) who rolls two dice (“shoots craps”.) And along with the other table players, bets on the outcome.

 However, aside from these basic craps rules, there are also certain rules of craps dice. Like which roll totals are always winners and which are always losers. Plus, proposition bets/side action players can take, like whether or not the shooter will win.

How to Play Craps?

You’ll see the table is divided into side sections for each type of bet. Including the Pass Line, Don’t Pass Line, Come, Don’t Come, Field, and Big-6/8. Meanwhile, there’s also one center section for prop bets which the stickman is in charge of. Players start by placing chips in the relevant section to indicate their craps bets.

There are a few Craps rules to remember as you learn how to play craps. There’s a player behind every roll of the dice - the “shooter” - who rolls two dice (“shoots craps”). During online play, the dice rolls automatically. The first is a come-out roll which initiates the round (Pass). But first, the players get a chance to place Pass/Don’t Pass Bets - basically wagers on whether the shooter wins or loses the roll.

How to Win at Craps

The shooter’s goal to win is to hit a 7 or 11 total (a “Natural”). While avoiding a 2 (Snake Eyes), 3 or 12 total (“Craps”) which loses. With a Natural, you win and can roll again, while with a craps total, you lose but can roll again 

Otherwise, the shooter can roll a 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10 - which will be their “Point Number”. Now, in order to win at craps, the shooter has to hit that number again before a 7 shows up (Sevens-out). Because of the 7 shows on a roll, it’s a loss.  

How to Throw Dice in Craps Table

The Shooter has to shake and roll the set of dice on the craps table using just one hand. However, for the roll or shoot to be valid, you must make sure the dice hits and bounces off the sides of the inset table. Of course, in case the shooter shoots the dice off the table, the stickman inspects them before anyone can shoot them again.

Types of Craps Bets

You can make these two bets before the first point/come-over roll is made.

Pass/Don’t Pass Bets

Betting that the shooter will pass (win) with a Natural or win the point before seven-ing out. Or betting the shooter loses with “craps” totals (doesn’t pass). With any other total, the bet stays on the table until the shooter replicates the Point (wins) or hits a 7 (loses). Both these bets pay 1:1 and have house edges of 1.4% or less.

Come/Don’t Come

After the first roll, and before the second shoot to try to achieve the same total, you can make these two bets. You place this after the come-over roll and before the next roll. You win the Come Bet if the shooter rolls the same Point total, but you lose if Craps is rolled.

 Inversely, you win a Don’t Come Bet if the shooter misses the point on second roll or get a 2 or 3. The house edge is again 1.41%. Getting a 12 is known as a push bet and nothing happens. You have to wait all these bets out, but can also make additional bets.

Place Win/Lose

You can make these after a come-out roll after a Point, on numbers 4, 5, 6, 8, 9 or 10. For Place Win, if that number is rolled before a 7, you win. The opposite is true for Place Lose. The payouts vary depending on the chosen number.

Buy/Lay

A Buy Bet is very similar to a Place Win in that you bet on a specific number to be rolled before a 7. The difference is that the payouts are higher and you have to pay a 5% commission. With a Lay, you bet on a 7 rolled before a specific number, like a Place Lose but with higher (varying) payouts.

Big 6/8

Simple bets paying even money (1:1) if won. Big 6 wins if a 6 is rolled before a 7, and a Big 8 wins if any 8 is rolled before 7.

Hard Ways

Hard rolls are essentially doubles, like an 8 total of two fours is a hard 8. Hard Ways are wagers on doubles (4, 6, 8 or 10) rolled before a 7. A 4 or 10 usually pays 7:1 while a 6 or 8 pays 9:1.

Field

You settle a field bet on the next roll and win 1:1 if you roll a 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11, or 12. You lose with a roll of 5-8. led. If you roll 2 or 12, you get paid 2:1.

 

Proposition Bets

There are several of these long-odds bets, but these are the most popular:

  • Any 7 (Payout 4:1) - Wins if 7 is rolled next.
  • Any 11 (Payout 15:1) - Wins if 11 is rolled next.
  • Any Craps (Payout 7:1) - Wins if any of 2, 3 or 12 is rolled next.
  • Ace Deuce (Payout 15:1) - Wins if 3 is rolled next.
  • Aces (Payout 30:1) - Wins if 2 is rolled next.
  • Boxcar (Payout 30:1) - Wins if 12 is rolled next.

Basic Craps Odds Strategy Tips

  1. We suggest sticking to Pass/Don’t Pass Bets which have a house edge of 1.4% and 1.3% respectively.
  2. Sure, you can get lucky with Hardways or Big 6/Big 8, but it’s harder to do, and these risky bets have house edges of over 10%. Don’t play these long-odds bets. 
  3. Make sure you’re betting money you’re comfortable losing - ergo, not higher than your actual bankroll.

Learn Craps Rules of Etiquette Before Playing Live

There are things that are not against the game rules, but simply proper etiquette while playing at a land-based casino table. Craps is no different, and there are ways to keep the environment a fun place for all. Here are a few that mainly applies to the live tables.

1 – Don’t Call for a Seven (Live)

If you roll a seven once the point is set, the shooter automatically loses to the house. Some players would not even want to be handed a dice with the seven on top just in case. So calling for a seven for your opponent is a bit distasteful, especially because many gamblers are superstitious. If you’re playing at home alone however, you can say whatever you want.

2 – Hands up During the Dice Throw (Live)

This is more about preventing your hands or chips from accidentally interfering with the dice. Since when that happens, other players can lose money and get upset. Plus, the dealer may not consider your late bet anyway.

3 – Don’t Linger With the Dice (Live)

In poker and blackjack, players get irritated when others tank and delay the game - and it’s the same with Craps. When you get the dice, wait for the dealer’s OK, and just go for the throw. If you’re in a live casino, don’t ask every player to blow on your dice, for example. And online, don’t wait for the timer to reach the last second to act.

4 – Don’t Stack Your Chips High (Live)

Stacking chips in high towers could get in the way of the shooter on a live table. And if the shooter has to change their rolling motion because of that, there may be some dispute since gamblers are superstitious.

Key Takeaways

  • A player wins or loses craps bets based on the shooter’s dice roll total. The outcome can be a natural, craps, or a point. A pass (round) begins with the first roll and the shooter must match the first total with subsequent rolls.
  • Unless you get a natural and automatically win, a Pass (or round/turn) continues, and the shooter keeps rolling until they achieve the same total of their first roll. The Pass ends if they roll a 7 (Seven-out) and bets are won or lost.
  • There are several main craps bets and prop bets with long-odds, however the one the game centers around is the Pass/Don’t Pass and Come/Don’t Come which are based on roll totals and have lower house edges and pay 1:1.
  • Following simple craps rules of etiquette like not cheering for a seven and speeding up your play can make the gambling environment more fun for all.

FAQs

How do you play craps, in short?

Players place pass bets before the shooter rolls the come-over (first) roll. If it’s a 7 or 11 (Natural) they win, but if it’s a 2,3 or 12 (Craps), they lose. The third outcome is they get another number which is their Point and must replicate that number with more rolls before getting a 7 and losing.

What is the best craps odds strategy to have?

The best Craps odds are pass or don't pass bets which pay 1:1, so you can potentially double your money every time. Also, the house edge on these bets is just 1.41% or less.

How can I win at Craps every time?

You can’t win at craps 100% of time - just like any casino game, because luck is always a factor. However, craps does have one of the lowest house edges.

What is the C&E bet in craps?

The Craps and Eleven bet (“C&E”) is a prop bet on a roll that adds to the Any Craps. The stickman is in charge of controlling these bets and not the players.

Why is it called Craps?

Lots of casino games have French origin. In fact, many believe that the name “craps” came from the French word “crapaud” which means " toad". Apparently referencing the original style of play of the game, which was crouching like a frog or crabs on the sidewalk. “Street Craps” was very much a thing because you only need a set of dice to play. 

How do you throw dice on a craps table?

You need to roll the set of dice on the craps table using just one hand. And make sure it bounces off the sides of the inset table to be valid.