Overview of Craps

Craps is well-known for the number of wagering options and the crowd participation factor. It can trace its origins back to the days of the Crusades, although the modern version of the game didn’t become popular until the 20th century.

Most people think of craps as the game where you roll two dice and try to get a 7 or 11. While this much is true, the game is actually more nuanced than most casual players give it credit for. In fact, while some craps wagers provide the casino with a large house edge, there are others that consistently rank as some of the best bets in the world of gambling.

This article is meant to familiarize you with the basics of craps, from the rules of the game to the myriad of available betting options. We’ll also provide some tips to help improve you overall experience at the table, as well as touching on the controversial art of dice control.

Rules of Craps

The player rolling the dice is known as the “shooter.” When he first receives the dice, this marks the beginning of a new round of play.

The shooter’s first roll is known as the “come-out roll.” Just prior to this, the shooter must make a wager on the Pass or Don’t Pass line.

The shooter then tosses the dice down the length of the table, and land-based casinos require them to bounce off the back wall. If the player rolls a 2, 3, or 12, it is known as “craps” and the round is over. Anyone who wagered on the Pass line loses their money.

If a 7 or 11 (“natural”) is rolled, then anyone who wagered on the Pass line automatically wins. The shooter may then choose to make a new come-out roll or pass the dice to another player.

If the come-out roll results in any other number, then this total becomes the “point.” The shooter now has a new objective: roll the point again before a 7 comes up. If they can accomplish this, then anyone who wagered on the Pass line receives a payout. If the 7 comes up first, then the round is over and anyone who bet on the Pass line loses their money.

Once a shooter has finished their turn, they can pass the dice to the next player on their left. In online craps, however, the player can stay as the shooter and roll the dice as many times as they like.

Types of Craps Bets

The game of craps has a number of betting options available for players, which is part of the appeal of this casino classic. In this section, we’ll take a look at all the possible wagers.

  • Pass – This wager wins if the shooter gets a 7 or 11 on their come-out roll. If a 2, 3, or 12 are rolled, the bet is lost. If any other number comes up, it becomes the point. The bettor can still win if the point is rolled again before a 7. This wager pays even money and offers a house edge of 1.41%.
  • Don’t Pass – In this case, the bettor is wagering that the shooter will lose. On the come-out roll, the bet wins if the shooter rolls a 2 or 3 and loses on a 7 or 11. A come-out roll of 12 is considered a push. If any other number turns up on the come-out roll, it is considered the point. The bettor wins if a 7 is rolled before the point. If the shooter rolls their point before a 7, then the bettor loses. This wager pays even money and carries a house edge of 1.36%.
  • Pass Odds – If a point is established on the come-out roll, the bettor has the option of making a wager that’s a multiple of the pass line bet (usually from 1x to 100x). The bet wins if the point is rolled before a 7 and pays out at the following odds: 2:1 for a 4 or 10, 3:2 for a 5 or 9, and 6:5 for a 6 or 8. Since the payout is better than even money, the house edge on this wager is reduced to 0%.
  • Don’t Pass Odds – The bettor wagers that the shooter will roll a 7 before their point. If the bet is successful, it pays out at the following true odds: 1:2 for a 4 or 10, 2:3 for a 5 or 9, 5:6 for a 6 or 8. As with pass odds, the house edge is reduced to 0% (making this one of the best bets in any casino).
  • Come – This wager can only be made after the point has been established by the shooter. Once the bet is placed, the bettor wins if the next roll is a 7 or 11. If a 2, 3, or 12 are rolled next, then the player loses. Otherwise, the number rolled becomes the come-bet point, and the bettor can take odds on it like in the previous two examples. If a 7 comes up next, the player loses. If, however, the shooter rolls the come-bet point before a 7, then the bettor wins and receives even money.
  • Don’t Come – This wager can only be made once the point has been established by the shooter. Once the bet has been made, the bettor wins if a 2 or 3 is rolled and loses on a 7 or 11. A 12 is considered a push. If any other number is rolled, then it is called the don’t come-bet point, and a 7 must be rolled before this number in order for an even money payout to be received.
  • Yo – The bettor wins if the shooter manages to roll an 11. Pays 15:1 with a house edge of 11.11%.
  • Ace-Deuce (or 3) – This bet wins if the shooter rolls a three. Pays 15:1 with a house edge of 11.11%.
  • Aces (or 2) – Bettor wins if the shooter gets a 2 on their next roll. Pays at 30:1 odds with a house edge of 13.89%.
  • Boxcars (or 12) – The shooter needs to roll a 12 for the bettor to win. Carries a 13.89% house edge.
  • Hi-Lo – Pays 15:1 if a 2 or 12 are rolled next. The house edge is 11.11%.
  • C&E – A bet that combines a Yo wager with a Craps bet. Pays 3:1 on a 2, 3, or 12, and 7:1 on an 11. The house edge is 11.11%.
  • Any Craps – The bettor wins if the next roll is a 2, 3, or 12. The payout is 7:1 with a house edge of 11.11%.
  • Any Seven (Big Red) – Pays 4:1 if a 7 comes up on the next roll. Carries a house edge of 16.67%.
  • The Horn – One unit is wagered on the following: 2, 3, 11, and 12. If any of these numbers come up on the next roll, then the bettor wins. The house edge of 12.5% and the odds are 27:4 for a 2 or 12 and 3:1 on a 3 or 11.
  • Easy Way – Wins if the shooter rolls a 4, 6, 8, or 10 (without pairs) before a 7 comes up.
  • Hard Way – Wins if the shooter rolls doubles that equal one of the following totals prior to rolling a seven: 4, 6, 8, or 10. The 4 and 10 pay 7:1, while the 6 and 8 pay 9:1.
  • On the Hop – This wager allows the bettor to try and predict which two numbers will turn up on the dice at the end of the next roll. The bets normally pays 15:1 (11.11% edge), although doubles pay 30:1 (13.89% edge).
  • World (or Whirl) – Combines a Horn and Any Seven wager. Pays 26:5 on a 2 or 12, 11:5 on a 3 or 11, and a push on a 7. The house edge is 13.33%.
  • Hard and Horny – Combines the Horn wager with all hardaways.
  • Field – In order to win, the next roll must result in one of the following totals: 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11, or 12. The 2 or 12 wager usually offers better odds than the other numbers.
  • Big 6/Big 8 – Player wins even money if the shooter rolls a 6 or 8 before a 7 comes up.
  • Lay Bet – The bettor chooses a specific number. In order to win, the shooter must roll a 7 before this number turns up. It’s traditional for the casino to charge a 5% commission when this wager wins.
  • Place and Buy – Bettor wagers that one of the following will be rolled before a seven: 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10. This is called a “working bet,” because it pays out each time the selected number turns up.

Craps Payouts & House Edge

This table shows the standard payouts and house edge for six common craps bets.

Bet Payout House Edge
Pass 1:1 1.41%
Come 1:1 1.41%
Don’t Pass 1:1 1.36%
Don’t Come 1:1 1.36%
Hard 6 or 8 9:1 9.09%
Hard 4 or 10 7:1 11.11%

Craps Tips and Strategies

The next time you play craps, keep the following tips in mind in order to improve your odds. At the very least, you can fool everyone into thinking that you know what you’re doing.

Know the Lingo – Online players don’t need to know this information, but anyone planning on taking a trip to a brick-and-mortar casino should brush up on the various craps terms. Some wagers are known by two or three different names, and it can be confusing for rookie players. Fortunately, most people around the table are friendly and helpful, so there’s almost always someone who’s willing to help out.

Don’t Be Superstitious – Don’t fall prey to the various myths and superstitions surrounding the game of craps. For example, throwing a penny under the table before rolling the dice doesn’t increase your chance of winning, and calling out the word “seven” doesn’t decrease your odds (although you might still want to avoid the latter out of respect for any superstitious players who might be present).

Know the Table Layout – The craps table can be confusing to newer players, so it’s wise to study the layout before playing for real money. There are plenty of free craps programs available online, and these provide an excellent opportunity for learning your way around the layout.

Avoid Systems – Some people swear by betting systems, but these are to be avoided at all costs.

Know the Good & Bad Bets – Craps wagers range from terrible to some of the best in the casino. It’s important to know the difference between the two, as it can make a huge difference when it comes time to place a wager. Good bets include: Pass Line, Don’t Pass Line, and any odds wager. Bad bets include: Big Six, Big Eight, Hard Four, Hard Ten, and a prop bet that relies on a 2 or 10 coming up on the next roll.

Dice Control in Craps

Respected gambling authors such as Stanford Wong have written books praising the ability of dice control to work in favor of the advantage player. Some remain unconvinced, however, which makes the entire matter subject to continual debate.

By holding the dice in a specific position in your hand and tossing them with the right degree of force, proponents of this method claim that you can influence the results of each roll. While some scoff at the notion, there are those who claim to have rolled dozens of consecutive winners by using the technique.

Unfortunately, online players can’t use this to their advantage, as they don’t physically interact with any dice. In the world of virtual gaming, players have to rely on their knowledge of the betting options and a lot of old-fashioned luck to make a profit.

While online craps can still be plenty of fun, this is a game that definitely works best in a live setting. The players around the table often form a close-knit community as the evening progresses, and you’ll always have plenty of support when it’s your turn to roll the dice. If you can stay away from the wagers with the high house edge and stick to the more advantageous ones, you can walk away with a lot of money. For those who can master dice control (if such people exist), the profit potential is even greater.