Craps is a simplified version of a European game called hazard, which was widely played in French taverns during the 17th century. Both were introduced to the US in the 1800s by a well-to-do politician and gambler with an absurdly long name: Bernard Xavier Philippe de Marigny de Mandeville.
Together with is offshoot, craps became extremely popular in New Orleans, especially on the gambling boats travelling up and down the Mississippi River. It became even more widespread during the 1930s, thanks to the burgeoning Las Vegas gambling scene. Craps eventually became the gambling game of choice for US servicemen during WW2, which in turn cemented its illustrious reputation on the post-war Las Vegas strip.
The game hasn’t really looked back since. Although other casino games such as poker, roulette and blackjack now compete for the attentions of punters, craps remains popular in many bricks-and-mortar establishments. It’s the same with web-based casinos too with multiple versions of online craps games available to play. So what about the rules?
Casino craps is played with one or more participants who bet against the house on the outcome of the roll of two dice. To accommodate the game, a special craps table is used. Like roulette, this table features a variety of numbered boxes which signify the type of bet that a player can make. As opposed to street craps, players use chips to signify a bet instead of cash and take it in turns to roll the dice. Whoever throws the dice is known as the ‘shooter’.
When playing as the ‘shooter’, a participant must place a bet on either the ‘pass’ line or the ‘don’t pass’ line. To commence a round, the player is offered a collection of dice by a ‘stickman’ and must choose two. His first roll is known as the ‘come out’ roll’, from which there are three possible outcomes: a natural, craps, the point.
A natural describes a come-out roll that lands a 7 or 11. All bets placed on the pass line win while those on the ‘don’t pass’ line lose. Should a player land a natural, he gets another opportunity to shoot the dice.
If the dice show a 2, 3 or 12 after a come-out roll, any bet that has been placed on the pass line loses and those on the don’t pass line win. For some versions, a 12 signifies a tie (push). As with a natural, a player who shoots craps gets to throw again.
Point numbers are signified by a 4, 5, 6, 8, 9 or 10. When a player rolls one of these, it gets marked as a point. For all pass bets to win, the same number must be rolled again before rolling a 7.
In summary then, a pass line bet allows players to wager on the shooter’s come-out roll landing a 7 or 11. A win is also possible if the shooter hits a point. If a player crap outs, the pass line bet loses. The house edge for pass line bets stand at just 1.41%. A ‘don’t pass’ bet is the complete opposite and is placed against the shooter. It features a marginally improved edge of 1.36%
So what about the other bets in craps? Here’s a non-exhaustive run-down of the most common wagers found in a typical online craps game. As you’ll see, some pay out true odds while others don’t.
The come bet is the same as a pass except that it can only be placed after the come-out roll when a point number has been established. It wins on 7 or 11 and loses when any of the craps numbers are rolled. If a player rolls a point number, the come bet is placed in the respective point number box. The bet then wins provided the point number is rolled before a 7.
Conversely, a ‘don’t come’ bet wins if a 2 or 3 is rolled and ties on a 12 – the bet loses if 7 or 11 appears. Like come bets, when a point number appears, the bet is moved to a corresponding box. But it can only win if a seven is rolled first.
Place bets can be wagered on the dice landing on point numbers of 4, 5, 6, 8, 9 or 10 before a 7 is rolled. They can be place on one or more of these numbers and win each time one appears. However, they do not payout at true odds:
The buy bet is similar to the standard place bet except that it pays out true odds. To make up for any potential losses, the casino applies a 5% commission thus giving it an edge of 4.76%. A lay bet is the direct opposite with players wagering that a 7 is rolled before a point number. 5% commission also applies here.
Proposition bets are one-roll wagers that are offered by the stickman for the next roll of the dice. The proposal of such bets is made at the discretion of the stickman and offers a 15 to 1 chance of winning. Two-way proposition bets are also offered which split the potential winnings between the dealer and player.
A field bet is a wager placed on the shooter rolling a 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11 or 12 with the player winning should the dice land on any of these numbers. With reasonably good odds, this particular bet is among the most popular in both offline and online crap games. In most cases the house will pay out even money for 3, 4, 9, 10 or 100 and 2 to 1 for a 2 or 12. Establishments that use these pay-out rates hold an edge of 5.56%.
Big six and big eight bets pay out if a player wagers on the dice landing on either number, provided this occurs before a 7 is rolled. Unfortunately, they only pay out even money giving the house a laughable high edge of 9.09%.
Hardway bets are placed on the dice rolling on exact combinations of hard fours (2 x 2), hard sixes (3 x 3), hard eights (4 x 4) and hard tens (5 x 5). The wager wins if any of these combinations are rolled before a 7. The payouts and house edges are:
An ‘any craps’ bet is a one-roll wager that the dice will land on 2, 3 or 12. It offers a payout of 7 to 1 and comprises a house edge of 11.11%.
This wager can be made on the player rolling a 7 and features a 4 to 1 payout with an eye-watering house edge of 16.67%
Taking odds is one of the best bets in the game and can only be taken after an initial pass line or come bet has been made. After a point has been established, the player is permitted to back his initial pass or come bet with a second wager. It pays out true odds and has no house edge. Accordingly, casinos will limit the amount that can be wagered to multiples of the original sum staked. The payouts odds are as follows:
Laying odds is the opposite of taking odds and pay out if the shooter rolls a 7 before a point number. This bet can only be made if the player wagered a ‘don’t pass’ or ‘don’t come’ bet to begin with. As with ‘taking odds’ wagers the casino limits betting amounts to a multiple of the original stake. The payout odds are the direct opposite of those offered for ‘taking odd’s bets and are:
If you’re playing live online craps, it’s worth familiarizing yourself with some of the lingo that’s commonly used. Otherwise, you won’t have the first clue about what’s going on. Those of you who prefer playing computer craps probably don’t need to bother, unless of course you like conversing with your imaginary opponents.