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How to Play Craps

Introduction of Craps

It’s hard to miss it: the sight of over a dozen people, all huddled around a table with a size meant for only six. And every time the dice settles, a simultaneous cry is heard from the table—some of joy, others of disappointment.

Indeed, the online craps table is one of the most recognizable fixtures of the modern casino. And yet, it also happens to be one of the most intimidating games to get into for new players. With a table surface covered in confusing labels and fields, it just begs the question: How do you play craps, really?

Well, that’s what we’re here to do. By the end of this article, we’ll get you up to speed on everything you need to know about how to play craps so you can play like the pros the next time you approach the craps table.

What is Craps?

Craps is a dice game with a surprising and rich history. Made in the United States in the 1800s, the game was a simplified version of another dice game played in England, called Hazard. (Fun fact: the dice game is actually the origin of our modern definition of the word ‘hazard’!) 

In any case, the game would catch on with the locals, particularly in New Orleans. And because New Orleans was a social and cultural hotbed at the time, the popularity of craps would make its way up the Mississippi River and spread throughout the US and Canada. 

Aside from the change in the rules, craps is still just a simple dice game. It is so simple, in fact, that playing craps only needs two things: a pair of dice, and anything the players want to wager. 

To play the game, craps needs at least two players. However, one of the fun things about this game is that there really is no limit to how many players can join. That’s why tables are typically packed with people all gathering around in a game of craps.

Source: www.commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Craps.jpg

How to Play Craps

Craps is a betting game in which players bet on the value of a dice roll. While the game looks fiendishly complicated when watched from afar, that’s really all there is to it. Much of the complexity of the game just comes from the betting process.

The game has two phases: the come-out roll phase and the point phase. The game starts on the come-out phase, and all players around the table place their initial bets on one of two areas: the “Pass Line” or “Don’t Pass Line”. One of the players is then chosen to be the shooter, or the person throwing the dice for the round. The shooter must throw the dice into the table with one hand, making sure that both dice hit the far wall of the table. 

From here, there are three possibilities. If the shooter rolls a 7 or 11 (a natural), Pass bets win. If the shooter rolls a 2, 3, or 12, they crap out and Don’t Pass bets win. In both cases, the game starts over with a new shooter. 

But if the shooter rolls any other value (4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10), then the come-out roll phase ends, all bet positions are maintained, and the point phase begins. 

In this phase, the value the shooter landed on in the previous roll is set as the point. The shooter then rolls repeatedly until they roll their point (in which Pass bets win) or roll a 7 (in which Don’t Pass bets win), which is called sevening out. When this happens, the game starts all over again.

Types of Bets in Craps

As mentioned earlier, all of the complexity of craps just comes from its wide range of betting options. In fact, all of the marked fields on the craps table are just for keeping track of the players’ bets. 

In general, there are two types of bets in craps: initial bets and side bets. Initial bets are made only at the beginning of each round, while side bets can be made in between rolls during a round. With that cleared up, here are the many types of bets you can make in craps:

Pass / Don’t Pass Line: These are the initial bets placed in craps, and bet on the shooter’s success or failure to roll a natural or point before crapping out or sevening out. 

Come / Don’t Come: These are side bets made during the point phase, and bet on the shooter’s success or failure on the next roll. These bets are essentially like placing separate Pass or Don’t Pass bets.

Odds: These side bets stack extra stakes on top of your original Pass/Don’t Pass or Come/Don’t Come bets to increase your payout when the bet wins. 

Place: These are side bets that bet on the shooter rolling a number of your choice before sevening out during the point phase. Place bets are unique in that they can continue to pay out as long as they remain in play.

Hard way: These are side bets that bet on the shooter rolling doubles on a chosen number (the hard way) before sevening out or rolling a non-doubles combination of the same number (the easy way). Because they bet on doubles, hard way bets can only be made on 4, 6, 8, and 10. 

Playing Craps Online

With live casino venues few and far between, it can be pretty inconvenient for Canadian players to have to travel long distances just to take a seat at a craps table. Fortunately, the booming popularity of online casinos solves the question of how to play casino craps. And interestingly, the experience of playing online isn’t all that different from the real thing—and in some ways, it can even be better.

For one, you can play craps at your own pace. With no other players to wait on or peer-pressure you if you take too long, online craps is a much smoother and more relaxed experience, especially if you’re still learning how to play crabs.

Playing online also makes it easier to actually play the game. Throwing dice and placing your bets are handled with just a few clicks or taps. And with an interface showing the entire craps table at all times, it’s incredibly easy to keep track of all your bets—something that isn’t quite possible with a dozen other people squeezing around the table in a live casino.

On the other hand, socializing is a major part of what makes craps so fun. As such, the silence of online play can make the experience a bit lonely. Whether this will be a deal-breaker or not is up for you to decide.

two orange dice on black surface
Source: Photo by Josh Appel on Unsplash

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the basic rules of craps?

While the betting mechanics can get very technical, the basic rules of craps are actually quite simple. If you are still learning how to play crap, you only need to remember these basic rules to experience most of what the game has to offer.

  • Place your bets on the table, and only in between rolls. Casinos require players to do this as an anti-cheating measure.
  • If you are the shooter, toss the dice with only one hand, and make sure that both dice hit the far wall of the craps table
  • Always keep an eye on your bankroll. This is more of a general rule of thumb for any casino-goer, and applies to any gambling game you can think of.

How do you play craps for beginners?

We’ll admit, craps has a very confusing betting system that will confuse even longtime casino patrons. If all our explanations still flew over your head, here’s how to play craps in its simplest, most condensed form:

To play craps, you bet on whether the shooter will make a good roll or a bad roll. You win the round when you make the correct prediction, and lose when you make the wrong one. 

Is there any skill in craps?

In general, craps is a luck-based game for most players. This is because your decisions are just limited to the bets you can place in each round.

However, things change when you get the chance to play as the shooter. If you put enough time and practice into learning how to play crapps, you might be able to coax the dice into landing on the numbers you want on your throw. It won’t be easy, but it is at least possible. 

How do I win at craps?

The short answer is that you win the round if you bet on the right outcome at the right time. But because of the many kinds of bets placed in the two phases of the game, there are actually many ways to win. Here is a short cheat sheet for quick reference, showing you the win conditions in craps bets and their corresponding payouts.

Type of BetWin ConditionPayout
Come-Out Roll phase
PassShooter rolls 7 or 11 (natural)1:1
Don’t PassShooter rolls 2, 3, or 12 (crap out)1:1
Point phase
PassShooter rolls the point before rolling 71:1
Don’t PassShooter rolls 7 before rolling the point (seven out)1:1
Side bets
ComeShooter rolls a natural on the next roll1:1
Don’t ComeShooter craps out on the next roll1:1
OddsSame as original betVaries by point:
6 & 8: 6:5
5 & 9: 3:2
4 & 10: 2:1
PlaceShooter rolls the chosen place number before sevening outVaries by point:
6 & 8: 7:6
5 & 9: 7:5
4 & 10: 9:5
Hard wayShooter rolls chosen doubles before sevening out or rolling non-doubles combinationVaries by point:
6 & 8: 9:1
4 & 10: 7:1

Is 7 good in craps?

Yes and no. 7 is often considered the “bad” number in craps because it results in a loss when the shooter rolls a 7 in the point phase. However, the 7 (along with 11) is a natural in the come-out roll phase, which results in a win for Pass bets before reaching the point phase. 

So is it really a bad number? It depends on how you look at it. 

What is the easiest way to learn craps?

As with any other casino game, the best and easiest way to learn craps is to play it for yourself. While reading up on its many rules can help you understand the game, none of it will actually ‘click’ in your head until you actually play the game.

But you might be thinking, “How do I play craps if I can’t go to the casino?”

That’s where online and mobile casino play comes in. These virtual platforms make it easy to practice how.to play craps from the comfort of your home or even on your phone. Many of these online casinos offer low-stakes or even no-stakes play so you can get a feel for the game’s complex betting system without putting your bankroll at risk.

Roll the Dice with Online Craps

Despite its steep learning curve, craps is one of the most exciting and rewarding games the casino has to offer. Hopefully, this guide has given you everything you need to know about how to play craps at casino so you can step up to the table with confidence.

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