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How to Play Craps

Craps Lessons & Practice

(Also check out my parody instructions for how to play Craps).

Last update: Aug., 2017

Craps is one of the bet bets in the casino.  The house edge is a mere 1.41%, which is more than three times better than roulette, and several times better than slot machines.  That means you stand to get back around 99¢ of every dollar bet, on average.  But to get these great odds you have to make only the best bets and avoid the sucker bets.  We'll cover all this in our lesson on how to play craps.

Craps is more lively than other casino games, with the players yelling and screaming when they win.  It's also unique in that the players themselves roll the dice, so they're the ones who determine whether they win or lose.  In other table games someone else is dealing you the cards or spinning the little marble.  But in craps you determine your own fate.

Practice craps with fake money or real money at Bovada

No popups, no download, no registration, no B.S., just the game. One click and you're in.

There are lots of different bets you can make in craps and covering them all would take a small book, but the good news is that you need to focus on only a few easy bets, because the rest of the bets are sucker bets anyway.  We'll ignore the bad bets completely.

The best way to learn is to print out the picture at right, and follow along with the examples below by moving the chips and a marker around on the printout. Once you've learned the rules you can practice for free at Bovada.

Okay, enough intro, let's see how to play.

Rolling the Dice

Each player takes turns rolling the dice. The player who's rolling is called the shooter. Everyone bets on the the same roll of the dice, whether they're the shooter or not.  The shooter keeps rolling until he "sevens out" (rolls a seven at the wrong time), and then the next player gets to roll.

Craps is a game of rounds.  The first roll of a round is called a Come-Out Roll.  A round can last just one roll or a whole bunch of rolls, depending on what's rolled.  If you get confused, just wait for the next Come-Out Roll, and everything will start over.&nsbp; When a Come-Out roll is about to happen the dealer will turn little hockey puck on the table to "OFF", and s/he'll say, "Coming out!"  At that point you can be confident that a new round is starting.

Pass Line Bet

The basic bet is the Pass Line bet and it pays even money.  (Bet $5, win $5.)  Make this bet by waiting for the Come-Out Roll, and then putting your chip(s) on the area of the table marked Pass Line.

After all bets are placed the shooter rolls the Come-Out Roll.  Here's what can happen based on the total rolled:

  • 7 or 11:  You win.
  • 2, 3, or 12 ("craps"):  You lose.
  • Any other number: (4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10):  Go to the bonus round

No one calls it a bonus round but me; that just makes it easy to understand.

The number that was rolled to get to the bonus round is called the Point, and a marker is placed on that number. Find the marker in the picture, to the left of the word "Bovada" on the top.  The marker is set to "ON", meaning that somebody already rolled and we're in the bonus round.&nsbsp; And because the marker is on the 4, that means the shooter rolled a 4 to get us into the bonus round.

In the bonus round the game changes and you have another chance to win or lose:

  • Roll the Point again: You win.
  • 7: You lose.
  • Any other number: Irrelevant, roll again.

Notice that on the come-out roll seven makes you win, but in the bonus round seven makes you lose.  This is confusing to newcomers, and that's why it's important to know where you are in the round.  On the first roll, 7 is good.  But if you go to the bonus round, 7 is bad.

Remember: In the bonus round you win if the Point is rolled again, and you lose if a seven is rolled.  All other numbers are irrelevant.  If any other number comes up, you ignore it and the shooter keeps rolling.

When a seven comes up before the point, causing you to lose, that's called sevening out.  When a shooter sevens out the dice pass to the next shooter.

Putting both the come-out roll and the bonus round together here's how the pass line bet works:

Win Lose
Roll a 7 or 11 on the first roll,
-or-
Roll a 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10,
and roll it again before a 7 comes up
Roll a 2, 3, or 12 on the first roll,
-or-
Roll a 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10 and then a 7 before you roll the original number again

Still confused? Then here's a sample game. Assume you place another Pass Line bet every time you win or lose.








4
5
6
8
9
10

PASS LINE


 

Click the button to start.

Once a Point has been made, dice totals other than 7 are called numbers.  When a shooter is "throwing numbers", that means s/he's making lots of throws without hitting the 7.  Other players are probably betting on some of those numbers and are happy about winning.  We also say that such a lucky shooter is "on a roll".  Yeah, that's where that phrase comes from.

The Odds Bet

A very special bet in craps is the Odds Bet, which has zero house edge!  The catch is that you have to make a Pass Line bet first, so you don't get to play craps with no house edge at all.  Still, the Odds bet dilutes the house edge of the Pass Line bet.  But first let's see how to make an Odds bet.

You can make an Odds bet only after a Point has been made.  After a Point has been made, place your Odds Bet below your Pass Line bet.  (That is, due South of your Pass Line bet, not vertically under it.)  The Odds bet is tied to the Pass Line:  if you win your Pass Line bet, you win the Odds bet too.  If you lose the Pass Line, you lose both bets.

The payout on the Odds Bet varies depending on how hard it is to hit the point.  For example, there are only four ways to roll a 10, but six ways to roll an 8, so you get a bigger payout for hitting a point of 10.  Here are the payouts depending on the point:

PointPayout
4 or 102:1 (e.g. $10 bet pays $20)
5 or 93:2 (e.g. $10 bet pays $15)
6 or 86:5 (e.g. $10 bet pays $12)

How much you can wager on Odds bets

Since the Odds Bet dilutes the house edge, you want your Odds bets to be as big as you're capitalized for, but the casino limits how much you can bet.  These limits vary from casino to casino.  Here are the common limits:

  • Single Odds.  Your Odds Bet can be as much as your Pass Line bet.  All casinos offer at least this much.
  • Double Odds.  Your Odds Bet can be twice as much as your Pass Line bet.
  • Full Double Odds.  Same as Double Odds, but if the point is 6 or 8, you can bet 2.5x as much as your Pass Line bet.
  • 3-4-5 Odds.  This is the most common.  You can bet 3x on a point of 4 or 10, 4x on a point of 5 or 9, and 5x on a point of 6 or 8.  No matter what point you bet on, your payout for a winning Pass Line + Odds bet will be 6x the Pass Line bet.  This makes it easier for the dealers to figure the payouts.
  • Even higher odds.  Some casinos offer 5x, 10x odds, and some have gone as high as100x odds.


House Edge for Odds offered

Here's the house edge on combined Pass Line bets plus the Odds bet, depending on the Odds limit offered by the casino, courtesy of the Wizard of Odds.

No odds (pass line only)
1.41%
1x odds
0.85%
2x odds
0.61%
Full double odds
0.57%
3-4-5 odds
0.37%
100x odds
0.02%

Betting the odds doesn't increase your chances of winning your roll.  The reason you want odds is that it allows you to put less money down on the pass line bet where the odds are against you.  Let's say you're comfortable betting $15 per round.  You could do that by betting $15 a pop on the pass line and take no odds.  But if the casino offers at least double odds, you could put $5 on the pass line and $10 on the odds, for $15 total.  By doing so you've cut your expected loss in half.

By the way, you'll generally make about 30 Pass Line bets per hour, which is handy to know if you're trying to calculate your expected loss for a Craps session.


An example session

Here's a sample session to see how it works with the odds bet.

New Round Win: 7 or 11   Lose: 2, 3, 12   Set a Point: 4,5,6,8,9,10
7 You win! New round begins with same shooter.
New Round
Win: 7 or 11   Lose: 2, 3, 12   Set a Point: 4,5,6,8,9,10
12 You lose. New round begins with same shooter.
New Round
Win: 7 or 11   Lose: 2, 3, 12   Set a Point: 4,5,6,8,9,10
4 Point is set. Marker is moved onto the 4. You place your Odds bet below your Pass Line bet.  You win both bets if a 4 is rolled again before a 7.


Point is set: Win: 4    Lose: 7    Doesn't Matter: Everything else

6 No effect
3 No effect
10 No effect
4 You win both bets!  Marker is moved back to the side. New round begins with same shooter.
New Round
Win: 7 or 11   Lose: 2, 3, 12   Create a Point: 4,5,6,8,9,10
3 You lose.  Dice pass to the next shooter.
New Round
Win: 7 or 11   Lose: 2, 3, 12   Create a Point: 4,5,6,8,9,10
11 You win!  New round begins with same shooter.
New Round
Win: 7 or 11   Lose: 2, 3, 12   Create a Point: 4,5,6,8,9,10
8 Point is set.  Marker is moved onto the 8.  You place your Odds bet below your Pass Line bet.  You win both bets if an 8 is rolled again before a 7.


Point is set: Win: 8    Lose: 7    Doesn't Matter: Everything else

4 No effect.
6 No effect.
4 No effect.
4 No effect.
11 No effect.
10 No effect.
7 You lose both bets.  Marker is moved back to the side.  New round begins with new shooter.

Practice craps with fake money or real money at Bovada

No popups, no download, no registration, no B.S., just the game. One click and you're in.



Come Bet

So far we've covered the Pass Line and the Odds bets.  There's one more set of bets you can make that has a low house edge: the Come Bet and the Odds Bet that goes with it.

There's bad news and good news about this bet. The bad news is that it's a little harder to understand than the Pass Line and Odds bets.  The good news is that if you find this confusing it's okay to ignore this bet.  You certainly don't have to make the Come Bet if it gives you a headache.  You can have plenty of fun with the Pass Line and Odds bets alone.

Here's how the Come bet works:  Once a point is established (4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10), you make a Come bet placing your bet in the area marked COME.  (See the picture.)  At that point, the Come bet works similar to the Pass Line bet:  You win the Come bet if a 7 or 11 is rolled, and lose if a 2, 3, or 12 is rolled.  If any other number is rolled, you've established a Come Point, and your bet is moved to that number to mark it.  (So then there will be two points: the Point with the On/Off marker that will win for your Pass Line bet, and the Come point that will win for your Come bet.)

Here's a summary of the Come Bet:

  • You can place a Come Bet only after a Point is made on a Come Out roll.
  • You Win if the next roll is 7 or 11, or if the Come Point is repeated before a 7.
  • You Lose if the next roll is 2, 3, or 12, or if a 7 is rolled before the Come Point is repeated.

Just like you can back your Pass Line bet with an Odds bet, you can back your Come Bet with an Odds bet.  Just as with the Pass Line bet, you just have to wait for a Come Point to be made before you make your Odds bet.  But instead of placing the chips yourself, you toss them towards the dealer and ask him/her to place them for you.

This is where people usually start getting confused, so let's go through a sequence.  Use your printout of the picture above and some "chips" (coins) and a marker to follow along. Assume that you'll play according to the following strategy:

  • Always make a Pass Line bet.  (Make a new one when you lose one.)
  • When a Point is made, make the maximum Odds bet allowed on the Pass Line.  Assume 3-4-5 odds.
  • When a Point is made, make Come Bets until you have one Come Point established.
  • When a Come Point is made, make the maximum Odds bet allowed.

You certainly don't have to make a Come Bet; you can make just Pass Line bets if you want.  But since you could be waiting a long time to find out whether you win or lose, making a Come Bet makes things a little more lively.

Here's how a sequence of rolls might play out:

New Round
Win: 7 or 11   Lose: 2, 3, 12   Set a Point: 4,5,6,8,9,10
7 You win!  New round begins with same shooter.
New Round
Win: 7 or 11   Lose: 2, 3, 12   Set a Point: 4,5,6,8,9,10
12 You lose.  New round begins with same shooter.
New Round
Win: 7 or 11   Lose: 2, 3, 12   Set a Point: 4,5,6,8,9,10
4 Point is set.  Marker is moved onto the 4.  You place your Odds bet below your Pass Line bet.  You win both bets if a 4 is rolled again before a 7.  You also place a Come Bet.


PASS LINE: Win: 4    Lose: 7    Doesn't Matter: Everything else
COME BET: Win: 7 or 11    Lose: 2, 3, or 12    Creates a Point: Everything else
6 Come Point is set.  Come Bet is moved onto the six.  Make a Come Odds bet.


PASS LINE: Win: 4    Lose: 7    Doesn't Matter: Everything else
COME BET: Win: 6    Lose: 7    Doesn't Matter: Everything else
3 No effect
10 No effect
6 You win the Come bet and the Come Odds bet!  You place another Come bet.


PASS LINE: Win: 4    Lose: 7    Doesn't Matter: Everything else
COME BET: Win: 7 or 11    Lose: 2, 3, or 12    Creates a Point: Everything else
9 Come Point is set.  Come Bet is moved onto the nine.  Make a Come Odds bet.


PASS LINE: Win: 4    Lose: 7    Doesn't Matter: Everything else
COME BET: Win: 9    Lose: 7    Doesn't Matter: Everything else
6 No effect.
3 No effect.
4 You win the Pass Line Bet and the Odds Bet that went with it!  Marker is moved back to the side.  New round begins with same shooter.  Your Come bet is still active, awaiting a nine to win.
New Round
PASS LINE: Win: 7 or 11   Lose: 2, 3, 12   Create a Point: 4,5,6,8,9,10
COME BET: Win: 9   Lose: 7   Doesn't Matter: 4,5,6,8,9,10
3 You lose the Pass Line bet.  Dice pass to the next shooter.
New Round
PASS LINE: Win: 7 or 11   Lose: 2, 3, 12   Create a Point: 4,5,6,8,9,10
COME BET: Win: 9   Lose: 7   Doesn't Matter: 4,5,6,8,9,10
11 You win the Pass Line Bet.  New round begins with same shooter.
New Round
PASS LINE: Win: 7 or 11   Lose: 2, 3, 12   Create a Point: 4,5,6,8,9,10
COME BET: Win: 9   Lose: 7   Doesn't Matter: 4,5,6,8,9,10
7 Here's something interesting:  You win the Pass Line bet, but you lose the Come Bet (and the odds that went with it)!
New round begins with the same shooter.
New Round PASS LINE: Win: 7 or 11   Lose: 2, 3, 12   Create a Point: 4,5,6,8,9,10
8 Point is set.  You make an Odds Bet on the Pass Line, and you also make a Come Bet.

PASS LINE: Win: 8    Lose: 7    Doesn't Matter: Everything else
COME BET: Win: 7    Lose: 2, 3, or 12    Set a Come Point: Everything else
6 Come Point is set.  Make a Come Odds bet.

PASS LINE: Win: 8    Lose: 7    Doesn't Matter: Everything else
COME BET: Win: 6    Lose: 7    Set a Come Point: Everything else
4 No effect.
4 No effect.
11 No effect.
10 No effect.
7 You lose both the Pass Line bet and the Come Bet and the odds that went with them.  Marker is moved back to the side. New round begins with new shooter.

Note also that you don't have to stop with at just two points established; you could keep placing Come Bets and establishing new Come Points, but you then have the potential to lose money a lot faster.  Here's how that might work. Assume you've started out by placing a Pass Line bet.  And to keep it simple, we won't make odds bets.

  1. Roll = 6.  Point is established. You make a Come Bet
  2. Roll = 10.  Come Point is established. You make another Come Bet.
  3. Roll = 4.  Second Come Point is established. You make another Come Bet.
  4. Roll = 9.  Third Come Point is established. You make another Come Bet.
  5. Roll = 5.  Fourth Come Point is established. You make another Come Bet.
  6. Roll = 4.  You win on the 2nd Come Point. You place another Come Bet
  7. Roll = 8.  Yet another Come Point is established.
  8. Roll = 7.  You lose all bets on the table—your Pass Line bet and the four Come bets!

Having your Come odds "working"

This one's kind of advanced so I suggest you just skip down to the next section.  I'm including it only because I want my treatment of the Odds bet to be complete, for those who insist on knowing everything.

You're still here?  Well, okay.  So, here's the deal:  Come odds are normally "off" on come-out roll, but you can ask the dealer to keep them on, which is called having your Come odds "working".  Let's look at an example.

  1. On the come-out roll, the shooter rolls a 10, which becomes the point.
  2. You make a Come bet.
  3. The shooter rolls a 6, establishing your Come point.
  4. You place a Come Odds bet on that point.
  5. The shooter rolls a 10, winning the Pass Line bet.  Everyone cheers.
  6. Time for another come-out roll.  The shooter rolls a 6, which is the same as the Come Point you had established.  What happens now?

The Come bet itself is always in action, so that 6 on the Come-out roll gives you a win on the Come bet.  But the Come odds bet was turned off by default, so you don't win that one.  You won just the Come bet, but not the Come odds that went with it.

However, before the shooter rolled the dice, you could have told the dealer that you wanted your Come odds "working".  If you'd done that, then the 6 on the Come-out roll would have made you win both your Come bet and the Come odds bet.


Don't Pass, Don't Come

(not related to "Don't Ask, Don't Tell")

There's lots more to Craps, but everything you need to know to have fun has already been covered above.  It's completely unnecessary to learn any more.  If you want to stop reading now, there's no harm in doing so—you've earned it.  But if you have an interest in learning a couple more bets, we'll cover them now.  Realize that learning these extra bets won't make any significant impact on your chances of winning, though.  (If it made a mig difference, this section would be mandatory, not optional.)  In any event, if you don't clearly understand the material that's already been covered, then go back and learn that material well before you even think about reading this section.  What's already been covered is a lot more important than what's about to be covered.

Okay, so you know how to make a basic Pass Line bet.  Instead, you could bet the opposite, the Don't Pass line.  On this bet, you lose if a 7 or 11 is thrown, and you win if a 2 or 3 is thrown. (12 has no effect if you're betting Don't Pass.)  If a Point is made, then you win if a 7 is thrown, and lose if the point is thrown again.

There's also the Don't Come bet.  After a point is made, a Don't Come bet loses on a 7 or 11 and wins on a 2 or 3.  If a point is made, then Don't Come loses if the point is repeated and wins if a 7 kills the point.

You can make Odds bets on both Don't Pass and Don't Come, only in this case it's backwards:  For example, instead of being paid 2 to 1 when winning on a point of 4 or 10, you're paid 1 to 2.  That means that a $10 Odds bet wins $5.  You also get paid on your original Don't Come bet, whatever that was.

Most players bet Pass/Come instead of Don't Pass/Don't Come.  Someone who bets Don't Pass/Don't Come is called a "Wrong Bettor".  That doesn't mean they're betting incorrectly, it just means they're betting contrary to the way most people at the table are betting.  As a Don't Pass/Don't Come player, you'll be losing when everyone else is winning, and winning when everyone else is losing—and the other players may be hostile towards you as a result of the latter.  At the very best, there won't be any camraderie.

So why would you bet Don't Pass/Don't Come?  Well, in fact there's no need to.  (Remember how I begged you to believe me that this section was optional?)  You can be a fine Craps player without ever betting the Don't side.

Technically, the Don't side has a very slighter smaller house edge than the normal bets, but it's such a small not worth worrying about—especially for the heat you'll take from the other players for being a "wrong bettor". But for inquiring minds, here's the house edge for Pass Line+Odds compared to Don't Pass+Odds (rounded)

Figures taken from The Wizard of Odds, then rounded

House Edge on Pass Line + Odds together
House Edge on Don't Pass + Odds together
No odds
1.41%
1.36%
1x
0.85%
0.68%
2x
0.61%
0.46%
3x
0.47%
0.34%
5x
0.33%
0.23%
10x
0.18%
0.12%
100x
0.021%
0.014%

Let's put this into perspective: Let's say you're playing 16 hours, $5 basic bet, at a rate of 30 Come Out rolls per hour.  Your expected loss from betting on the Pass Line is $33.84, compared to $32.64 from betting Don't Pass instead.  That's an extra 7.5¢ an hour.  Big whoop.

Whether you're betting Pass or Don't Pass, make sure you calculate your Expected Loss before you start playing.


Craps Superstitions

Many Craps players are superstitious, so you have to avoid doing anything they think is bad luck, otherwise they'll get mad at you and blame you if they start losing. Here's what to watch out for:

  • Never say the word "seven" once a Point has been made.  Crappers think that saying "seven" somehow makes it more likely that a seven will be thrown.  They commonly refer to seven simply as "it".
  • Don't hit anyone's money with the dice when you roll.  Craps players think this will induce a seven and kill any points that have been set.
  • If you're a man and you've never played before, don't mention that fact.  New male Craps players are supposedly unlucky and are expected to seven-out quickly.
  • On the other hand, if you're a woman, you should definitely mention your newness to the game.  Female craps "virgins" are considered to be extremely lucky and are expected to throw numbers (i.e., make points instead of sevening-out) for a long time.  Upon mentioning that you've never played before, you may see the players start suddenly wagering all kinds of money on the table, and maybe even giving you chips to bet with!  Of course, even if you have played before, you could always say you haven't, just to see the fascinating human spectacle.
Practice craps with fake money or real money at Bovada

No popups, no download, no registration, no B.S., just the game. One click and you're in.


Betting Systems

You may see ads for Craps Systems on the Internet or in magazines that purport to show you how to win at Craps. They're all junk.  (Like this one, which was debunked here.)  There is no way to overcome the house edge and win consistently over the long run.  If these systems really worked, the authors would be living on an island with their millions rather than being eager to get your $24.95 plus shipping.  And the casinos would have gone bust long ago (or discovered the flaw in the game, and changed the rules to close the loophole).  There are plenty of legitimate books that can teach you how to play, how to use good strategy, and how to not get in over your head, but the reputable ones won't promise that you'll be a consistent winner.  You can certainly use a betting system, and some of them are fun, but none of them will guarantee that you'll win.  You can see more in our section on betting systems.


Practice Online

While you can get a general understanding of the rules from the lesson above, you really won't get a feel for the game until you've played it a few times.  You can practice craps at Bovada with fake money.

Craps websites

NextShooter.com is a site devoted to nothing but craps, written by an actual Las Vegas craps dealer..

 

That's it for our craps lessons!
If you can have suggestions for how I can make this lesson easier to understand, please let me know.

If you thought all this was confusing,my then check out  parody instructions for how to play Craps.


See also how to play: