Learning How to Play the Most Lively Casino Game: Craps

Playing craps one of these tables.

Casinos is a lively playground for gamblers with shouts and groans echoing throughout the atmosphere. People are betting left and right, on slot machines or trying their luck on baccarat tables. The table which is perhaps the most crowded is a craps table. Along with the participants, it invites several onlookers who are cheering just as much as the bettors. Consequently making craps the only casino table the most energetic game in the entire arena. And quite rightfully so.

The nature of the game makes it one of the easiest to learn and exhilarating to take part in. 

Whenever a film chooses to depict a casino scene, chances are they will go with showing a craps table, because of the glam it adds to the screens. Despite the intimidating rules, the game is rather easy to learn and many players enjoy once they start to indulge. Online casino guides for beginners will break down this game, so you can head off to a casino and start earning easy money.

Why is craps such a fun game?

First off, whilst playing craps a player can not only bet when they are playing, in addition they can place bets during other players’ turn as well. Which means no more waiting time which often results in loss of interest. This is what keeps the game interesting all the same.

During a game of craps there are several ways to make a bet and the player can keep increasing their chances of winning by adding additional bets. Among many positives, a craps game also offers considerably low casino advantage, which means big bucks for all the players.

So, a casino game with low house edge and an invigorating ambiance? What more can a gambler ask for?

The basic understanding of a craps table

Starting off with the basics to a craps game includes learning about the table layout. The table is like a mirror with the ends of the table having the same layout. This is done in order to accommodate more people who don’t have to go around the table to place their bets, instead, they can stand in one place and enjoy the game.

The layout allows two dealers to stand on either side of the table managing bets and in some cases a third dealer handling a stick directing the dice to the next shooter. The rest of the table is immensely crowded by players and onlookers. The game will begin with the players buying in chips by displaying their cash on the table which will then be traded for chips by the dealer. Chips can also be bought in during a game but the player will only be allowed to take part after a round is over. After getting hold of the chips, the player can stack them on a rack that runs around the table. All drinks and other belongings will be placed on a lower rack on the outer side of the table.

Marines at a craps table concentrating on the game.
After the chips are handed the game can begin.

Craps lesson 101: the come out roll and point

A typical round begins with 5 dice being nudged towards a player. Each player will avail the chance of selecting 2 dice of choice in order to avoid claims of dice malfunction. Upon selecting the dice, the player will receive the title of the shooter until their turn lasts. The shooter will roll the dice to the other end of the table. This first roll is known as the come out roll

One of the many brilliant things about the come out roll is that it provides advantage to the bettor. The player has an advantage since there are 8 ways to win and only 4 ways to lose considering the bets are on the pass line.

Lucky 7

7 is a lucky number for many people. Well, not in craps where people wish for any number other than a 7. However, only the come out roll makes an exception for the number and the player has a natural win if the number 7 or 11 shows up. On the other hand, a 2, 3, or 12 are called craps and if these numbers show up the shooter loses the bet but still gets to roll.

The other possible numbers a shooter can roll are 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10 which will guarantee a point on the table. For instance, if the dice sum a total of 8, a white puck with the word ‘on’ will be placed above the number 8. This is done in order to signify everyone the point number of the shooter. Thus, the aim of the game after the come out roll, is to roll the point number again with as many turns before a 7 is rolled. Rolling a 7 effectively ends the turn of the shooter and the dice are passed clockwise to the next player.

The pass line and don’t pass bets

The first and most fundamental bet of the game is the pass line bet. It is labeled on both ends of the table and all players including the shooter can bet on it. The pass line bet holds a casino advantage of 1.41% which is lower in comparison to other casino table games. Before a round starts all players are invited to bet on the pass or don’t pass line. The payout on these bets are at a 1 to 1 which means they will result in an equal profit to the bet in case of a win.

In case of a natural win at the come out roll, the pass line pays up. The shooter then gets to roll again to administer a point on the table. In case a point is established, the shooter will continue to roll the dice to get the same point in as many turns as it takes. If a 7 rolls out, the pass bet will be lost and the dice will move on to the next player in line.

Don’t Pass

When it comes to don’t pass bets, the rules are the opposite. If a player bets on the don’t pass they have to expect the opposite results to win their bet. A 7 or 11 will result in losing the money in case of a come out roll and a 2 or 3 will result in a win. A little side venture on this bet is the bar number, which in most casinos is 12. The bar number will be signified on the table in the section of ‘don’t pass’. When a bar number turns up, this will neither result in a win or lose, but the turn will equal to a tie or a push. This little nifty trick gives the casino an advantage with increasing the house edge which would otherwise be lower. A don’t pass bet gives the casino an advantage of 1.40%.

craps table layout
The layout of the craps table. Betzaar.com / CC BY-SA

The game continues the same way when 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10 is rolled out. However, instead of hoping for the point number to roll out, don’t pass bettors will wish for the number 7 which will win them their money back.

The free odds bet on pass/don’t pass line

Free odds betting is one of the most valuable betting strategies in craps. It is the most effective way to win a bet since the house edge is at an absolute zero. This bet can only be placed after the point number is established. On some craps table layouts, another section below the pass line indicates where the odds bet can be placed, otherwise the bet can be placed below the pass line section. 

The bet works in a rather simple way. Leading with an example, if the point number is an 8, then the odds for the payout of this bet will be 6 to 5. Some casinos have a betting limit of only double the original bet of the pass line. In any case, it will always be specified on the table, if not, asking the dealer is always a good idea.

Remembering the true odds of the dice is a handy strategy that will be useful when it comes to how much to bet.

Here is a table of the true odds along with the payout ratio which qualifies for the pass line odds betting:

Sum of the diceOdds/Payout
4 and 102 to 1
5 and 93 to 2
6 and 86 to 5

These numbers are in pairs since they have similar probability of occurring. Let’s elaborate further using an example; there are 6 ways to roll a 7 whereas there are only 3 ways to roll a 4. Doing a little math, that makes the odds 6 to 3 which simplifies to a 2 to 1. Hence, the payout for odds are at 2 to 1.

The odds betting on the don’t pass line are called laying the odds instead of taking the odds which is for pass line betting. Statistically, there is no difference in the odds however, the odds do reverse. For instance in case of a 6 the odds are at 6 to 5 but in  case of a don’t pass odds bet they will be 5 to 6. Which in simpler terms means a player betting $10 at this bet $8.33. For this reason it is safe to say that don’t pay odds bets are not popular. Also, since the casinos do not pay in change, it is a smart decision to bet in an amount that will avoid this. For instance, always bet in even amounts when making the odds bet on 5 and 9.

The come and don’t come bets

The come and don’t come bets are the bets which raise the stakes of the game. They are similar in nature to pass line bets in case of the come out roll. To place a come out bet a point needs to be established. Parallel set of rules apply to come bets, for example, if a 7 or 11 is rolled out, the come bet wins and pays an even amount and loses when a 2,3, or 12 is rolled. In case of a roll with the rest of the numbers, the come bet transfers to that point and if the number is rolled out, the bet wins an even amount. Consequently, any come bet which is on a point will win before a 7 is rolled.

Don’t come bets follow the same rules as those of the don’t pass bets. The numbers which allow players’ to win a don’t come bet are 2, and 3 with number 12 acting as a push. In case of a 7 or 11 the player loses the bet. If any other number is rolled, the don’t come bet will move on to the top corner of the number. In order to win, the player must hope for a 7.

Place betting in craps

The numbers 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, and 10 do more than just offering point placement. With these numbers players can bet with a wagering option known as place betting. Place betting allows the players to bet on these numbers with a specific set of odds and payouts. A win is in case any of the numbers bet on will appear before a 7. The table below will explain the technicality in a simpler way:

Place bet numbersTrue odds PayoutHouse edge
4 or 102 to 19 to 56.67%
5 or 93 to 27 to 54.00%
6 or 86 to 57 to 61.82%

It does not take a mathematician to figure out that betting on 6 or 8 is the best place betting option on the table.

When to make a place bet?

There are some set of rules which come into play when making a place bet. First off, when making a place bet it is essential to not put the chips on the numbers yourself. Requesting a dealer to place them is the right way to go. Simply placing the chips on the table and saying out which number you want to bet on is the right way to go. The dealer will then take the chips and place them on the edge of the box containing the desired number.

It is not necessary to bet on more than a single number nor is it a requirement to bet the same amount on all the numbers one is wagering on.

Tips and winning options in place bets

When making a place bet it is significant to make sure to keep in mind the amount of money being bet. When betting on numbers 4, 5, 9, or 10 it is smart to bet in multiples of 5. On the other hand, when betting on numbers 6 or 8 one should bet in multiples of 6. This is in order to reduce house advantage since the house will keep any extra change that comes off the winnings. In order to claim 100% winnings, players should keep in mind this simple rule.

Pass bets are the ones which might seem like concrete bets since they can not be removed once placed. However, the flexibility with place bets comes in handy when a player is not feeling so lucky with their bet. So in the event a player wants to remove a bet, they simply have to tell the dealer to ‘take down the bet’.


Another thing to keep in mind is that place bets never work on come out rolls. So it is essential to tell the dealer who will place an ‘on’ marker on top of the bet to signify the bet counts in case of a come-out roll. 

In case of a place bet win, the player will have 3 choices to make with the original bet:

  • Same bet: this will allow the dealer to return the winnings to the player and let the original bet stay on the table for the next roll
  • Take it down: taking the bet down will mean the original bet plus the winnings will all return to the player
  • Press it:  this will result in a doubling of the bet which means the winnings will be added to the original chips pile until the amount is doubled. Any extra chips will be returned to the player

Buying and laying bets

Buying bets are pretty similar to place bets which revolve around the same point numbers. In addition to the betting amount, a player also has to pay a 5% commission to the casino. However, the tiny upside to these bets is that these payout at true odds. Furthermore, it comes as a recommendation that one should bet at least $20 which makes the commission $1 which in some casinos is the minimum commission amount. Any bet less than this will raise the house edge as a result which will not be in favor of the player.

Considering the house edge on all buy bets is at a hefty 4.76%, it only makes sense to bet on it in the following case:

Point numberHouse edge buying betHouse edge place bet
4 or 104.76%6.67%
5 or 94.76%4.00%
6 or 84.76%1.52%

Well, let’s simplify it further. Comparing it to place bets, the only effective betting option in this case is the 4 or 10 number. Since buying bet has lower odds for these two point numbers than in place bets, it is certain that this qualifies as a good bet, especially if one keeps in mind the true odds paying out advantage.

Laying a bet is the quite opposite of a buying bet. Like all the previous bets, everything in this case works vice versa. However, one detail is not to be missed. In lay bets, the casino takes the 5% commission from the winnings rather than from the original case. Although in some casinos, the same rule applies to buy bets.

In order to place a lay bet, it must be enunciated to the dealer that a player wishes to make a lay bet. The dealer will place a small marker with ‘lay’ labeled on top of the bet to indicate the type of bet. At any given time, it is allowed to remove the lay bet, which will also result in the return of the 5% commission.

Worst betting option in craps: Big 6 or8

Without a doubt, the worst bet in craps is the most prominent and fancy looking bet, the ‘Big 6 or 8’. Not to mention the highest casino advantage record it holds, which is at a whopping 9.10%, it also rips off the place bet. On the contrary, the place bet offers better payoff than the big 6 or 8.

The place bet offers house edge for similar rolls at a 1.52% which is generously lower in contrast to big 6 or 8 bet. A lot of players who are new to the game find the bet attractive and daring. But when it comes to statistics, this is the worst way to lose money, because you will.

Field betting with selective numbers on craps

Among the numerous ways to bet in craps, a field bet is among the list on the layout. Along the felt table are the numbers on which this bet can be made. These numbers are 3, 4, 9, 10, and 11. The payout for this bet is 1 to 1 which means it pays even money. In addition, the 2 and 12 are two numbers which sometimes offer double or triple payoffs, considering the casino table one is playing at.  

The field bet is a little complex bet which at first sight shows no signs of a bad bet. In some cases, it is not a bad bet, however it has a little disadvantage. Naturally, there are 7 numbers which can lead to a win and just 4 which can result in a loss. However, these 7 numbers have only 16 ways to roll. Meanwhile, the 4 numbers alone warrant a 20 set of rolls. Consequently, giving the casino an edge of 5.6% including the double bets.

The casinos offering bets at a triple bonus lower the house edge by half to 2.80%. Based on the fact, this bet might be taken into consideration on a few occasions. Again, it is important to remember to collect the winning chips which will be placed alongside the original bet by the dealer in order to avoid confusion.

The ultimate proposition bets

The proposition bets are the ultimate high stakes bet in craps with payoffs that go as high as 30 t0 1. These bets are available to bet on in the center of the table with each and every bet labeled alongside its payoff. There is a good reason for these tactical labeling, it is to entice the players to bet on these rather unprofitable bets. By this time, there is one thing that should be very clear: high payoffs equals high casino advantage.

In case someone still wishes to try their luck on prop bets, they can give the money to the stickman saying which bet they wish to take. There are several positions where one can bet on. Let’s take a look at the hard ways.

Hard Ways of crapscraps players only free photo

A hard way refers to the roll of a dice which has a higher probability than an easy roll. For instance: 

Two 4s = hard eight

5 and 3 = easy eight

6 and 2 = easy eight

In order to win a hard bet the shooter has to roll a hard eight before they can roll a 7 or a 5+3 or 6+2- in which case they lose the bet. 

There is another trick when it comes to the proposition bets. Upon looking closely at these bets on the casino table, one might notice that in some casinos the payoffs are written as ‘for’ instead of ‘to’. While this may seem like an insignificant typo, believe me, it’s not. This is done in order to make people believe that the casino offers payoffs at true odds. Which is not true.

  • Using ‘to’ means that the winnings will include the original bet made by the player
  • The ‘for’ is used in those cases where the original bet is kept by the casino. In these cases only winnings are handed over

This suggests that the payoffs for these bets are truly lower than the true odds of each hard way:

Hard waysTrue oddsPayoffs House edge
Hard 4 or 108 to 17 to 1 or 8 for 111.1%
Hard 6 or 810 to 1 9 to 1 or 10 for 19.1%

Any craps – 2, 3, or 12

As established at the beginning of the guide, 2, 3, and 12 are infamous as craps. There is a bet to honor these numbers, known as ‘any craps’. This is a one-roll bet which implies that the next roll will determine whether the bet is won or lost. Therefore, if the shooter rolls out any of the craps, the bet is won at a payoff at 7 to 1 or 8 for 1. However the true odds for this are at 8 to 1 which means the casino enjoys an advantage of 11.1%. Consequently rendering this bet as a bad bet.

Snake eyes and box cars in craps

These two are the highest payoff bets on the entire table but with very poor odds. Similar to any craps this bet depends on the next roll.

If a shooter rolls two 2s or as in casino lingo, snake eyes, the person betting on this proposition will win at a payoff of 30 to 1 or 31 for 1. Again, this is lower than the true odds for this combination which is at 35 to 1. This warrants the casino a massive house edge of 13.9%

Box cars refer to double 6s which is a hard roll to achieve. And rightfully so, due to the similar high odds of 35 to 1. The casino pays at 30 to 1 or 31 for 1, which makes this as one of the worst bets to place on the table.

The 3 and 11 bet

These two bets follow the same pattern as the snake eyes and box cars. In addition to the massive payoff options they also provide a terrible probability of a win. If the shooter rolls a 3 or 11, both the bets will pay out at 15 to 1 which is lower than true odds of 17 to 1. This unquestionably gives the casino an advantage of 11.1%.

The horn bet at craps

Horn bet is perhaps famous for offering to bet on 4 bad bets all at once. Yes, with horn bet players can bet on snake eyes, box cars, 3 and 11 at the same time. This requires the betting amount to be in multiples of 4. Because the total bet amount splits into 4 to create a separate wager for each option. For instance, a $12 horn bet would mean a $3 bet on each option. Which means if any one of these 4 numbers roll, the $3 bet would pay off at 30 to 1 meaning a $90 winning. However, the casino gets to keep $9 for the other 3 lost bets.

Any 7 bets

Any 7 bets offers the players to bet on the number 7. Primarily, if the shooter rolls 7 the bettor wins and if it is any other number the player loses the bet. The bet offers the casino an advantage of 16.7% which is the highest on the table. The payoffs are at 4 to 1 or 5 for 1 whereas the true odds are at 5 to 1 which makes this another poor betting choice.

How to win at craps: all you need are some tips and luck

Craps is among all the other casino games in the list of negative expectation games. Many believe craps to be unbeatable due to its high house edge for most of the bets. However, with a little bit of caution and sensible betting, one can master this game and win at a steady pace. With this being said, it is also essential to note that this game certainly requires a lucky hand. Albeit, here are some tips to get you through a game of craps:

    • Sticking to low house edge bets: this rule applies to most casino games which is the safe way to gamble at a casino. Sure the payoffs will be lower but it will earn the players a consistent cash flow.
  • Large amount of bankroll: at many casino tables the betting amount limit is at $5 which means consequently a single round might aggregate to at least $50 bet per player. For this reason, each player should have enough money to compensate for the occasional loses in order to maintain steady wins

Optimal betting

  • Always take the free odds bet: since this is the only bet with an absolute zero house advantage, it could not be a more player-friendly bet from the entire table. Therefore, a player should always place a free odds bet whenever it is feasible.
  • Minimum bets for necessary bets: to take advantage of the free odds, it is a requirement to bet on the pass/don’t pass line or come/don’t come bet. Therefore the bets at these must be minimal in order to procure more for the free odds.
  • Optimal playing bets: in order to play steadily, it is essential to not overplay the come bet. Realizing when to stop at a come bet is key to winning at craps. An optimal play would mean not more than 3 bets going in one round. This could mean that a pass bet with at most 2 come bets should be in play in a single round along with the free odds bets side by side.
  • Bringing casino advantage down to 0.6%: yes, this is possible using the strategy of optimal playing bets which will result in the casino advantage going down to 0.6%.
  • Practicing the art of patience: it is of utmost importance to wait for the already placed bets to win before betting more since a player is only a 7 roll away from losing a quarter of their bankroll at any given time.

All in all about craps

This comprehensive how to play craps guide which will ensure a confident play once facing a craps table. It is quite essential to be aware of all betting options along with their probabilities to checkmate the house. Craps is a highly addictive game with the most enthusiastic playmates which will render the experience a sublime memory. With the knowledge and quintessential tips up your sleeve, you are ready to begin your journey into the lively world of craps.


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