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A Beginner’s Guide on How to Play Craps

Craps is a popular dice game that regularly attracts large and raucous crowds at the world’s most famous casinos. It plays a starring role in all manner of iconic movies, from Indecent Proposal and Guys and Dolls to Ocean’s 13 and Diamonds Are Forever. If you have always wanted to give craps a go, this guide will explain how to play in clear, simple terms.

The game initially seems daunting, as it features a large variety of betting options, a complex table layout, and intimidating jargon. However, it is actually very simple. A shooter rolls two dice down the table, and you can bet on the outcome. There are two key phases to the game—the come out roll and then the point rolls—which we explain below.

We will teach you how to play craps, break down your betting options and discuss which wagers carry the lowest house edge. Continue reading to learn more.

How to play craps: a step-by-step guide

We have broken down a craps game into four simple steps. As mentioned above, this game comes with its own lingo, which we will define as we go.

1. The come out roll

A craps game begins with the shooter rolling two dice. This is known as the come out roll. If you visit a brick-and-mortar casino, the role of the shooter typically rotates among the players at the table. However, this function is automated at online casinos.

You can start by placing a pass line bet. There are two options:

  • Bet on pass, which pays out if the result is 7 or 11.
  • Bet on don’t pass, which pays out if the result is 2, 3 or 12.

The wagering limits vary depending on which game you are playing. If you are using an online casino, just click the screen to lay your chips down on pass or don’t pass, and then click again to roll the dice for the first time.

Craps Table Step 1 at BetMGM

2. Establishing the point

If the result of the come out roll is 7 or 11, pass bets win. If the result is 2, 3 or 12, don’t pass bets win. At that point, a new round begins.

However, if the combined value of the dice is any other number—4, 5, 6, 8, 9 or 10—pass and don’t pass bets remain in play. The game then progresses to the point rolls.

The result of the first roll is known as the point. The dealer will place a puck on that number, letting you know that the game is in-play.

Craps Table Step 2 at BetMGM

3. The point rolls

When the point has been set, you can place additional bets. For example, you can place come or don’t come bets. They are the same as pass or don’t pass bets, but they focus on the point rolls. You can also bet on an individual number or a group of numbers. We explain the main betting options below.

The dice then roll for a second time. This is known as a point roll. If the result of the second throw is the same as the point, pass bets win and don’t pass bets lose. Meanwhile, if the result is a 7, don’t pass bets win, and pass bets lose.

Craps Table Step 3 at BetMGM

4. Play until the point or a 7 is rolled

If the dice do not add up to the point or a 7, they roll for a third time. The game continues until either the point is rolled or a 7 is rolled. There can often be many point rolls before the round ends.

When the point or a 7 is finally rolled, all remaining bets are settled. You can then start again by laying your chips down on a chosen betting option.

Craps Table at BetMGM

Craps betting options

Craps bets can be divided into three distinct categories: line bets, multi-roll bets, and single-roll bets. This section will break down the key betting options within each category.

Line bets

Line bets are the most popular wagering options at the craps table. They generally carry the lowest house edge and are pretty straightforward once you get the hang of them. These are the main line bets you can make.

  • Pass – a prediction that a 7 or 11 will be thrown on the come out roll. This bet remains on the table after the point is established, and it succeeds if the point is thrown before a 7. It pays 1:1, meaning you double your money if successful.
  • Don’t pass – a prediction that the come out roll will result in 2, 3, or 12. This wager remains in play after the point is established, and it pays out if a 7 is rolled before the point. This bet also pays 1:1.
  • Come – this wager is the same as a pass bet, but it is placed during the point rolls, after the point has been set.
  • Don’t come – the same as a don’t pass bet, but made on the point rolls.

You can also place an odds bet. This option is available after the point has been set. It pays out at the “true odds,” with no house edge taken, so it is generally the best option for craps players.

This wager can be placed behind line bets. It is often known as taking odds if you are betting behind pass or come, and laying odds if you are betting behind don’t pass or don’t come.

There will be a limit on how much you can wager at the true odds, such as 3x your initial bet amount. For example, if you have an active $50 bet on pass (which has a 1.41% house edge), you could add another $150 at the true odds, with no house edge. You would then have $200 riding on pass, with an overall house edge of just 0.35%.

Multi-roll bets

As the name suggests, multi-roll bets remain in play for multiple rolls of the dice. These are the most popular multi-roll bets.

  • Buy – This bet is a prediction that the point will be thrown before a 7. It is paid out at true odds (6:5 on 6 and 8, 3:2 on 5 and 9, 2:1 on 4 and 10). However, you need to pay a 5% commission to the house on this bet, which takes the house edge up to 4.76%
  • Lay – A prediction that a 7 will be thrown before the point. Once again, it is paid out at true odds, but you have to pay a 5% commission. The house edge then varies depending on what the point is (2.44% for 4 and 10, 3.23% for 5 and 9, 4% for 6 and 8).
  • Place bets – You can place a bet on a specific number to be thrown before a 7 is rolled. The numbers you can bet on are 4, 5, 6, 8, 9 and 10. The craps payout rates, odds and the house edge vary according to the number you select. The house edge for a place 6 or place 8 bet is just 1.57%, whereas the house edge for place 4 or place 10 bet is 6.67%.
  • Place bet to lose – Alternatively, you can predict that a 7 will be thrown before a particular number, which is the opposite of a regular place bet.
  • Big 6 and Big 8 – These are two popular craps bets. You are predicting that either a 6 or an 8 will be thrown before a 7. These bets are the same as place 6 or place 8 wagers, but they pay 1:1, whereas place 6 and place 8 pay 7:6. As such, place 6 and place 8 bets offer significantly better payout rates.
  • Hardways – Bet on a pair of 2s, 3s, 4s or 5s being thrown. These are known as hardways combinations. A hard 2 (two 2s) or a hard 5 (two 5s) will pay out at 7:1 if they are thrown before a 7, while a hard 3 (two 3s) or a hard 4 (two 4s) will pay out at 9:1 if they appear before a 7.

Single-roll bets

Finally, you can place a bet on the outcome of a single roll of the dice. These are also known as proposition bets, or prop bets. These are some of the main options.

  • Field – The result of the next throw will be 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11 or 12. This bet pays 1:1 and has a 5.56% house edge.
  • Snake eyes – Bet on a 2 being thrown. This bet pays 30:1 and as a 13.89% house edge.
  • Ace deuce – Bet on 3 being rolled, also known as three craps. It pays 15:1, with a 11.11% house edge.
  • Yo – Bet on 11, which pays 15:1 and has an 11.11% house edge.
  • Boxcars – Bet on the shooter rolling a 12, which pays 30:1 and has a 13.89% house edge.
  • Hi Lo – Wager on the shooter rolling a 2 or 122. It pays 15:1, with an 11.11% house edge.
  • Three Way – Bet on a 2, 3 or 12 being rolled. This is also known as any craps. It pays 7:1, with a house edge of 11.11%.
  • C and E – Bet on a 2, 3, 11 or 12 being thrown. It normally pays out 3:1 if the craps numbers (2, 3 or 12) are rolled and 7:1 if 11 is rolled, resulting in an overall house edge of 11.11%.
  • Horn – Similar to a C and E bet, as it predicts that a 2, 3, 11 or 12 will be rolled. However, the payouts are different—typically 27:4 on a 2 or 12 and 3:1 on a 3 or 11—creating an overall house edge of 12.5%.
  • Any Seven – A bet that a 7 will be rolled. This is also known as “big red.” It pays out 4:1, and it has a house edge of 16.67%, making it the worst craps bet.
  • Whirl – Combines the horn and any seven bets, resulting in a 13.33% house edge.

Craps strategy

You will improve your chances of craps success by selecting the craps betting options with the lowest house edge. As explained in the previous section, single-roll bets carry a huge house edge, so you should probably avoid them.

If you would like to place multi-roll bets, place 6 and place 8 are the best options. They have a house edge of just 1.57%. Avoid placing Big 6 or Big 8 bets. They are the same as place 6 and place 8, but they have lower payout rates. For that reason, the house edge on a Big 6 or Big 8 bet increases to an unappealing 9.09%. Big 6 and Big 8 are known as sucker bets. They are displayed prominently on the board to catch your eye, but you should steer clear.

The best craps wagers are the line bets. A pass bet or come bet will have a house edge of 1.41%. A don’t pass or don’t come bet will have a slightly lower house edge of 1.36%, so that is a marginally better option.

It is always advisable to back up your line bets with odds bets when the opportunity arises. Odds bets have no house edge. They can be placed behind an active line bet.

For example, let’s say you have $100 on don’t pass, and the casino allows you to place multiples of 3x at true odds. In that case, you could wager $300 on don’t pass with no house edge. You would then have $400 riding on don’t pass: $100 with a 1.36% house edge and $300 with zero house edge. That means the overall house edge would be a mere 0.34%. That is a lot more appealing than the 16.67% house edge on the Any 7 bet.

Side bets or craps variants

Some craps games will allow you to place additional side bets. One popular option is a fire bet, which can be made over multiple rolls. It is designed to capitalize on the shooter going on a hot streak. If this bet is available, you can normally place a single chip on it.

In essence, it is a prediction that the shooter will throw at least four different points before throwing a 7, which is known as sevening out. There are six potential point numbers: 4, 5, 6, 8, 9 and 10. If the shooter rolls four of them before a 7, a fire bet typically pays 24:1. If the shooter rolls five, it can pay 249:1, while rolling all six before a 7 can pay 999:1.

If side wagers like the fire bet are available, the details will be displayed when you click on an online craps game. These wagers can be fun, but they also tend to carry a high house edge, so proceed with caution and keep your bets small.

Live casino craps

There are two options on offer at the best online casinos: virtual craps or live dealer craps. The former will be powered by random number generators, which also control slots, virtual card games, roulette and video poker at online casinos. Live craps games connect you with a real dealer, based in a dedicated studio, via a video stream.

This is designed to replicate the experience of visiting a brick-and-mortar casino. You can interact with the dealer throughout the game. Evolution Gaming is the primary supplier of live dealer craps in the United States. It has a speakeasy-themed studio, and it uses a mechanical device (essentially a robotic arm, which is independently tested for fairness and accuracy) to roll the dice.

In-person craps

Playing craps online is very convenient. However, legal online craps casinos are only available in a handful of states like Connecticut, Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. As such, many Americans will need to visit a land-based casino to play craps for real money.

If so, you can head to the craps table and wait for the puck to switch to the off position, indicating that the round is over. At that point, lay your cash down on the table, collect your chips, and place them on your chosen bets. The role of the shooter will then generally rotate across the players present.

The crew at a standard craps table will consist of a box man and four dealers. The dealers take turns being the stickman. One dealer will be on a break, so there will generally be two dealers and a stickman, with the box man overseeing the action. The box man is in charge of the chips and handles any potential disputes. The stickman calls out the rolls, returns the dice to the shooter and handles the proposition bets.

When playing craps in-person, you can often verbally declare your bets. For example, tell the dealer you want $20 in the field. The dealer will repeat it back to you, and you can lay down your chips after the dice have landed. This avoids the risk of the dice hitting your chips, which can lead to players yelling at you.

Glossary of terms

We have already discussed plenty of craps terms over the course of this guide. If you need a quick reference, these are the key terms to know.

a roll of three.

a roll of 2, also known as snake eyes.

a bet on a 2, 3, or 12, also known as a three way bet.

a bet on any seven.

another word for the dice.

a term describing the numbers 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, and 10.

a roll of 12.

a term referring to 9.

a table on which the players are rarely hitting the established point.

the initial roll of the dice.

rolling a 2, 3, or 12 on the come out roll.

the numbers 2, 3, and 12.

an instruction to remove or reduce a bet.

an even number with no doubles.

a bet that pays 1:1, also known as evens.

a bet on 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11 or 12.

a player that places lots of small bets for an extended period.

another name for the field.

also known as “hard ways,” rolling a pair of 2s, 3s, 4s, or 5s.

a single roll bet on 2 or 12.

a single roll bet on 2, 11, or 12.

a single roll wager on a combination of numbers.

a bet on a a 2, 3, 11, or 12 being rolled.

a table on which the shooters are regularly hitting the established points.

betting on the 5, 6, 8, or 9.

betting on a 7 to be thrown before the point.

a true odds bet placed behind an open don’t pass or don’t come bet.

a single roll wager on a 2.

a 7 or 11 thrown on the come out roll.

betting on the 4, 5, 9, or 10.

doubling a bet.

rolling a 7 when the point is on.

a roll of 2.

placing a true odds bet behind an open pass or come wager.

a bet placed with no house edge.

a bet that combines a horn and any seven bet.

a wager on don’t pass, which involves betting against the shooter.

a roll of 11.

Craps is a dice game that offers a wide variety of betting options. In essence, a shooter rolls two dice down a table, and you simply bet on the outcome of that throw. There is an initial come out roll, which establishes a point, and you can then bet on subsequent point rolls.

The best bet in craps is the don’t pass or don’t come bet, which features a house edge of just 1.36%. You can then make what is known as an odds bet, which pays out at “true odds,” with no house edge. This bet can be made on top of your initial don’t pass or don’t come bet, which lowers the overall house edge.

The Any 7 bet, which is also known as big red, is the worst bet you can make when playing craps. This bet gives the house a 16.7% edge. Betting on snake eyes, boxcars, hop or whirl will also result in a house edge of 13.9%, so those bets are best avoided.

Craps is not rigged if you play at legal, regulated US online casinos. The craps games at those sites are independently tested for fairness, accuracy and randomness at labs authorized by the local licensing authority, such as the Michigan Gaming Control Board or the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement.

Craps may initially seem daunting, as there are lots of betting options and the table looks complex, but it is actually a very simple game when you get into the swing of it. Our guide is designed to help you make sense of craps, but you can also play it for free in demo mode at the best online casino while you learn the ropes.

Some players at a craps table like to yell for a particular number if they are superstitious and believe it will boost their chances of success. The craps table often attracts a large crowd, and the atmosphere can grow pretty raucous, so you will often hear a lot of yelling when the dice are thrown and the results are revealed. You may also be yelled at if you get in the way of the dice.

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