A Beginners Guide to the Bets and Rounds at a Casino Craps Table
Compared to other casino games, the layout of a craps table is complex. To players yet to become familiar with the betting rounds and types of wagers – even the words used will be unfamiliar. They include sections labeled Pass Line, Come and Field. When you add to this the many side bets, craps can appear to be using some arcane language known only to experts.
The good news is that by splitting the bets into categories, it is easy to understand the layout of a casino craps table. Once you know how the two distinct betting rounds work, those words make sense. You will then be free to focus on fine-tuning your craps betting strategy.
A great way to learn about the layout and bets at craps tables is to head online. Casinos in regulated states will soon have real money craps games. You can play in demo mode (using play chips) from elsewhere.
In live casinos, each craps table is controlled by a team of three or four dealers. They are collectively a ‘team’. One dealer has a stick, which is used to move the dice – and will announce the result of each roll. This is the ‘Stickman’. In addition to two dealers, there is a ‘Boxman’ at many tables, supervising the chips, dealers, and bets.
There are also bubble craps games, which are electronic consoles with a dome containing two giant dice. Some casinos will have ‘mini craps’ tables, which are operated by only two dealers. A variation with different rules is called ‘crapless craps’.
Around the table are chip racks. While a craps table can theoretically accommodate up to 20 players, a game is more comfortable with five to eight. Each player will take turns to be the ‘shooter’ (though you are not obliged to do so).
To understand the craps table layout and the meaning of the different words, you need to know about the two different phases of each craps game.
Each time a new player gets the dice, a game starts with the ‘come out’ roll / round. On the felt you will see the words ‘Pass line’ and ‘Don’t Pass bar’. These are the key bets during the beginning phase of each game. Here are the rules:
In a live casino, almost all players bet on the pass line. You will see that this area covers a bigger area on the felt. This means that the entire table will win and lose together – a big reason for the frequent cheers and shouts around live craps tables. While the ‘don’t pass’ has slightly better odds for the player, people avoid it so as not to play against the crowd.
When a point is set, the dealers will turn a disc to say ‘on’. The number rolled (2, 5, 6, 8, 9 or 10) will be marked.
The rules are now different. Players keep rolling until a 7 is hit. You can bet on individual numbers, with all the pass line bets paid every time the point is hit. Each craps table will have a row of these numbers. Bets will be placed on them showing the position of each player around the table.
When a 7 is rolled, the dice are passed to the next player – and a new come-out roll begins.
Understanding the two betting rounds explains the main features of the craps table layout. There are many extra areas on the felt that are still not accounted for. These include pictures of dice, and additional names like ‘hard ways’, ‘any craps’ and ‘any 7’.
These are side bets. They are not part of the main game and can be big money winners if you land them. Note that these side bets have a bigger house edge than the main game – often by a significant margin. You can place some of them during either betting round, others are specifically designed for the points round.
On a casino craps table, the initial (come-out) betting round wagers are closest to the players. As you progress to the point round, the bets are placed further away. Field and prop bets are placed in between.
Here are the bets, along with how they are shown on the standard craps betting layout:
Advanced players can ‘buy’ a number and even lay one. These bets are similar to place win / lose, with a commission and slightly better odds. Another advanced bet allows you to bet in a similar way to the pass / don’t pass after a point has been set. This is the ‘Come’ bet and works the same way.
Finally, there are novelty bets during the point round. They include tall and small (both a 2 and 12 rolled before a 7) and even ‘all’ with every other number being rolled before the round ends with a 7.
If you live in a state which already has regulated casinos, then online craps games are a great way to experiment with the different bets before you head to a live casino. Casinos are expanding the number of games offered all the time. You will soon be able to play craps online for real money or in demo / practice mode. In states including West Virginia, Pennsylvania and New Jersey, online casinos are already legal and running.
When you first see a craps game, the betting can appear complex. The best way to understand the table layout is to split the game into betting rounds.
During the initial ‘come out’ roll, bets are on the pass line (or don’t pass), with some single number or prop style wagers also available. When the point is set and the game moves to the point round, you can bet on individual numbers and novelty bets with groups of numbers to be hit before a 7 is rolled.
Craps is the liveliest game in many live casinos. When a player puts together a good roll, everyone can win craps together. Once you learn the rounds and what the different words on the felt mean, you will be free to join the fun whenever you visit a live casino.