Craps is a dice game in which players bet on the outcome of a roll, or a series of rolls of the two dice. It has a very low house edge and is very engaging, with players around the table usually shouting and cheering, and it’s overall a very fun experience.

Craps was invented in the United States, and surged in popularity during the second half of the 20th century, and the game can be played in casinos as well as on the street, as all you need is a pair of dice and people who know the rules of the game. As many casinos in early 20th century used unfair dice, the Don’t Pass bet – against the shooter – was added to remedy this problem and now there’s no chance for craps to be in any way unfair. In the 2000s, many online casinos started offering craps. While the game isn’t as popular as some other table games, it remains a very vibrant niche with players who really have a lot of fun throwing dice.

Game rules

The fundamental bet in craps is Pass or Don’t Pass, which is a bet on whether the shooter will win. If the come-out roll is either 7 or 11, the Pass line wins. If the come-out roll is 2, 3 or 12 the Pass line loses. In case of any other roll a point value is established, and if that value is hit again before the 7 roll the Pass line wins, and if 7 rolls comes first then the Pass line loses. Don’t Pass bet is the opposite of Pass.

Come bet is a bet on shooter’s next roll, and is similar to the Pass bet, while Don’t Come bet is similar to the Don’t Pass bet. The difference is the point value. While in Pass and Don’t Pass bets the point value is determined by the come-out throw and stays fixed for the duration of the round, Come and Don’t Come bets use the shooter’s last throw, whatever it may be, as the point value. For example, if a shooter rolled an 8, and a Come bet is placed, it will win if the shooter rolls 8 again before rolling 7 and thereby ending the round.

Players take turns rolling the dice, and whoever is rolling the dice is called the shooter. Other players can place bets by placing their chips on the appropriate section of the layout. The shooter must have a bet himself, either on the Pass or Don’t Pass line, and each round has two phases, the come-out and the point.

The shooter must roll both dice at one throw, and both dice must hit the back board. The first throw is the come-out, which will establish the point value. The shooter will continue throwing the dice until he lands a 7, in which case the Don’t Pass line wins, Pass line loses, and the shooter must pass the dice to another player. A roll of 2, 3 or 12 is called craps, and anyone who bet the Pass line loses. Whoever bet the Don’t Pass line will win with a roll of 2 or 3, but will push in case of 12. A roll of 7 or 11 is called a natural, and both Pass and Don’t Pass lines will lose. So, if the come-out roll is 2, 3, 7, 11 or 12 the round ends.

The other possible rolls are 4, 5, 6, 8, 9 and 10, and when these are rolled they establish a point to pass or win, and the point number must be rolled again before a 7 roll. Once a point value has been established, the Pass and Don’t Pass bets aren’t affected by 2, 3, 7, 11 or 12, and the only numbers which affect the round are bets on any specific number, the point value, and the 7. All bets that aren’t Pass or Don’t Pass may be taken off the board before the bet loses.

If the shooter lands the point value again, the Pass line wins and the new round starts.

Rolls have specific names, and they are Hard Four, Hard Six and Hard Eight for rolls which consist of two same numbers – two twos, two threes and two fours respectively. Two sixes is called Boxcars or Midnight. Two ones are called Snake Eyes, and two and one are called Ace Deuce. Easy Four, Easy Six, Easy Eight and Easy Ten are rolls of three and one, five and one, six and two, and six and four respectively. There are three Natural rolls that combine into a seven – six and one, five and two, and four and three. There are many other slang names for different rolls, as craps has a language of its own that is best picked up as you go while playing in a land-based casino.

Bets can be made on a specific number that the shooter must roll, and these bets, called Place bets, have a very high house edge so they aren’t the best choice when playing craps even if they do give the biggest wins, while the Pass and Don’t Pass bets have a minimal house edge and are almost fair game. Place to Lose has lower house edge than a Place bet. Field bet is another good choice, and it is won if the next roll is 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11 or 12. For 2 and 12 the payout is 2 to 1, while the others pay even money, though this may differ a bit from casino to casino. It would be good to find a casino which pays 3 to 1 on either 2 or 12 rolls.

The Odds is a side bet in craps that says a point must be rolled before a 7, and there are always limits to this bet compared to the amount of money you placed on the Pass or Don’t Pass bets before the round began, as casinos can’t make money from this bet as the house edge on Odds and Lay the Odds bets is exactly zero. It’s fair game.

Many bets can be removed from the table or temporarily switched off at any time. This goes for all Place, Place to Lose, Buy, Lay and Hard Ways bets. Buy and Lay bets are same as Place and Place to Lose bets, except that they have different odds. Hard Way bets are bets on 4, 6, 8 and 10, but with two dice showing the same number.

How to play Craps

Craps bets can be made anytime, at any point during a round, so it can seem a bit hectic with all those bets being placed and with people rooting for a certain roll. Majority people will be siding with the Pass and Come bets, betting that the shooter will win, while it is the Don’t Pass and Don’t Come bets that have a slightly lower house edge so they are a superior choice. However, the other players won’t really like a player who’s winning while they’re losing. Betting on Don’t Pass, Don’t Come and Lay Odds bets means going against the table, and statistically it’s the best way to play craps.

Craps is a very engaging game in which a player must react and place bets quickly, knowing at all times what the situation is and what number is the point value, either for the entire table or for the player specifically (in case of Come and Don’t Come bets).

Best advice for a new player would be to bet on Pass and Don’t Pass bets at first, perhaps with a maximum Odds or Lay Odds bet as it comes with zero house edge, and then learn the various patterns that can emerge and other bets that can be made during a game.

Online craps for real money

While craps is a social game best enjoyed in land-based casinos, this isn’t always feasible so many players go online to enjoy the game at any time of day. Or to play the dark side (Don’t Pass, Don’t Come, Lay Odds bets) without the social stigma that comes with playing against the group.

Live dealer craps are the best of both worlds, as a player may enjoy the casino setting and watching a real craps table and real dice rolls while being at home and betting on the roll outcomes. There aren’t many online casinos that offer live dealer craps, so a player first has to do some searching in order to find the one that does. Even if the real pleasure is throwing the dice yourself, online craps for real money is the way to enjoy the game on any given day without having to dedicate a night out to it.

Online casino bonuses usually don’t apply to craps as it’s a game with a low house edge, but there are some online casinos that allow craps to contribute to the rollover requirements. There aren’t many that allow this, but it’s worth checking the bonus rules as you might just find the one that does.