Casino Craps - Easy to Learn and Easy to Win
Craps is the fastest - and certainly the loudest - game in the casino. With the big, colorful
table, chips flying everywhere and players yelling, it's exiting to watch and exciting to play.
Craps also has the one of the lowest house edges against you of any casino game, but only if you
make the right bets. In fact, with one type of bet (which you will soon learn) you play even with the house, meaning that the house has a zero edge. This is the only casino game where this is true.
THE TABLE LAYOUT
The craps table is slightly larger than a standard pool table, with a wood railing that goes
around the outside edge. This railing acts as a backboard for the dice to be thrown
against and is sponge-lined on the inside with random patterns so that the dice bounce
randomly. Most table rails also have grooves on top where you can place your chips.
The table surface is a tight fitting green felt with designs to indicate all the various bets
that can be made in craps. It's very confusing for a beginner, but all you really need to
concern yourself with right now is the "Pass Line" area and the "Don't Pass" area. These
are the only bets you will make in our basic strategy (and for the most part the only bets
worth making, period).
BASIC GAME PLAY
Don't let the confusing layout of the craps table intimidate you. The basic game itself is
very simple. A new game with a new player (the person shooting the dice) begins when
the current player "sevens out", which means he rolls a seven. That ends his turn and a
new player is given the dice.
The new player makes either a pass line bet or a don't pass bet (explained below) and
then throws the dice, which is called the "comeout roll".
If that first roll is a 7 or 11, this is called "making a pass" and the "pass line" betters win
and "don't pass" betters lose. If a 2, 3 or 12 are rolled, this is called "craps" and pass line
betters lose, while don't pass line betters win. However, don't pass line betters do not
win if the "craps" number is a 12 in Las Vegas or a 2 in Reno and Tahoe. In this case,
the bet is push - neither the player nor the house wins. All pass line and don't pass line
bets are paid even money.
Barring one of the three "craps" numbers from winning for don't pass line bets is what
gives the house it's low edge of 1.4 percent on all line bets. The don't pass bettor has a
stand-off with the house when one of these barred numbers is rolled. Otherwise, the
don't pass bettor would have a small advantage over the house - something that no
If a number other than 7, 11, 2, 3, or 12 is rolled on the comeout (in other words, a
4,5,6,8,9,10), that number is called a "place" number, or simply a number or a "point".
In this case, the shooter continues to roll until that place number is rolled again, which is
called "making the point", at which time pass line betters win and don't pass bettors lose,
or a 7 is rolled, which is called "sevening out". In this case, pass line bettors lose and
don't pass bettors win. When a player sevens out, his turn is over and the whole process
begins again with a new player.
Once a shooter rolls a place number (a 220.127.116.11.9.10), many different types of bets can be
made on each subsequent roll of the dice, until he sevens out and his turn is over.
However, they all have odds in favor of the house, many of them heavily in favor of the
house, with the exception of two: odds on a line bet, and "come" bets. Of these two, we
will only consider the odds on a line bet, as the "come" bet is a bit
You should ignore all other bets, as they carry odds that are too high against you. Yes,
this means that all those other players that are throwing chips all over the table with each
roll of the dice and making "field bets" and "hard way" bets are really making sucker
bets. They may know all the many bets and special lingo, but you will be the smarter
gambler by simply making line bets and taking the odds.
Now let's talk about line bets, taking the odds, and how to do it.
To make a line bet, simply place your money on the area of the table that says "Pass
Line", or where it says "Don't Pass". These bets pay even money when they win,
although it's not true even odds because of the 1.4 percent house edge discussed earlier.
When you bet the pass line, it means you are betting that the shooter either makes a 7 or
11 on the comeout roll, or that he will roll one of the place numbers and then roll that
number again ("make the point") before sevening out (rolling a 7).
When you bet on the don't pass line, you are betting that the shooter will roll either a 2 or
a 3 on the comeout roll (or a 3 or 12 if in Reno and Tahoe), or will roll one of the place
numbers and then seven out before rolling the place number again.
Odds on a Line Bet (or, simply called "odds bets")
When a point has been established (a place number is rolled) on the comeout, you are
permitted to take true odds against a 7 appearing before the point number is rolled again.
This means you can bet an additional amount up to the amount of your line bet. This
called an "odds" bet.
Your odds bet can be any amount up to the amount of your line bet, although many
casinos will now allow you to make odds bets of two, three or even more times the
amount of your line bet. This odds bet is paid at a rate equal to the odds of that point
number being made before a 7 is rolled.
You make an odds bet by placing your bet directly behind your pass line bet. You notice
that there is nothing on the table to indicate that you can place an odds bet, while there
are indications loudly printed all over that table for the other "sucker" bets. This is
because the casino does not want to encourage odds bets. You have to know that you can
Here's how these odds are computed. Since there are 6 ways that a number 7 can be
rolled and 5 ways that a 6 or 8 can be rolled, the odds of a 6 or 8 being rolled before a 7 is
rolled again are 6 to 5 against you. This means that if the point number is a 6 or 8, your
odds bet will be paid off at the rate of 6 to 5. For every $10 you bet, you will win $12
(bets smaller or larger than $10 are of course paid at the same 6 to 5 ratio). The odds of a
5 or 9 being rolled before a 7 is rolled are 3 to 2, so you get paid $15 for every $10 bet.
The odds of 4 or 10 being rolled first are 2 to 1, so you get paid $20 for every $10 you
Note that these are true odds - you are paid exactly proportional to your chance of
winning. This is the only true odds bet you will find in a casino, so be sure to make it
whenever you play craps.
AN EASY TO LEARN BASIC CRAPS STRATEGY
Here's an example of the three types of outcomes that result when a new shooter plays
and how you should bet.
Assume new shooter is getting ready to make the comeout roll and you make a $10 bet
(or whatever amount you want) on the pass line. The shooter rolls a 7 or 11 on the
comeout. You win $10, the amount of your bet.
You bet $10 again on the pass line and the shooter makes a comeout roll again. This time
a 3 is rolled (the player "craps out"). You lose your $10 pass line bet.
You bet another $10 and the shooter makes his third comeout roll (remember, each
shooter continues to roll until he sevens out after making a point). This time a 4 is rolled
- one of the place numbers or "points". You now want to take an odds bet, so you place
$10 directly behind your pass line bet to indicate you are taking the odds. The shooter
continues to roll the dice until a 4 is rolled (the point is made), at which time you win $10
on your pass line bet, and $20 on your odds bet (remember, a 4 is paid at 2 to 1 odds), for
a total win of $30. Take your chips off the table and get ready to bet again.
However, if a 7 is rolled before the point number (in this case, before the 4), you lose
both your $10 pass line bet and your $10 odds bet.
And that's all there is to it! You simply make you pass line bet, take odds if a point is
rolled on the comeout, and then wait for either the point or a 7 to be rolled. Ignore all the
other confusion and sucker bets. Your have the best bet in the casino and are playing
IMPORTANT NOTES ABOUT ODDS BETS
Odds bets can be made any time after a comeout point is rolled. You don't have to make
them right away . However, you'd be foolish not to make an odds bet as soon as possible
considering it's the best bet on the table. However, you are permitted to make, withdraw,
or reinstate an odds bet anytime after the comeout and before a 7 is rolled.
When you win an odds bet, be sure to take your chips off the table. Otherwise, they are
considered to be automatically "off" on the next comeout and will not count as another
odds bet unless you specifically tell the dealer that you want them to be "working". But
in a fast moving and loud game, your request may not be heard, so it's better to simply
take your winnings off the table and bet again with the next comeout.
About the Author
Tom McBroom is the webmaster for
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