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Craps can be an intimidating game for the beginner. The table seems to have about a hundred different kinds of bets, the players are barking out commands in what seems to be a foreign language, and the pace is too fast to ever ask a question. I can sympathize with the beginner because it wasn't that long ago that this was how craps appeared to me.
If this is how you view the game I have good news. There is one fundamental bet that almost all players make. You can easily get by knowing just this bet your first time. As you get more experienced you can add more bets to your repertoire. After just your first five minutes you should feel comfortable with the flow of the game and can start acting natural, like you've been a craps player for years.
Critical to the understanding of craps is that it is a game of rounds. The first roll in a round is called the come out roll. Sometimes the outcome of a round will be determined on the come out roll. In particular a 2, 3, 7, 11, or 12 on the come out roll immediately ends a round. If any other total is rolled (4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10) that number is called the point. The dealer will place a white puck on an area of the table to designate what the point is, in case you forget. If a point is rolled the dice will be rolled continuously until the same point is rolled again or a 7.
The Pass Line
The pass line is an even money bet. You start by placing your bet on the pass line area on the table on a come out roll. If the come out roll is a 7 or 11 you win. If the come out roll is a 2, 3, or 12 you lose. If any point is rolled on the come out roll if the point is rolled again before a 7 you win. If a 7 comes before the point you lose. Never place a pass line bet after the come out roll. This is allowed but is highly ill advised because the odds of winning on the come out roll are much greater than those of losing.
That is all there is to it. Once you understand the pass line bet you are ready to play craps. You may want to practice on the kitchen table a few times before playing for real money.
Taking the Odds
The multiple you may bet on the odds is usually twice the pass line bet for points of 4,5,9, and 10, and two and a half times the pass line bet on the 6 and 8. The reason you may bet more on a point of 6 or 8 is so that you can place a $5 odds bet on top of a $2 pass line bet. A $4 odds bet on a 6 or 8 would win $4.80 and nobody likes to deal with small change at the craps table. A $5 odds bet on the 6 or 8 wins an even $6.
The table below shows the house edge when you combine the pass line and odds:
Combined house edge on the
pass line and taking odds
1X odds 0.848% 2X odds 0.606% Full double odds 0.572% 3X odds 0.471% 3-4-5X odds 0.374% 5X odds 0.326% 10X odds 0.184% 20X odds 0.099% 100X odds 0.021%
"Full double odds" means the player can take 2.5 times odds on a point of 6 or 8, and 2 times on all other points. "3-4-5 times odds" means the player can take 3X odds on the 4 and 10, 4X on the 5 and 9, and 5X on the 6 and 8. Assuming the player takes the maximum allowable odds the payoff on any odds bet will conveniently always be 6X the pass or come bet.
A person betting on the don't pass is called a "wrong" bettor and is usually winning when everyone else is losing, and vise versa. You definitely want to keep a low profile if you take this bet, nobody is going to want to see you boasting about winning if everyone else just lost.
The house edge on the don't pass bet is 1.364%.
Laying the Odds
If the point is a 4 or 10 the don't odds pay 1:2.
If the point is a 5 or 9 the don't odds pay 2:3.
if the point is a 6 or 8 the don't odds pay 5:6.
The amount you may win by laying odds is the product of your don't pass bet and the multiple of odds allowed per the table rules. If the table allows five times odds then you can win five times your don't pass bet by laying odds. Note that the multiple applies to how much you can win, not how much you can bet. For example if you bet $2 on the don't pass and the table allows full double odds then you can bet $8 to win $4 on a point of 4 or 10, $6 to win $4 on a point of 5 or 9, and $6 to win $5 on a point of 6 or 8.
The following table shows the combined house edge on both the don't pass bet and laying odds:
Combined house edge on
don't pass and laying odds
1X odds 0.682% 2X odds 0.455% Full double odds 0.431% 3X odds 0.341% 3-4-5X odds 0.273% 5X odds 0.227% 10X odds 0.124% 20X odds 0.065% 100X odds 0.014%
There is a nuance to the come bet the player should know about. If a point is thrown and there are still active come bets on the table waiting for a different point then special rules apply for the following come out roll. The come out roll will still apply to active come bets but it will not apply to their respective odds bets, unless it is requested to leave the odds "on." In the event a come bet is resolved on a come out roll then the odds bet will be returned.
A good strategy for the player who likes constant action is to have a new bet on either the pass line or come on every throw, and to always take the maximum allowable odds.
The Place Number Bets
There is a high price for impatience in craps in the form of a higher house edge. To further exploit the impatient or ignorant player there can be two or three different bets on the exact same thing, and they will all pay different odds. You might think players would only bet on the option with the best odds but you would be quite wrong, it is routine to see players throwing their money away on the higher house edge versions of the same bet. For example the place bet on 6, the buy bet on 6, and the big 6 all are betting that a 6 will be rolled before a 7 but pay 7:6, 23:21, and 1:1 respectively, for house edges of 1.52%, 4.76%, and 9.09%. Specific descriptions of the various bets are below.
- Big 6: A bet that a
6 will be rolled before a 7. Pays even money. house edge of 9.09%. Note that
this is exactly the same as a place bet on 6, only the place bet pays 7:6
and has a house edge of only 1.52%. Only a fool or someone ignorant of the
game would bet on the Big 6.
- Big 8: The same as
the Big 6 only that an 8 will be rolled before a 7.
- Buy bets This is essentially
the same as the place bet, only with a different payoff. The player may
"buy" any of the points (4, 5, 6, 8, 9, and 10), which means to
bet that the number will be rolled before a 7. When making a buy bet you
must pay a 5% commission and your bet will pay fair odds if it wins. Fair
odds are 2:1 on the 4 and 10, 3:2 on the 5 and 9, and 6:5 on the 6 and 8. A
buy bet should be an increment of $20 so that the 5% commission can be an
even dollar amount. Another way to look at it is that the buy bet pays 39:21
on the 4 and 10, 29:21 on the 5 and 9, and 23:21 on the 6 and 8. If the bet
is not divisible by $20 the commission will be rounded up or down to the
nearest dollar. The house edge on all buy bets is 4.76%. The house edge on
the 5, 6, 8, and 9 place bets are all lower than the buy bet, thus the buy
bet on these numbers should be avoided.
Note 1: If the commission is rounded down the player can cut down the house edge by betting just under $40 for a commission of $1. A buy bet of $39 on the 4 or 10 has a house edge of 2.5%. A buy bet of $38 on the 5 or 9 has a house edge of 2.56%. A buy bet of $35 on the 6 or 8 has a house edge of 2.78% which is still not as good as the place bet.
Note 2: Some Las Vegas casinos, the Golden Nugget to name just one, charge the commission on the buy bet on 4 and 10 only if it wins. This lowers the house edge to 1.67%.
- Hard ways: There are
four different hard way bets. For example a hard 4 bet is betting that a
pair of twos will be rolled before a 7 or any other way to roll a total of
4. This is called "the hard way" because it is harder to roll two
twos than a one and a three. Likewise you can bet on a hard 6,8, or 10, each
of which is a bet that the hard way of rolling the given number will occur
before a 7 or any "easy" way.
The casino pays 7:1 on a hard 4 or 10 with a house edge of 11.11%.
The casino pays 9:1 on a hard 6 or 8 with a house edge of 9.09%.
- Lay bets The lay bet is the
opposite of the buy bet . The lay bets may be placed on the 4, 5, 6, 8, 9,
or 10. The bet itself is that a 7 will be rolled before the number you
choose. Because the 7 is the most likely number to be rolled you will wager
more than you can win. The player must pay a 5% commission on the possible
winnings and the fair odds are paid on the bet itself. Fair odds are 1:2 on
the 4 and 10, 2:3 on the 5 and 9, and 5:6 on the 4 and 8. Another way to
look at it is that lay bet pays 19:41 on the 4 and 10, 19:31 on the 5 and 9,
and 19:25 on the 6 and 8. Bets on the 4 and 10 should be in increments of
$40, bets on the 5 and 9 should be in crements of $30, and bets on the 6 and
8 in crements of $24, so that the 5% commission will be divisible by $1. If
the commission is not divisible by $1 it will be rounded up, thus increasing
the dealer's edge. For example if you want to bet on the 10 the least bet
should be $40 (not including the $1 commission) and if a 7 is rolled before
a 10 you will win $20. The house edge on the 4 and 10 is 2.44%, on the 5 and
9 it is 3.23%, and on the 6 and 8 it is 4.00%.
Note: If the commission is rounded down the player can cut down the house edge by betting so that the winnings will be just under $40. A lay bet of $78 on the 4 or 10 has a house edge of 1.27%. A lay bet of $57 on the 5 or 9 has a house edge of 1.72%. A lay bet of $42 on the 6 or 8 has a house edge of 2.33%. All of these are better than the place bets to lose.
- Place bet: This is
very similar to laying odds. You may bet on a 4,5,6,8,9, or 10. If the
number you bet on is rolled before a 7 then you win according to payoff
schedule below. Unlike laying odds you don't need to have a pass line bet,
you don't have to bet on the point, but there is a house edge. I personally
often make a place bet on the 6 and 8, which have the lowest house edge.
A place bet on 4 or 10 pays 9:5 with a house edge of 6.67%.
A place bet on 5 or 9 pays 7:5 with a house edge of 4.00%.
A place bet on 6 or 8 pays 7:6 with a house edge of only 1.52%.
When a place bets wins the dealer will return your winnings but leave the original bet on the table, essentially establishing a new place bet. You may request that the original bet be returned of course. In fact you may take back an active place bet at any time or you may "turn them off" temporarily.
It should be noted that on a per roll basis the house edge on place bets is much lower. In other words if the player makes a one roll only place bet, taking it down if it hasn't resolved then the house edge on the 4 and 10 is 1.67%, on the 5 and 9 is 1.11%, and on the 6 and 8 is 0.46%. However the house edge per bet resolved are the larger numbers above.
Bet Description Pays House Edge Big 6 6 before 7 1:1 9.09% Big 8 8 before 7 1:1 9.09% Buy (4) 4 before 7 39:21 4.76% Buy (5) 5 before 7 29:21 4.76% Buy (6) 6 before 7 23:21 4.76% Buy (8) 8 before 7 23:21 4.76% Buy (9) 9 before 7 29:21 4.76% Buy (10) 10 before 7 39:21 4.76% Hard 4 Hard 4 before 7 or easy 4 7:1 11.11% Hard 6 Hard 6 before 7 or easy 6 9:1 9.09% Hard 8 Hard 8 before 7 or easy 8 9:1 9.09% Hard 10 Hard 10 before 7 or easy 10 7:1 11.11% Lay (4) 7 before 4 19:41 2.44% Lay (5) 7 before 5 19:31 3.23% Lay (6) 7 before 6 19:25 4.00% Lay (8) 7 before 8 19:25 4.00% Lay (9) 7 before 9 19:31 3.23% Lay (10) 7 before 10 19:41 2.44% Place (4) 4 before 7 9:5 6.67% Place (5) 5 before 7 7:5 4.00% Place (6) 6 before 7 7:6 1.52% Place (8) 8 before 7 7:6 1.52% Place (9) 9 before 7 7:5 4.00% Place (10) 10 before 7 9:5 6.67%
Odds Multiple Point of 4,10 Point of 5,9 Point of 6,8 0 33.33% 20.00% 9.09% 1 16.67% 10.00% 4.55% 2 11.11% 6.67% 3.03% 3 8.33% 5.00% 2.27% 4 6.67% 4.00% 1.82% 5 5.56% 3.33% 1.52% 6 4.76% 2.86% 1.30% 10 3.03% 1.82% 0.83% 20 1.59% 0.95% 0.43% 100 0.33% 0.20% 0.09%
If the point is a 4 or 10 the house edge on the put bet with six times odds is the same as a corresponding buy bet. If the point is a 5 or 9 the house edge on the put bet with four times odds is the same as a corresponding place bet. If the point is a 6 or 8 the house edge on the put bet with five odds is the same as a corresponding place bet. In other words you have to back up the put with with 4 to 6 times odds for the house edge to be equal to the best option between a corresponding place or buy bet.
It should be noted that put bets are not allowed in some casinos.
The Proposition Bets
- Craps 2: A bet that a 2 will
be thrown on the next roll. Pays 30:1. house edge 13.89%.
- Craps 3: A bet that a 3 will
be thrown on the next roll. Pays 15:1. house edge 11.11%.
- 7: A bet that a 7 will be
thrown on the next roll. Pays 4:1. house edge 16.67%.
- 11: A bet that an 11 will be
thrown on the next roll. Pays 15:1. house edge 11.11%.
- Craps 12: A bet that a 12 will
be thrown on the next roll. Pays 30:1. house edge 13.89%.
- Any craps: A bet
that the next roll will be a 2, 3, or 12. Pays 7:1. house edge 11.11%.
- Field bet: This is a
one time bet that the next roll will be a 2,3,4,9,10,11, or 12. The
3,4,9,10, and 11 pay even money and the 2 and 12 pay 2:1. In some casinos,
largely confined to downtown Las Vegas, the 12 will pay 3:1. Some casinos
pay on 5 instead of the 9. If the 12 pays 2:1 the house edge is 5.56%, if
the 12 pays 3:1 the house edge is 2.78%. On the surface this seems like a
great bet because 7 numbers win and only 4 lose. However the 4 that lose are
much more likely to be rolled.
- Hop Bets: These are
among the worst bets on the craps table. There is no specific place on the
table for these but the dealers will broker your bet if you ask. At any time
you may bet on what the next roll will be, exactly. For example you can bet
that the next roll will be a 5 and 3. If you take two different numbers as
in the 5 and 3 example the payoff is 15:1 with a house edge of 11.11%. If
you take two of the same number, for example 5 and 5, the payoff is 30:1
with a house edge of 13.89%. Note that there are already proposition bets
for 1 and 1, 1 and 2, 5 and 6, and 6 and 6.
- Horn Bet: This is a
combination of the proposition bets on the 2, 3, 11, and 12. The player is
betting that the next roll will be any one of these numbers. The bet pays
27:4 on the 2 and 12 and 3:1 on the 3 and 11. Bets must be made in
increments of $4. The house edge is 12.5%.
Bet Description Pays House Edge 2 2 on next roll 30:1 13.89% 3 3 on next roll 15:1 11.11% 7 7 on next roll 4:1 16.67% 11 11 on next roll 15:1 11.11% 12 12 on next roll 30:1 13.89% Any craps 2, 3, or 12 on next roll 7:1 11.11% Field (loose) 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11, or 12 on next roll. see above 2.78% Field (tight) 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11, or 12 on next roll. see above 5.56% Hop (two numbers) Any specific two numbers on next roll 15:1 11.11% Hop (one number) Any specific pair of numbers on next roll 30:1 13.89% Horn 2, 3, 11, or 12 on next roll see above 12.50%
Net Gain/Loss per Session
Here are some actual numbers that show the probability of falling into various intervals:
Interval Probability loss of over $100 0.0422% loss of $76-$100 0.6499% loss of $51-$75 4.6414% loss of $26-$50 16.3560% loss of $1-$25 30.0583% break even 0.6743% win of $1-$25 28.6368% win of $26-$50 14.4257% win of $51-$75 3.9097% win of $76-$100 0.5639% win of over $100 0.0418%
The graph and table were created by simulating 1,000,000 sessions of 100 trials, or come out rolls, and tabulating the results of each session.
- Most bets can be removed, added to, or deducted from at any
time. Exceptions would be the pass and come bets, and you can not exceed the
maximum bet on the odds. With the place number and proposition bets the
dealers will often pay winnings only and let the original bet ride, unless
- The players take turns throwing the dice. In general the
same person will throw until they seven out. The player may pass the dice if
they want to.
- Know the rules and what to do before you arrive at the
table, especially a busy one. Try not to rely on the dealers for answering
- Craps has a language all its own. It is beyond the scope of
this page to define all the terminology but you can pick it up as you go.
For example "Two way yo" is craps slang for a bet on 11 in which
half is for the player and half is a bet for the dealers.
- When you throw the dice they are supposed to rebound off
the other side of the table. A throw that doesn't make it that far looks
wimpy and the dealer may make you roll over. However overthrowing the dice
off the table will make you look klutzy and slow down the game while there
is a search for the missing dice and the dealer examines them to make sure
nobody switched them with loaded dice. Dealers prefer a high lob as opposed
to a low roll down the table. They don't like it when the dice knock down
stacks of chips.
- Don't put drinks on the table. There is a little shelf
under the chips for glasses and bottles.
- Don't sit or lean on anything. Except for some sit down
tables I have seen in Laughlin players must stand.
- Don't listen to the advice of the other players. Most craps
players are fools who waste their money on the sucker bets. Unless you tip,
the dealers usually also give bad advice.
- As in all games you should tip the dealers, especially if
they are being especially helpful. When you tip don't make a bet for the
dealers on a sucker bet as most players do. Personally I will toss them a
tip and say "for the table." The dealers will appreciate that
you're not wasting their tip on a bet with a high house edge.
- Blend in with, but do not interact with, the other players.
The players at the craps table tend to be a tough and superstitious crowd
who prefer to be left alone. Do not rebuke anybody for making sucker bets.
Do not do anything that can be interpreted as being unlucky, like saying a
number that would cause the table to lose. I know this sounds irrational but
don't forget that gambling should be for fun so don't take from anyone
- If you are playing for the first time don't announce this
if you are male. Male virgins to the game are said to be unlucky, and the
opposite for females. This is evidently because virginity is despised in men
and valued in women.
Crapless craps does offer free odds of 6:1 on the 2 and 12, and 3:1 on the 3 and 11. The following table shows the combined house edge by combining the pass line and the odds:
Combined house edge on
pass and buying odds
in crapless craps
1X odds 2.936% 2X odds 2.018% 3X odds 1.538% 5X odds 1.042%
You can also make place bets on the 2, 3, 11, and 12. The 2 and 12 pay 11:2 with a house edge of 7.143%. The 3 and 11 pay 11:4 with a house edge of 6.250%. There is no don't pass bet in this game.
- Big 6: A bet that a 6 will be rolled before a 7. Pays even money. house edge of 9.09%. Note that this is exactly the same as a place bet on 6, only the place bet pays 7:6 and has a house edge of only 1.52%. Only a fool or someone ignorant of the game would bet on the Big 6.