(Also check out my parody instructions for how to play Blackjack, Roulete, Craps, & Baccarat by attending Craps School.)
Craps School….the Blackjack, Roulette, Craps, & Baccarat School is a mere 1.41%, which is more than three times better than roulette, and several times better than slot machines. That means that on average, you stand to get back around 99¢. But to get these great odds you have to make only the best bets and avoid the sucker bets. We’ll cover all this in our lesson on how to play craps.
Craps School is more lively than other casino games, with the players yelling and screaming when they win. It’s also unique in that the players themselves roll the dice, so they’re the ones who determine whether they win or lose. In other table games someone else is dealing you the cards or spinning the little marble. But in craps you determine your own fate.
Practice craps with fake money or real money at Bovada
There are lots of different bets you can make in craps and covering them all would take a small book, but the good news is that you need to focus on only a few easy bets, because the rest of the bets are sucker bets anyway. We’ll ignore the bad bets completely.
The best way to learn is to print out the picture at right, and follow along with the examples below by moving the chips and a marker around on the printout. Once you’ve learned the rules you can practice for free at Bovada.
Each player takes turns rolling the dice. The player who’s rolling is called the shooter. Everyone bets on the same roll of the dice, whether they’re the shooter or not. Finally, the shooter keeps rolling until he “sevens out” (rolls a seven at the wrong time), and then the next player gets to roll.
Craps is a game of rounds. The first roll of a round is called a Come-Out Roll. A round can last for one roll or a whole bunch of rolls. When a Come-Out roll is about to happen the dealer will turn little hockey puck on the table to “OFF”, and he’ll say, “Coming out!” At that point you can be confident that a new round is starting.
Pass Line Bet
The basic bet is the Pass Line bet. It pays out even more money. (Bet $5, win $5.) Make this bet by waiting for the Come-Out Roll, and then putting your chip(s) on the area of the table marked Pass Line.
After all bets are placed the shooter rolls the Come-Out Roll. Here’s what can happen based on the total rolled:
- 7 or 11: You win.
- 2, 3, or 12 (craps): You lose.
- Any other number: (4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10): Go to the bonus round
No one calls it a bonus round but me; that just makes it easy to understand.
The number that was rolled to get to the bonus round is called the Point, and a marker is placed on that number. Find the marker in the picture, near the first “O” in “Bodog”.
In the bonus round the game changes and you have another chance to win or lose:
- Roll the Point again: You win.
- 7: You lose.
- Any other number: Irrelevant, roll again.
Notice that on the come-out roll seven makes you win, but in the bonus round seven makes you lose. This is confusing to newcomers, and that’s why it’s important to know where you are in the round. On the first roll, 7 is good. But if you go to the bonus round, it changes and 7 is bad.
Remember: In the bonus round you win if the Point is rolled again, and you lose if a seven is rolled. All other numbers are irrelevant. If any other number comes up, you ignore it and the shooter keeps rolling.
When a seven comes up before the point, causing you to lose, that’s called sevening out. When a shooter sevens out the dice pass to the next shooter.
Putting both the come-out roll and the bonus round together here’s how the pass line bet works:
|Roll a 7 or 11 on the first roll,
Roll a 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10,
and roll it again before a 7 comes up
|Roll a 2, 3, or 12 on the first roll,
Roll a 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10 and then a 7 before you roll the original number again
Still confused? Then here’s a sample game. Assume you place another Pass Line bet every time you win or lose.
Click the button to start.
A Look at Making Odds Bets
You can reduce the house edge and increase your chances of walking away a winner by placing Odds Bets, called “taking the odds”. Odds bets have zero house edge! You can only place them after placing a Pass Line bet. Basically, the Odds bet dilutes the house edge of the Pass Line bet. But first let’s see how to make an Odds bet.
You can make an Odds bet only after a Point has been made. After a Point has been made, place your Odds Bet below your Pass Line bet. (That is, due South of your Pass Line bet. Don’t stack your chips on top of each other.) The Odds bet is tied to the Pass Line; if you win your Pass Line bet, you also win the Odds bet. If you lose the Pass Line, you lose both.
Here is an example of what I am talking about.
Point is set. Marker is moved onto the 8. You place your Odds bet below your Pass Line bet. You win both bets if an 8 is rolled again before a 7.
Since Odds Bets reduce the house edge, you want your Odds bet to be as big as possible, but the casino limits how much you can bet. In a single odds game your Odds Bet can be as much as your Pass Line bet. In a double odds game, your Odds Bet can be twice as much as your Pass Line bet, and if the point is 6 or 8 it can actually be 2.5 times as much as your Pass Line bet. Some casinos offer 5x, 10, or even 100x odds. The higher the odds, the smaller the house edge. (More on that later.)
The Differences on Payouts & Bets Concerning Odds.
All Craps games have at least Single (1x) odds. The casino decides whether they want to offer more odds at their tables or not. In general, the lower the minimum Pass Line bet, the lower the Odds the casino will give you. Here’s the house edge on Pass Line bets depending on the Odds offered, assuming you make full Odds bets:
Betting the odds doesn’t actually increase your chances of winning your roll. The odds aren’t against you, but they’re not with you, either.
An example makes this clearer. Let’s say you’re comfortable betting $15 per round. You could do that by betting $15 a pop on the pass line and take no odds. But if the casino offers double odds, you could put $5 on the pass line and $10 on the odds, for $15 total. By doing so you’ve cut your expected loss in half.
By the way, you’ll generally make about 30 Pass Line bets per hour, which is handy to know if you’re trying to calculate your expected loss for a Craps session.
Unlike the Pass Line bet which pays the same amount you wagered ($5 wins $5), the Odds bets pay special amounts depending on which point you bet on.
|Point bet on||Odds Bet payout||Example|
|4 or 10||2:1||$10 bet wins $20|
|5 or 9||3:2||$10 bet wins $15|
|6 or 8||6:5||$10 bet wins $12|
So if you bet $5, you’d get paid 2 of those, which is $10. On a 3:2 payout, a $10 bet wins $15. On a 6:5 payout a $5 bet wins $6 and a $10 bet wins $12.
For example, let’s say the Point is 4. It’s harder to roll a 4 than a 7, because there are six ways to roll a 7 but only three ways to roll a 4.
Here’s another example: You’re playing a 5x Odds game. You bet $3 on the Pass Line. The shooter rolls a 4, which becomes the point. You then place a full Odds bet of $15 (5x $3). The shooter rolls another 4, so you win both bets. You’re paid even money on the Pass Line bet, so you get $3 for that.
Don’t confuse this with the degree of Odds offered, like 1x, 2x, 10x — this is completely different.
Practice craps with fake money or real money at Bovada
So we’ve covered the Pass Line much as the Odds bets. There’s one more set of bets you can make that how a low house edge: the Come Bet and the Odds Bet that goes with it.
There’s bad news and good news about this bet. First of all, the bad news is that it’s a little harder to understand than the Pass Line and Odds bets. You certainly don’t have to make the Come Bet if it gives you a headache. You can have plenty of fun with the Pass Line and Odds bets alone.
Still with us? Good. Okay, so once a point is established (4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10), you can make a Come Bet by placing your bet in the area marked COME. (See the picture.) At that point, the Come bet works similar to the Pass Line bet. (So then there will be two points: the Point with the On/Off marker that will win for you Pass Line bet, and the Come point that will win for your Come bet.)
Use your printout of the picture above and some “chips” and a marker to follow along. Assume that you’ll play according to the following strategy:
- Make a Pass Line bet. (Make a new one when you lose one.)
You certainly don’t have to make a Come Bet; you can make just Pass Line bets if you want. But since you could be waiting a long time to find out whether you win or lose, making a Come Bet makes things a little more lively.
Here’s how a sequence of rolls might play out:
Come Point is set. Come Bet is moved onto the nine.Point is set. You make an Odds Bet on the Pass Line, and you also make a Come Bet.Come Point is set. You can make an Odds bet on your Come Bet, but you chose not to because you’re superstitious.
Here is a chart breaking down the various of new rounds.
Here’s something interesting: You win the Pass Line bet, while you lose the Come Bet! New round begins with the same shooter.You lose both the Pass Line bet and the Come Bet. Marker has moved back to the side. New round begins with new shooter.
Note also that you don’t have to stop with at just two points established; you could keep placing Come Bets and establishing new Come Points, but you then have the potential to lose money a lot faster. Here’s how that might work. Assume you’ve started out by placing a Pass Line bet. And to keep it simple, we won’t make odds bets.
One final thing about Odds bets: Odds are normally “Off” on a Come-Out roll. Let’s say you had two points established backed with Odds bets, and you won your Pass Line bet, so the shooter is going to have another Come-Out roll. At this point your Come Bet and its Odds Bet are still on the board. You can tell the dealer that you want your Odds bets working on the Come-Out roll before the shooter rolls the dice.
Learning more about playing Craps
It’s completely unnecessary to learn any more. If you want to stop reading now, there’s no harm in doing so — you’ve earned it. But if you have an interest in learning a couple more bets, we’ll cover them now. Realize that learning these extra bets won’t make any significant impact on your chances of winning, though. Do this well before you even think about reading this section
Okay, so you know how to make a basic Pass Line bet. Instead, you could bet the opposite, the Don’t Pass line.
Don’t Pass, Don’t Come (not related to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”)
There’s also the Don’t Come bet. Yet that means that a $10 Odds bet wins $5 (giving you $15 total on the Odds bet, since you keep your original bet). You also get paid on your original Don’t Come bet, whatever that was
Most players will bet Pass/Come instead of Don’t Pass/Don’t Come. That doesn’t mean they’re betting incorrectly, it just means they’re betting contrary to the way most people at the table are betting. You’ll be losing when everyone else is winning, and winning when everyone else is losing, as a Don’t Pass/Don’t Come player. The other players may be hostile towards you as a result of the latter. At the very best, there won’t be any comraderie.
So why would you bet Don’t Pass/Don’t Come? Well, in fact there’s no need to. (Remember how I told you to believe me about this section being optional?) You can be a fine Craps player without ever betting the Don’t side.
Technically, the Don’t side has a very slighter smaller house edge than the normal bets, but it’s such a small not worth worrying about — especially for the heat you’ll take from the other players for being a “wrong bettor”. But for inquiring minds, here’s the house edge for Pass Line+Odds compared to Don’t Pass+Odds (rounded)
Chart Examples Below
|Figures taken from The Wizard of Odds, then rounded|
Let’s put this into perspective: Let’s say you’re playing 16 hours, $5 basic bet, Double Odds, at a rate of 30 Come Out rolls per hour.
Whether you’re betting Pass or Don’t Pass, make sure you calculate your Expected Loss before you start playing.
Many Craps players are superstitious. As a result, you have to avoid doing anything they think is bad luck, hence they’ll get mad at you and blame you if they start losing. Here’s what to watch out for:
- Never say the word “seven” once a Point has been made. They commonly refer to seven simply as “it”.
- First of all, don’t hit anyone’s money with the dice when you roll.
- If you’re a man and you’ve never played before, don’t mention that fact. New male Craps players are supposedly unlucky and will seven-out quickly.
- On the other hand, if you’re a woman, you should definitely mention your newness to the game. In conclusion, that you’ve never played before, therefore you may see the players start suddenly wagering all kinds of money on the table, while giving you chips to bet with! Even if you have played before, as a result you could always say you haven’t, just to see the fascinating human.