Craps is a fast, frenzied and often raucous game; to learn the basics follow this simple guide.
There are many stories surrounding the origins of craps; one dates the game all the way back to Roman times, when soldiers gambled with pigs' knuckles (hence the phrase, "roll the bones"). Another story claims that Sir William Tyre, a leader of knights in the Middle Ages, invented the game of Craps to entertain his legions during the Crusades. And yet others claim that modern Craps was derived from the Medieval game Hazard, mentioned by Chaucer in Canterbury Tales.
While its European origins remain unverified legends, we do know that modern Craps was brought to America (specifically, the state of Louisiana) by Bernard Xavier Philippe de Marigny de Mandeville, a wealthy Frenchman. The game was welcomed with great enthusiasm and became very popular in American casinos. However, there was a flaw in the game in which players could take advantage of casinos through various loopholes; John H. Winn introduced three changes to help prevent this.
The first change he introduced was to add "Right" or "Wrong" betting, "Don't Pass bets," and a new rule in which any player at the table could bet with or against the shooter. (See the Rules section for a detailed explanation.)
Casino Craps was not the only version of the game that was developed; Street Craps became popular in American during the second World War and was played by soldiers in their bases.
In the 1990s and 2000s, the popularity of Craps reached higher heights in Nevada casinos, as well as in online gambling. However, because Craps is a very social game, it never reached the popularity of online poker or blackjack. Still, it remains a favorite at casinos, and is portrayed on television and in the movies as a fun, exciting and enticing game.
Due to the popularity of Craps and its portrayal on television, much of its terminology has become integrated into the vernacular. If you are not familiar with the game, here are some terms that you should know so that you can become a regular high-roller!
Aces: A bet that the next roll will equal a total value of two.
Any Craps: A bet that the next roll will equal a total value of 2, 3 or 12.
Any Seven: A bet that the next roll with equal a total value of 7.
Boxcars: A bet that the next roll will equal 12.
C & E: A bet that the next roll will equal a total value of craps (2, 3 or 12) or 11.
Come Out Roll: The first roll in a betting round. The Come Out Roll fixes the point for Pass and Don’t Pass Line bets.
Don’t Come Bet: A bet that 7 will appear before the point is established again.
Don’t Pass Bet: A bet that the shooter will roll craps or 7.
Easy Way: A total of 4, 6, 8 or 10 in which doubles are not rolled (in other words, the dice don't come out as 2 & 2, 3 & 3, 4 & 4, 5 & 5).
Field Bet: A bet on 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11 or 12.
Hardway: The opposite of Easy Way – a bet that 4, 6, 8 or 10 will be rolled as pairs before the appearance of 7 or Easy Way.
Hi-Lo: A bet that the next roll will be 2 or 12 (the lowest and highest possible values).
Natural: A Come Out Roll of 7 or 11.
Odds Bet: A bet that is made in addition to Pass Line bet.
Off: A bet that is not active for the next roll.
On: A bet that is active for the next roll.
Place Bet: A bet that a specific number (for example, 6 or 9) will be rolled before 7 is rolled.
Pass Line Bet: A bet for the shooter to win, which is determined by the Come Out Roll. If the Come Out Roll is 7 or 11, the bets wins. If it is 2, 3, or 12 (craps), the bet loses. If the roll is any other number, it establishes a point. The Pass Line bet is the most fundamental bet in Craps.
Point: The number determined by the Come Out Roll.
The game begins with a shooter placing a bet on the Pass Line or Don't Pass Line. Then the shooter rolls the dice, which must hit the walls at the other end of the table in order for the roll to be valid. (In online casinos, the motion is simulated.) The shooter alternates clockwise around the table with each new round.
There are two parts to each round: Come Out, and Point. The Come Out Roll kicks off the round. If a 2, 3 or 12 is rolled (craps), all the players lose their Pass Line bets. If the roll is a 7 or 11 (natural), all the players win their Pass Line bets. If a 4, 5, 6, 8, 9 or 10 is rolled, that number becomes the Point and the next part of the round ensues. If the shooter rolls the same number again, all players win their Pass Line bets. If the shooter rolls a Seven-Out, the players lose their Pass Line bets and the next round begins.
There are three central areas of a Craps table: the actual center area, which contains all proposition bets. Proposition bets are one-roll bets in which the House has a huge advantage. There are also two side areas, where the Pass bets, Don't Pass bets, Come and Don't Come bets, Odds bets, Place bets and Field bets are placed.
Because Craps is a complex game with many rules, there are many varied strategies for playing, and experienced players can choose their favorite strategy or try out new ones. However, if you are a beginning player, there are a few basic strategies that you should start out practicing until you have mastered them. Then, you can move on to the more complicated ones!
The Pass Line Bet is the most basic bet you can make in the first half of every round. Once the bet is placed, there are three possible outcomes: you can win money on a natural (7 or 11), you can win even money if the roll hits the point twice before hitting 7, or you can crap out and lose (a 2, 3 or 12).
A beginning strategy is to make a Pass Line Bet, and then follow it up with Come Line Bets. This is the sequence that the strategy calls for: 1. Pass Line bet; 2. The shooter rolls; 3. Make bet with single or double odds; 4. Make a Come Line bet. 5. The shooter rolls. 6. Repeat steps three and four. 7. The shooter rolls.
- Remember that in Craps, the House always has a high advantage, but in some scenarios it is higher than others. In Pass Line bets the House has a 1.41% advantage. In other bets, the House edge is higher – people are attracted to these because there is potential for higher payouts. It's up to you to know your budget and know what risks you are willing to take.
- Practice makes perfect! Before gambling away your hard-earned real money, try out a free online version so you can hone your skills. Once you can keep track of the rules and you feel confident, then you can move on to play for real money.
- If you're a newbie, stick to the low-risk bets, where the House edge is lower. These are the Pass Line and Come Line bets.
- Craps is a fun and social game, and its easy to get caught up in the excitement of interacting with your fellow players. But remember – if you are playing to win, focus on the dice, not the people around you. You are playing against the House, and a clear head can give you the focus you need to win big!