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  Craps Game Guide  

Game:   Craps
 
Type of game:   Dice game
 
Game origins:   Craps is one of the classic and most popular casino games around the world. The game evolved from the similar British game Hazard. Hazard was well known to favour the house in most cases and Craps was devised to be fairer to players. The game arrived in the US towards the end of the 18th Century.
 
Goals of the game:   Craps is an exciting game where players bet 'for' or 'against' a 'shooter' (who will be another one of the multiple players of the game) throwing either 7 or an 11 with the two dice.
 
How is it played?:

(remember the rules will vary from casino to casino)
  The basics - Multiple players gather around the craps table and choose whether or not they wish to follow the lead of the 'shooter'. The shooter is selected from the players who is then given the two dice which are then thrown down the enclosed table. When a new 'shooter' is selected they must make a bet on either the 'Pass Line' or the 'Don't Pass Line'. The shooter throws the dice (the first time they do this is known as a 'Come Out Roll') hoping to get a total of either 7 or 11. The other players either bet with or against the shooter actually throwing either of these totals (which are collectively known as a natural).

Game layout - The game is played around a large table with sides around a foot high to keep the dice on the table. The surface of the table is printed with a grid containing the various different bets that can be made. Many players can play this game at once giving the game the reputation of being lively.

Variations - The game of Craps is played in much the same way around the world, with the only noticeable changes coming from the odds offered by individual casinos. As ever casinos are able to set their own odds to a degree. You will however find that any variations of the odds are small to prevent the player from winning too much or not playing at all.

Pay out rates - Craps offers pretty good value for money because the house advantage may only be 1.4%. Craps offers some reasonable bets but also some bad bets. It is these bad bets that people new to the game often make.

Betting - As with most games betting recommences once the payouts from the previous game have been paid. From this time onwards players are able to place their coloured chips onto the table surface in the area denoted for each specific bet.

A Natural - A 'Natural' is thrown when the shooter throws a 7 or an 11. Players betting with the shooter win, whilst players betting against the shooter lose.

Craps - Craps is not just the name of the game it also refers to when a shooter throws a 2, 3 or a 12. When the player draws this players betting with the shooter lose.

Point and Making Point - If the shooter throws either a 4, 5, 6, 8 or 9 this is known as their 'Point'. The current shooter's point is marked on the table with a round disc. The shooter's point remains on each round they shoot until they draw the same point number again. Point is used as an extra factor on which people can bet. 'Making Point' is when the shooter repeats throwing the point number before they next draw a 7, when point is made players betting on the shooter win. For more see later in this guide. There is always the shooter's 'point' and in some bets there is also the player's personal 'point'.

Probability - Before we explain the many different types of bets that can be placed in Craps, we need to think about the likelyhood of different dice combinations coming up. The shooter wants to throw a 'natural' (i.e. a 7 or an 11). From two dice there can only be 36 different individual combinations of numbers (i.e. 6 different faces on each dice, making 6 x 6 combinations). If the player wants to throw a 7 this is the most common total to crop up as there are six different dice combinations resulting in the number 7 (because opposite sides of dice always total 7).

Dice Total   Combinations (and dice face values)
2   1 (1+1)
3   2 (1+2, 2+1)
4   3 (2+2, 3+1, 1+3)
5   4 (2+3, 3+2, 1+4, 4+1)
6   5 (2+4, 4+2, 3+3, 1+5, 5+1)
7   6 (2+5, 5+2, 6+1, 1+6, 4+3, 3+4)
8   5 (6+2, 2+6, 4+4, 5+3, 3+5)
9   4 (4+5, 5+4, 6+3, 3+6)
10   3 (5+5, 6+4, 4+6)
11   2 (5+6, 6+5)
12   1 (6+6)

Using the chart above you can work out the likelyhood that a specific number will be drawn when the dice are thrown. This is done by creating a ratio of the number of combinations for a single number and placing it with the remaining number of probabilities that are possible.

For example the likelyhood of drawing a 7 is 30-6, which can be scaled down to 5-1. This is the actual probability of this number being drawn, however most casinos hit you by only offering 4-1 on drawing a 7. So if you bet a stake of $1 you will get $5 back (the win + the original stake) instead of what should really be $6. Such is life I'm afraid!

Player options - Now that you have got the idea about the probabilities involved when the numbers are drawn we need to talk turkey, what are the bets that you can play? Craps has a lot of reverse bets where you can bet one one of two outcomes either with or against as we shall see.

Pass Line (or Win Line) - Players betting on this option are betting that the shooter will throw either a 7 or an 11 to win. Alternatively the player wins if the shooter rolls 'point' and the shooter then 'makes point' by drawing point again, before rolling a 7 they win. Winning bets on this are paid at even money. The player loses if the shooter gets 'craps' (2, 3 or 12) on the first throw.

Don't Pass Line (or Don't Win Line) - This is the reverse of Pass/Win Line, as players betting on this option are betting that the shooter will NOT throw either a 7 or an 11 first time. Alternatively the player wins if the shooter rolls 'point' and the shooter then rolls a 7 before they 'make point'. Winning bets on this are paid at even money. If the shooter rolls a 12 first time, the bet is a stand off and they get their stake back.

Come Line - Betting on this option is similar to betting on the Pass Line in that if the shooter rolls 7 or 11 first time the player wins. This bet can only be placed once the shooter has set their 'point'. If they draw a 2, 3 or 12 first time players lose. If it is not Craps or a Natural the player's stake is moved to the player's 'point' number (not the shooter's point necessarily) when it is set (e.g. a 6), the game continues until the shooter rolls the player's point number again (i.e. another 6) before drawing 7. The difference is that the stake stays on the 6 even if point moves to another number. All players lose if a 7 is drawn before point is made.

Don't Come Line - Basically the reverse of the Come Line. If a 7 or 11 if rolled time your bet is lost. The bet wins straight away if the shooter rolls Craps. If a 12 is rolled a stand off is declared and the player retrieves their stake. As with 'Come' the bet is placed once the shooter has rolled once and has rolled either a 4, 5, 6, 8, 9 or 10. This bet wins if a 7 is drawn befor the player's 'point' is thrown again.

Behind The Pass Line - When the shooter has set a 'point' number, players can place a multiple of their first stake in betting that point will be made. Point numbers are 4, 5, 6, 8, 9 and 10, remember that each of these numbers has a different probability of being rolled (see chart above). As this is the case it is more likely that a point of 8 will be made (as it has 5 combinations) than point of 4 will (with only 3 possible combinations). Now that point has been set on a number players can take this option to wager on the likelyhood of making point before a 7 is rolled. Casinos offer their own different rates when this occurs but they are usually this: a point of 4 or 10 gets odds of 2-1, a point of 5 or 9 gets odds of 6-4, a point of 6 or 8 gets odds of 6-5.

Behind The Don't Pass Line - Again this is the reverse of a 'Behind The Pass Line' bet, the player can place a multiple of their original 'Don't Pass' stake on the likelyhood that a 7 will be drawn before point is made. Different odds are given because of the different chances of point numbers being drawn. If the point is 4 or 10 the odds are 1-2, if the point is 5 or 9 the odds are 4-6, if the point is 6 or 8 the odds are 5-6.

The 'Behind The pass line' and 'Behind the don't pass line' bets are not always offered because the odds offered on them are true odds and the casino has no advantage on them. These sorts of bets are know as 'free' bets or 'free odds' bets. Casinos will also sometimes limit the stake multiples that a player can stake on these two bets so that these bets won't win the player more than their original bet does.

Place Bets - A slightly simpler bet for players are 'Place' bets, which is where the player can bet that a specific number (either 4, 5, 6, 8, 9 or 10) will be drawn before a 7 (called a 'Right Place Bet'). This bet only requires a number to be drawn once and it has no relation to point at all. A 'Wrong Place Bet' is the opposite which bets that a 7 will be drawn before the chosen number is drawn.

Chosen Number   Right Place Bet   Wrong place Bet
A 4 or a 10   Odds are 9-5   Odds are 5-11
A 5 or a 9   Odds are 7-5   Odds are 5-8
A 6 or an 8   Odds are 7-6   Odds are 4-5

The chart above shows the standard odds for Place bets

Hardways - Hardways bets are allowed when point is set. The player bets that the shooter will throw either a 4, a 6, an8, or a 10 made up of a double. For example this would need to be a 4 made up by two rolled 2's, a 6 made up by two rolled 3's, an 8 made up by two rolled 4's or a 10 made up by two rolled 5's before the shooter throws a 7. This bet is also lost if point is 'made' from 2 different dice face values (e.g. a 1 and 3 for a point of 4).

The odds paid for a Hardways bet on a 4 or a 10 are 7-1 usually and on a 6 or an 8 it is 9-1.

Field Bets - Field bets are often sold by the boxman to players on the merits that any of the following seven numbers (2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11, 12) win for the player while only numbers 5, 6, 7 or 8 win for the house. If a player gets a 3, 4, 9 or 11 the player is paid even money. If a 2 is thrown the player usually gets double their money back and normally triple their money back if a 12 is thrown. If a 5, 6, 7 or 8 is thrown the player loses their stake.

Any Craps - The player bets that the next roll will show a 2, a 3 or a 12. If so they get odds of 7-1 back.

Two or Twelve - The player bets that the next roll will be a 12 and gets odds of 30-1 if correct. The same bet applies if the player bets on 2 being thrown instead of 12.

Three or Eleven - As before the player bets the next roll with be a 3 and if correct they get paid back on odds of 15-1 (less than 2 or 12) as there is more than one way of 3 occurring. This bet can also be seperately applied to 11.

Any Seven - A simple bet where players want a 7 (made up of any dice combination) to be rolled, if this happens they receive odds of 4-1. This bet is not always offered by all casinos.

Big 6 or Big 8 - A bet that is really only found on US Craps tables, the player bets that a 6 will be rolled before a 7 is rolled. If true the player receives a payout at even money. The same bet can also be placed on an 8. Both the 6 and the 8 are less likely than the 7 to be rolled. This makes this bet a slightly riskier choice.

Horn Bets - A reasonably complex way of betting that effectively leaves you playing against a house advantage to the tune of 11%-14% casino advantage. Bets are evenly distributed across the numbers 3, 11, 2 and 12. If 3 or 11 are rolled payout is 3.75-1, if 2 or 12 appear you receive a payout of 7.5-1. Use at your own risk!

Random Element - This is based on you guessing the next number to be drawn giving this game a strong random element, however player skill also comes into the game when players have to choose what bets are worth playing.

Real vs Virtual - There are not usually any differences seen if playing at an online casino or in a real casino. However, as always, you must check the set up of the game, the rules and the payout rates, as these change from place to place.

Repeat - Once payouts have been made players place their next bet and see how it goes in the next round.
 
Top tips:  
  • Craps is a fast moving, exciting game to play, but if you're wanting to stretch out the time you spend gambling, it is probably not the best game for you to play. Rounds pass very rapidly and it is easy to place bets before you know what you've done.

  • As with any casino game make sure you know the Casinos rules for this game. Watch out as the rules can change from casino to casino, as can the odds offered for bets.

  • Before you go anywhere near a Craps table it is very important that you sit down and work out in your mind or on paper the odds of each bet on offer to you. Compare these odds to those offered on the bets by the casino and see where the house has a big advantage over you.


  •   Craps Site Links  

    These are non-affiliated sites which offer more comprehensive advice about this game. Sites will open in a new window.

    Other site links:   Craps Tips From Mark Pilarski
    The Craps Pit
    Next Shooter Craps Resource (free membership required)
    Boxman Tips For Craps


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