Learning the Game of Craps
Craps is a popular and fast paced casino game where bets are resolved by the roll of two dice. There are hundreds of bets available in the game with varying house edge. To start we will explain the most common bets in Craps; before describing the other options available.
If you’ve seen a Craps table in your local casino, you may have experienced the pace and excitement the game generates. Four casino staff stand around the table, moving chips and dice as well as settling bets while players ring the table shouting in excitement. Online the game is played in the same way, but without the noise and jostling of a traditional table!
Craps table layout
Below is an image showing a typical Craps table. Each of the boxes represents a specific bet, all of which are xplained below:
Pass/Don’t Pass Bets
The most common bets in Craps, which also have the lowest house edge, are the Pass and Don’t Pass bets, which are made by placing chips in the appropriate box on the layout. Almost all players make these bets and may place others whilst they are resolved. Both bets begin with a come out roll and winners in each case are paid at evens (1:1).
Pass Line bets are resolved as follows:
7 or 11: Pass Line bets win
2, 3 or 12: Pass Line bets lose (often called ‘Craps’)
Any other number: Point roll. If any number is rolled then this number becomes the point. The dice continue to roll until either a 7, or the point number, are rolled again. If the point is rolled before a 7 then Pass Line bets win, if a 7 is rolled first then they lose.
Don’t Pass bets are almost the opposite
7 or 11: Don’t Pass bets lose
2 or 3: Don’t Pass bets win
12: Push (players have their stake returned, without winning or losing anything)
Any other number: Point roll. In this case Don’t Pass Bets win if 7 is rolled before the point and vice versa. This is exactly the opposite outcome to a Pass Line bet, where players want the point to be rolled first.
One feature of Craps, which reduces the house edge, is the option to make Odds bets. Odds bets can only be made in conjunction with a Pass/Don’t Pass bet and after a point has been established. An Odds bet in Craps is one of the few you can find in casinos which have no house edge, they are settled at exactly fair odds.
To make an Odds bet, simply place chips behind your initial bet once a point is established, they win only when your Pass bet wins. Suppose the point roll were 4, the chance of a 4 being rolled before a 7 are 1/3; meaning your odds bet in this case would pay out at 2:1.
Odds bets can also be made in conjunction with Don’t Pass bets, but in this case your Odds bet wins if 7 is rolled before the point. Because of this the payouts are lower (in the case of a point of 4, the Odds bet would pay at 1:2).
Depending on where you play the maximum Odds bet may differ. Casinos often allow an Odds bet of up to 5x the initial Pass Line bet; however this can vary to as low as 3x or as much as 100x.
Come/Don’t Come bets
Come and Don’t come bets are exactly the same as Pass/Don’t Pass bets, but they can be made at any time. The resolution of Pass and Don’t Pass bets can be seen as a ‘round’, after they are completed a new player will take the dice and start rolling. If you can’t be bothered to wait for this then Come/Don’t Come bets allow you to make exactly the same bet, without waiting for the table to catch up.
You can also make Odds bets in conjunction with Come/Don’t Come wagers if a point is established.
Optimal Craps Strategy
Now you know about the more common bets in Craps you can also play optimal strategy, reducing the house edge as far as possible. In order to do this stick to Don’t Pass or Don’t Come bets and make the maximum Odds bet when a point is established. By sticking to this strategy the house edge in Craps falls to as little as 0.3%.
In addition to the five most common bets described above there are a plethora of other options. Some are completely resolved in one roll, while others may take some time to settle.
One Roll bets
One Roll bets are wagers on the exact value of the next roll. All of these bets have a house edge of 16.67%; significantly higher than other options. One Roll bets can be made on 2, 3, 7 11 or 12.
A Hardway bet is another way on betting on the next roll. However, they also require that they be rolled with both dice showing the same number (‘the hard way); for example Hardway 4 requires that 2, 2 be rolled and Hardway 6 requires 3, 3.
Any Craps Bet
A roll of 2, 3 or 12 is called Craps and players can wager that the next roll will be one of these numbers, the bet pays out at 7:1 creating a house edge of 11.11%.
A Yo Eleven bet wins if the next roll is 11. Generally these bets are made in conjunction with an ‘Any Craps’ bet, which is called a ‘Craps eleven’ wager. Although payout odds depend on the casino, the house edge tends to be over 12%.
Field bets are a form of combination bet, made by placing chips in the large box labelled FIELD. If the next roll is 3, 4, 9, 10 or 11 you are paid at evens, whereas 2 or 12 attracts a payout of 2:1.
Big 6 and Big 8 bets
Big 6 and Big 8 bets are to be avoided at all costs, they are simply wagers that the relevant number will be rolled before 7. However, these bets only pay out at 1:1 and you can make exactly the same bet with a lower house edge by putting a place bet on 6 or 8.
Buy, place and lay bets
Buy, place and lay bets are in many respects similar to Odds bets. They are wagers that specific numbers will be rolled either before or after a 7 next appears. Although Odds bets have no house edge, they must be made in conjunction with Pass/Don’t Pass bets whereas the others can be made at any time.
Place bets allow you to effectively skip the come out roll of a Pass Line bet. You wager that a certain number will appear before 7, with payout odds depending on your choice. One advantage of a place bet is that you can choose the number you bet on; rather than accepting the point roll and placing and Odds bet. Place bets can only be made on 4, 5, 6, 8, 9 and 10.
Buy bets are almost identical to Place and Odds bets; they are again a wager that a specific number will be rolled before 7. These bets pay at exactly fair odds, but you must pay a 5% commission before the bet is made. This yields a house edge of 4.8% because a $10 wager would require a bet of $10.50 with an expected return of $10.
Lay bets can only be made on 4, 5, 6, 8, 9 or 10 and are a wager that 7 will appear before your chosen number. Once again players pay a commission to make a lay bet, but the commission is based on what the player would win rather than their bet.