How to Play Craps

Craps looks like a complicated game to learn how to play. I mean, just look at the table. There are so many different kinds of bets that you can make, and when mixed with the slang being used and the general busyness of the game, it’s understandable to feel a little lost — intimidated even.

But notice how I said that craps looks complicated. It’s really not that bad once you learn how a round of craps is played, without having to worry about all the different kinds of bets. You can worry about those once you get a feel for the action.

So that’s what the rest of this page will do — walk you through a generic round of craps, then explain each of the major bets in more detail. Once you’re done you should be able to hop online or visit your local casino and get started without a hiccup.

A Round of Craps – Rules

A round of craps is straightforward.

It all starts with a shooter. This is the player that is going to be throwing the dice. The role of shooter rotates around the table after each person has seven-out. I’ll get to that in more detail here in a sec.

So before the dice are thrown, players will make their bets. The entire craps table (or layout) is filled with different bets that you can make.

Once the bets have been made, the shooter will make what is known as the come out roll (the first roll from that specific shooter on that specific turn). If a 2, 3 or 12 is rolled, all pass line bets lose and the round is over. If the roll is a 7 or 11, also known as a natural, all pass line bets win.

I’ll explain pass line bets in a second.

If any other number is rolled (4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10), this number then becomes the point. This number will be marked with a disk flipped to “on” and placed on the point. The objective from here on out is for the shooter to roll the point before he or she rolls a 7. If the point is rolled before a 7, then the pass line bet wins. If a 7 is rolled first, then the pass line bets lose. Once a shooter “sevens-out,” it’s another player’s turn to become the shooter.

If I didn’t make it clear already, other than one-roll type wagers, your money is “working” until the player sevens-out or rolls the point. So you can get a lot of rolls (action) for your money.

Types of Craps Bets

Now with an understanding of the basics, you’re ready to tackle the different bets that can be made.

One thing to keep in mind is that almost half of these bets have a sibling type bet that’s exactly the opposite. So once you learn one bet, chances are you’re 75% to learning another one.

Anyway, let’s get to it.

Pass Line

The pass line bet is the most popular bet at the craps table. It’s popular because it’s a bet against the house — or with the shooter — however you want to look at it. It also has an extremely low house edge of 1.41%. So it’s also one of the smartest craps bets that you can make.

You win a pass line bet if, on the come out roll, a 7 or 11 is rolled. You lose your pass line bet when a 2, 3 or 12 is rolled on the come out roll.

If a point is established on the come out roll, then your pass line bet continues “working” for you until that point is rolled, or until the shooter sevens-out. If the point is rolled, you win even money and if a 7 is rolled, then you lose your pass line bet.

It’s been said multiple times in multiple places, but I’ll say it again here: if there is one bet that you should learn — if there was only one bet that you did learn — be sure to make it the pass line bet.

Don’t Pass Line

The don’t pass line bet is the exact opposite of the pass line bet. It’s far from a popular bet, because you’re hoping that the casino wins (and most everyone else loses). The don’t pass line bet also wins on a 2, 3 or 12, but loses on a 7 or 11.

If a point is established on the come out roll, then a don’t pass line bet will lose if the point is rolled before a 7, and will win if a 7 is rolled first.

Note: Both pass line bets must be made before the come out roll.

Come Bet

The come bet is just like the pass line bet, except that it can be made at any time (instead of only before the come out roll). Once the bet has been made, the next roll of the dice creates the point.

From here on out it’s the same — a come bet will win if the point is rolled first, and will lose if a  7 is rolled first.

Don’t Come Bet

The don’t come bet is the opposite of the don’t pass line, except that it can be made at any time. On the next roll a point is made.

The don’t come bet will win if a 7 is rolled first and will lose if the point is rolled first.

Buy Bet

A buy bet is a wager on any point number at the table. A buy bet’s odds are made up in such a way that there is no house edge.

So in order for the casino to make any money, they charge you a 5% commission on these bets. So for every $100 that you’d want to wager, you would have to pay the casino $5.

Here are the point, payout and house edge details:

  • 4 – 39:21 – 4.76%
  • 5 – 29:21 -4.76%
  • 6 – 23:21 – 4.76%
  • 8 – 23:21 – 4.76%
  • 9 – 29:21 – 4.76%
  • 10 – 39:21 – 4.76%

Lay Bet

Lay bets are the opposite of buy bets. You place a wager on a point, and you win if the shooter rolls a 7 before the point is rolled.

But just like buy bets, there is no house advantage. There is a 5% commission.

Here are the point, payout and house edge details for lay bets:

  • 4 – 19:41 – 2.44%
  • 5 – 19:31 – 3.23%
  • 6 – 19:35 – 4.00%
  • 8 – 19:25 – 4.00%
  • 9 – 19:31 – 3.23%
  • 10 – 19:41 – 2.44%

Place Bet

A place bet is similar to a buy bet in that you wager on a point to be rolled before a 7.

The difference is that instead of a commission, the casino has adjusted the payouts so that there is a house edge.

The house edge will vary based on the exact bet you make, as you can see below:

  • 4 – 9:5 – 6.67%
  • 5 – 7:5 – 4.00%
  • 6 – 7:6 – 1.52%
  • 8 – 7:6 – 1.52%
  • 9 – 7:5 – 4.00%
  • 10 – 9:5 – 6.67%

Place Bet to Lose

Place bet to lose wagers are the exact opposite of place bets, and are very similar to lay bets. The objective is to choose a point and hope that a 7 is rolled before that point is.

But like their place bet sibling, the payouts are adjusted so that there is an edge. After all, the casino has to get theirs too, right?!?

Here are the points, along with odds and percentages:

  • 4 – 5:11 – 3.03%
  • 5 – 5:8 – 2.50%
  • 6 – 4:5 – 1.82%
  • 8 – 4:5 – 1.82%
  • 9 – 5:8 – 2.50%
  • 10 – 5:11 – 3.03%

Field Bets

Field bets are wagers made on the outcome of the next roll. If the next roll results in a 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11 or 12, then the bet wins. If a roll is a 5, 6, 7 or 8, then the bet loses.

In case you’re wondering, there are more ways to roll a 5, 6, 7 or 8, which is why so few numbers lose, but still create an advantage for the casino.

Proposition Bets

Proposition bets are wagers that either win or lose on the next throw. These are the bets with the biggest house edge — some nearly 17%. But they’re also the bets with the highest payouts. For example, a 2 or 12 pays 33:1.

Hardway Bets

A hardway bet is wagering that a number will show up by pair only. For example, you might bet on a hard 8, which is a pair of 4s. A hard 6 would be a pair of 3s, and so on.

These bets lose on a 7 or any of their easy way counterparts. For example, if you wager on a hard 8, you would lose on a 7 or a combination of 6/2 or 5/3.