New players can enjoy the game even though they don't fully understand every bet available to them. In fact, the simplest bets to understand are also the best bets in terms of the odds and the low house advantage. So don't worry if you don't understand everything right away.

The game revolves around the shooter (also known as the crapshooter). To start a game the shooter shoots (rolls) the dice. He or she can win automatically on the first roll or lose automatically. Bettors who made of the two most basic bets can also win or lose automatically on the first throw. These bets are called Pass Line and Don't Pass Line bets.

If the first throw did not result in an instant win or loss, the number rolled becomes the Point. The shooter then throws the dice until either the Point comes up again or the number 7 comes up. If the Point comes up again before the seven the shooter wins and everyone who bet for the shooter win. If seven comes up first they all lose. The opposite is the case for everyone who bet against the shooter.

And, as far as the introduction is concerned, that's pretty much all you really need to know to start wagering at craps!


A Little History

Craps is an ever-popular casino game. It is played at a special craps table that is big enough for as many as 20 players and the three casino employees who keep track of everything.

It is thought that craps was first played by English Crusaders. They called the game Hazard, a corruption of the name of the castle to which they were laying siege. Others say that the name Hazard is a corruption of the Arabic word for dice. Hazard soon was extremely popular. It is mentioned several times in the Canterbury Tales.

Craps came across the Atlantic either with the English or with the French , who had learned the game and changed it somewhat. The modern name craps is considered a corruption of the word crabs which the French used to refer to a throw of 2.

Craps moved to the Deep South as the Accadian French settled there after being kicked out of Nova Scotia. A slang term for dice games is African Dominoes, meaning that African-Americans may have had a major hand in the modern development of the game.

Whatever the real history is, and whoever had the most influence on its development, we can all enjoy the fast play and excitement generated when a shooter gets a hot hand.

The Craps Table & The People Who Work There

The table is built especially for craps. The surface is felt. On the felt are numerous words and numbers. These refer to the bets that can be made. Because the table is quite long the same words and numbers are printed at both ends.

At one end of the table is a short wall, called the back wall. When the shooter throws the dice it must hit the back wall to be a valid throw.

The boxman is responsible for the casino's money. He or she watches everything that happens at the table. The boxman changes chips to cash. He is also responsible to resolve any problems that arise regarding a bet.

The stickman moves the dice around the table. At the beginning of a game the stickman moves three sets of dice to the new shooter who chooses one set. After every throw the stickman returns the dice to the shooter. The stickman also announces the outcome of each throw.

There are two dealers at a craps table, one on each side. One of the dealers is in charge of the puck, the disk that tells players if this is an ongoing game or if a new game is about to start. The dealers pay winners and collect losing bets. The dealers also make Place, Lay, Odds, and Proposition bets for a player. The player puts chips on the side of the table and tells the dealer how he wants to bet them.

The floorman is the overall manager of everything that goes on at the table. Because the other table employees are also experts at their jobs, the floorman can supervise more than one table at a time. It is the floorman who approves credit for a player and who studies the players for any undesirable conduct.

The Shooter

The shooter stands at one end of the table opposite the back wall. Of all the players around the table the shooter is by far the most important. The shooter is the only player who throws the dice in any given game. When a shooter loses a game he passes the dice to his left. Even when you start your session at craps in the middle of one side of the table, by the time you become the shooter you are at the shooter's end of the table and all eyes are on you. Don't worry. Most of the bettors want you to win. And if you get a hot hand they will love you forever!

Basic Craps Play

Part One
Let's say that you are a new player and have just come to the craps table. The shooter loses on the next throw. A new game is about to begin. The two bets you can choose from now are Pass Line or Don't Pass Line. A pass line bet means you want the shooter to win; a Don't Pass Line bet means you are gambling with the house.

The shooter is about to throw the dice for his game. This is called the Come-Out throw. If the shooter throws a 7 or an 11 he wins automatically and all Pass Line Bets win as well. In this case all Don't Pass Line bets lose automatically

If the shooter throws a 2, 3, or 12 on his Come-Out throw, he loses automatically and all Pass Line Bets lose as well. The Don't Pass Line bets win automatically when shooter's Come-Out throw is 2 or 3. If the Come-Out throw is 12 the Don't Pass Line bets don't win. The 12 is "barred".

If the shooter rolls 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10 that number is called the Point. Now the object of the game, for the shooter and for everyone who bet for him to win, is to roll the Point again before rolling a 7. Now if the shooter rolls a 7, he and all the Pass Line bettors lose. Of course, in this case the Don't Pass Line bettors win.

To summarize: the shooter throws the dice to either establish the point, to win at once, or to lose at once. People who bet on the shooter all the way make a Pass Line Bet. People who wish to bet against the shooter make a Don't Pass Line Bet. With just this much understanding of the game you can start betting at Craps.

Part Two
After the Point is established, a bettor can enhance his odds and actually reduce the house's advantage. This is because Pass Line and Don't Pass Line bets pay even money. They pay even money because all the number combinations are in play on the Come-Out throw. After the Point is established the odds change. Now a bettor can make a Free Odds bet. This means that, if the Point is rolled before a seven is rolled, the house will pay true odds.

If seven is rolled before the Point then both the Pass Line and the Free Odds bet lose. But if the Point comes up before the seven the Pass Line wins and pays 1-1 and the Free Odds bet wins and pays according to this scale: 6-5 for a Point of six or eight; 3-2 for a Point of five or nine; and 2-1 for a Point of four or ten.

Part Three
The next bets to consider are the Come and Don't Come bets. These bets are similar to the Pass Line and Don't Pass Line bets with one very big exception. They can be made only after a Point has been established. Then, for the player making a Come or Don't Come bet, the next throw is a Come-Out throw for him only. The Point established for the Come and Don't Come bets is called the Come Point.

The advantage to the bettor of making a Come or Don't Come bet is that he will then have more numbers in play.

Come and Don't Come bets can also be enhanced with an Odds bet.

Part Four
Now we will discuss several other bets available to the bettor.

*** Place bets can be made after a Point has been established. As you know, the Point will be 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10. A Place bet says one other point number will come up before the Point or a seven. For example, if the Point is 5, you can bet on any other of the point numbers to come up before the point or a seven. Place bets are considered sound only on the six and eight.

*** Buy bets are like Place bets. The difference is in the payout. Buy bets pay true odds but the house takes a 5% commission.

*** Lay bets are another variation of the Place and Buy bets. Here the bettor says that seven will be rolled before any of the point numbers. Lay bets pay true odds but the house takes a 5% commission.

*** Hard Way - this bet says that a double will be rolled before a seven or the same number the "easy way". Hard Way is double twos, threes, fours, fives, and sixes. It is not advised as it is similar to a Place bet but with worse odds.

*** Easy Way - This is the opposite of Hard Way and is not advised for the same reason.

*** Big Six or Big Eight bets say a six or an eight will be rolled before a seven. They pay 1-1. It is considered wiser to simply make a Place bet on six or eight instead.

The following is a quick rundown of Proposition bets. These are one-throw bets with high house advantages.

*** Field bets are placed in the designated area on the table. This bet says that the next throw of the dice will be 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11, or 12. It pays 2-1 on two and twelve and 1-1 on the other numbers. It is considered an unsound bet.

*** Any Seven - This bet says that the next roll will be a seven. It pays 4-1.

*** Any Eleven - This is a bet that the next throw will be an eleven. It pays 15-1.

*** Any Craps - This is a bet that 2, 3, or 12 will be rolled next. It pays 7-1.

*** Horn Bet - This is a bet on 2, 3, 11, or 12 as the next throw. It pays 7-1 on 2 or 12; 3-1 on 3 or 11.

*** Two - Bettor bets on two as the next throw. It pays 30-1.

*** Three - Betting on three as the next throw. It pays 15-1.

*** Yo - Bet on eleven as the next throw. It pays 15-1.

*** Twelve - It pays 30-1.

*** Hi-Lo - A combination bet on two and twelve. It pays 15-1.

*** C and E - The player bets half the bet on craps and the other half on eleven. One bet surely will lose; the other could win. It pays 3-1 on craps and 7-1 on eleven.

*** Big Red (aka Any Seven) - This is a bet on seven only. It pays 4-1.


Craps is popular for many reasons but primarily for the camaraderie that is created around the table among strangers. More than any other casino game, Craps produces much whooping and hollering. Join in the fun and you will have the time of your life.

Posted by Nick David

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