Craps - The right way up I never really liked Craps because I found it difficult to understand. There were always so many glamorous people standing around the table, laughing at private jokes and looking, well, out of my league. With the glamorous image portrayed in movies and all that dice rolling and bet placing on different versions of what looked to me to be the same thing, the game just made me nervous. I’m a simple guy who prefers to go at things alone; it just didn’t look like my kind of game. One day, coming off a win and perhaps one too many celebratory I thought I would switch things up, get out of the prying eyes of the pit bosses trying to figure out what I was doing right. So, I meandered off to the Craps table. At first I just stood there, watching, trying to read the players, the shooter, see if they had a strategy that I could pick up. It took about an hour before I realized that the only ones with strategies were the bettors – the shooter places a bet on the Pass or the Don’t Pass Line (to show investment in the game) and then they just have to roll. And roll. And roll. Until that 7 comes up.
Let’s break it down You have a confusing looking table that looks like this:
The main parts of the table are the Pass Line, the Don’t Pass Line, the Come Bar, the Don’t Come bar.
The table is surrounded by a Craps crew – hence the illusion of being busy – that consists of four casino officials – the Boxman, two base dealers and a stickman. The Boxman supervises the dealers, handles the chips and oversees the game. The two base dealers work on either side of the table, collecting and paying bets. The stickman is positioned opposite the Boxman and controls the flow of the game by announcing the end results of dice rolls, managing center bets and collecting the dice after they’ve been rolled. The shooter is the player that controls the dice. The shooter will roll the dice until either the point number or a seven have been rolled, at which point the game is over and the next player becomes the shooter.
The tools There is an on/off marker, dice, and a stick that is used to return the dice to the shooter. The on/off marker highlights the marker that indicates what the point number is and whether there is a game in progress or not.
The dice –two are used in the game of Craps - are the most important part of the game, and are only handled by the stickman and the shooter. The shooter throws the dice and bounces them off the back wall of the table. The aim of the game is to establish the point number on the first roll (also called the come out roll) and roll it again before rolling a seven. The game is over when the shooter rolls the point number the second time or a seven, at which point the dice is handed over to the next shooter. So those are the basics. The rest, and maybe the most complicated part of the game, all revolves around the bets. But before we get carried away, let’s take a brief look at where the game of Craps came from.
Humble Beginnings The game of Craps is said to derive from the Old English game Hazard, and dates back to the Crusades. The game is even mentioned in The Canterbury Tales, the collection of stories written by Geoffrey Chaucer in the 14th century.
An image of street style Craps being played in the hall of the newsboy’s lodging-house. Original source: Jacob Riis (18491914), How The Other Half Lives.
Craps became a very popular street game and was picked up by the French who brought their version of the game – known as craupard or frog because of the crouched positions players assumed when playing street style Craps – to New Orleans. It is said that the name ‘Craps’ derives from this French word. Although not very clear, the history of Craps seems to hint that the popularity of the game grew in the battle fields of World War II where soldiers played ‘street style’ Craps. Once gambling was legalised in Nevada in the 1930s, the spread of Craps gained momentum as an exciting alternative to card games, and is still widely enjoyed in casinos around the world.
How and where Betting on the Pass Line
Betting on the Pass Line means you are betting with the shooter – i.e. that the shooter will win by rolling a seven or eleven on the come out roll. For this bet, bettors need to place their chips on the part of the table that is marked Pass Line. The Pass Line bet is a series bet which means that the shooter may need to roll the dice more than once before the bet wins or loses. If you have bet on the Pass Line and a seven or eleven – also known as naturals – are rolled on the first roll, your bet will win money. If the shooter rolls a two, three or twelve on the first roll, all bets on the Pass Line lose. If the shooter rolls a four, five, six, eight, nine, or ten, the dealer flips the on/off marker and places it on top of the number to indicate that the point has been established.
Betting on the Don’t Pass Line
Betting on the Don’t Pass Line means you are betting against the shooter – i.e. that the shooter will roll a seven before rolling the point number again. Bettors place their chips on the section of the table marked Don’t Pass. Like the Pass Line, the Don’t Pass Line is a series bet. A seven is the most likely number to be rolled thus making the Don’t Pass Line a great place to win big money. Dice Total
1+3, 2+2, 3+1
1+4, 2+3, 3+2, 4+1
1+5, 2+4, 3+3, 4+2, 5+1
1+6, 2+5, 3+4, 4+3, 5+2, 6+1
2+6, 3+5, 4+4, 5+3, 6+2
3+6, 4+5, 5+4, 6+3
4+6, 5+5, 6+4
However, a large majority of players bet on the Pass Line so they are not seen to be betting against the shooter. If, like me, you prefer to gamble alone or aren’t too fussed about the shooter’s feelings, go for the Don’t Pass Line.
True odds means that the casino does not have any statistical house advantage on the payout.
If the shooter rolls a two or three, the Don’t Pass line bettors win. If the shooter rolls a seven or eleven, the Don’t Pass Line bettors lose. If the shooter rolls a twelve there is a push which means that no one wins or loses.
Taking the Odds Once the point number has been established, players can place extra bets. As I mentioned earlier, seven is the most likely number to be rolled. This, coupled with the fact that this bet pays out if the point is rolled before the seven is why this bet is known as taking the odds. To “take the odds” players place a bet behind the Pass Line. This bet is usually a multiple of between three and five times your Pass Line bet. The house does not have an edge on these bets which are usually paid out at true odds – 6:5 if the point number is a six or an eight, 3:2 if the point number is a five or a nine, and 2:1 if the point number is a four or ten. The odds multiples are related to the odds of a dice roll and work in the following way: 1X - odds bet equal to your pass line bet 2X - odds bet of double your pass line bet Full Double Odds - 2.5 times odds on six or eight and double on all other numbers 3X - odds wager of triple your pass line bet 3-4-5X - 3 times odds on 4 and 10, 4 times odds on 5 and 9, 5 times odds on 6 and 8 5X - odds bet of 5 times your pass line bet 10X - odds bet of 10 times your pass line bet 20X - odds bet of 20 times your pass line bet 100X - odds bet of 100 times your pass line bet
Laying the Odds Laying the odds is essentially the opposite of taking the odds – this bet allows players to bet on whether the seven will be rolled before the point number. Players betting on the Don’t Pass Line can “lay the odds” and enjoy the statistically fair lack of a house edge.
Laying the odds pays 1:2 against a four or ten; 2:3 against a five or nine and 5:6 against a six or eight. The bet needs to be five times your Don’t Pass Line bet and can be wagered by placing your bet behind the Don’t Pass Line. How are you doing so far? I recommend spending some time just betting on the Pass and Don’t Pass Lines, laying and taking the odds. Get yourself comfortable with the speed of the game and the table layout before moving onto the next part because this is where it starts to get a little bit confusing.
The Come Bet The Come Bet is similar to the Pass Line bet but cannot be made on the come-out roll. This means Come bets can only be placed once the point has been established therefore, the second roll of the game is the come-out roll for the Come bet. These bets win if the shooter rolls a seven or an eleven. If the shooter rolls a four, five, six, eight, nine or ten a new point number is established. This point is unique to players betting on the Come bet. Once this happens, the player’s chips are moved across from the Come bet to the new point number’s box to indicate that the new point has been established. If the shooter rolls the new point number again before rolling a seven, the Come bettor wins. If the shooter rolls a seven first, the Come bettor loses, as does the Pass Line bet.
The Don’t Come Bet This bet is similar to the Don’t Pass bet and is the opposite of the Come bet. By placing chips in the Don’t Pass bar, players are betting that a seven will come up before the point number is rolled. The Don’t Come bet wins when the shooter rolls a two or a three and loses when the shooter rolls a seven or eleven. If the shooter rolls a twelve, it is a tie -this is to reverse the natural house advantage.
The point number for the Don’t Come bet is the same as the point number for the Come bet therefore it is established in the same way.
And some more bets Sometimes there will be a few rolls between the point number being established and either it, or a seven, being rolled again. For this reason, players are given the option of placing bets on the other numbers a shooter might roll. Single-roll bets Single-roll bets are – also known as proposition or service bets - applicable for one roll only. These bets are wagered by placing bets in the centre of the table. These bets pay higher odds because they it is difficult to win on these bets consistently therefore they are slightly riskier for the player. Single-roll bets are marked in red and multi-roll bets are usually marked in yellow. Types of service bets • Two / Snake eyes wins if the shooter rolls a two. • Three/ Ace-Deuce wins if the shooter rolls a three. • Yo wins if the shooter rolls an eleven. • Any Craps / Three-way wins if the shooter rolls a two, three or twelve. • Boxcars, Midnight or Cornrows wins if the shooter rolls a twelve. • Hi-lo wins if the shooter rolls a two or a twelve. To wager this bet, bettors place chips on the line dividing the two and the twelve. • C&E lets players place half their bet on Craps (seven) and the other half on Yo (eleven). • Any seven/ Big red wins if the shooter rolls a seven.
• The horn players bet one unit (each) for any two, three, eleven or twelve that is rolled in the next roll. The horn is four separate bets and is paid out for the number that is rolled, minus three units for the losing numbers(bets). • Whirl / World allows the player to bet on the combination of the two dice on the next roll. Field bets Field bets give players a once off chance at guessing whether a two, three, four, nine, ten, eleven or twelve will appear on the next roll of the dice. To place these bets, players can put their chips in the section of the table marked “Field”. If the shooter rolls a five, six, seven or eight, Field bets automatically lose. Mulitple-roll bets Multiple-roll bets usually stand for a bettors decide to remove their bets. number you are betting on has been ends with either a seven or the point
number of rolls, or until Bets will stand until the rolled, or until the round number being rolled.
The Come and Don’t Come bets are also referred to as multipleroll bets even though they are not allowed to be placed on the come-out roll like most multiple-roll bets are. Multiple-roll bets are wagered on Place numbers – four, five, six, eight, nine and ten. Types of multiple-roll bets • Hard way/ Double/ Pairs: bets that the shooter will roll a four, six, eight or 10 before rolling a seven. A hard way requires both dice to display the same value. • Easy way: bets that the shooter will roll a four, six, eight or 10 before rolling a seven. An easy way does not require the dice to have the same display value.
â€˘ Place/ Buy bets: are placed by bettors telling the dealer how much they want to bet and what number they want to bet it on. Players are betting that their chosen number will be rolled before a seven is rolled. These bets are working bets and will continue to pay out until a seven is rolled. â€˘ Lay bets: bets are wagered on a Place number allowing the player to bet that a seven will be rolled before that number is rolled. â€˘ Big six or eight: bets that the six or eight will be rolled before a seven. Six and eight are the second most likely numbers to be rolled (behind a seven). Sucker Bets
Although they look incredibly appealing because of their potentially big payout, Sucker, made up mostly of proposition bets (single-roll bets), have higher than normal house edges. Three of the most commonly confused bets are Any Seven, Any Craps and the Field bets. The Any Seven bet. Given the likelihood of a seven being rolled, this bet sounds like it is fool proof. However, the Any Seven bet has a house percentage of 16.7%. Any Craps wins if the shooter rolls a 2, 3 or 12. As there are four ways to win this bet, but 32 ways to lose, the odds should be 8:1. Instead the casinos payout at 7:1, making the house edge 11%. The Field bet wins if a 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11 or 12 are rolled, making this bet appear favorable to players. However, the numbers that lose (5, 6, 7, 8) are more likely to be rolled. The field bet has a house edge of 5%. Once you are comfortable with the basics of the game of Craps, you can start to work on putting a strategy into play.
Strategy There are two basic strategies for Craps. They involve a similar formula but require you to go either with or against the shooter.
If you want to go with the shooter
If you feel a little strange betting against the shooter, this is what your basic strategy should consist of:
• Betting on the Pass Line • Taking the Come bet • Taking the odds Go against the shooter
Betting against the shooter has slightly better odds for players so if you don’t mind swimming against the current, betting on the Don’t Pass and Don’t Come are a good option.
• Betting the Don’t Pass Line • Taking the Don’t Come bet • Laying the odds
Play Properly Here are some Craps playing guidelines to help keep you in favour with the dealer, and the other players. 1. Mentioning the number seven at the Craps table is considered bad luck. 2. Avoid dangling your hands over the edge of the table or being fidgety when the shooter is about to roll the dice. 3. Those lucky rituals of yours? They’re really great, but try not to let them take up too much time. 4. The shooter is the one that controls the dice. You need the dice to roll in your favour. Avoid distracting; touching or talking to the dealer at all costs. 5. When you are the shooter, only use one hand for the dice. 6. Leave a tip whenever possible – just make sure you announce that it is for the house.
Talk the Talk House Edge
The house edge is theoretically the profit a casino expects to make from any casino game. It is typically expressed as a percentage. The house edges for various Craps bets are usually: Pass/ Come
Don’t Pass/ Don’t Come
Field (2:1 on 12)
Field (3:1 on 12)
Big 6, 8
Hard 4, 10
Hard 6, 8
Place 6, 8
Place 5, 9
Place 4, 10
Place (to lose) 4, 10
Proposition 2, 12
True odds refers to the actual odds of a number showing or being thrown instead of another number. If the point number is a four or ten, the odds are 2:1. If the point number is a five or nine, the odds are 3:2. If the point number is a six or eight, the odds are 6:5.
The Come Out Roll
The come-out roll is the very first roll of a new game of Craps. The point number is based on this roll.
The Point Number
The point number is the dice-total of the first or come-out roll. In order for Pass Line bets to win, the shooter needs to roll this number again before rolling a seven.
Sevening out refers to a seven being rolled. Thatâ€™s about it for me. My best piece of advice is to just play. Watch. Learn. Be patient with yourself, youâ€™ll get there. And if you have any questions or feel cheated, you know where to find me.
The Casino Jones Guide to Craps provides insight for newcomers to the game as well as concrete advice for those looking for the best advanta...