How to Play Craps: The Complete Beginner's Guide

Published May 14, 2022 by Elana K

How to Play Craps: The Complete Beginner's Guide

This article will discuss everything you need to know as a beginner craps player: how to play, the rules of the game, bet types, and more. While craps may seem complicated, there's no need to be overwhelmed. Practice makes perfect!

If you’re interested in playing craps but aren't sure it's the game for you, you've come to the right place. Generally, craps is a game for players who thrive on excitement and suspense. Almost every movie that depicts gambling inevitably features the characters around a craps table, throwing the dice as a large crowd cheers them on. The reason craps is usually shown, as opposed to roulette or baccarat, is because it is an exciting game!

This article will discuss everything you need to know as a beginner craps player: how to play, the rules of the game, bet types, and more. While craps may seem complicated, there's no need to be overwhelmed. Practice makes perfect!

How to Play Craps

The game starts with a roll of the dice, known as the “come out roll.” The player who rolls the dice is known as the shooter. If the shooter rolls a 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10, that number becomes the point, the number that the shooter will root for on their next roll. The bet stays active until the shooter rolls the point or a 7. If a 7 is rolled before the point, it’s called a “7 out”, and it becomes the turn of the next player to roll the dice.

Certain bets automatically lose if the dice total 2, 3, or 12 on the come-out roll. Certain bets automatically win if the dice total 7 or 11 on the come-out roll.

How to Achieve Craps Objectives

You're not alone if you’re wondering how to win at craps. Many players wonder how it’s possible to win this game, but there is no one answer. Winning at craps depends on the bets you place (see more about bets and betting strategies below). For example, if the dice land on a 7 for the come-out roll, specific bets will win while others will lose. However, there is one consistent goal: if a point is established, you’ll want to land it on the second spin.

Craps Rules

Craps is a fun game, but several rules must be followed. Most of these apply to land-based casinos since online craps are all digitized.

Craps rules include:

  • When the shooter rolls the dice, they are supposed to hit the far back wall. The roll is invalid if the shooter throws only one die instead of two.
  • The shooter should handle the dice with one hand only.
  • The dice should not be thrown above the eye level of the dealers.
  • Players shouldn’t hand anything directly to the dealers. Instead, they should place their chips on the table, and the dealer will then take them.

Table Layout

There are four staff people at a craps table at land-based casinos: the boxman, stickman, and two dealers. The boxman oversees the entire table, while the stickman, as you may guess from the name, holds a long stick with which they push and pull the dice around the table. The dealers stand at opposite ends of the table and deal chips to the players who want to buy in. (Of course, none of this applies to online craps.)

The craps tables at land-based casinos are usually 3.5 feet wide by 12.5 feet long. There are deep cut-out sections where the boxman, stickman, and dealers can stand. The casino’s bank is on one of the long sides, and on the opposite side, there is usually a long mirror. The ends are U-shaped and leave room for about eight players on each side.

The table is usually covered in a green “bed” that features the layout. The layout shows all the types of bets, including pass line, come, and more. When you want to make a bet, you need to put your chips on that specific layout section. Dealers have something called a puck, which they use to indicate when they are accepting bets for pass line or point numbers.

Craps Bet Types

There are so many bets you can place in a game of craps. These are some of the most common:

Pass line bet: This is the simplest and most common craps bet. You bet that the come-out roll will be a 7 or 11. If this happens, you win. If the dice total 2, 3, or 12, you lose.

Don’t pass line bet: This is almost the opposite of the pass line bet. If the shooter rolls a 2 or 3, you win the bet. If the dice total 7 or 11, you lose the bet. If the total comes to 12, it’s considered a tie.

Come bet: Similar to the pass line bet, except that the come bet can only be placed after the point has been determined. If you place this bet, you want the second roll to land a 7 or 11 to win.

Don’t come bet: This is also nearly the opposite of the "don’t pass" line bet. It can only be placed after the point has been set. If the shooter rolls a 2 or 3 on their second spin, you win. If they roll a 7 or 11, you lose. A total of 12 is a tie, which means that you need a 7 to be rolled right away in order to win.

Field bet: This bet applies to a single roll of the dice at any point in the game. If you roll a 3, 4, 9, 10, or 11 (the numbers in the field box), you win. If you roll a 5, 6, 7, or 8 (the numbers outside the field box), you lose. If you roll a 2, you win double your bet, and if you roll a 12, you win triple.

Free odds bet: This bet must be placed once you’ve made a pass or come bet. It’s a bet that the shooter will land a 7 before a point. Incredibly, there is no house edge on this wager, which makes it pretty popular.

Place bet: These bets can be made at any point during the game, but are mostly done after a point has been set. For a place bet, you wager that a specific number will be rolled before a 7.

Buy bet: Similar to a place bet, a buy bet allows you to wager that the shooter will roll a specific point number (4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10) before rolling a 7. While buy bets have higher payouts than place bets, you have to pay a commission to the casino.

Big 6, Big 8 bets: This is a bet that a 6 or 8 will be rolled before a 7, and it can be placed at any point during the game.

Hardway bet: A bet that the shooter will roll doubles. For example, if you place a hardway bet on 8, you can only win if both dice land on 4. And this must happen before a 7 is rolled.

Proposition bet: This is a type of bet that you can place on a number, and it’s settled on the following roll. Proposition bets include:

  • 2 or 12 bet: You can bet that a 2 or 12 (the two hardest numbers to land in craps) will be thrown on the next roll. Since the likelihood of either of these numbers being rolled is low, this bet pays out 30:1 odds.
  • 3 or 11 bet: The same as the above bet, but in this bet, players choose 3 or 11, and the payout is lower because the odds are higher.
  • Any 7 bet: 7 is the easiest number to land since it has the most possible combinations. You can bet that the shooter will roll a 7 to win this bet, but the payout isn’t as high as other bets since the odds of rolling a 7 are high.

Craps Terminology

As a beginner craps player, it’s essential to learn a few new words that are unique to craps. Knowing the lingo will make your playing experience go more smoothly.

Shooter: The player who’s rolling the dice.
Come out roll: The first roll in which there is no point number (see below).
Point: A 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10 that’s rolled on the come out roll.
Snake eyes/2 craps 2: A roll of two 1s.
3 craps 3: When a 3 is rolled on the come out roll.
7 out: When a 7 is rolled before the point.
A “hard” number: When the dice total is made up of two of the same numbers. For example, an 8 in which both dice land on 4 is a hard 8. A 4 in which both dice land on 2 is a hard 4.
An “easy” number: When the dice total is made up of two different dice rolls, i.e., an 8 in which the dice land on 2 and 6.
Push: A tie.

Craps Betting Tips

There are a lot of different types of bets in craps, so if you’re new to the game, you may find them overwhelming. Here are some basic betting tips that you can keep in mind to help you get started:

  • Pass line/don’t pass line and come/don’t come bets usually have the lowest house edge, along with place 6, place 8, buy 4, and buy 10 bets. Therefore, your odds of winning are higher with these bets.
  • Some players follow the Martingale betting system, a strategy that says you should double your bet after every loss. 
  • Some players follow the strategy of gambler’s fallacy, which dictates that if a specific number hasn’t been rolled for 20 turns OR if a certain number has been rolled very often in the last 20 turns, you should bet on it for the next turn.
  • Free odds bets have no house edge, which levels the playing ground between you and the casino.

Land-based Casino Craps vs Online Craps

While the actual game is the same in both land-based and online venues, each set offers a totally different gaming experience. If you want the rush and thrill that you see in the movies, playing craps at a land-based casino is the only way to go. If you enjoy the art of betting or are new to the game, you may prefer online craps so that you can concentrate or learn the ropes in a quiet, pressure-free setting.

Most Recommended Casinos for Craps

Craps FAQS

Is craps a game of skill or luck?
Craps is mainly a game of luck, but you can maximize your chances of winning if you bet wisely.

What is the house edge in craps?
In craps, the house edge varies according to the bet. The range is between 1.4% and nearly 17%.

Are some bets better than others?
No bets are better than others since we have no control over the dice. You can place a very risky bet and win big, or you can place a fairly safe bet and lose. It all depends on the dice. 

What are the best bets for beginners?
The pass/don’t pass bets are best for beginners because they are the least complicated and also have a low house edge.

Can I play craps online?
Yes. While craps is considered more exciting at land-based casinos, you can certainly play it online, for free or for money.

Who Should Play Craps?

Craps is a game that anyone can play. Whether you prefer playing at a land-based or online casino depends on your personality. If you love the thrill of a live casino game, there’s nothing quite like a traditional casino. If, however, you prefer working on your strategy in a quiet atmosphere, online craps is ideal. Online craps, of course, are also more convenient since you can play the game at your convenience.

While you may find the rules complicated as a beginner, the more you play, the more comfortable you’ll become with them. We recommend practising at online casinos that offer free craps games. That way, you can get more familiar with the bets without risking any money. You can move on to for-pay online games or head out to the casino nearest you when you feel ready. 

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