How to Play the Game…Craps

By no means do we encourage gambling, but if you have a little free time and are up for the challenge, you can always try your luck at Craps—America’s most popular gambling game. You won’t be an expert after reading this column, but you will have a better understanding of how to play the game.

Craps is known as America’s most popular gambling game. It is a casino dice game that first came to the U.S. through a wealthy French gambler and politician in New Orleans. The actual origins are thought to go back to the Crusades; it has been previously known as “hazard,” “crapaud” and “crabs.” 

Although actually quite simple to play, craps can seem very complex until one is familiar with the terminology of the game. To start, players wager money against the casino on the outcome of one roll, or a series of rolls, of two dice. Craps is played by 1 or more players, and players take turns rolling two dice. The player rolling the dice is the “shooter,” and the first roll of a new round is the “come-out roll.” Dealers usually insist that the shooter roll with only one hand and that the dice bounce off the wall around the table, in order to discourage cheating or switching dice. 

Four casino employees run the craps table: a “boxman” who guards the chips, supervises the dealers and handles coloring out players; two “base dealers” stand to either side of the boxman to collect and pay bets; and a “stickman” stands directly across the table from the boxman and announces the results of each roll, then collects the dice. He is also in charge of managing the bets made on the center of the table, of which the House generally has a higher edge – we will not being going into detail on these bets, as they are not recommended for the beginner. 

Basic game-play goes as follows: A new shooter is presented five dice by the stickman and must choose two. On the come-out roll if the total of the two dice are 7, 11, 2, 3 or 12, the round ends immediately and the shooter must roll another come-out roll. A result of 2, 3 or 12 is called “craps” while a result of 7 or 11 is called a “win” or a “natural.” When any other number (4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10) is rolled on the come-out roll, this number becomes the “point.” When a point is established, the shooter will re-roll the dice continuously until either a 7 is rolled, or the point is rolled again. If the shooter rolls the point again, the round ends and the game starts over with the same shooter rolling another come-out roll. If the shooter rolls a 7 instead of the point, this is called a “seven-out,” the round ends and the dice pass to the next player to the left, who becomes the new shooter.

Players can bet on any number of things: How the round will end (either with a point, or a seven-out), on a specific total being rolled, or a specific total being rolled before a 7. A new shooter must bet on either the “pass-line,” or the “don’t pass line.” 

Pass Line Bet:
If the dice thrown on the come-out roll total 7 or 11,you win and are paid 1 to 1. You then bet and roll another come-out. If the dice thrown total 2, 3 or 12, you lose. The dice now go to the next player for the start of a new round with another come-out roll.
If you roll a point, you must re-roll – if a 7 comes up on the dice, you lose the bet you made at the beginning. If the point comes up again, you win.

Don’t Pass Bet:
Don’t Pass is basically the opposite of the Pass Line. If the dice thrown on the come-out roll bet total 7 or 11, you lose. 2 and 3 win, and on 12 you draw, neither winning or losing.
If the dice come up 4, 5, 6, 8, 9 or 10 as before, this becomes the point. After this, if 7 comes up first, you win. To lose, the point must come up. 

Come Bet:
After a point has been made, you may place a bet in the space marked Come. The rules for come wagers are the same as pass line, except that they are made after the come-out roll. 7 or 11 win, crap 2, 3 and 12 lose. When a new point is established, the bet is moved to the appropriate box above the come space. Then the bet wins if the point appears before the 7, loses if 7 appears first. Payment again is 1 to 1. 

Don’t Come Bet:
After a point has been made, you may place a bet in the space marked Don’t. This has almost the same rules as don’t pass. 7 or 11 lose, crap 2 and 3 win, 12 is a draw. When one of the point numbers comes up, the bet is moved to the appropriate box. Now you want 7 to come up before your don’t come point number. 

When starting out, these four bets have a lower house edge, and are easy to understand. Becoming comfortable with the table and the basic rules of play is the best way to proceed to more complex betting strategies. In closing, please see the below for a few etiquette tips: 

-Players should not handle the dice with more than one hand, nor take the dice past the edge of the table
-Dealers are not allowed to touch the players – should be placed on the layout, which the dealer will take a replace with chips
-After the come-out roll, it is considered bad luck to say the word “seven,” you may refer to the number as “Big Red” instead
-It is also considered bad luck for a shooter to leave the table after a successful come-out roll
-Food, drinks and any other items should never be left on the chip rail