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How to Play Craps - Beginner’s Guide

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From the biggest Vegas casinos right down to the street, craps is easy to play and only requires a set of dice to play. It didn’t truly become popular until the 17th century, but it was the Vegas boom of the 1930s that made it what it is today. Online casinos have naturally capitalized on the popularity of craps in regular land-based casinos. You can therefore expect to find a multitude of table varieties and rule-sets that alter certain aspects of the game, such as betting options. It has never been easier for players around the world to access their favorite games from the comfort of their own homes. That’s why there is no better time to learn the rules and become confident enough to play for yourself. Here we will be covering all of the fundamentals of how to play craps online.

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Basic Craps Rules and Bet Types

Anyone can learn how to shoot dice, but to get the most out of it you will need to learn quite a few terms. Most of the terminology comes from the betting options, which all have their own names. This is also where the bulk of the rules comes into play. Each round of craps starts with all the players announcing their bets, followed by the roll of a pair of dice. It is the result of the dice that determines whether a bet loses, wins, or carries on to the next round. Most of the betting options are simple with only a couple of results to look out for. We will cover some of the more complex betting options in this guide as well. But, it is recommended that newer players start with the simpler bets, such as the Pass and Come bet types.

The entire game is based around the cast of two dice, which is sometimes handled by a croupier and other times swapped between players. You will start to see the actual rules of the game take shape as you read through the bet types. Only knowing a couple of the betting options is enough to get started. Still, it’s always good to know as broad a range as possible so that you keep your options open.

Many bet types refer to a ‘Point’ being settled. This is referring to a dice roll with an outcome where you neither win nor lose. Instead, the outcome becomes the Point and you must try to get this outcome again before rolling a 7.

Pass Line

Starting with the most commonly placed bets in a game of craps; the Pass Line and Don’t Pass. Both bet types provide payouts at a 1 to 1 ratio. Players are looking for a roll of the two dice equalling a value of 7 or 11 on the Pass Line bet. The bet is lost on a 2, 3 or 12. All other values result in your wager remaining on the table for the next round. The outcome of the next round then also depends on the value of the dice. If it’s a 7 again, the bet is lost. Although, if the value is equal to the previous round’s value (known as a Point) it’s a win. All over values will result in the wager once again being left on the table. The house only has a slight edge on this bet type with only 1.14% making it the least risky play.

Being the opposite of Pass Line bet, the Don’t Pass bet, on the other hand, will lose on a value of 7 or 11 and win on a 2, 3 or 12. All other values will let the wager remain on the table; where the next round will result in a loss if the same value is rolled again and this time wins on the roll of a 7.

Come or Don’t Come

Easy to understand, if you are familiar with Pass Lines bets, the Come or Don’t Come bets are instead placed after a Point has been settled. For a Come bet, you’ll win on a roll of a 7 or 11, again after there has been a Point established in the previous round. A result of a 2, 3 or 12 will result in a loss. Any other result will pass your wager on to the next round, just like the Pass Line bet type. This next round will result in a win should the Point value be rolled again and lose on a roll of a 7. 

By the same virtue as a Don’t Pass bet, the Don’t Come bet relies on the opposite results of a Come wager. 7s and 11s result in a loss, but win on a 2 or 3. 12s do not count as a win and all other results will make up the Point. This will result in a loss on the next roll should it appear again, whereas 7s result in a win. Again, the payouts for both of these bet types are at 1 to 1.

Odds Bets

Considered by many to be a type of side bet that adds extra risk and potentials to the main bets mentioned above. That is why they are known as; Pass Line Odds, Don’t Pass Odds, Come Odds, and Don’t Come Odds. As the name implies your bet is wagered against the odds of landing on a certain point. 

Using the Pass Line Odds as an example; after you have made a regular Pass Line bet, your Odds bet will win should the already established Point come before the roll of a 7. Rather than a 1 to 1 ratio, your odds bet will instead be paid depending on the winning Point. A winning result coming from the roll of a 4 or 10 pays out at a ratio of 2 to 1, a roll of a 5 or 9 is paid out at 3 to 2 and a roll of a 6 or 8 pays out at 6 to 5 ratio. You may come across further rules that state a max bet amount for Odds wagers. This can, for example, be at a maximum of triple your original Pass Line bet amount.

The Don’t Pass Odds bet works as one might expect, where it instead is placed in combination with a Don’t Pass wager. It pays out should a 7 be rolled before the established point. Here the payouts are 1 to 2 for winning results of 4 or 10, 2 to 3 for results of 5 or 9, while 6 or 8 results in a 5 to 6 payout ratio.

The Come Odds and Don’t Come Odds operate in the same manner as the Pass Line Odds and Don’t Pass Odds respectively. The only difference is that they rely on the already established Point after a Come or Don’t Come bet has been placed.

Place Win

A much simpler bet type that allows you to bet on a roll being a specific value. You can bet on the result of a 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10 with different payout ratios attached to them. Your bet will win should the value you wagered on be rolled before a 7. A result of a 6 or 8 pays out at 7 to 6, while a win resulting from a 5 or 9 pays out at 7 to 5 and a result of 4 or 10 pays out at 9 to 5.

Place Lose

Here you are instead betting on a 7 being rolled before a 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10, depending on where you put your wager. The payout ratios here are set to 4 to 5 for a result of 6 or 8, whereas a 5 to 8 payout applies to a result of 5 or 9 and finally a 4 or a 10 will result in a payout of 5 to 11.

Buy

A commission-style bet that comes with a 5% buy-in for any wager you make on it. It functions exactly the same way as a Place Win bet type, where your commission pays off results in higher odds and therefore payouts being placed on a winning bet. It can vary from table to table as to whether your commission is paid while placing the bet or only paid should you win the bet. A result of a 6 or 8 now pays out at a ratio of 6 to 5, while a result of a 5 or 9 will have a 3 to 2 payout and a 4 or a 10 will pay out at 2 to 1.

Lay

Another commission-based bet type that instead functions as the opposite of a Buy bet. It is basically the Place Lose equivalent with the added 5% commission and higher payout ratios, as you are betting on your specific number to not be rolled before a 7. Here a result of a 6 or 8 instead pays out at a ratio of 5 to 6, a result of a 5 or 9 will have a 2 to 3 payout and a 4 or a 10 will pay out at a ratio of 1 to 2.

Big 6 and Big 8

Again another simple bet type to get your head around. Wagering your money on a Big 6 means that you are betting that a 6 will be rolled before 7, while the Big 8 is betting on a roll of an 8 coming before the roll of a 7. Both wagers come out at a 1 to 1 payout ratio, meaning winning your bets doubles your money.

Hardways

Originating from the Craps jargon of rolling a double, getting the result of a 10 from two 5s is known as rolling the ‘hard way’. Therefore a Hardways bet is based on getting a certain dice roll of a double before the roll of a 7. A hard 4 or a hard 10 pays out at 7 to 1, while a hard 6 or hard 8 pays out 9 to 1.

Field

Here you are wagering on the next roll being either a 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11, or a 12. A result of a 5, 6, 7, or 8 results in a loss. Winning bets are paid out at a 1 to 1 ratio unless the result is a 2 or a 12, as these payout at 2 to 1.

Proposition Bets

Are specific bets that look to predict a more exact value of what the next roll will result in. More risky bets that come with much potentially much higher payouts. These types of bets may be best left to the high rollers. Although, it’s not necessarily a terrible idea to place a small bet of 10 Rand, for example, every so often on one of these. Here are the different types of Proposition Bets and their payouts:

  • Any 7 - Results in a win if 7 is rolled next and pays out at a 4 to 1 ratio.
  • Any 11 - Results in a win if 11 is rolled next and pays out at a 15 to 1 ratio.
  • Any Craps - Results in a win if either a 2, 3 or 12 is rolled next and pays out at a 7 to 1 ratio.
  • Ace Deuce - Results in a win if 3 is rolled next and pays out at a 15 to 1 ratio.
  • Aces - Results in a win if 2 is rolled next and pays out at a 30 to 1 ratio.
  • Boxcar - Results in a win if 12 is rolled next and also pays out at a 30 to 1 ratio.

Managing The User Interface

As the virtual version of Craps is the most commonly found variation of the game at online casinos, that’s what we will be going through here. 

When you first enter the game you’ll be presented with a segmented table that will allow you to place Chips on, depending on which bet type you wish to place your wagers on. You can of course place multiple wagers on the various bet types available. You will have a selection of Chips, which are usually found on the side or the bottom of the game window that will allow you to customize your bet amount for each of the bet types. There is also generally a ‘Re-bet’ option that becomes available after your first round of gameplay. The total bet amount for any given round will also be displayed at the edge of the game window, usually at the bottom of the top of the window, alongside your total balance.

The dice are usually fixed in place with a large ‘Roll’ button that can be pressed after you are happy with all of your bet placements. This will initiate the random number generator to roll the dice for you. 

Some tables will also show the payouts for different results in the game window. Those who don’t will typically have a button that directs you to the game rules, where the payouts can also be found. Furthermore, you will generally have additional options, such as a full-screen mode and some volume controls should the game have any background music or sound effects.

Finding The Right Craps Table

Another big part of learning how to play craps is understanding the varieties you may be presented with. Now that you have an understanding of the standard bets in craps, we will take a look at a few variations that alter the gameplay somewhat. These should give you a sense of the possibilities out there.

Simplified Craps

This variant only uses one dice to determine the results in each round, thereby simplifying the betting options available. Generally speaking, simplified variants of games are usually recommended for newer players. This isn’t necessarily the case in simplified craps though, as common bets like Pass and Don’t Pass are absent. This changes the game up quite a bit and might make more standard rulesets seem too unfamiliar.

High Point Craps

The rule-set in high point craps makes some interesting changes to certain dice results. 2s and 3s are returned to the shooter on the come-out roll, meaning the dice are re-rolled. Results of 11or 12 lead to an automatic win for the shooter with a 1 to 1 payout. Any other outcome will result in setting the point for the shooter to roll higher than to beat.

New York Craps

One thing you need to know about New York craps straight away is that there is a 5% commission on all payouts. Many of the standard betting options have been removed, such as come and place bets. Instead, the main focus is on box numbers that require you to predict the exact result. This variant has a higher house edge, meaning that it is generally for more experienced players looking for something a little different.

Craps Strategy and Tips for Beginners

You might come across a lot of sites promising the perfect how-to-play craps strategies for beginners. The truth of the matter is that there is no definitive answer. Just like with any gambling, there is always a risk, no matter the strategy. There are of course ways to mitigate your risk, however, which can help you in the long run.

Budget Management

Before committing any money to gambling, you should have a good understanding of your own disposable income. Funds that you wish to be used for gambling should only ever come out of your disposable income with enough left over to enjoy other things. Setting yourself a fixed budget on what you can spend on the tables will ensure that you are not put in a position where you might lose more than you can afford. Playing within your means is not only financially responsible but will also allow you to more effectively plan your bets out. Having a defined amount of funds to split into multiple rounds puts you into a position where it becomes more natural to know when to play conservatively and when you can push it a little further.

Odds & Payouts

We touched on the higher house edge present in New York craps. This edge is less defined in craps, as opposed to other casino games. The odds vary quite a lot depending on what bets you are making, which also changes the payouts. Pass and don’t pass bets are common bets, as they pay out at a ratio of 1 to 1, while having a small house edge of 1.41%. Big 6 and 8 bets on the other hand have the same pay out, but a much greater house edge of 9% per roll. This makes Big 6 and 8 much more inadvisable bets and becoming familiar with the various payouts and odds is what elevates newbie players into experienced ones.

Demo Mode

Available on many virtual craps tables, demo mode allows you to play craps online for fun without staking any real money. Also known as free-play, it performs in exactly the same way as regular play with the same odds and payouts. The only difference is that you are playing with an unlimited balance of fake funds. This makes it ideal for both new and advanced players wanting to get comfortable with a specific game or rule-set. Trying out a game in demo mode is, without doubt, the best way to learn how to play, while also testing out some strategies you may have picked up along the way.

Play Craps At Online Casinos

You might already know that you want to get started on playing craps, but another important question is where. With so many online casinos in operation, it can be hard to know where to get the best deal, along with great service. Different players have different priorities and preferences as to what makes a good casino. Many sites may choose to focus on certain areas to appeal to certain players and it is rare to find one that has all bases covered. Your best bet for finding the best place for you is by doing a little research. At GoodLuckMate, our casino reviews provide a one-stop-shop for everything you need to know before registering at any given online casino. You can use these reviews to gain an understanding of what to expect from a site before you commit any details or funds to registration. 

After you’ve found the right casino for you, it is time to register an account. This is required in order to play any of the games with real money. The process is relatively quick and easy. The vast majority of operators will have a welcome offer ready for any newly registered players, which usually involves deposit bonuses that can be used to extend your play-time. It is up to you whether you accept this offer though, as many players prefer to play with their own cash.

Nerijus Grenda
Nerijus GrendaUpdated: 06 Jun 2022
Nerijus is one of our top writers here at GoodLuckMate, and he knows exactly what casino players want to read about. He got started in the iGaming industry as a player, more specif...
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