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Of all the table games that you can play at a casino, craps is probably the most complex and exciting. If you’ve ever been at a craps table when someone is on a roll, the enthusiasm is simply contagious. Also, if you know nothing about craps and watch people play for a while, chances are when you walk away, you’ll still know nothing about the game.

In this article, we’ll examine the basics of how to play this game where 7 and 11 are instant winners and the pass line bet offers one of the best chances of making some cash.

The Basic Game

Craps is run by four people—the boxman, stickman and two dealers. The boxman oversees the game, watching it continuously in order to ensure that everything is done properly and fairly. You’ll see him sitting behind the middle of the table. The dealers stand on either side of the boxman and rake in losing bets and pay off winners. The stickman stands at the top of the player’s section of the craps table, dividing it in half. This is the person who controls the game—its pace and tempo. Once all bets are down, he hands a few pair of dice to the shooter, who chooses which two to roll.

In craps, the players are wagering on specific outcomes. The casino covers the wagers, as players do not bet against one another. There are over a dozen different bets one can make at the craps table. The two most basic bets are “pass” and “don’t pass.”

First Role

The initial roll of the dice by a new shooter offers a lot of potential. An instant win occurs if a 7 or 11 are rolled. When this happens, you’ve rolled a “natural” and you win the even odds bet that you’ve placed on the pass line.

Roll a 4, 5, 6, 8, 9 or 10 and you’ve established your “box point.” You then continue to roll the dice until you hit that number again. If you roll a 7 prior to making your point, then you lose.

Instant losers in this game occur when 2, 3 and 12 are rolled. Those three numbers represent craps. The shooter loses their line bet but they may keep shooting until they roll a 7 when they pass on the dice to the next shooter.

Betting Advice

Best bets to play are line, come, pass and don’t pass wagers. When betting on the pass line be sure to take full odds. If the casino has double odds or higher on the pass line, then take them. They’re a great deal. Be careful with your cash. Craps can eat up money quickly, especially the bets that offer high odds. Double up after you win and play a single unit bet after you lose.


Types of Bets

Here are the various bets that you can make at the craps table. If you’ve never played craps before, you may be surprised to know that anyone can bet, not just the shooter. The house edge on many craps bets is big. Play those with low house edges.


The house edge on rolling a seven is 16.66%. It is a one-roll bet that pays 4-1 but the real odds are 5-1. This bet is not recommended.


This wager also carries a hefty house edge of 16.66%, making the true odds on this wager 17-1. It pays 14-1. This one-roll bad is a bad one to make. You’re at a major disadvantage.

Place Bets

The house edge on place bets of 4 and 10 is 6.66%. While these pay 9-5, the true odds are 10-5. The house edge on 5 and 9 is 4% as it pays 7-5 with actual odds of 7.5-5. The 6 and 8 place bets, which carry a house edge of 1.51%, offers 7-6 odds with true odds of 6-5.

Buy Bets

You can get true odds on place bets by paying a commission or vig of 5%. The only time to do this would be if betting on 4 or 10 as the house edge goes down to 4.76% on those two wagers.

Hard Ways

This is a bet on doubles coming up. Your choices are 4 or 10 with a payout of 7-1 (11.11% house edge) and 6 or 8 with a payout of 9-1 (9.09% house edge). These are not considered to be good bets.

Come Bets and Don’t Come

These bets offer small house edges of 1.414% and 1.402% respectively. They carry even odds. Overall, these are good bets.

Pass Line

This even money wager, which is considered to be one of the best on the table, carries a edge for the house of just 1.414%.

Don’t Pass

This is yet another good bet. It offers a house edge of 1.402% and pays 1-1.

The Field

This is a one-roll bet that pays even money on 3, 4, 9, 10, 11 and 2-1 on 2 and 12. House edge is 5.55%.

Any Craps

Another one-roll bet that pays 7-1 on 2, 3, or 12 and carries a hefty house edge of 11.11%

Big 6 & 8

With a house edge of 9.09%, this wager offers even money. The true odds are 6-5 as you place your bet in the Big 6 & 8 box.

Horn Bet

You make this one-roll wager by handing your bet to the dealer and stating your wager, such as “$12 horn bet.” The bet is then on 2, 3, 11, and 12 with $3 being placed on each number. The house edge is high at 16.66%. The 2 or 12 pays 30-1 and the 3 and 11 pays 15-1. This is not a good bet.


Once a point is made on either the shooter’s initial roll or a subsequent roll, then a player can take odds, getting 2-1 on 4 and 10; 3-2 on 5 and 9 and 6-5 on 6 and 8. The same odds are given when wagering against the point.

Playing Craps

If you’re new to craps, you should take some time to learn the game. Make even odds wagers and be conservative with your cash. Craps is a fun game with a lot of twists and turns. It takes some time to learn, but once you do, you’ll love playing it.

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