Craps is one of the fastest games in any casino and the most popular dice game in the world. Many players also find it the most thrilling one, as the fast-paced rhythm and non-stop action get their adrenaline going like no other gambling game. They claim that watching the dice roll and awaiting the outcome of a throw is a rush that can compare with a few other things in life. Watching a shooter (a person who rolls the dice) trying to get a winning throw as the crowds cheer him on (since most of them are betting on shooter) creates an atmosphere that is often similar to the ones found in big sporting events. This makes the craps game a center of attention on any casino floor and is an indispensable part of gambling folklore.
You would be hard-pressed to find a land based casino without a craps table. However, many online casinos also have them. Online craps games are a very popular part of any online casino setup these days. While online craps lack the excitement of playing the game in a land based casino, for many fans of the game they are the only option.
Some players claim that playing craps requires no betting strategy, but that isn’t necessarily true. There are many craps betting strategies that can be employed, but even the simplest crap betting strategy requires a deep understating of the game. Knowing when to hedge bet, what bets have low house edge, and how to play responsibly are the cornerstone of all the best craps strategies.
How to Play Craps
Approaching a craps table can be an intimidating experience for novice players. At the first glance, the craps game can look complex and confusing. If you want to play craps, you have to familiarize yourself with various fields and symbols found on a craps table, and we will get to that in a minute. But before we do, let us explain the roles of various people around the table. First, there is a boxperson. They act as a crew chief for the entire table and are supervising the rest of the team. They also handle chips and act as a mediator in case any dispute flares out. Then there are dealers. There are two of them, called 2nd base dealer and 3rd base dealer. The 2nd base dealer stands to the right of boxperson, while the 3rd base dealer stands to the left. Each of them covers half of the table, monitors bets, and is responsible for payout in their zone. Finally, there is a stickperson. He or she stands opposite the boxperson and wields a long stick with a hook on the end and their sole job is retrieving dice and handing them back to the shooter. Stickperson calls out the dice score and is responsible for placing preposition bets, as they are in his part of the table.
The shooter is the person that throws the dice. All bets are winning or losing depending on his or her throws. The rest of the people around the table place bets either with the dice (pass line bet) or against the dice (don’t pass bet). The shooter throws dice as long as they are winning. When they lose, it is the time for a new shooter. To win, the shooter has to roll 7 or 11 on the first throw. In that case, people who bet pass line double their money. If the shooter rolls 2, 3, or 12, the don’t pass crowd wins, also doubling their bets. Those numbers are also called craps and the shooter is finished if they come up. Betting even money on both pass line and don’t pass is called a hedge bet, but it doesn’t really get you anywhere.
That leaves us with 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, and 10. These are called points. If a shooter rolls one of them, he keeps on throwing. To win, he has to score the same number again before rolling a seven. If he does, he wins and starts again. If he rolls a seven, he loses and a new shooter gets to try his or her luck. Again, the same rules for pass line or don’t pass bets apply. If the shooter wins, pass line bets win. If he “sevens out”, people who bet don’t pass win.
Let’s say you start your betting with a $5 bet on the pass line. You place your chip on a field on the table marked pass line. The shooter throws and dice rolls seven. You have doubled your bet and you can either take your winnings or keep playing. If you decide to let it ride, it is called pressing your bet. The shooter now rolls a six, which now becomes the point. To mark this, the dealer places a puck on the number six in the Place Bets section on the table, so everyone knows the point. The puck has two sides, marked On and Off, marking whether come bets are allowed or not. In order to win, he has to roll another six before he hits a seven.
The next dice rolls 4, so the shooter keeps on playing. He now rolls a nine and again nothing happens. His third roll is a charm and he gets six the hard way, meaning two threes. You have doubled your money again and now have $20. You get to decide whether to collect them or press on.
This covers the most basic form of craps bets. There is some more advanced stuff, but this is the bare minimum any prospective craps player must know before starting a game of craps.
There are also other bets you can make in a craps game. We mentioned come bet earlier. It is similar to pass line bet, only it can be placed after the first dice roll, once the point is established and the marker is set on. There is also don’t come bet.
Place bets are another type of bet you can make. When you play place bet on a specific number (4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10), you bet that number will come before seven. Place bets can be made after the come out roll. If you play place bet on 6 or 8, you should do it in %6 increments, while place bets of 4, 5, 9, and 10 should be made in $5 increments. This is done to account for place bets odds and house edge.
The field bet is made on a large field on the table near the edge. If the next roll after you place your bet is 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11, or 12, you win. If it is 5, 6, 7, or 8, you lose. At the first glance, this looks like one of the best strategies, as you have 7 winning numbers against just 4 losing ones. But if you look at the table of true odds below, you will see that the odds are actually 5 to 4 against you.
Proposition bets are placed at the center section of the table. You have two choices, Hardways and One Roll bets. One roll is betting on a specific number. Hardways are bets on a specific number hard way, so you can only bet on even numbers. Just to remind you, the hard way means both dice show the same number, so if you bet a 6, you need two threes to win.
Best Craps Strategy
Before deciding on winning craps strategy, odds bets carry with them. Like all casino games, craps feature house edge, an advantage for the casino built in almost every bet you can make. The reason for this is to allow casinos to keep the lights on. It doesn’t matter if you are playing at an online casino or land based casino, the point is valid for both types. Focusing on bets with the lower house edge is not just a good craps strategy, but a good strategy for all casino games.
Like most casino games, craps is a game of chance. To pick the best craps strategy, you need to understand true odds for all bets. Let’s consider how dice combinations affect your chances. For example, 2 can only be rolled with two 1s, but 4 can be rolled with either a 1 and a 3 or two 2s. That means you have twice the chance of rolling a 3 as you do a 2. Because it has the greatest number of combinations, six o be exact, 7 is the score that has the possibility to come up most often. This is why seven is so important in craps. In total, two dice can produce 36 combinations.
|Number of combinations
|1 – 1
|1-3, 3-1, 2-2
|1-4, 4-1, 3-2, 2-3
|1-5, 5-1, 2-4, 4-2, 3-3
|1-6, 6-1, 2-5, 5-2, 3-4, 4-3
|2-6, 6-2, 3-5, 5-3, 4-4
|3-6, 6-3, 4-5, 5-4
|4-6, 6-4, 5-5
|6 – 6
These odds are also referred to as true odds for each number and they determine your chance of winning on both come out roll or point roll. However, this is not what the casino pays if you win. Remember house edge? This is where it comes into play. Unless you are playing free odds on top of your original bet, the house edge will be deducted from your winnings. In effect, free odds serve to reduce the house advantage. While it is true that different casinos can have different house egdes, the differences will be minuscule. The same rule applies to online craps in online casinos.
One of the best craps strategies is betting on free odds. Always place a bet on free odds, as it significantly lowers house edge. For example, the house edge in a Pass Line bet is 1.41 percent. Add in a free bet, and that house edge goes down to just 0.8%.
You can reduce house edge further by increasing your free odds bet. If you place double odds, the edge is 0.6%. Free odds can be placed at any time and you put your chips behind your original bet on the line. They can also be removed at any time. Depending on a casino, you can place from twice to 100 times your original bet.
Rhythmic or Controlled Shooting
Another popular craps strategy is rhythmic or controlled shooting. In essence, it is an attempt to increase the odds of getting the desired roll by using practiced hand movements. The idea is to place the dice with numbers you want on the upside, squeeze them tight enough so they don’t change position, but not tight enough that they don’t rattle, and throw them in one smooth motion. While the results can’t be guaranteed on every roll, experts claim that experienced shooters can increase their odds dramatically using this craps strategy. Getting reliable results will take a lot of practicing though, which is why you don’t see many shooters using this technique. All that time and dedication can be used for learning more profitable craps strategies. And of course, those who managed to master it are understandably reluctant to share all the secrets with other people.
Follow the Streak
This is a basic craps strategy and it relies on streaks. Although there is no reliable math behind it, most experts concur that shooting streaks exist in craps. If you stumble upon one, stick with it and ride it out. Elated cheers from people around the table should clue you in on the streak happening at the moment. The trouble with this crap strategy is that you never know how long it will last. It may end as soon as you place your chips on the table. On the other hand, it can last for the next half an hour. After all, playing craps is testing your luck, as well as that of a shooter.
Managing Your Money
The most important part of gambling is probably managing your money. Here are some tips that will help you with it.
Set the Goal
When setting your goal for the evening of craps, you should be realistic. Winning enough to buy a new car is probably not something you can achieve. Most professional craps players agree that winning between 104 and 20% of your starting money is an excellent result. Of course, if you start with thousands of dollars, we could be talking about real money here.
Pay Attention to Table Minimum
Casinos have craps tables with different table minimums, designed to cater to different crowds. Choose the one you are most comfortable with, as you will need more money for tables with high minimums.
This is probably the most important rule of all. Never bet money you can’t afford to lose, or you risk ending up like just another cautionary table we see every day. Gambling away your kids’ college fund on craps is not something you want to live with. Set losing limits and never, under any circumstances go below it. No matter how tempting the situation is or how sure you are that the next dice roll will be in your favor, when you reach your losing limit, walk away from the table.
Points of etiquette
For the end, we have some pointers on what is considered appropriate behavior at the craps table. Regardless of what you have seen in Hollywood movies, never, ever, blow at dice or offer your significant other to do it for you, especially now, during the pandemic. This is considered extremely rude and you will be warned by the staff. Simply shake the dice and roll them on the table. Remember that, for the roll to be valid, dice must hit the wall of the table. Also, if you overdo it and dice fall off the table, your throw will be invalidated.
Place a bet by yourself only on Pass Line, Don’t Pass Line, Field, Come, or Don’t Come fields. Every other bet must be placed for you by the dealer. This is to stop players from reaching and possibly moving the chips already on the table.
Never touch the dealer. It is considered bad luck, plus in some casinos security will immediately escort you out.
Make sure that the dealer understands your intended bet. This can save you a lot of grief due to unfortunate misunderstandings.
Always follow the rules about when you can place certain bets. If the marker is off, do not place come bets. If it is on, do not make pass line / don’t pass bets.
Place your craps bets in front of you, not all the way to the other side of the table. It only confuses the dealers, as you are standing in one section and betting in the other.
Superstitions in the Game of Craps
Just like in any other gambling game, playing craps isn’t just about the lowest house edge or best strategy. Many players believe that various superstitions play a decisive role in increasing their chances of winning.
One of the best-known craps superstitions is that you should never say 7 at the table. Instead, you refer to seven as “it”.
Female first-time shooters will have a hot streak. The rule doesn’t apply to men.
If dice fall off the table, the next roll will be seven. Depending on the desired outcome (if it was a comeout roll or not) the shooter will insist on either the same set of dice or a new one.
If dice hit someone’s hand, it is very bad luck.
Never touch the shooter if he or she is hot. You will jinx them.
Most stickmen will try and avoid sliding the dice over to a shooter with seven showing, as it is considered bad luck.