Before you stroll into the casino looking like a high-roller, or decide to take your chances in that back alley dice game…it’s best to know what you are getting into first. A casino game is called a “bank” game, where the house covers all bets, while in a street game players wager odds against one another. Be warned! Street games are generally illegal, and the betting in bank games can get pretty complicated. So, roll the dice and read on!
Number of Players
1 – 20 (the game can actually be played with an indeterminate number of people, either playing against one another or against a bank. A typical casino craps table can accommodate up to 20 players.)
2 six-sided dice (with very specific standards for casinos). For a casino game, there is also a table with marked out areas for bets as well as throw lines. There will also be a number of casino workers operating the table (a “boxman” who controls the chips, a “stickman” who controls the dice, and 2 dealers who monitor the betting).
The entire setup for a game of craps consists of where and how people place their bets (see “betting” below)
Every player in the game is allowed to be the “shooter” for one round of throwing (or, if a player chooses not to throw, they can simply bet on the shooter). After all bets have been placed, the shooter throws both dice using only one hand. For a game using a table, the dice must rebound off of the table’s far wall. This first roll is called the “come out” roll. The purpose of the come out roll is to establish a “point.” A roll of 2, 3, or 12, is called “craps,” and the shooter “craps out.” A roll of 7 or 11 is called a “natural.” If any of those numbers are thrown on the come out roll, the shooters turn continues until a point is established (a roll of 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10). Once a point has been made, the come out roll is over. The point number is now noted (on a casino table by placing an “on” button on the corresponding number marked on the table). The shooter then continues to roll until they roll either the point number or a 7. On a roll of 7, the shooter “sevens out,” and passes the dice clockwise to the next player (who becomes the new shooter).
This is where everything happens in a game of craps. Since street games are mostly illegal and feature less strictly monitored betting, what you will find here is the layout for bank craps. While the throwing of the dice is extremely simple, the betting can get very quickly complicated. The easiest way to figure them out is by breaking them down into categories. There are 4 types of bets one can place in craps:
- Line Bets
- Single Roll Bets
- Multi-Roll Bets
- Player Bets
Each type of bet can then be broken down further.
- Line Bets
Any player wishing to be the shooter in a bank game must place a line bet. There are 6 kinds of line bets:
- Pass Line Bet – This is the most common bet in craps. A pass line bet is won when the shooter rolls a natural (7 or 11) on the come out roll, and lost when the shooter craps out (rolls 2, 3, or 12). The pass line bet is also won if the shooter rolls the point before a 7, and lost if the shooter rolls a 7 (seven out) before the point.
- Don’t Pass Line Bet – Basically the opposite of the pass line bet. The bet is lost if the come out roll is a natural, and won if it is a 2 or 3. A 12 on the come out roll is a draw. Continuing with the opposite…if a point is established and then re-rolled before a 7, the bet loses, and if a 7 is rolled first, the bet wins.
- Pass Odds – An additional bet that may be made behind the pass line that can be placed after a point is established. Bettors are wagering on the point being rolled again before a 7. Payouts are different for every game (and every casino).
- Don’t Pass Odds – The opposite of pass odds. Bets are placed behind the don’t pass line, wagering that a 7 will be thrown before the point. Payouts are different depending on the point number rolled.
- Come Bet – A bet placed only after a point is established, and played in two rounds. A come bet wins on a natural and loses on craps. When a point is rolled, the come bet is placed on the appropriately numbered box (which is now the “come bet point”). Players are allowed to add odds bets to this box. On the second round, the come bet wins if the shooter rolls the come bet number before a 7, and loses if it’s the opposite. Odds bets on the come bet are either “working,” or “not working” (they are considered not working unless the player requests otherwise). “Working” means that if the shooter rolls the come point before a 7, both the come bet and the odds bet are won (and if a 7 is rolled first, they are both lost). “Not working” means that if a 7 is rolled before the come point, the come bet is lost, but the odds bet is returned.
- Don’t Come Bet – This is played in two rounds just like the come bet. It wins on a 2, or 3, and loses on a natural. If the roll is a 12, the player has the option to revoke the bet. The rest works just the opposite of the come bet (paying out if a 7 is rolled before the don’t come bet, and losing if it’s the opposite).
- Single Roll Bets
Just as the name implies, these are wagers placed on a single roll of the dice (paying out if the shooter rolls that number). The types of single rolls that can be bet on are:
- Snake eyes (2)
- Ace-deuce (3)
- Yo (11)
- Boxcars (12)
- Hi-lo (2 or 12)
- Craps (2, 3, or 12)
- C&E (half the bet placed on craps, the other half on yo. One half may win, but half always loses)
- Seven (7)
- Field (a bet that a 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11, or 12 will appear on the very next roll of the dice. Payouts are typically different depending on the number)
- The Horn (a four way bet on 2, 3, 11, and 12. An equal amount is placed on each number. Any of the numbers rolled will win that bet, but three of them will always lose)
- Whirl (combination horn and seven bet, the bet on the seven will be equal to the four bets on the horn combined)
- On the Hop (a wager that the very next roll of the dice will be a specific combination of numbers, for example a 6 on one die and a 3 on the other)
- Multi-Roll Bets
Bets not resolved in a single throw. Players are wagering that certain numbers will be rolled before a point is made.
- Hard Way (A bet that the shooter will roll doubles equaling 4, 6, 8, or 10 before rolling either a 7 or the same number they bet on the “easy way.” For example, if the shooter rolls a 3 and a 1 before a 2 and a 2, the bet would lose.)
- Easy Way (The opposite of a hard way bet, meaning the shooter must roll a specific number (4, 6, 8, or 10) before a 7 without rolling doubles.)
- Big 6 or 8 (A bet that the shooter will roll either a 6 or an 8 before a 7.)
- Place and Buy (Working bets placed on any point number which pay out if that number is rolled before a 7. The odds are slightly different depending on whether or not a number is “bought” or “placed.”)
- Lay (The opposite of a place or buy bet, where the player bets that a 7 will be rolled before the laid number)
- Player Bets
Any bet that is placed on the shooter instead of the dice. In street craps, these are generally looser and much more varied than in casinos.
- Fire Bet (A bet that the shooter will continue to establish and make points, usually not paying out until after the fourth consecutive point is made. Odds increase with each point made)
As with any gambling game, the object is to earn the most money through betting. It is, therefore, very important to know the specific odds of each bet and for each situation. There are many systems out there available for determining this…just remember that no matter how you are betting the odds will ALWAYS be in favor of the house.