Rules Of Craps
Welcome to our rules of craps page, which is essentially our introductory page
for people new to craps, and will hopefully provide a reference point for individuals
looking up specific things. Always keep in mind that if you have a question
you can't seem to find the answer to on our site, email us and we will see how
we can help. This page encompasses talk of the table, who's there doing what,
what you should know about dice, and introductory betting talk covering the
pass line and don't pass bets. More advanced betting can be found in our craps
To begin with, craps is a dice based game where everyone is playing against
the casino. The craps table is a big long felt covered thing that looks like
a bad B-movie mutation of a blackjack table. It is really twice as long as it
needs to be, with each end being a mirror image of the opposite, all in an effort
to let twice the participants play. This, as you can imagine, often makes for
a hectic time around the table. That's part of the casinos rub, they know the
patrons are more likely to keep betting if they are in the middle of a party
of people betting. The gamblers like it too, it adds a kick to the whole
casino experience, although it has very little bearing on the rules of craps,
it would be the same with one player.
Don't let yourself get intimidated by the fast paced nature of the game. You can always practice at your own pace with our free craps game before you step up to a real table. The largest problem with craps is that it is so intimidating. The big scary table, its completely nonsensical lingo, and its extremely fast pace can all be a little overwhelming. Lets start simply then. Before we get to the action we should be familiar with a couple of things, the people around the table, the nature of the two dice, a couple of the little rules of craps and the come-out roll which the game resides around.
The official folk around the table have specific names; the whole group is usually referred to as the 'crew'. Two dealers stand on the inside of the table, each responsible for changing cash to chips and collecting and paying off bets on their half of the table. In between the two dealers is the seated boxman. He oversees all of the action, settles any problems, and keeps an eye on the rest of the crew. The stickman stands across from the boxman on the other side of the table, pushing and pulling the dice around with a big curved stick. The importance of the stickman is that they really control the pace of the game, calling the come out rolls, keeping track of the center bets. They also shout a lot of gobbledy-gook that attracts craps players, but I get the feeling it also intimidates and repels interested newcomers.
Craps used to be the biggest game in the casino but over the past 20 years or so it's popularity has declined steadily, mostly due to a lack of new interest. A by-product of the games reputation for being complicated, this is often exasperated by the cryptic stickman talk. Well, that's why you're here isn't it? We'll do our best to provide you with a clear explanation.
Finding a table as low as $5 isn't difficult in Vegas these days, nor around the rest of the continent, so if you play the right bets you can get used to the game without giving up too much of your bankroll. Just before we get to the real action at the table, let's take a quick look at the dice of the game, a basic primer that is pretty much necessary knowledge.
The rules of craps dictate that the game is played with a pair of six sided
dice, making for (6x6) 36 possible combinations, pretty close to roulette, except
the odds are a little different, as different combinations combine to the same
totals. Since only one combination of two dice can give you a total of 12 (6
and 6), the odds of rolling a 12 are 1 in 36. On the other extreme, you have
six ways to make a total of 7 (1 and 6; 2 and 5; 3 and 4; 4 and 3; 5 and 2;
6 and 1), which produces a probability of 6 in 36, or 1 in six that you will
roll a 7. Have a glance at the chart below to see what combinations account
for which probabilities.
This chart really supplies you with all the common sense info you need to know about a pair of dice, so get acquainted with it to the extent that you can anticipate the outcome of each roll. Don't let yourself get caught up in a 'systems' state of mind where people may try to convince you that the chances of a particular total being rolled depends somehow on the last total that was rolled. That's a mental fallacy that should be avoided. If you flip a coin nine times and it's heads every time, the probability of it being heads on the tenth flip is still 50%, not any less, no matter what you're betting brain may try to tell you.
It's easy to notice from looking at
the dice chart that everything revolves around the seven, rather symmetrically.
A six is as likely as an 8, a five as likely as a 9, and so on. To calculate
the odds, take the number of ways to get a number divided by the number of ways
to not get that number. There are 3 ways to roll a 10, and 33 ways not to. The
odds are therefore 33:3 or 11:1. More important for craps is the ability to
calculate the odds of something being rolled before a seven. To do this you
take the number of ways to roll a seven (6) compared to the number of ways the
make the other number, lets say 5 (there are 4 ways to make a 5); so your odds
against rolling a 5 before a 7 are 6 to 4 (reduces to 3 to 2).
Note the difference between the probability and odds of rolling a number. The
probability of rolling a 10 is 3 in 36, or 1 in 12. The odds of rolling a 10
are 1:11 (read as 1 to 11). Either way, out of 12 rolls, chances are a 10 will
come up once (one 10 and 11 non-tens). To add more confusion, when someone normally talks about the odds of
rolling a ten they really state them as the odds *against* rolling a ten; so you're more likely to hear
'the odds against rolling a ten are 11 to 1' (sounds more familiar right?).
Hopefully that makes sense, because it
certainly took me a minute to figure out what I was saying.
Right on, lets step up to the table then shall we? The best starting point for
you is to wait until there is a new 'round' of play, which begins when one of
the players is offered five or so dice by the stickman. You'll catch on to the
rules of craps and the subtleties of the game quicker by watching a few minutes
of play. If the player wants to roll, they select two of dice and become the
The shooter is the focal point and generates the action of the game,
which we all bet on. To be able to roll the dice the shooter must make a line
bet, which is either the pass line bet or the don't pass bet. At the same time
other players will be placing bets on the table layout. The most common shooter
bet is the pass line bet, and you will notice a large portion of players also
making this bet in 'support'. As you will or have read in our etiquette section,
(how to play craps without looking like an idiot) it's common for other players
around the table to play 'with the dice', which means to roll with the shooters
bet, so that when the shooter wins, they win. It's perfectly reasonable to play
against the shooter, just don't start yelling for your numbers out-loud or the
other table players, and the shooter, will think you don't like them. Killing the vibe at the table is
just about as big a blunder as you're capable of making in craps. The payoff
for a pass line bet or a don't pass bet is even money.
The dice roll is the act of the shooter flinging both dice simultaneously across
the table so that they rebound off of the opposite wall. The shooter's first
roll during a round is known as the 'come-out roll', which itself holds a variety
of ways for bettors to win or lose.
The best thing to do first is look at the rules governing the 'come-out roll'. If the come-out roll is a 7 or 11 (which in the rules of craps is called a natural) the pass line wins and the don't pass loses. The round is over. If the come-out roll is a 2, 3, or 12 (called 'craps') the pass line loses and the don't pass line wins or ties. The don't pass bet will be a tie when the come-out roll is a 12.
If the come-out roll is a 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10 than that number becomes known
as the shooter's 'point'. At this point the dealers will place a little puck
with the word 'on' written on it and put it on top of the number that is the
'point' on the layout. This is just to remind players what the point number
is. Any pass line or don't pass line bets at this point are in a state of limbo,
waiting for more action to determine their outcome.
The shooter will keep rolling until one of two things happen: if they roll the number that they had set to the point (making the point) the pass line bettors win and the don't pass bettors lose. If a seven is rolled before the point number is rolled, the winners are opposite: pass line bettors lose, don't pass bettors win. Either way, the round is over.
A new round always begins with the same shooter until he sevens out. If the
shooter rolls a natural or craps on the come-out roll, or if the shooter made
their point, they get to roll again. Only when the shooter sevens out are the
dice offered to the next player, clockwise at the table. Sevening out is when
you roll a point, then roll a seven before the point is rolled again.
So to recap this bit of betting and introduction to the rules of craps, a seven
is a winner on the come-out roll for pass line bettors and 7 is a loser
for these bettors on any subsequent roll. The numbers 2, 3, 11, and 12 have
no significance for pass or don't pass bets after the come-out roll. This is
the heart of craps, the come-out roll flow. There are some (ok many) more options
to cover, but if you understand the come-out roll and pass / don't pass bets,
you're set for the tables my friend!