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Craps School

How to Play Craps

How to Play Craps
By Wilson of

Why do people play craps? People play craps for two main reasons- to win money, and enjoy an atmosphere they cannot get from any other game in the casino! Craps is fun! There are very few games that allow you, the player, to take control of your own destiny. In the game of craps, and all casino games, it is important to know the procedures and basics rules of play before you throw down any of your hard earned cash. Let’s take a look at how you can get into the action as well as cover each bet offered on the table. Relax; craps is not as intimidating as you might believe…it’s actually incredibly easy and a lot of the time, very lucrative!

Approaching the craps table: When you enter a casino all you have to do is look and listen for a crowd of people who are either cheering or groaning, and this is where you will find the craps tables. Take a deep breath, let your shoulders droop to their natural position and stroll on up to any table. After you have decided which table to approach (assuming there is more than one) feel free to simply observe the action for a while, and look to see how the crowd is feeling.

If the players on the craps table appear to be in good spirits and have a lot of chips in front of them you may want to hang out and join in the fun. Simply look for an open space between players. You will know if there is room for you if you see an empty chip rack next to another player or players (assuming their last chip is not on the table). Craps tables have a railing that circles the entire table except for where the dealers operate; there are chip racks embedded into the railing and they are separated by sections about the length of a PC keyboard but half of the width. Most tables can service up to 12 or more players at one time. Don’t be intimidated by anyone at the table, you have every right to that table if there is an opening. A lot of people stand next to their friends or spouses but don’t actually play, if you encounter a person occupying a spot simply ask them if they are playing and most of the time they will be very polite and say “Oh, no, I’m just watching” and they will step aside for you to slip into the spot. Craps is no time to be shy…there is money to be made man! Smile and get to it!

How to get Chips: When you have secured a spot at the table you will want to get playing chips. Take what ever money you want to invest on chips and wait until a break in the action and simply lay the money on the table in front of you and ask for “Chips please”. The dealer will take your cash and exchange it for the correct amount in chips. Most casinos use the same color identification for chips: white equals $1, red equals $5, green equals $25, and black equals $100. If you see any other color just ask the dealer what they represent. The dealers are there to help you and 99 percent of them are fantastic! As soon as the dealer places your chips on the table in front of you pick them up and place them in your chip rack. Now you are ready to start betting! Let’s look at an overview of each bet on the table, for a more detailed description simply click on the bolded links.

Pass Line Bet: This is one of the best bets on the craps table. To make this bet you simply place your chips on the area marked pass line which runs all the way around the outside of the layout. You win if the shooter rolls a 7 or 11, also known as naturals before they establish a point number. However if a shooter rolls a point number (4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10) now you win if they repeat the point number but the kicker is if they roll a 7 before they repeat the point number you lose the bet. Also, you lose if the shooter rolls a 2, 3, or 12 (craps numbers) before they establish a point number.

Don’t Pass Line: This is also a good bet. The don’t pass line is located just above the pass line specifically in four areas on the table, both ends and two areas towards the middle of the table. It is not as big and “advertised” as the pass line because it carries a slight lower player advantage than the pass line bet but it’s not as popular because you are betting against the shooter. To win you basically reverse the rules of the pass line bet. A 2, 3, or 12 wins on the come out roll (roll before a point is established) and a 7 or 11 loses. Once a point is established you win if a seven shows before a point number. Be prepared for a few unpleasant looks from those who don’t understand how you can possibly bet against the shooter and the majority of the players. Players who bet with the shooter are known as the “right” bettors and those who go against are known as the “wrong” bettors or playing from the dark side.

Field Bet: This bet is very visible on both ends of the craps table (by the way, the craps table is identical on either end of the table with the middle of the table hosting a variety of bets that cater to all players as well). The field bet is a one-roll bet. This means that a player gets one roll of the dice to win. Inside the area marked “field” are seven different numbers. If any of the seven numbers shows after a player places a chip in the field they will win. Sounds easy enough eh? To make this bet all you do is place the desired amount of chips on the field bet and hope the shooter rolls one of the seven numbers which are 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11, and 12. This bet is paid out as even money, which means you win whatever you wager- a $5 bet will win $5. Most casinos will pay double for the 2 and triple for the 12. It’s a popular bet as it can generate a quick profit but also a quick loss. That’s why it’s called gambling.

Come and Don’t Come Bets: The come bets are a bit misunderstood by most players, but they are similar to a pass/don’t pass line bet. To place this bet you simply put your chip/chips inside the area marked “come” or “don’t come” on the layout after a point is established and wait for the shooter to roll. If the shooter rolls another point number the dealer will move your wager to the top of the layout where the point numbers are marked. Now your chips are on another number, and if you have a pass line bet going at the same time then you will have two numbers in play. It’s not a bad idea to have a few come bets coupled with a pass line bat especially during a hot roll where the shooter is tossing a lot of points. Remember, if you place a chip on the come bet and a 7 or 11 show you will win, but if a 2, 3, or 12 shows you will lose. Just like the pass line bet, once you move to a point number then you must avoid the 7 or you will lose.

Place Bets: Place bets are a quick way to get immediate action on a craps table. This wager allows a player to acquire point numbers without playing the pass line. For example you may ask the dealer to “place the six” by placing your chips on the layout in front of you or by setting them down in the come area and getting the dealer’s attention with your request. The dealer will then put your chips inside the box numbered six. This bet must be physically placed by a dealer. You may place all of the point numbers or just one but most players favor the six and eight because there are five ways to roll a six and five ways to roll an eight.

Buy Bet: This bet is similar to the place bet except these bets pay off at true odds. See our Odds bet for more details regarding how the dice and the odds work. Basically the buy bet will cost you a $1 per $20 bet, so it is wise to bet at least $21 thus giving up a dollar to the house but in return you get true odds or 6 to 5 for the 6 & 8, 3 to 2 for the 5 & 9, and 2 to 1 for the 4 & 10.

Lay Bet: The opposite of a buy bet, the lay bet can be made on any of the point numbers. It is normally the don’t place bettor who makes this bet. For example, a player may place his chips on the table and ask the dealer to “lay bet the 6.”  Players must pay a 5 percent commission. The commission is not based on the total amount of the wager as in the buy bet but rather on the expected pay off.

Big 6 & 8: This bet is quite popular with novice players as they think it’s a great deal because the 6 and 8 have the best probability of showing besides the 7. However, this bet not the best bet on the 6 or 8 as the place bet is much better considering the pay off. The Big 6 & 8 pay off is 1 to 1 while the place bet on the 6 & 8 is 7 to 6 which is a much better deal. Don’t waste your time with the big 6 & 8; go for the place bet instead.

Proposition Bets: These are the get-rich-quick bets, and basically you have to really get lucky to win consistently with these wagers. Most of the proposition bets are one-roll wonders but there are a few that you can ride out for a hot roll. These bets are found mainly in the middle of the table and you can bet that the dealers and stickman will be selling these quite heavily as they know how huge the house advantage is for the casino. Let’s take a brief look at the propositions:

Hardway Bets: When a player makes a wager on a hardway he is betting that a certain number will appear in an exact combination. These bets are located in the center of the layout and you can chose from four different numbers. The 4, 6, 8, and 10 are the hard way numbers. The pay off is attractive as the 4 and 10 is 7 to 1 and the 6 and 8 is 9 to 1. These bets are exciting and the crowd goes wild when they hit but they are highly unlikely to win and more apt to drain your bankroll. To make this bet, all you need to do is simply toss your chips towards the dealer and say “hard six please.”

Any Seven: This a one roll bet that wins only if a 7 is rolled after the bet is made and loses if any other number is rolled. The payoff for this bet is 4 to 1.

Any Craps: This is a one roll bet that wins only if a craps number (2, 3 or 12) appears directly after the next roll. The payoff for this bet is 7 to 1.

Craps 2: This is a one roll bet that wins only if the 2 (snake eyes) is rolled immediately after the bet is made and loses if any other number appears. The payoff for this bet is 30 to 1.

Craps 3: This bet is similar to craps 3. Wins if next roll is a 3; loses on any other number. The payoff for this bet is 15 to 1.

Craps 12: This bet is similar to craps 2 and 3. Wins if the next roll is a 12; loses on any other number. The payoff is 30 to 1. This bet is nicknamed "boxcars".

Yo-11 (Eleven): This bet is very popular, I think mainly because people love yelling out “Yo!” This bet wins if the next roll is an 11. The payoff is 15 to 1.

These bets are the main make up of the craps table. Most people who are new to the craps scene will tend to get frustrated quickly because of the amount of wagers a player can make, but if you stay focused and come to the table with a plan you will be surprised at how simple this game can be. The most important thing to remember when you head for the craps pits is to have a plan and have some fun! Luck to ya.


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