Craps is related to a 12th-century game called
Hazart, or Hazard. In 19th-century
England and France a varient of Hazard similar to the game we play today became
popular. The name evolved from Hazard
because the Brits called rolling a 2, 3 or 12 "crabs," and various
mispronounciations eventually evolved into the modern term, Craps.
The game became popular in World War One, as
the required equipment (a pair of dice) was easily obtained and portable, after
the war the casinos of Las Vegas laid out felts for the entertainment of the
returning soldiers, and the game's popularity skyrocketed.
The game is played with two six-sided dice, each side marked
with from 1 to 6 pips in such a way that any opposite two sides add up to
7. The shooter is given the dice, and
throws them to the opposite end of the table.
This is referred to as the "come out" roll. On the come out roll, the shooter automatically wins if the sum
of the dice is 7 or 11, referred to as a "natural," or more commonly a
"front-line winner." If the shooter
produces a 2, 3 or 12, this is "craps," a loser. Any other outcome (4, 5, 6, 8, 9 or 10) is referred to as a
"point." The point of the "point" is
that the shooter is given the dice again, and must roll his "point" (that is,
the same number rolled on his initial roll) before he rolls a 7.
The shooter continues rolling the dice until
he rolls his point, or a 7, in which case he loses. If the shooter has a point to make, the croupier will often
announce what the shooter is shooting for, for example if the shooter has a
point of 6 the croupier will announce "6 is" before every roll.
The betting action takes place on the table.
Before the shooter "comes out," that is,
before the first roll, you have the option of making a "pass" or "don't pass"
bet. The "pass" bet is that the shooter
will roll 7 or 11 on their first roll, or failing that will make their "point."
"Don't pass" is the opposite, the bet is that the shooter will roll craps or
roll a 7 before making their point.
Don't pass bets don't pay on a 12 coming out so the house retains an
advantage on the bet. These "come out"
bets are generally referred to as "line" bets, although technically only the
"pass line" is a line bet.
If the shooter has a point to make, there are several places
you can place wagers yourself, simply by putting chips on the appropriate place
on the table.
After the come-out roll, most casinos allow a "behind the
line" bet. A common practice at
casinos is allowing "double odds" bets behind the line.
This allows you to increase your wager but
be paid at the "correct" odds for the point the shooter is trying to make for
that portion of the bet. 10 and 4
generally pay off at 2 to 1 behind the line, 5 and 9 at 3 to 2, and 6 to 5 on 6
and 8. This is important to know, as
the house always rounds down, so it's important to put a rational amount behind
the line based on what the shooter's going for.
Another option you have are the "come" and "don't come"
bets. Even though the shooter is
already shooting for a "point" at this point, you can place a bet in the either
of these areas, and that bet will be treated as though the shooter was making a
"come out" roll. In other words, a 7 or
11 on the next roll will pay your "come" bet, and a 2, 3 or 12 will lose
it. If the shooter rolls something
other than those 5 outcomes, your "come" wager is placed on the number of your
table, and will pay if the shooter makes that "point" for you.
You also have the option of buying odds on
that point, the same as putting a behind the line wager on a come-out
roll. Obviously, you can't make a
"come" wager on the come-out roll.
You can also put money on the field.
The field pays even money on any roll of
3,4,9,10,11, and 2 to 1 on 2 or 12. Any
other outcome forfeits the field bet.
Field bets can be made at any time, but are generally only placed after
the come-out roll.
The last place you can put money yourself after the come-out
is on the "big 6" and "big 8." These
pay even for any roll of 6 or 8 respectively, and stay up until the shooter
rolls a 7 or the bettor takes the bet down.
Not all casinos have "big 6" and "big 8" on the table.
Other bets require the attention of the croupier and/or
other dealers at the table. You may
make a place bet on 4, 5, 6, 8, 9 or 10 if the shooter has a point to
make. These wagers will stay up until
the shooter 7's out or until you ask for them to come down.
Any time your number is rolled, you'll be
paid based on the odds for that number.
There are other bets you can make on the "place" numbers, but most are
esoteric and generally of little value.
If you're playing with enough money, it can be of value to "buy" place
numbers, meaning the house charges you a commission (generally about 5%) to pay
you the correct odds for those numbers.
A dealer can explain the procedure, as it varies from casino to casino.
(Often, the dealer will suggest ways to
improve a bet for you, for example if you request $20 on 8 he may suggest you
buy the number or make your bet a multiple of 6). Remember, the dealers don't have a vested interest in making you
lose, they depend on tips from winners to supplement their regular wages.
The other bets you can make are single-roll bets and the
"hard ways". These are located in the
middle of the table, and are set by the croupier. These bets are generally not subject to the same minimum as the
other bets at the table, for example if the "minimum bet" at the table is $20,
there will generally be no objections to $5 bets on the single-roll or
The single-roll bets are fairly simple, and include 7, 2, 3,
11, and 12. "Any craps" is also
available as a single-roll bet. These
can generally be combined, for example, a "horn" bet can be placed that
includes any craps and 11, sometimes known as a "C&E" (craps and 11)
bet. A "world" bet can also be placed
which is like the C&E but is made in multiples of 5 and is a push on the 7
in exchange for worse odds on the C&E.
Finally there are the "hard ways" bets.
These are generally wagered after the
come-out roll, and can be made on the 4, 6, 8, and 10.
The wager is that the number(s) you take hardway
bets on will be rolled showing the same number of pips on each die.
These must come out before the shooter 7's
out, or before the number is rolled "the easy way," that is, not by having the
same number of pips showing on each die.
GETTING INTO THE GAME
Your first time out, you'll probably want to try a
low-stakes table with few people playing at it, preferably with a friend who's
played before. You'll see a puck either
covering up a number at the top of the table or on the "don't come" box.
When the puck is in the "don't come" box it
means a new shooter is coming up and it's a good time to get some chips.
Drop your money on the table and ask the
dealer across for you for change. Your
money will be boxed, and a stack of chips will be pushed over towards you based
on the table minimum and the amount you changed. Take your chips and keep one hand on them at all times; the
person next to you may be tempted to snatch a chip or two while you're watching
the dice or placing bets if you don't.
When you have a new shooter, commonly you'll want to put at
least a bet on the pass line or don't pass.
Betting "don't pass" is also called betting "wrong," and will
occasionally earn you glares from the shooter or other players if they're
supersitous. You can also make
"one-roll" bets. Personally I generally
bet "right" and like to hedge against the shooter rolling craps, so I'll bet
the minimum on the pass line and half that on a C&E bet.
The math is not totally rational, but if the
shooter rolls craps or 11 it pays well, and if the shooter makes a point I can
make it back by putting odds on the line bet.
If the shooter has a point to make, I generally put the same
amount of my place bet behind the line plus whatever else is needed to get the
best payout (important if the point is 6 or 8, as multiples of 6 are generally
best behind the line). I often cover
all the hard ways with half the table minimum ($5 every hardway at a $10
table). I also like come bets, even
though place bets are usually a better value.
Craps players are often extremely superstitious, and less
often believe they have a "system." The
superstitious often have mannerisms or incantations they say over the dice
before each throw, including pounding the table or rubbing the dice against the
felt. These people will often abruptly
leave the table if they notice people betting "wrong" or think that "unlucky"
people are at the table, or think the dice are going "cold." These people are generally harmless, and you
shouldn't take offense at any strange or rude behavior they might exhibit.
Most of the people in the "system" school can be spotted by
their algorithmic approach to betting.
A popular "system" involves doubling your come bets every couple throws
after the shooter makes a point to hedge against the shooter 7'ing out and get
paid on the place numbers. This system,
and any such system, is only guaranteed to make losing money at the table more
labor-intensive for you.
The minority of people in the "system" school of craps
(including me) are convinced that "setting" the dice in a certain way and
throwing them in a certain way increases the odds of getting results favorable
to the shooter. I have observed people
who appear successful in this endeavor, and have myself noticed that
consciously setting the dice has better results for me. Further credence is lent to this theory by
the fact that many casinos around the world do not allow the practice. While from a scientific standpoint it's
highly unlikely that any setting of the dice can affect the outcome at all, we
all have our foibles, and this is one of mine.
Craps is a game you can only learn by playing. Observe what the people around you are doing
and how they bet. I'd like to leave you
with a few additional tips for your first time playing:
the dealers, if they tell you to do something, or refrain from doing
something, you probably should
you shoot, make sure you only touch the dice with one hand, shaking the
dice with both hands (obscuring them from view) will earn you some
your own bets. The dealers are only human. If you think a wager of yours
should have paid it can't hurt to ask.
terms "snake-eyes" and similar for dice rolls are generally not used, with
the exception of "yo." "Yo" means 11.
"Dime" and "Quarter" refers to $5, $10, and $25 chips, respectively. Chips
are also often referred to by color, for example $1 chips are often white
and $5 are often red.
Enjoy the game, and remember: quit while you're ahead!
The table will be there next time.