Craps is played with two dice so the possible numbers rolled are 2
through 12. The craps table layout looks confusing because there are
many different bets that can be made and because the layout at both
ends of the table are exact mirrors of each other. (It is merely
duplicated in this manner to allow more players at one table.)
However, only one bet is played in basic craps play, and it is
placed on only one area of the layout. The rest of the layout can be
ignored. Craps play can look confusing and fast-moving because
players can place multiple bets on different areas of the layout at
the same time. However, craps play can actually be slower than
blackjack due to the fact that the dice often have to be rolled
multiple times before the outcome is determined.
When you place a basic craps bet (explained below) all you are
doing is placing a wager that the person who is rolling the dice
will roll the number he needs to win. You're essentially just along
for the ride. You are in no way in competition with the person
rolling the dice. In fact, you are betting on how lucky they are
with the dice. "The house" (the casino), on the other hand, is
hoping the person rolling the dice isn't so lucky. This is why
you'll often hear a lot of hooting and hollering and find a sense of
camaraderie around a craps table. When the person rolling the dice
does good, all the players do good.
The basic bet in craps is the Pass Line bet:
- The bet (chips) is placed on the area of the layout marked
"Pass Line" (see the diagram below).
- The Pass Line bet is a series bet, meaning that the person
shooting the dice (aka "the shooter") may have to roll the dice
multiple times before you win or lose.
- The first roll in a series is called the come-out roll and
it is different from the rest of the rolls in the series.
On the Come-Out Roll:
- 7 or 11 are automatic Pass Line winners and the series ends.
(This is essentially a one-roll series.)
- 2, 3, or 12 (known as craps) are automatic Pass Line losers
and the series ends. (This also is essentially a one-roll
- Any other number rolled (4,5,6,8,9,10) becomes the shooter's
point and the series continues.
When the series continues....:
If the shooter establishes a point, the series continues
and the shooter continues to roll the dice. The object of
the game now becomes for the shooter to roll their point
number again before they roll a 7.
- If any number other than the point or a 7 is rolled,
nothing happens and the shooter rolls again.
- If the point is rolled, Pass Line bets win and the
- If a 7 is rolled, Pass Line bets lose (known as a
"seven out") and the series ends.
|This is the most confusing thing to new craps
Note that rolling a 7 after a point is established is a
which is opposite of the 7 being a winner on a come-out
Remember this key point and you're a craps player!
In other words, if a shooter establishes
a point, they roll the dice continuously (the series of
multiple rolls) until they either roll their point or seven
out. If a number other than the point or a 7 are rolled,
nothing happens (as far as Pass Line bettors are concerned)
and the shooter rolls again.
That's all there is to basic craps play !
Here's an example series:
The shooter throws the dice on a come-out
roll, which starts a new series, and a 5 is rolled. (Recall that
rolling a 7 or 11 would have been winners and 2, 3, or 12 would
have been losers.)
The shooter throws the dice again and rolls
The shooter throws the dice again and rolls a
3. (Note that rolling a 2, 3, 11, or 12 after a point is
established means nothing to Pass Line bettors.)
The shooter throws the dice again and rolls a
dealer has a hockey-puck-looking disk (called a "buck") which is
white on one side and black on the other. When a shooter establishes
a point, the buck is placed on the point number (on the layout)
white side up. When there is no point established (i.e. during a
come-out roll), the buck is turned black-side up and set off to the
side of the layout.
You can only place a Pass Line bet at the start of a series (on a
come-out roll when there is no point established - i.e. when the
buck is black-side up and off to the side). However, some casinos
may waive this traditional rule and let you put down a Pass Line bet
at any time. Ask a dealer.
The same shooter rolls the dice continuously
until they "seven out". No matter how many times they roll a
"come-out 7 or 11", craps (come-out 2, 3, or 12), or a point, the
shooter gives up the dice only after they "seven out" (i.e. roll a 7
when trying to roll a point) or voluntarily opt out. In other words,
the same shooter can have multiple "come-out " rolls and make
multiple points before they seven out. (A shooter with many come-out
rolls is called a "hot shooter" because they have made multiple
points - i.e. they didn't throw a 7 while they had points
If you need chips, lay your money down on the
layout in front of a dealer. Never try to hand money to a dealer
directly. Also, check to make sure the shooter is not about to roll
the dice before you put your money down (so you don't interfere with
the dice). Most craps tables have a $5 minimum bet level so when you
lay your money down, ask the dealer for "nickels" ($5 chips). (Some
of the smaller places may have minimum bet levels of $1, $2, or $3.)
If the buck is turned white-side up and is on a number (see diagram
above), wait for the series to end and then place your bet (chips)
on the Pass Line area of the layout directly in front of you. (This
is how the dealers know which bet belongs to which player.) Once a
Pass Line bet is down it cannot be removed.
Players take turns being the shooter, going from
one player to the next in a clockwise direction around the table.
You can pass on being a shooter if you wish, but who knows, you
could have the hot hand! When it is your turn to be the shooter, the
"stick man" pushes four to six dice in front of you. You select two
of the dice and he retrieves the remaining ones. Only use one hand
when handling the dice. (If you use two hands they fear you may be
switching dice and will force you to re-select from new dice.) Throw
the dice to the opposite end of the table. The dice must hit the end
wall and bounce back in order to be a valid roll. Also, you must
have a Pass Line bet down in order to shoot.
Craps Play Tips
Craps offers players some of the best odds in the
house. The Pass Line bet only has a house edge of 1.414%. If you put
down "double odds" (which you can learn about on the Intermediate
page) with your Pass Line bet the house's edge drops to .606%.
Compare that to the house edge of 5.3% for roulette and about 1.5%
for blackjack (when you use the basic strategy in a multi-deck
This all may seem like a lot to digest all at
once but once you go through a couple series you'll find it's really
easy. A couple things that can help are the free lessons offered by
some of the casinos at their actual craps tables (ask a casino
employee if and when they offer free craps lessons) and the Hoyle
Casino software mentioned on the Gaming page. But be sure to read
through our Intermediate Craps Play and Advanced Craps Play pages
first so that you can make the most of the casino's lessons and
practice software. All three pages are also summarized on a Craps
Play Summary page that you can print out and take with you for easy
reference or as a refresher.
See the Tips page for information on how to tip
the crew at a craps table.
Make sure the shooter is not about to throw the
dice and put your money down on the table in front of the dealer and
ask for "nickels"
If the current shooter has a point established (look for the buck
white-side-up on a number) wait for the series to end by the shooter
either making their point or rolling a 7
Put your bet down on the Pass Line in front of you
On the come-out roll; 7,11 wins; 2,3,12 loses; 4,5,6,8,9,10 are
If a point is established; point number before 7 wins; 7 before
point number loses
The Optional Odds Bet - A Simple Bet With A Higher
Intermediate Craps Play page