Craps is surely the most popular dice game you’ll find at casinos. It’s not that easy to wrap your head around as a complete newbie, so we’ve tried our best to put together this handy guide.
A version of craps has been around for hundreds of years already. Early incarnations can be found in England as far back as the 14th century. Back then the game was called ‘hazard’ and was played with two dice as well. Whoever was throwing the dice had to nominate a number between 5 and 9, which was then what he needed to actually throw to win. If he threw anything between 4 and 10 or 11 and 12, the player had a chance, but only if he managed to repeat the same throw.
Eventually France adopted a version of it as well, which was called ‘crapaud’. That’s French for toad, indicating the hunched position the players were usually found in, as the game was played in the streets and the dice were bounced off some wall.
When the game moved to America, it was finally called ‘Craps’ and a few rules were changed. This is basically what you’re playing nowadays in casinos around the world.
The craps table tends to be the noisiest table at a casino, because that’s where players get to complete most of the actions. It’s them shooting the dice, after all, and players tend to cheer each other on or call out the results they are hoping for.
This is merely for those of you who like to know these kinds of things or actually collect fun facts. All crap rolls have special names, meaning the combinations you may roll are known under special designations. There’s no need to learn these, because they’re not usually used at casinos. But it’s fun to be aware of.
- 1 & 1 – Snake Eyes or Aces
- 1 & 2 – Ace Deuce or Acey Deucey
- 1 & 3 – Easy Four
- 1 & 4, 2 & 3 – Fever Five or Little Phoebe
- 1 & 5, 2 & 4 – Easy Six or Jimmie Hicks (from the sticks)
- 1 & 6, 2 & 5, 3 & 4 – Natural or Seven Out
- 1 & 6 (only) – ‘up pops the devil’ or Big Red
- 2 & 2 – Hard Four or Little Joe (from Kokomo) or Ballerina
- 2 & 6, 3 & 5 – Easy Eight
- 3 & 3 – Hard Six or Jimmie Hicks
- 3 & 6, 4 & 5 – Nina (from Pasadena or at the Marina) or Old Mike (after Michael Jordan)
- 4 & 4 – Hard Eight or Square Pair or Mom & Dad or Ozzie & Harriet
- 4 & 5 (only) – Jesse James
- 4 & 6 – Easy Ten
- 5 & 5 – Hard Ten or Puppy Paws or Big John or Moose Eleven
- 5 & 6 – Yo (from ‘Yo-leven’ to prevent confusion with a seven)
- 6 & 6 – Boxcars or Midnight
How these names came about we do not know. But perhaps you want to find out for yourself.
The basic rules
Most craps guides will tell you that it’s not a complicated game. At least not as complicated as it may seem initially. And truly, if you know the basic rules, you should be just fine. We do recommend you observe the game for a while when you’re first checking it out at a casino. That way you’ll get a better feeling for what’s actually going on. Also, it may not be a bad idea to check out the layout of a craps table at an online casino to familiarise yourself with the layout and betting options.
How to play
You may be familiar with the craps table. It has especially high walls, because the dice should hit that wall when they’ve been thrown by the shooter (the player throwing the dice). The shooter will always use two dice and throw them across the table, hoping to throw certain numbers to win.
At the craps table the shooter will bet on the ‘pass line’ or ‘don’t pass line’, then select two of five dice presented by the dealer (called ‘stickman’ here) and finally throw those dice with one hand.
Every game consists of at rounds with two phases, depending on what the shooter actually throws: ‘come out’ and ‘point’. Below you’ll find the possible outcomes of the shoot.
Natural – If a shooter throws 7 or 11 it is called a ‘natural’ and means that all bets that have been placed on the pass line will win.
Craps – Here a players throws either a 2, 3 or a 12, which is indeed called ‘craps’. If that happens, all bets on the pass line lose.
Point – Regardless of the results of the come out throws (craps or natural), the current shooter will continue to throw the dice hoping to land on 4, 5, 6, 8, 9 or 10. Should that happen, a dealer will put an ‘on’ button/pin on the number and the next phase commences.
Seven out – The shooter continues to shoot until they throw a 7 or the point number, which is preferable. If a 7 is thrown, you get the ‘seven out’, pass line bets lose and a new round begins with a new player. Should the shooter manage to throw the point number, pass line bets will be paid out, the round ends and a new shooter takes over.
Betting Rules and Options
So, the game itself isn’t all that complicated. But wrapping your head around all the different betting options can cause you a headache. At least in the beginning. When we talk strategy, you may find that you’ll stick to certain bets anyway and won’t have to worry so much about the rest of it.
You should carefully study the craps table before you do anything else. All of the below betting options will be reflected on the betting table. Also, you will find it’s layout unique in that it actually comprises of two identical parts. They’re essentially mirrored and exist so that players standing at both sides of the table may be able to place a bet on a field within reach.
The Pass Line – The easiest and first bet to be placed and one you should definitely stick to, if you’re new to the game. When the come out roll is 7 or 11, all bets on this line will automatically pass and therefore pay out 1:1. The house edge is 1.41% here. Once you’re in the points round, you’ll win 1:1 once again if the point is actually thrown.
Don’t Pass Line Bet – This is your other option as your first bet and means you’re actually betting against the shooter, meaning that they won’t throw a 7 or 11. You’ll get paid 1:1, if the shooter throws a 2 or 3 during the come on phase, or, during the points phase, if the shooter throws a 7 before they throw a point. The house edge is 1.36%.
The Come Bet – Very similar to the pass line bet, but you’ll place this one anytime after you made your initial pass line bet. Here you place your bet in the ‘come’ field. Once again you’re betting with the shooter, hoping that they’ll throw what is expected of them. The house edge is 1.41%.
Don’t Come Bet – This one corresponds to the ‘don’t pass line bet’ and is also made at any point after the come on bet was placed. And once again you’re betting against the shooter. House edge is 1.36%.
Place Bets – The place bets are placed on the ‘place numbers’, which are 4, 5, 6, 8, 9 and 10. If the number is thrown before a 7, your bet pays according to the odds for each number, which actually differ. For instance, a 6 or 8 pay at 7:6, whereas a 4 or 10 pay at 9:5.
Field Bets – Essentially fixed odds bet. Here you win if the shooter rolls a 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11 or 12, or you lose when a 5, 6, 7 or 8 appears. All wins are paid 1:1, unless it’s a 2, which pays 2:1, or a 12, which pays 3:1. Field bets are only valid for one roll.
Big 6 and Big 8 Bets – Very similar to place bets, but only applicable to the numbers 6 and 8. Odds are a lot longer here, with the house edge reaching 2.78%. They’re only paying 1:1 as well, which means they’re usually not worth your consideration.
Proposition Bets – These can also be placed on any roll, but will also only count for that one roll. There are different propositions you can make, depending on what you expect the shooter to throw. Your options are:
- Any Craps: If a 2, 3 or 12 is rolled, you’ll win. Pays 8:1.
- Any Seven: Only wins if a 7 is rolled. Pays 5:1.
- Eleven: Conversely wins only when an 11 is rolled. Pays 6:1.
- Ace Deuce: If a 3 is rolled, you’ll get paid 16:1.
- Aces or Boxcars: Here a 2 or 12 has to be rolled. Pays 30:1.
- Horn Bet: You’re betting on 2, 3, 11 and 12 at once and win if one of these numbers is rolled. They pay 8:1 for 2, 3 and 12, and 16:1 for 11.
- Hardways: Wins if a hard number is thrown (meaning, 2+2 for 4, 3+3 for 6, 4+4 for 8 and 5+5 for 10) before a 7 is rolled.
Is there a useful strategy in Craps?
This is always a difficult subject, because craps guides or those for any other casino game will give you vastly different advice. If you keep in mind that you should always play for fun before gain, you won’t be tempted to spend more than you can afford, however.
Once again you may be told to use the Martingale system here, which means you should adopt a betting strategy of doubling your bet every time you lose. That means once you do win, you’ll get everything bet plus a tiny profit. But it also means you might be looking at significant losses and your budget may be stretched to its limits.
It’s not a system we recommend, so stay your bet and perhaps follow a different strategy entirely based on the actual odds of the rolls a shooter may throw.
That means you really should stick with statistics and probability when betting at the craps table and that in turn means to bet against the shooter. Yes, that’s not actually appreciated by the shooter, but your odds are better here than on any other bet.
This is called ‘playing the dark side’. So, you’ll be betting on the ‘don’t pass line’ and the ‘don’t come’ lines, expecting that the shooter won’t get a natural or points throw right.
You can also ‘lay the odds’ by betting that the shooter will throw a 7 before they manage to throw a point. The house edge when playing like this comes to a total that is as close to 0 as you can possibly get at the casino with about 0.00021%.
No matter what you decide to do, go against the grain or with it, certain bets should be avoided:
- Place bets on 5 and 9, as well as 4 and 10
- Big 6 and 8
- Hard ways
- All put bets
- All proposition bets
Playing Craps online vs at land-based casinos
Among all casinos games, the experience of playing it online vs at a brick-and-mortar casino is probably the one that is the most different. Part of the fun of craps is to stand at that slightly different looking table among all the other players and physically throwing the dice. The outcome is as random as if you were playing at an online casino, where the random number generator rules the game, but actually throwing the dice cannot possibly be compared to hitting that ‘roll’ button.
There are only two reasons to play craps at an online casino: a) familiarise yourself with the table, and b) try out some betting strategies.
But if you want the real deal, you’ll have to try it at an actual land-based casino. There is no comparison.
Playing craps live or mobile
A valid question to ask is whether or not craps can even be played live or mobile. There may very well be an option to play craps on your mobile, if there’s a HTML5 compatible version from a developer. But finding one is a bit of a matter of luck. We know of a popular craps game from Microgaming, but that’s not available to be played mobile.
And we’ve never encountered a craps live game. It would be slightly difficult to make a live version of the game, after all. The main fun of it is for the players to throw the dice. What would be the point to have the dealer throw them?
The only other feasible option would be to be a quiet participation at a table that is streamed live from an actual casino, where you could place bets, but other players at the casino would be the shooters.
So, no, right now you can’ play craps live or mobile.
Best Craps Online Casinos
Well, to be perfectly honest, most online casinos carry the same craps games. One you’ll find almost everywhere is a version made by Microgaming. It’s popular at such casinos as Unibet, which is overall an excellent casino for you to play at.
Thus our recommendation for best craps casino is really just a selection of our preferred online casinos that do offer at least one version of craps. Among them are Royal Panda, InterCasino and betway casino as well.
We’ll always mention whether craps is available as a game in our online casino reviews, though, so this list is by no means comprehensive.
If you have thoughts or suggestions, feel free to let us know.
Top 5 Online Craps Casinos
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