1. Roll the dice. In truth, you could play craps all your life and never have to roll the dice. Players take turns being the “shooter,” and you can pass when it’s your turn. Craps is a dice game, so you should probably at least learn how to roll in case you feel lucky. Generally when it’s your turn the “stickman,” one of four casino staff who usually works the craps table, will present you with four or more dice. You choose two to throw, and the stickman takes the others back. Always handle the dice with only one hand. This is a standard rule to prevent cheating. When it’s your turn to roll the dice, you must roll them so that they cross the table, hit the opposite wall, and bounce off the wall. If either die goes off the table or fails to go far enough, you’ll need to roll again. The craps table is fairly large, so you actually need to toss the dice rather than simply rolling them as you would for a board game.
2. Place a bet before the come-out roll. At the beginning of a “game” of craps, a puck or button, usually called a “buck,” will be on the table, with the word “OFF” written on it. This means that no “point” (explained later) has been determined. A craps game can’t begin until the shooter has placed a bet on the “pass line.” Anyone else at the table can also place a bet on the pass line at this time, though they don’t have to. This is the most basic craps bet. The shooter’s first roll of any turn is called the “come-out” roll.
- If the shooter rolls a 7 or 11 on the come-out roll, his bet on the pass line wins even money, as does everybody else’s. If the shooter comes out with a 2, 3, or 12–this is called craps–everyone loses their pass line bets.
- If the shooter rolls any other number, this number becomes the point.
3. Play the point. If the shooter establishes a point, by rolling a 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10, all bets on the pass line remain there. You don’t have to make any additional bets to play the point. The dealer will take the “buck” and place it on the number which is now the point. Let’s assume the point is 8. The shooter now tries to roll his point (8) before he rolls 7. If he rolls any other number, it doesn’t matter, but if he rolls 8, everybody who has a bet on the pass line wins even money. If he succeeds in hitting his point, he starts over with a new come-out roll and a new bet on the pass line, thus repeating the cycle. If he rolls a 7 at any time other than during a come-out roll, though, everybody loses their pass line bets, and the dice are turned over to the next player (the first player has “sevened out”). A player may hit establish and hit several points before he finally rolls a 7, or he may roll a 7 on the first roll after he establishes his first point. You just never know what will happen.
4. Place an “odds bet.” Learn the preceding steps, and you can play craps. The pass line bet has fairly good odds, and it’s simple to play. Some people only play the pass line. There are, however, many other possible bets. One of the simplest is the odds bet, which also, incidentally can have very good odds. After the shooter has established a point, you can place an additional bet behind the pass line. This is the odds bet and can only be played if you are also playing the pass line. The odds bet is an additional bet on the point, so that if the shooter hits his point, you will win both your pass bet and the odds bet.
- The odds bet pays true odds, which differ depending on what the point is. For example, if the point is 4, there are only three combinations of the dice that will hit the point, while there are five ways to hit a point of 8. Thus the true odds for hitting 4 are worse than the true odds for hitting 8, and while the pass line pays even money regardless of the point, the odds bet pays you according to the true odds (you’d get more for the 4). Thus if you want to bet more money, it’s better to play the odds bet than to increase your pass bet. Most casinos offer double odds tables, so that you can place an odds bet of up to twice your pass bet, though some casinos allow even higher odds bets.
- You can increase, decrease or remove your odds bet at any time.
- If 7 is rolled, you lose both your pass bet and your odds bet.
5. Place a “come bet.” After a point has been established, you may also place a come bet in addition to your pass line bet. Note that you don’t have to play both an odds bet and a come bet, but to play either you must play the pass line bet. A come bet is placed by putting your bet on the “Come” space. When you place a come bet, the next roll the shooter throws will be your own come-out roll, with the same rules for a regular come-out roll. The come bet affects only you, however, so if the next roll is a 7, your come bet would win (because it follows the same rules as a come-out roll), but your pass line bet, along with everyone else’s, would still be lost.
- Assuming that the roll after you place you come bet is not a 2, 3, 7, 11, or 12, the number rolled becomes your own “come point.” The dealer will move your come bet to the appropriate number. Your pass line bet still depends on the shooter’s point, so you now have two points.
- A come bet works like a pass line bet. If the shooter throws your come point before he throws a 7, you win, but if he throws a 7, you lose both your pass line bet and your come bet. If the shooter throws both his point and your come point before rolling a 7, you win both.
- You can place odds on a come bet. Tell the dealer “odds on come” when you lay your odds bet down.
- Once your come bet is placed on your come point, you can place additional come bets to establish additional come points.
6. Play conservatively. These are the most basic bets of craps. You can also bet on single numbers or single rolls, and you can even bet on certain more complex “propositions.” To begin, however, you should learn the basics and get comfortable playing craps. It can be a very fast-paced game, so you want to be able to master the simpler bets so that you don’t have to think about them. Once you’ve done so, do some research on the odds of other bets and learn more about betting strategies. Playing only these simple bets will give you better odds than just about anywhere in the casino, but you can win more by playing riskier bets. You can also lose more, and quickly, so you’ll need a hefty bankroll if you plan on doing anything more complex.