Craps seems like the most confusing casino game ever, but it’s also the most lit — hands down. Personally, I avoided the craps table the way I avoided looking at my credit card statement after a night of too many Fireball shots. And that lowkey felt bad because everyone at the Craps table always looks like they’re having the time of their lives.
And when you’re off playing slots and hear an eruption of screams and cheers? Yeah, that’s at the craps table.
So I decided to get my shit together and actually learn how to play craps, and found that not only was it pretty easy, but it was just as bomb as I thought it would be.
Craps consists of dice, a shooter, a dealer (called the croupier), players and a betting table. The shooter rolls the dice that determine the outcome of the game. Shooters will alternate around the table to whomever wishes to roll the dice.
The goal of the game is to bet either against the shooter or with the shooter — and the easiest bets to make (and understand) are the Pass Line, Don’t Pass and Free Odds bets.
The Pass Line Bet
The Pass Line bet is the simplest in craps, and with a house edge of just 1.41%, it’s also one of the best bets you can make in the casino.
With the pass line bet, you’re betting *with* the shooter rather than against her. You’ll place your pass line bet before a new shooter begins — that’s called her “coming out” roll. When she rolls the dice, if it’s a 7 or 11, you win. If it’s a 2, 3 or 12, you lose.
If the shooter rolls any other number, that establishes her “point,” and she will continue to roll. For you to win your bet, the shooter has to roll the point number again before she “craps out,” which means rolling a 7. The shooter will continue to roll the dice until she has either rolled the point number again or rolled a 7.
If the shooter makes her point, she’ll start again with a new “coming out” roll. If she craps out, the dice go to a new shooter and the process begins again.
The pass line bet is your best friend. It’s really all you need to play craps for hours and hours — and the house edge is really low, so you can spend all night sipping vodka sodas and cheering for 7s, 11s or point rolls.
The Don’t Pass Bet
The Don’t Pass bet is the opposite of the pass line — you’re betting *against* the shooter. On the coming out roll, you’ll win if the shooter rolls a 2 or 3 and you’ll lose if the shooter rolls a 7 or 11. You’ll push (a tie, neither winning nor losing) if she rolls a 12.
Once a point is established, betting on Don’t Pass means that you’re betting the shooter will roll a 7 before rolling her point.
The Don’t Pass bet is often referred to as playing “playing the dark side” because when you win, it pretty much means almost everyone else loses. Some people consider this bad form or even taboo. I say screw that. Sometimes it’s fun to play the villain. Channel your inner Harley Quinn and watch everyone lose as you collect your winnings.
Free Odds Bet
The Free Odds bet is placed after you’ve already bet on the pass line or don’t pass. Once a point is established, you can bet more money on your pass/don’t pass bet. The amazing thing? Unlike virtually every other bet in a casino, there’s no house edge on the odds bet. That’s why it’s called free.
To make a free odds bet, you place your chips behind your original pass line or don’t pass bet at whatever multiple the casino allows (2x, 3x-4x-5x, etc.)
The free odds bet will pay based on how hard a point number is to hit. For example, a 4 or 10 is harder to roll since there are only three dice combinations to roll each, compared with five combinations that make a 6 or 8.
Odds bet multiples and payouts vary between casinos, so be sure to check the payouts and maximum free odds bet you can make.
Other Types of Betting
There are quite a few more options for betting on craps — Come and Don’t Come bets, Big 6, Big 8, place bets, hardways… and it takes a little while to learn them all. Most of the ‘inside’ table betting options have much higher house edges; Big 6 and Big 8 bets take 9% of your money over the long term, making it about 7 times riskier than a pass bet.
The best way to play craps is to keep it simple — start with pass/don’t pass and free odds bets until you’re comfortable, then move on to more advanced play (if you even want to).
Drink Up, It’s Not That Hard
So, as you can see, despite the craps board making about as much sense and Egyptian hieroglyphics the first time… or 100th time you look at it, you can absolutely play and win by placing simple, easy to understand bets. If you happen to be a masochist and want to decipher every bet you can make playing craps, Wizard of Odds has a definitive guide.
But really, you just need to know a few things to have an amazing time at the craps table — and the same is true for blackjack, and roulette, which will keep you on the floor late into the night.