In craps, players may wager money against each other (street craps) or the bank (bank craps) on the outcome of one roll, or of a series of rolls of two dice. Because it requires very little equipment, craps can easily be played in less formal settings, and is said to be popular among soldiers. In such situations side bets are more frequent, with one or several participants covering or "fading" bets against the dice.
To begin, a player wishing to play as the shooter must bet the table minimum on either the "Pass" line or the "Don't Pass" line (pass and don’t pass are sometimes called “Win” and “Don’t Win” bets for the outcome of a shooter’s round). A player next in turn to become shooter may refuse the dice, but may still play; the dice then pass to the next willing player in turn. The shooter is then presented five dice by the stickman, and must choose two to roll with. The remaining dice are returned to the stickman's bowl and are not used. The shooter then makes a "come-out roll" with the intention of establishing a point. If the shooter's come-out roll is a 2, 3 or 12, it is called "craps"; the round ends with players losing their pass line bets, and the dice pass to the next shooter. A come-out roll of 7 or 11 is called a "natural," resulting in a win for pass line bets (and a loss for don't pass bets) and the shooter retains the dice. Either way, the come-out roll continues until a point is established. If the numbers 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10 are rolled on the come-out, this number becomes the "point" and the come out roll is now over. The dealers will move an "On" button (or puck) to the point number which identifies the point number to all players at the table. The shooter will now continue rolling until either the point is rolled or a seven. If the shooter is successful in rolling the point, the result is a win for the pass line (and a loss for the don't pass). If the shooter rolls a seven (called a "seven-out"), the pass line loses (and the don't pass wins). A seven-out ends the round with the dice being passed (clockwise) to the next player who wishes to become the new shooter.
Players can make a large number of bets for each round or each roll. Most bets are on the way the round will end (point comes or a seven-out). Other betting can include betting on a specific total being rolled, or some other specific total besides the point being rolled before a 7. In a casino, players will make bets with chips on a specially made craps table.
A casino craps table is run by four casino employees: a boxman who guards the chips, supervises the dealers and handles colouring out players; two base dealers who stand to either side of the boxman who collect and pay bets; and a stickman who stands directly across the table from the boxman, takes bets in the center of the table (hard ways, yo, craps, horn etc), announces the results of each roll, collects the dice with an elongated wooden stick, and directs the base dealers to pay winners from bets in the center of the table. Each employee makes sure the other is paying out winners correctly. Occasionally, during off-peak times, only one base dealer will be attending the table, rendering only half the table open for bettors.
The dealers will usually insist that the shooter roll with one hand and that the dice bounce off the far wall surrounding the table. These requirements are meant to keep the game fair (preventing switching the dice or making a "controlled shot"). If a die leaves the table, the shooter will usually be asked to select another die from the remaining three but can request using the same die if it passes the boxman's inspection. This requirement is used to keep the game fair (and reduce the chance of loaded dice).
Nicknaming the rolls comes with making the game more interesting. Locals often have their own names. Nine is often called a "Centerfield Nine" because 9 is the center of the Field bet. Five is often called "No Field Five" to remind the players that 5 is not paid in the Field bets. Some dealers and players refer to any nine (5-4 or 6-3) as a "Lou Brown." In Atlantic City, a 4-5 is called a "Railroad Nine." Eleven is called out as "Yo" or "Yo'Leven" because it can often be mistaken for a seven. Rolls of 4, 6, 8, and 10 are called "hard" or "easy" (e.g. "Easy Eight", "Hard Ten") depending on whether they were rolled as a "double" or as any other combination of values, because of their significance in center table bets known as the "hard ways".
The shooter is required to make either a Pass Line bet or a Don't Pass bet if he wants to shoot. Line bets are based around points.
Pass line: The fundamental bet in craps is the pass line bet, also called the win line in some countries. A pass line bet is won immediately if the come-out roll is a 7 or 11. If the come-out roll is 2, 3 or 12, the bet loses (known as "crapping out"). If the roll is any other value, it establishes a point; if that point is rolled again before a seven, the bet wins. If, with a point established, a seven is rolled before the point is re-rolled, the bet loses ("seven out").
Don't pass: The opposite of the pass line bet is the don't pass bet. The don't pass bet is opposite in that it loses if the come-out roll is 7 or 11 and wins if the come-out roll is 2 or 3. A 12 will draw (this depends on the casino); either way a player cannot lose if 12 is rolled. A draw (the word "BAR," printed on the Craps layout, means "Standoff") on 12 is done to ensure the casino maintains a house edge regardless of whether players are betting pass or don't pass. If a point is established and that point is rolled again, the don't pass bet loses. If a 7 is rolled instead of the point being re-rolled, the don't pass bet wins. There are two very slightly different ways to calculate the odds and house edge of this bet. The table below gives the numbers considering that the game ends in a push when a 12 is rolled, rather than being undetermined. Betting on don't pass is often called "playing the dark side," and it is considered by some players to be in poor taste, or even taboo, because it goes directly against conventional play.
Pass odds: If a 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10 is thrown on the come-out roll (i.e., if a point is set), most casinos allow pass line bettors to take odds by placing from one to five times (and at some casinos, up to 100 times) the pass line bet behind the pass line. This additional bet wins if the point is rolled again before a 7 is rolled (the point is made) and pays at the true odds of 2-to-1 if 4 or 10 is the point, 3-to-2 if 5 or 9 is the point, and 6-to-5 if 6 or 8 is the point.
Some casinos offer "3-4-5X Odds," where the maximum allowed odds bet depends on the point (three times if the point is 4 or 10, four times on 5 or 9, and five times on 6 or 8). This rule simplifies the calculation of winnings: a maximum pass odds bet on a 3-4-5X table will always be paid at six times the pass line bet regardless of the point.
As odds bets are paid at true odds, in contrast with the pass line which is always even money, playing pass odds on a minimum pass line bet lessens the house advantage. A maximum odds bet on a minimum pass line bet gives the lowest house edge available in the casino.
Don't pass odds: If a player is playing don't pass instead of pass, they may also lay odds by placing chips behind the don't pass line. If a 7 comes instead of the point coming, the odds pay at true odds of 1-to-2 if 4 or 10 is the point, 2-to-3 if 5 or 9 is the point, 5-to-6 if 6 or 8 is the point. For most players the perceived disadvantage of putting up the long side of the bet makes the don't pass odds less desirable, however putting up the long side reduces variance.
Come bet: The rules for the come wagers are the same as for the pass line except that they can only be made after the come-out roll. If the roll the come bet is made on is a 7 or 11 it wins, if it is a 2, 3 or 12 it loses, just like a pass bet. If instead the roll is 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10 then the come bet will be moved by the base dealer onto a box representing that number. If the number is rolled again before a seven, the bet wins. If the seven comes before the number (the come-bet), the bet loses. Odds can also be placed on a come-bet just like a normal pass point; in this case the dealer (not the player) places the odds bet on top of the bet in the box, because of limited space, slightly offset to signify that it is an odds bet and not part of the original come bet.
Because of the come bet, if the shooter makes their point, a player can find themselves in the situation where they have a come bet (possibly with odds on it) and the next roll is a come-out roll. In this situation odds bets on the come wagers are presumed to be not working for the come-out roll. That means that if the shooter rolls a 7 on the come-out roll, any players with active come bets waiting for a come-point lose their initial wager but will have their odds money returned to them. If the come-point is rolled the odds do not win but the come bet does and the odds are returned. The player can tell the dealer that they want their odds working, such that if the shooter rolls a number that matches the come point, the odds bet will win along with the come bet, and if a seven is rolled both lose.
Don't come: There is also a don't come box which is the opposite of a come bet in that the player is betting that craps will come on the next roll instead of 7 or 11, or that if a come point is made, that value won't be rolled again before a 7. It pays just as don't pass and also has odds in the same way.
Hard way: A bet that the shooter will throw a 4, 6, 8 or 10 the "hard way", before he throws a seven or the corresponding "easy way". A hard way is when both dice show identical values, also known as "doubles," so 2-2 is hard way 4.
Easy way: Opposite of hard way is a bet that the shooter will throw a specific easy way (either 4, 6, 8 or 10), before he throws a seven. An easy way is a value that does not have two dice identical, so 3 1 is easy way 4. These are rarely available as bets except by placing on a point number (which pays off on easy or hard rolls of that number).
Big 6 and Big 8: These wagers are usually avoided by experienced craps players since they pay even money (1:1) while a player can bet on the same proposition (that the number will be rolled before a 7) by making place/buy bets on the 6 or the 8, which pay more (6:5). Some casinos do not even offer the Big 6 & 8. The bets are located in the corners behind the pass line, and bets may be placed directly by players.
Place and buy: Players can buy or place any point number (4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10) except for the current point by placing their wager in the come area and telling the dealer, "place the 6" or "buy the 8". Both place and buy bets are bets that the number bet on will be rolled before a 7 is rolled. Place bets are paid at odds worse than the true odds, while buy bets are paid at true odds, but a 5% commission is charged. Traditionally, the buy bet commission is paid no matter what, but in recent years a number of casinos have changed their policy to charge the commission only when the buy bet wins. Some casinos charge the commission as a one-time fee to buy the number; payouts are then always at true odds. Most casinos usually charge only $1 for a $25 green-chip bet (4% commission), or $2 for $50 (two green chips), reducing the house advantage a bit more. Where commission is charged only on wins, the commission is often deducted from the winning payoff--a winning $25 buy bet on the 10 would pay $49, for instance. The house edges stated in the table assume the commission is charged on all bets. They are reduced by at least a factor of two if commission is charged on winning bets only.
Lay: A lay bet is the opposite of a buy/place bet, where a player bets on a 7 to roll before the number that is laid. The lay bets pay true odds, but a 5% commission is charged. In some casinos the commission is only charged if the bet wins. Like the buy bet the commission is adjusted to suit the betting unit such that fraction of a dollar payouts are not needed.
Most multi-roll bets are similar to the Come bet above in that the round may be won by the shooter making point before the outcome of the bet is decided. As with the Come bet, these bets are considered "not working" until the next point is established, unless the player calls the bet as "working." Casino rules vary on this; some of these bets may not be callable, while others may be considered "working" during the come-out. If the number placed, bought or laid becomes the new point as the result of a come-out, the bet is usually refunded, or can be moved to another number for free.
|Bet||Actual Odds||Odds Paid||House Edge|
|Pass / Come||251:244||1:1||1.41%|
|Don’t Pass / Don’t Come (Bar 12)||1031:949||1:1||1.36%|
|Pass Odds / Come Odds||Same as paid|| 2:1 on 4 or 10|
3:2 on 5 or 9
6:5 on 6 or 8
|Don’t Pass Odds / Don’t Come Odds||Same as paid|| 1:2 against 4 or 10|
2:3 against 5 or 9
5:6 against 6 or 8
|C & E||5:1|| 3:1 on craps|
7:1 on 11
|Field||5:4|| 1:1 on 3,4,9,10 or 11|
2:1 on 2 and 12
|Field||5:4|| 1:1 on 3,4,9,10 or 11|
2:1 on 2, 3:1 on 12
|The Horn||5:1|| 27:4 on 2 or 12|
3:1 on 3 or 11
|Whirl/World||2:1|| 26:5 on 2 or 12|
11:5 on 3 or 11
0:1 (push) on 7
|Hard way 4 / Hard way 10||8:1||7:1||11.11%|
|Hard way 6 / Hard way 8||10:1||9:1||9.09%|
|Place 4 / Place 10||2:1||9:5||6.67%|
|Place 5 / Place 9||3:2||7:5||4%|
|Place 6 / Place 8||6:5||7:6||1.52%|
|Buy 4 / Buy 10||2:1||2:1 + 5% commission||4.76%|
|Buy 5 / Buy 9||3:2||3:2 + 5% commission||4.76%|
|Buy 6 / Buy 8||6:5||6:5 + 5% commission||4.76%|
|Lay 4 / Lay 10||1:2||1:2 + 5% commission||2.44%|
|Lay 5 / Lay 9||2:3||2:3 + 5% commission||3.23%|
|Lay 6 / Lay 8||5:6||5:6 + 5% commission||4.00%|
The expected value of all bets is negative, such that the average player will always lose money. This is because the house always sets the paid odds to below the actual odds. The only exception is the "odds" bet that the player is allowed to make after a point is established on a pass/come don't pass/don't come bet (the odds portion of the bet has a long-term expected value of 0). However, the "free odds" bet cannot be made independently, so the expected value of the entire bet, including odds, is still negative. Since there is no correlation between die rolls, there is no possible long-term winning strategy in craps.
Maximizing the size of the odds bet in relation to the line bet will reduce, but never eliminate the house edge, and will increase variance. Many casinos have a limit on how large the odds bet can be in relation to the flat bet, with single, double, and five times odds common. Some casinos offer 3-4-5 odds, referring to the maximum multiple of the line bet a player can place in odds for the points of 4 and 10, 5 and 9, and 6 and 8, respectively. During promotional periods, a casino may even offer 100x odds bets, which reduces the house edge to almost nothing, but dramatically increases variance, as the player will be betting in large betting units.
Since several of the multiple roll bets pay off in ratios of fractions on the dollar, it is important that the player bets in multiples that will allow a correct payoff in complete dollars. Normally, payoffs will be rounded down to the nearest dollar, resulting in a higher house advantage. These bets include all place bets, taking odds, and buying on numbers 6, 8, 5, and 9, as well as laying all numbers.
The pass/don't line, come/don't line, place 6, place 8, buy 4 and buy 10 (only under the casino rules where commission is charged only on wins) are the best bets with the lowest house edge in the casino, and all other bets will on average lose money between three and twelve times faster because of the difference in house edges.
An important alternative metric is house advantage per roll (rather than per bet), which may be expressed in loss per hour (see reference). The typical pace of rolls varies depending on the number of players, but 102 rolls per hour is a cited rate for a nearly full table (see reference). This same reference states that only "29.6% of total rolls are come out rolls, on average," so for this alternative metric, needing extra rolls to resolve the pass line bet, for example, is factored. This number then permits calculation of rate of loss per hour, and per the 4 day/5 hour per day gambling trip:
$10 Pass line bets 0.42% per roll, $4.28 per hour, $86 per trip
$10 Place 6,8 bets 0.46% per roll, $4.69 per hour, $94 per trip
$10 Place 5,9 bets 1.11% per roll, $11.32 per hour, $226 per trip
$10 Place 4,10 bets 1.19% per roll, $12.14 per hour, $243 per trip
$1 Single Hardways 2.78% per roll, $2.84 per hour, $56.71 per trip
$1 All hardways 2.78% per roll, $11.34 per hour, $227 per trip
$5 All hardways 2.78% per roll, $56.71 per hour, $1134 per trip
$1 Craps only on come out 3.29% per roll, $3.35 per hour, $67.09 per trip
$1 Eleven only on come out 3.29% per roll, $3.35 per hour, $67.09 per trip
Although their house percentages are poor, hardways and C/E (any craps / eleven) do not lose money as quickly as the pass line bet if some restraint as to frequency is used, such as limiting such bets to the come out roll as the chart shows. The $1 "yo" (eleven) bet, split with the dealers on come-out rolls by calling out "two-way yo," tends to be a favorite with many players as means of tipping the dealers without giving up too much per gambling trip. If eleven comes out on the come out roll, the pass line win bets and the more substantial "yo" bet splits (see see reference).
Also, by this metric, other betting patterns are shown to be costly, for example placing $10 on all point numbers, which has a much higher loss of $40.49 per hour or $810 per trip.
When throwing the dice, the player is expected to hit the farthest wall at the opposite end of the table. Some casinos refer to throws that do not hit the opposite wall as "Mellenberg Rolls." Most casinos will allow a roll that does not hit the opposite wall as long as the dice are thrown past the middle of the table, occasionally a short roll will be called a "no roll" due to the more controllable nature of such a roll. The dice may not be slid across the table and must be tossed. Typically, players are asked not to throw the dice higher than the eye level of the dealers.
The dice cannot land in the boxman's bank, the stickman's bowl (where the extra three dice are kept between rolls), or in rail around the top of the table where players chips are kept. Dice can land on players bets on the table, the dealer's working stacks, on the marker puck or with one die resting on top of the other. If a die or both dice leave the table, it is also a "no roll" and the boxperson will examine the dice before letting it come back into the game. However, the player may request the same die or dice.
When either of the dice land on or come to rest leaning against chips, markers, or the side of the table, the number that would be on top if the object the die is leaning on were removed, is the number that is used to make the call.
If one or both dice hits a player or dealer and rolls back onto the table, the roll counts as long as the person being hit did not interfere with either of the dice, though some casinos will rule "no roll" for this situation.
In most cases the shooter may "set" the dice to a particular configuration, but if they do, they are often asked to be quick about it so as not to delay the game. Some casinos have "no setting" rules.
Dealers are not allowed to touch the players or hand chips directly to a player, and vice versa. If "buying in" (paying cash for chips) at the table, players are expected to lay the cash down on the layout, which the dealer will take and then place chips in front of the player.
Many craps table layouts state "NO CALL BETS". This means a player is not allowed to call out a bet without having at least the right amount of chips on the table. If the chips exceed the bet, for example a $100 chip is placed and bets called out of "$25 on five and nine", the dealer will say "it's a bet" and return $50 change to the player. The dealer doesn't have to actually place the bet in the proper place on the table to constitute a valid bet. This method is consistent with the fast action of the game, allowing a player to make a last-second bet while the dice are about to be thrown. The NO CALL BET rule may exist to prevent confusion on the amount bet, possibly going back to the days of 25 cent tables. For example "three fifty" could mean $3.50 or $350. If the dealer is not clear about the intention of the player he may state "no bet" and push the chips back to the player.
Like any other table game, the casino can ask a player to leave the table or the casino for any reason.
It is generally preferable to place chips on the board rather than tossing them. Tossed chips may roll on edge out of the dealer's reach and/or upset other stacks of chips. A center bet controlled by the stickman (usually the hardest person to reach) can be made by passing chips to the nearest dealer, who will relay the bet to the stickman. When chips must be tossed it is polite to gain the dealer or stickman's attention and toss as few chips as necessary to cover the bet (a $25 chip is preferable to a stack of five $5 chips).
When offered the dice to shoot, a player may pass the dice to the next player without fear of offending anyone; however, at least one player must always be a "shooter" betting on either the pass line or don't pass line for the game to continue.
When tipping, the most common way is simply to toss chips onto the table and say, "For the dealers" or "For the boys" (the latter is considered acceptable even though dealers often are women). It's also common to place a bet for the dealers. If the bet is one handled by the dealers, such as a Place bet or one of the proposition bets handled by the stick-man, the chip(s) should be placed, or thrown, and announced as a dealer bet, such as "Dealer's hard eight", or "Place the eight for the dealers". A "two-way" bet is one that is part for the player and part for the dealers. Usually, the dealers' bet is smaller than the player's bet, but it is appreciated. The part of the bet for the dealer is called a "toke" bet; this is from the $1 slot machine coins or tokens that are sometimes used to place bets for the dealers in a casino. Most casinos require the dealers to pick up their winning bets, including the original tip, rather than "let it ride" as the player may choose to do. If the player wants the original dealer bet to remain in place, the phrase "I control the bet" should be clearly stated by the tipper, and acknowledged by the one of the crew, immediately upon announcing the dealer bet. This indicates that any winnings for that bet will be picked up by the dealers, and the original amount will remain in play until a losing decision.
After the come-out roll, it is considered bad luck to say the word "seven". A common "nickname" for this number is "Big Red", or just "Red".
It is considered bad luck to change dice in the middle of a roll. If one or both dice leave the table, and the shooter does not want a new die, or dice, substituted into the game, the shooter should immediately and loudly call "Same Dice!". The retrieved die, or dice, will then be returned to play after close inspection by the boxman. Many casinos assume as a matter of course that the shooter will want the same dice, and will return those dice to play unless the shooter requests otherwise.
Proposition bets, the bets in the center of the table, are made by tossing chips to the center of the table and calling out the intended bet; the stickman will then place the chips correctly for the player. As mentioned above, care should be taken when tossing chips. Players furthest from the stickman can often elect to place a center bet with a dealer who will relay the bet to the center.
It is considered rude to "late bet," or make wagers while the dice are no longer in the middle of the table. While entirely permissible, excessive late betting will generally garner a warning. At their discretion or that of a "pit boss", dealers can disallow a bet made after the dice have left the center.
Food, drinks, cigarettes, and other items should remain off the chip rail and should not be held over the table.
Players feel it is bad luck for the shooter to leave the table after a successful come-out roll. A shooter retains the right to roll and is expected to continue rolling until he or she sevens out. If the shooter leaves the game before a decision is reached on a point number, the dice will be passed to the next player to continue where the shooter left off. Once a decision is reached, the "substitute" shooter can, at the discretion of the boxman, continue to roll the dice for a new "come out" as would have been the case had the previous shooter completed their roll.
When the shooter is ready to roll, players should remove their hands from the table area in order to avoid interfering with the dice. The stickman will often say "hands high, let 'em fly" or "dice are out, hands high".
When making bets in the field or on the Big 6 or Big 8, it is the player's responsibility to track his or her bet. Place bets and Come Line bets will be tracked by the dealer, who will pay the player directly. Hardway and other proposition bets are tracked by the stickman and will be paid by the dealer to the player directly based on instructions from the stickman.
"Coloring up", as with any game, should be done only when the player is preparing to leave the table. It is generally permissible to color up and then decide to stay for "one more round", but it is considered impolite to color up multiple times while at the same table.
In reality, each roll of the dice is an independent event, so the probability of rolling an eleven is exactly 1/18 on every roll, even if eleven has not come up in the last 100 rolls, or if eleven has come up five times in the last five rolls. Even if the dice are actually biased toward particular results ("loaded"), each roll is still independent of all of the previous ones. The common term to describe this is "dice have no memory".
Casinos do take steps to prevent this. The dice are required to hit the back wall of the table, which makes controlled spins more difficult. Whether it is possible for human beings to consistently exercise the precise physical control necessitated by the theory is a source of controversy. A small but dedicated community of controlled shooters maintain records and claim proof of dice influencing in casino conditions. Frank Scoblete, Stanford Wong and Jerry L. Patterson, authors of books that feature dice control techniques, believe that it is possible to alter the odds in the player's favor by dice control.
Chris Pawlicki, a mechanical engineer who (under the pseudonym "Sharpshooter") wrote a book on dice setting called Get The Edge At Craps: How to Control the Dice as a part of the Frank Scoblete "Get the Edge Guides," defined the math and science behind dice control.
In addition, some people offer to teach dice-setting skills for a substantial fee. Currently there has been no independent conclusive evidence that such methods can be successfully applied in a real casino.
There are many variations of street craps. The simplest way is to either agree on or roll a number as the point, then roll the point again before you roll a seven. Unlike more complex proposition bets offered by casinos, street craps has more simplified betting options. The shooter is required to make either a Pass or a Don't Pass bet if they want to roll the dice. Another player must choose to cover the shooter to create a stake for the game to continue. If there are several players, the rotation of the player who must cover the shooter may change with the shooter (comparable to a blind in poker). The person covering the shooter will always bet against the shooter. For example, if the shooter made a "Pass" bet, the person covering the shooter would make a "Don't Pass" bet to win. Once the shooter is covered, other players may make Pass/Don't Pass bets, or any other proposition bets, as long as there is another player willing to cover.