Craps Casino Game Tutorial
March 04, 2012 12:35 PM
by GT Staff
Craps is a dice game in which the players make wagers on the outcome of the roll, or a series of rolls, of a pair of dice. Players may wager money against each other (street craps, also known as shooting dice or rolling dice) or a bank (casino craps, also known as table craps). Because it requires little equipment, street craps can be played in informal settings.
Rules of play against a bank or casino
Bank craps is a game played by multiple players betting against a casino. Each casino might set slightly different payouts for the various bets. Players take turns rolling two dice and whoever is throwing the dice is called the “shooter”. Players can bet on the various options by placing chips in the appropriate sections of the board. It may be required to ask the dealer to place certain bets.
While acting as the shooter, a player must have a bet on the “Pass” line or the “Don’t Pass” line. Pass and don’t pass are sometimes called “Win” and “Don’t Win” or “Right” and “Wrong” bets. The game is played in rounds and these “Pass” and “Don’t Pass” bets are betting on the outcome of a round. The shooter is often replaced at the end of the round or when he loses a round with a seven. The dice are moved clockwise around the table for the next player to become shooter. The shooter is presented with multiple dice (typically five) by the “stickman”, and must choose two for the round. The remaining dice are returned to the stickman’s bowl and are not used.
Each round has two phases: “come-out” and “point”. To start a round, the shooter makes one or more “come-out” rolls. A come-out roll of 2, 3 or 12 is called “craps” or “crapping out”, and anyone betting the Pass line loses. A come-out roll of 7 or 11 is a “natural”, and the Pass line wins. The other possible numbers are the point numbers: 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, and 10. If the shooter rolls one of these numbers on the come-out roll, this establishes the “point” - to “pass” or “win”, the point number must be rolled again before a seven. The dealer flips a button to the “On” side and moves it to the point number signifying the second phase of the round. If the shooter “hits” the point value again (any value of the dice that sum to the point will do; the shooter doesn’t have to exactly repeat the value combination of the come-out roll) before rolling a seven, the Pass line wins and a new round starts, usually with the dice staying with the current shooter. If the shooter rolls any seven before repeating the point number (a “seven-out”), the Pass line loses and the dice pass to a new shooter for the next round. In all the above scenarios, whenever the Pass line wins, the Don’t Pass line loses, and vice versa, with one exception: on the come-out roll, a roll of 12 will cause Pass Line bets to lose, but Don’t Pass bets are pushed (or “barred”), neither winning nor losing. (The same applies to “Come” and “Don’t Come” bets, discussed below.)
Joining a game
A player wishing to play craps without being the shooter should approach the craps table and first check to see if the dealer’s “On” button is on any of the point numbers.
If the button has been turned to “Off”, then the table is in the come-out round, and a point has not been established.
If the dealer’s button is on, the table is in the point round where most casinos will allow a pass line bet to be placed. Some casinos will place the bet straddling the outer border of the pass line so as to indicate that it is to be paid the same odds as a place bet, instead of just even money. Other casinos will take the bet on the pass line, which is a disadvantage to the player (since the seven is the most common roll and likely to happen before the “point”).
In either case, all single or multi roll proposition bets may be placed in either of the two rounds.
Between dice rolls there is a period for dealers to make payouts and collect losing bets, after which players can place new bets. The stickman monitors the action at a table and decides when to give the shooter the dice, after which no more betting is allowed.
When joining the game, money (and I.D., if necessary) should be placed on the table rather than passed directly to a dealer. Keep in mind that the dealer’s exaggerated movements are required so that any disputes can be later reviewed on security camera footage.
If a new player feels that he or she needs assistance in learning the rules of craps, it is recommended to approach an empty craps table at a slow time of day (for example, between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m.). The dealers are likely to be approachable and friendly and will explain the betting process. Also, casinos often offer training sessions for new craps players.
The craps table
In a casino, players make bets with chips on a specially made craps table with a table cloth made of felt that displays the various betting possibilities. In most casinos, craps tables are double sided. The layouts on both ends of the table are identical, with the center bets in the middle. This allows more players to participate, to a maximum of 8 on each side of the center line. Players can make multiple bets for each turn, round, or roll and should become familiar with the craps layout.
A casino craps table is run by up to four casino employees: a boxman who guards the chips, supervises the dealers and handles “coloring out” players (exchanging small chip denominations for larger denominations in order to preserve the chips at a table); two base dealers who stand to either side of the boxman and 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 or one of the two base dealers will assume the role of the stickman. In some casinos, there is no boxman; the boxman’s duties are shared between the dealers and a roving supervisor who covers many tables.
In the game of shooting dice, there is no marked table and often the game is played with no back-stop against which the dice are to hit. (Despite the name “street craps,” this game is often played in houses, usually on an uncarpeted garage or kitchen floor.) The wagers are made in cash, never in chips, and are usually thrown down onto the ground by the players. There are no attendants, and so the progress of the game, fairness of the throws, and the way that the pay-outs are made for winning bets are self-policed by the players.
The dealers will 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).
There are many local variants of the calls made by the stickman for rolls during a craps game. These often incorporate a reminder to the dealers as to which bets to pay or collect.
Rolls of 4, 6, 8, and 10 are called “hard” or “easy” (e.g. “six the hard way”, “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”.
Two is “snake eyes,” because the two ones that comprise it look like a pair of small, beady eyes. During actual play, more common terms are “two craps two” during the comeout roll because the pass line bet is lost on a comeout crap roll and/or because a bet on any craps would win. “Aces; double the field” would be a more common call when not on the comeout roll to remind the dealers to pay double on the field bets and encourage the field bettor to place subsequent bets and/or when no crap bets have been placed. Another name for the two is “loose deuce”.
Three is typically called as “three craps three” during the comeout roll, or “three, ace deuce, come away single” when not on the comeout to signify the come bet has been lost and to pay single to any field bettors. Three may also be referred to as “ace caught a deuce,” or even less often “acey deucey”.
Four, usually hard, is sometimes referred to as “Little Joe from Kokomo.” or “Little Joe on the front row” or just “Little Joe”. A hard four can be called a “ballerina” because it is two-two (“tutu”).
Five is often called “no field five” in casino craps because 5 is not on the field and thus not paid in the field bets. Other names for a five are “fever” and “little Phoebe”.
Six may be referred to as “Jimmie Hicks” or “Jimmie Hicks from the sticks”, examples of rhyming slang. On a win, the six is often called “666 winner 6” followed by “came hard” or “came easy”.
Seven rolled as 6-1 is sometimes called “six ace” or “up pops the Devil”. During the comeout, the seven is called “seven, front line winner,” frequently followed by “pay the line” and/or “take the don’ts”. After the point is established, a seven is typically called by simply “7 out” or “7 out 7”.
Eight rolled the hard way, as opposed to an “easy eight” is sometimes called an “eighter from Decatur”. It can also be known as a “square pair”, “mom and dad”, or “Ozzie and Harriet”.
Nine is called a “centerfield nine” in casino craps because nine is in the center of the field. In Atlantic City, a 4-5 is called a “railroad nine”. The 4-5 nine is also known as “Jesse James” because the outlaw Jesse James was killed by a .45 caliber pistol. Other names for the nine include “Nina from Pasadena”, “Nina at the Marina”, and “niner from Carolina”. Nine can also be referred to as “Old Mike,” named after National Basketball Association Hall-of-Famer Michael Jordan. Jordan wore number 45 later on in his playing career.
Ten the hard way is “a hard ten” or “a woman’s best friend”. This is both an example of rhyming slang and of a sexual double entendre. Ten may also be known as “puppy paws” or “a pair of sunflowers” or “Big Dick” or “Big John.”
Eleven is called out as “yo” or “yo-leven” to prevent being misheard as “seven”. An older term for eleven is “six five, no jive” because it is a winning roll. During the comeout, eleven is typically followed by “front line winner”. After the point is established, “good field and come” is often added.
Twelve is known as “boxcars” because the spots on the two dice that show 6-6 look like schematic drawings of railroad boxcars; it is also called “midnight”, referring to twelve o’clock. On tables that pay triple the field on a twelve roll, the stickman will often loudly exclaim “triple” either alone or in combination with “12 craps 12” or “come away triple”.
Types of wagers
The shooter is required to make either a Pass Line bet or a Don’t Pass bet if he wants to shoot. Some casinos require all players to make a minimum Pass Line or Don’t Pass bet (if they want to make any other bet), whether they are currently shooting or not.
Pass line bet: The fundamental bet in craps is the pass line bet, which is a bet for the shooter to win.
If the come-out roll is 7 or 11, the bet wins.
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, with a point established, that point is rolled again before a 7, the bet wins.
If, with a point established, a 7 is rolled before the point is rolled again (“seven out”), the bet loses.
The pass line bet pays even money.
Don’t pass bet: A don’t pass bet is a bet for the shooter to lose (“seven out, line away”) and is almost the opposite of the pass line bet.
If the come-out roll is 2 or 3, the bet wins.
If the come-out roll is 7 or 11, the bet loses.
If the come-out roll is 12, the bet is a push (neither won nor lost). In some casinos, the bet pushes on 2 and wins on 12 instead. Others allow the player to choose to either push on 2 (“Bar Aces”) or push on 12 (“Bar Sixes”) depending on where it is placed on the layout. The push on 12 or 2 is mathematically necessary to maintain the house edge over the player.
If the roll is any other value, it establishes a point.
If, with a point established, a 7 is rolled before the point is rolled again (“seven out”), the bet wins.
If, with a point established, that point is rolled again before a 7, the bet loses.
The don’t pass bet pays even money.
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, winning when most of the players lose.
Pass odds: If a 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10 is thrown on the come-out roll (i.e., if a point is established), most casinos allow pass line players to take odds by placing up to some predetermined multiple of 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, or 6-to-5 if 6 or 8 is the point.
Individual casinos (and sometimes tables within a casino) vary greatly in the maximum odds they offer, from single or double odds (one or two times the pass line bet) up to 100x or even unlimited odds. A variation often seen is “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 points of 5 or 9; or five times on points of 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, taking odds on a minimum pass line bet lessens the house advantage compared with betting the same total amount on the pass line only. A maximum odds bet on a minimum pass line bet often gives the lowest house edge available in any game in the casino. However, the odds bet cannot be made independently, so the house retains an edge on the pass line bet itself.
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 before the point is rolled, 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, or 5-to-6 if 6 or 8 is the point. Typically the maximum lay bet will be expressed such that a player may win an amount equal to the maximum odds multiple at the table: If a player lays maximum odds with a point of four on a table offering five-times odds, he would lay ten times the amount of his Don’t pass bet. At a 3-4-5x odds table, the maximum odds one can lay will always be 6x the amount of the don’t pass bet.
Come bet: A come bet can be visualized as starting an entirely new pass line bet, unique to that player. A player making a come bet will bet on the first point number that “comes” from the shooter’s next roll, regardless of the table’s round. If a 7 or 11 is rolled on the first round, it wins. If a 2, 3, or 12 is rolled, it loses. If instead the roll is 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10, the come bet will be moved by the base dealer onto a box representing the number the shooter threw. This number becomes the “come-bet point” and the player is allowed to take odds, just like a pass line bet. The dealer will place the odds on top of the come bet, but slightly off center in order to differentiate between the original bet and the odds. The second round wins if the shooter rolls the come bet point again before a seven. Winning come bets are paid the same as winning pass line bets: even money for the original bet and true odds for the odds bet. If, instead, the seven is rolled before the come-bet point, the come bet (and any odds bet) loses.
Come bets can only be made after a point has been established since, on the come-out roll, a come bet would be the same thing as a pass line bet.
Because of the come bet, if the shooter makes their point, a player can find themselves in the situation where they still 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 usually 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-bet point lose their initial wager but will have their odds bets returned to them. If the come-bet point is rolled on the come-out roll, the odds do not win but the come bet does and the odds bet is returned (along with the come bet and its payoff). 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.
Many players will use a come bet as “insurance” against sevening out: if the shooter rolls a seven, the come bet pays 1:1, offsetting the loss of the pass line bet. The risk in this strategy is the situation where the shooter does not hit a seven for several rolls, leading to multiple come bets that will be lost if the shooter eventually sevens out.
Don’t come bet: In the same way that a come bet is similar to a pass line bet, a don’t come bet is similar to a don’t pass bet. A don’t come bet is played in two rounds. If a 2 or 3 is rolled in the first round, it wins. If a 7 or 11 is rolled, it loses. If a 12 is rolled, it is a push (subject to the same 2/12 switch described above for the don’t pass bet). If, instead, the roll is 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10, the don’t come bet will be moved by the base dealer onto a box representing the number the shooter threw. The second round wins if the shooter rolls a seven before the don’t come point.
Don’t come bets can only be made after the come-out roll when a point has already been established. The player may lay odds on a don’t come bet, just like a don’t pass bet; 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 don’t come bet.
Winning don’t come bets are paid the same as winning don’t pass bets: even money for the original bet and true odds for the odds lay.
Single roll bets
Single-roll (proposition) bets are resolved in one dice roll by the shooter. Most of these are called “Service Bets”, and they are located at the center of most craps tables. Only the stickman or a dealer can place a service bet. The bets include:
2 (snake eyes, or Aces): Wins if shooter rolls a 2.
3 (ace-deuce): Wins if the shooter rolls a 3.
Yo: Wins if the shooter rolls 11.
12 (boxcars, midnight, or cornrows): Wins if shooter rolls a 12.
2 or 12 (hi-lo): Wins if shooter rolls a 2 or 12. The stickman places this bet on the line dividing the 2 and 12 bets.
Any Craps (Three-Way): Wins if the shooter rolls 2, 3 or 12.
C & E: A combined bet, a player is betting half their bet on craps and the other half on yo (11). One of the two bets will always lose, the other may win.
Any seven: Wins if the shooter rolls a 7. This bet is also nicknamed Big Red, since the 7 on its betting space on the layout is usually large and red, and it is considered bad luck and a breach of etiquette to speak the word “seven” at the table.
The Horn: This is a bet that involves betting on 1 unit each for 2, 3, 11 and 12 at the same time for the next roll. The bet is actually four separate bets, and pays off depending on which number is actually rolled, minus three units for the other three losing bets. Many players, in order to eliminate the confusion of tossing four chips to the center of the table or having change made while bets are being placed, will make a five-unit Horn High bet, which is a four-way bet with the extra unit going to one specific number. For example, if you toss a $5 chip into the center and say “horn high yo,” you are placing four $1 bets on each of the horn numbers and the extra dollar will go on the yo (11).
Hard and Horny bet: which is a combination of the horn bet and all hardways.
Whirl or World: bet is a five-unit bet that is a combination of a horn and any-seven bet, with the idea that if a seven is rolled the bet is a push, because the money won on the seven is lost on the horn portions of the bet.
On the Hop: This is a single roll bet on any particular combination of the two dice on the next roll. For example, if you bet on “5 and 1” on the hop, you are betting that the next roll will have a 5 on one die and a 1 on the other die. The bet pays 15:1 (just like a bet on 3 or 11) except for doubles (e.g., 3 and 3 on the hop) which pay 30:1 (just like a bet on 12, which is the same as 6 and 6 on the hop). The true odds are 17:1 and 35:1, resulting in a house edge of 11.11% and 13.89% respectively. When presented, hop bets are located at the center of the craps layout with the other proposition bets. If hop bets are not on the craps layout, they still may be bet on by players but they become the responsibility of the boxman to book the bet.
Field: This bet is a wager that one of the numbers 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11, or 12 will appear on the next roll of the dice. This bet typically pays more (2:1 or 3:1) if 2 or 12 is rolled, and 1:1 if 3, 4, 9, 10 or 11 is rolled. The Field bet is a “Self-Service” Bet. Unlike the other proposition bets which are handled by the dealers or stickman, the field bet is placed directly by the player. Players identify their Field bets by placing them in the Field area directly in front of them or as close to their position as possible. The initial bet and/or any payouts can “ride” through several rolls until they lose, and are assumed to be “riding” by dealers. It is thus the player’s responsibility to collect their bet and/or winnings immediately upon payout, before the next dice roll, if they do not wish to let it ride.
These are bets that may not be settled on the first roll and may need any number of subsequent rolls before an outcome is determined. Most multi-roll bets may fall into the situation where a point is made by the shooter before the outcome of the multi-roll bet is decided. These bets are often considered “not working” on the new come-out roll 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. Dealers will usually announce if bets are working unless otherwise called off. If a non-working point 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.
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 occurs when both dice show identical values, also known as “doubles” or “pairs.” So 2-2 is hard way 4, for example.
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: A player can choose either the 6 or 8 being rolled before the shooter throws a seven. These wagers are usually avoided by experienced craps players since they pay even money (1:1) while a player can make place bets on the 6 or the 8, which pay more (7:6). 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. The only real advantage offered by the Big 6 & 8 is that they can be bet for the table minimum, whereas a place bet minimum may sometimes be greater than the table minimum (e.g. $6 place bet on a $3 minimum game.) In addition place bets are usually not working, except by agreement, when the shooter is “coming out” i.e. shooting for a point, and Big 6 and 8 bets always work.
Place and buy: Players can place or buy any point number (4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10) by placing their wager in the come area and telling the dealer how much and on what number(s), “30 on the 6”, “5 on the 5” or “25 buy the 10”. Both place and buy bets are bets that the number bet on will be rolled before a 7 is rolled. These bets are considered working bets, and will continue to be paid out each time a shooter rolls the place or buy point number. By rules, place bets are NOT working on the come out roll but can be “turned on” by the player.
Place bets are paid at odds slightly worse than the true odds. The place bets on the outside numbers (4,5,9,10) should be made in units of $5, (on a $5 minimum table), in order to receive the correct exact payout of $5 paying $7 or $5 paying $9. The place bets on the 6 & 8 should be made in units of $6, (on a $5 minimum table), in order to receive the correct exact payout of $6 paying $7.
Buy bets are paid at true odds, but a 5% commission is charged on the amount of the bet. 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. Rarely casinos offer the place bet to lose. This bet is the opposite of the place bet and wins if a 7 is rolled before the specific point number. The place bet to lose typically carries a lower house edge than a place bet.
Lay: A lay bet is the opposite of a buy bet, where a player bets on a 7 to roll before the number that is laid. Just like the buy bet lay bets pay true odds, but because the lay bet is the opposite of the buy bet, the payout is reversed. Therefore players get 1 to 2 for the numbers 4 and 10, 2 to 3 for the numbers 5 and 9, and 5 to 6 for the numbers 6 and 8. A 5% commission (vigorish, vig, juice) is charged up front on the possible winning amount. For example: A $40 Lay Bet on the 4 would pay $20 on a win. The 5% vig would be $1 based on the $20 win. (NOT $2 based on the $40 bet as the way buy bet commissions are figured.) Like the buy bet the commission is adjusted to suit the betting unit such that fraction of a dollar payouts are not needed.
If a player is unsure of whether a bet is a single or multi-roll bet, it can be noted that all single-roll bets will be displayed on the playing surface in one color (usually red), while all multi-roll bets will be displayed in a different color (usually yellow).
Fire Bet: Is a registered trademark owned by SHFL entertainment, Inc. Before the shooter begins, some casinos will allow a bet known as a fire bet to be placed. A fire bet is a bet of as little as 1 dollar, made in the hope that the next shooter will have a hot streak of setting and getting many points of different values. As different individual points are made by the shooter, they will be marked on the craps layout with a fire symbol. The first three points will not pay out on the fire bet, but the fourth, fifth and sixth will pay out at increasing odds. The fourth point pays at 24-to-1, the fifth point pays at 249-to-1 and the 6th point pays at 999-to-1. Note that the points must all be different numbers for them to count towards the fire bet. For example, a shooter who successfully hits a point of 10 twice will only garner credit for the first one on the fire bet.
These variants depend on the casino and the table, and sometimes a casino will have different tables that use or omit these variants and others.
11 is a point number instead of a natural. Rolling an 11 still pays “Yo” center-table bets, but the Pass line does not automatically win (and the Don’t Pass line doesn’t automatically lose) when 11 is rolled on the come-out. Making the point pays 3:1 on Pass/Come odds bets (1:3 on Don’t Pass/Come odds); all line bets are still even money. This substantially reduces the odds of a natural (from 8/36 to 6/36) and of making the point in general (since you’re adding a 3:1 dog to the mix). All other things equal, the house edge on the Pass Line and Come bets for this play variation jumps dramatically to 9.75%.
12 pays 3:1 on the field. This is generally seen in rooms that have two different table minimums, on the tables with the higher minimums. The lower minimum ones will then have 2:1 odds. For example, the Mirage casino in Las Vegas features 3:1 odds.
11 pays 2:1 on the field. This variant is normally used when 12 pays 3:1, and neutralizes the house edge on the field.
Big 6/8 are unavailable. These bets are equivalent to placing or buying 6 or 8 as points, which have better payout for the same real odds, so Big 6/8 are rarely used and many casinos simply omit them from the layout. Casinos in Atlantic City are even prohibited by law from offering Big 6/8 bets.
When craps is played in a casino, all bets have a house advantage. That is, it can be shown mathematically that a player will (with probability 100%) lose all his or her money to the casino in the long run, whilst in the short run the player is more likely to lose money than make money. There may be players who are lucky and get ahead for a period of time, but in the long run these winning streaks are eroded away. The optimal strategy is not to play at all.
If, for social or other reasons, play is required, one can reduce (but not eliminate) one’s average losses by only placing bets with the smallest house advantage.
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) have 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.
The place bets and buy bets differ from the pass line and come line, in that place bets and buy bets can be removed at any time, since, while they are multi-roll bets, their odds of winning do not change from roll to roll, whereas pass line bets and come line bets are a combination of different odds on their first roll and subsequent rolls. The first roll of a pass-line bet is 2:1 advantage for the player (8 wins, 4 losses), but it’s “paid for” by subsequent rolls that are at the same disadvantage to the player as the don’t pass bets were at an advantage. As such, they cannot profitably let you take down the bet after the first roll. Note that, if it didn’t make it hard to track what the initial bet was, they would gladly let you increase your pass/come bet after the come-out roll, since you’d be getting even money on a bet that should pay odds. They will just remind you to place the point instead and get your extra payout (over even money) of 1:6 (on points 6/8), 1:2 (on points 5/9), or 1:1 (on points 4/10).
Conversely, you can take back (pick up) a don’t pass or don’t come bet after the first roll, but this cannot be recommended, because you already endured the disadvantaged part of the combination - the first roll. On that come-out roll, you win just 3 (1-1, 1-2, 2-1) out of 36 possible rolls, while losing on 8 (6 7s, 2 11s) (2.6:1 against). On the other 24 rolls that become a point (push on the 1 12), your don’t pass bet is now a favorite of between 2:1 (on points 4 and 10) and 6:5 (on points 6 and 8). It’s no wonder that they will gladly allow you to take down such a bet.
Among these, and the remaining numbers and possible bets, there are a myriad of systems and progressions that can be used with many combinations of numbers.
An important alternative metric is house advantage per roll (rather than per bet), which may be expressed in loss per hour. 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. 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
Besides the rules of the actual game, certain unwritten rules of etiquette exist while playing craps and are expected to be followed. Many consider these guidelines as important as the actual rules themselves. New players should familiarize themselves with them before approaching a craps table.
Rules related to casino security
Players are not supposed to handle the dice with more than one hand (such as shaking them in cupped hands before rolling) nor take the dice past the edge of the table. The only way to change hands when throwing dice, if permitted at all, is to set the dice on the table, let go, then take them with the other hand. This reduces or eliminates the possibility of the shooter switching dice by sleight-of-hand.
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.
Dice are considered “in play” if they 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. The roll is invalid if either or both dice land in the boxman’s bank, the stickman’s bowl (where the extra three dice are kept between rolls), or in the rails around the top of the table where players chips are kept. If a die or both dice leave the table, it is also a “no roll” and the boxman will examine the dice before letting them 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 casinos the shooter may “set” the dice to a particular starting configuration before throwing (such as showing a particular number or combination, stacking the dice, or spacing them to be picked up between different fingers), 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.
Some crap table layouts state “No Call Bets.” A call bet is made when a player is allowed to make a bet without first placing the necessary chips in the right spot on the table. This might occur while a player is waiting for a marker (casino credit) to arrive, or after the dice have left the center of the table (after which time the players must usually remove their hands from the playing surface).
The casino may ask a player to leave the table or the casino for any reason.
Commonly observed etiquette
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 second is considered acceptable even though dealers often are women; by the same token, female stickmen and boxmen are still referred to as such; not for example, boxwoman or stickperson). 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 (for example, tossing two chips and stating “Two Way Hard Eight” will place a bet for the player and the same bet for the dealer). 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 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 cleared by a loss or retracted by the player after a win (such as a single-roll bet that would normally be returned to the player with their winnings). It should be noted that because the house has an advantage on all bets (and in the case of some bets, a considerable edge) the dealers will ultimately receive a smaller tip from placed bets than from a direct tip.
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.
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 during a roll, and the shooter does not want a new die (or dice) substituted into the game, the shooter should immediately and clearly call “Same Dice!”. The retrieved die (or dice) will then be returned to play after close inspection by the boxman. To speed play, most casinos will immediately begin the process of introducing new dice unless the shooter has requested otherwise, though some casinos will inspect and return the dice by default.
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. Chips will be less likely to roll on edge if they are tossed with a gentle frisbee-like spin.
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 as it slows play. At the discretion of the boxman or 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”. Many players will suggest that a die that hits another player’s hand or a stack of chips will be more likely to seven out. This is likely a case of confirmation bias; however, for the sake of a harmonious table care should be taken to keep hands free of the play area.
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 after the regular bets by the dealer to the player directly based on instructions from the stickman.
The phrase “barber pole” is derisive jargon in craps, and refers to the commingling of “gaming cheques of different denominations.” Wagers that combine different denominations are “supposed to be stacked with the highest denomination at the bottom. “
When leaving a table it is generally considered bad form for the player to take a large stack of small denomination chips. The player should instead wait until a natural break in play (such as the shooter sevening out) and then place the stack of chips on the playing surface and asking the dealer to “color up”. Small denomination chips will be exchanged for large denominations, a process which may be verified by the pit boss, and the large denominations are returned to the player.