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A Comprehensive Guide to Playing Craps

3 Jun

I started gambling almost as soon as I came out of the womb. At the age of 5, I was betting using Crayola Crayons as currency (the 96 box obviously. Anyone who had less than a 96 box without a crayon sharpener I not only defriended but punched in the face. There were also 128 crayon boxes, but the rich kids who had them were treated with taunts of “Oh did you use Daddy’s money to buy those?). 4th grade brought the era of Pogs, a incoherent and mind-boggingly complicated game in which you would bet using your pogs and slammers. Pogs were actually the most similar of all childhood games to Craps, with its wild swings in chips won and lost. But we’ll get to that. From Pogs came Pokemon and Magic Cards but I’m not going to talk about those here (sorry, nerds). By the end of the 90’s, gambling in the mind of our generation was left to to high rollers and gambling addicts, sitting by the horse races throwing their money away. Then the poker fad swept the nation in the early 2000’s, and suddenly everyone was a compulsive gambler. From poker I moved into blackjack, and on my first Atlantic City trip I played every game except one: Craps. Craps has always been glorified in the movies, with images of well-dressed men surrounded by supermodels cheering as they roll and bathe in money showering from the ceilings. But approach a craps table and you are immediately blinded by an incomprehensible board of squares and numbers. My second trip to AC I was berated upon arrival that I didn’t know how to play craps and was given a crash course in the rules. Thirty minutes into my first game, I was hooked. Every other game you win or lose on your own, while craps brings the entire group together in either agony or defeat. On subsequent trips to Vegas and AC I haven’t even considered playing anything else, and I’m convinced there’s almost no better feeling than being part of heater in craps. Being part of a heater is one of the greatest feelings in life, equivalent to the first time you bang a perfect 10 or seeing the earth from the surface of the moon. So for anyone uninitiated or intimidated by the game of craps, after the jump I’ve put together a guide and some important phrases or words for you to learn.

The simple rules. When you walk up to the table, one person will be the Shooter at any given time. The shooter is simply the person rolling the dice. Before he rolls his first roll, everyone at the table will place their bets. The simplest bet to make is the Pass line. If you are just starting out playing craps, stick with the pass line at first before delving into the various other bets that you can make. Let’s say the table minimum is $10. You would put $10 on the pass line. The shooter then rolls, and let’s say he rolls an 8. An 8 is now what’s called the “point” in this round. The shooter now gets the dice back. At this point, you can make any number of other bets which I’ve outlined below, but let’s say you just stick with your pass line bet. You also want to “back up” your pass line bet, which basically means putting more money behind it (usually double the bet) and just helps you out in your odds which the dealer will help you with. Don’t worry about that now. Let’s say the shooter rolls a 9 on his second roll. Nothing happens to your pass line bet, you only get paid out (2 to 1) if the shooter rolls an 8. The shooter keeps rolling and rolling until he hits the dreaded 7, which means he hit “craps”. You lose your pass line bet and also any money you had on the table on other bets when this happens. When you see tables wildly cheering, it is when a shooter is on a great run of hitting “points” so everyone at the table is winning. The other bets are what make craps so endlessly entertaining and interesting. Basically you can bet on any other number on the board being hit at any time. This increases your chances of winning money while the shooter is rolling and hitting numbers other than the point. Of course, if he craps out, you lose all of the money on the table, so it also maximizes your risk. Before delving into the nitty gritty though, all you need to know to start out is a couple things:

Place Bets: This basically means you can bet on any number to be rolled, and these bets are good until a 7 is rolled. For example, let’s say the point is 8, you can bet that a 5 is rolled. The bet stands until a 7 is rolled.

Don’t Pass Line: You are basically betting that the shooter will crap out. If you bet this, you are a douchebag and will be universally hated at the table.

Hard bets: These are outlined in more depth below, but they are basically betting that two of the same number will be rolled. So if you bet a “hard eight” you are betting that two fours will be thrown. The odds on these are high and if they happen to hit it’s a great feeling.

A Heater: A heater in simple terms is a table that is “hot.” Obviously, that doesn’t make any sense either. A table gets “hot” when the dice are falling in a way that benefits the entire table. If a shooter continually hits points for a long period of time, he is known to be on a “heater.”

The Yo: An incredibly fun bet to make. You can throw any amount of money on the yo, including $1. Betting the yo is betting that an 11 will be rolled on the next roll. If it does, it pays 15 to 1 which gets you 15 drinks, or a whole pass line bet. You also get props and respect from others at the table from betting the yo

World Bet: No one knows exactly what the world bet is (it is outlined below if you are interested), but it pays out 0.0% of the time (numbers are approximate). It is a terrible, terrible bet set up by casino bloodsuckers to steal your money. If you bet the world bet you are an idiot and someone I will not be friends with.

The Firebet: This is easily the stupidest bet to make odds wise, and was actually recently devised by Harrahs specifically to take money from gamblers. However, bets are $1 minimum, and if a firebet happens to occur, this happens. In a nutshell, you put $1 down, and if a shooter goes on an incredible heater, then you get higher and higher odds. This caps off at 6 consecutive points rolled without crapping out, paying 2000 to 1 odds.

Keep in mind that each casino is slightly different, but the ones I’ve outlined are at almost any casino (including some more details about the pass line). I’ve also included odds. These are compliments of the gambling website il dado. If you are afraid of losing lots of money on a game you know nothing about, download an app and play a few rounds to see if you get it. Obviously this doesn’t capture the feel of the game, but you’ll at least get the basics down. If you go in cold to a casino, again, all you really need to know is the pass line.

Pass Line Bet – You win if the first roll is a natural (7, 11) and lose if it is craps (2, 3, 12). If a point is rolled (4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10) it must be repeated before a 7 is thrown in order to win. If 7 is rolled before the point you lose.

The fundamental bet in craps is the Pass Line Bet, which is a bet for the shooter to win their point number. 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’). A Pass Line win pays even money.

Odds on Pass Line Bet – After a point is rolled you can make this additional bet by taking odds. There are different payoffs for each point. A point of 4 or 10 will pay you 2:1; 5 or 9 pays 3:2; 6 or 8 pays 6:5. You only win if the point is rolled again before a 7.

Come Bet – It has the same rules as the Pass Line Bet. The difference consists in the fact you can make this bet only after the point on the pass line has been determined. On a Come Out roll the Come Bet is placed on the pass line as they are an identical bet. After you place your bet the first dice roll will set the come point. You win if it is a natural (7, 11) and lose if it is craps (2, 3, 12). Other rolls will make you a winner if the come point is repeated before a 7 is rolled. If a 7 is rolled first you lose.

Odds on Come Bet – Exactly the same thing as the Odds on Pass Line Bet except you take odds on the Come Bet not the Pass Line Bet.

Don’t Pass Line Bet – This is the reversed Pass Line bet. If the first roll of a dice is a natural (7, 11) you lose and if it is a 2 or a 3 you win. A dice roll of 12 means you have a tie or push with the casino. If the roll is a point (4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10) a 7 must come out before that point is repeated to make you a winner. If the point is rolled again before the 7 you lose.

Don’t Come Bet – The reversed Come Bet. After the come point has been established you win if it is a 2 or 3 and lose for 7 or 11. 12 is a tie and other dice rolls will make you win only if a 7 appears before them on the following throws.

Place Bets – This bet works only after the point has been determined. You can bet on a dice roll of 4, 5, 6, 8, 9 and 10. You win if the number you placed your bet on is rolled before a 7. Otherwise you lose. The Place Bets payoffs are different depending on the number you bet on. 4 or 10 will pay 9:5; 5 or 9 pays 7:5, and 6 or 8 pays 7:6. You can cancel this bet anytime you want to.

Field Bets – These bets are for one dice roll only. If a 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11, 12 is rolled you win. A 5, 6, 7 and 8 make you lose. Field Bets have the following different payoffs: 2 pays double (2:1) while 12 pays 3:1. Other winning dice rolls pays even (1:1).

Big Six, Big Eight Bets – Placed at any roll of dice these bets win if a 6 or 8 comes out before a 7 is rolled. Big Six and Big Eight are even bets and are paid at 1:1.

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.

Proposition Bets – These bets can be made at any time and, except for the hardways, they are all one roll bets:

  • Any Craps: Wins if a 2, 3 or 12 is thrown. Payoff 8:1
  • Any Seven: Wins if a 7 is rolled. Payoff 5:1
  • Eleven: Wins if a 11 is thrown. Payoff 16:1
  • Ace Duece: Wins if a 3 is rolled. Payoff 16:1
  • Aces or Boxcars: Wins if a 2 or 12 is thrown. Payoff 30:1
  • Horn Bet: it acts as the bets on 2, 3, 11 and 12 all at once. Wins if one of these numbers is rolled. Payoff is determined according to the number rolled. The other three bets are lost.
  • Hardways: The bet on a hardway number wins if it’s thrown hard (sum of pairs: 1-1, 3-3, 4-4…) before it’s rolled easy and a 7 is thrown. Payoffs: Hard 4 and 10, 8:1; Hard 6 and 8, 10:1
Bet True Odds Odds Paid House Edge
Pass / Come 251:244 1:1 1.41%
Don’t Pass / Don’t Come (Bar 12) 976:949 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
0%
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
0%
Yo (11) 17:1 15:1 11.11%
3 17:1 15:1 11.11%
2 35:1 30:1 13.89%
12 35:1 30:1 13.89%
Hi-Lo 17:1 15:1 11.11%
Craps 8:1 7:1 11.11%
C & E (the combined bet) 5:1 3:1 on craps
7:1 on 11
11.11%
Any 7 5:1 4:1 16.67%
Field 5:4 1:1 on 3,4,9,10 or 11
2:1 on 2 and 12
5.56%
Field 5:4 1:1 on 3,4,9,10 or 11
2:1 on 2, 3:1 on 12
2.78%
The Horn 5:1 27:4 on 2 or 12
3:1 on 3 or 11
12.5%
Whirl/World 2:1 26:5 on 2 or 12
11:5 on 3 or 11
0:1 (push) on 7
13.33%
Hard way 4 / Hard way 10 8:1 7:1 11.11%
Hard way 6 / Hard way 8 10:1 9:1 9.09%
Big 6 6:5 1:1 9.09%
Big 8 6:5 1:1 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% of intended bet 4.76%
Buy 5 / Buy 9 3:2 3:2 – 5% of intended bet 4.76%
Buy 6 / Buy 8 6:5 6:5 – 5% of intended bet 4.76%
Lay 4 / Lay 10 1:2 1:2 – 5% of intended win 2.44%
Lay 5 / Lay 9 2:3 2:3 – 5% of intended win 3.23%
Lay 6 / Lay 8 5:6 5:6 – 5% intended win 4.00%
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