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How to Play Craps
This article covers an introduction to the game of craps, particularly the main rules of the game and how to play it.
Craps can look like a bit of a daunting game if you haven’t played it before, but really the bulk of the game is fairly straight-forward to understand and lots of fun to play. Once you have some chips the best place to start is to put a bet down on the pass line. This is the outer line of the table that curves around the whole corner.
Now throw the dice. If you throw a 7 or 11 you have instantly won money (even money on your pass line bet). If you throw a 2, 3, or 12 you lose your pass line bet. If you throw any other number, you establish a point number. Establishing a point is the main purpose of a come out roll, so either keep collecting your wins (on 7 or 11), or re-betting the pass line (on 2,3,12) until you establish that point number.
Once a point is established it will get marked with a puck, with “ON” face up. From now on 7′s are actually bad. Your main aim is to throw the point number again before you throw a seven. And inbetween you can make lots of other bets to keep things interesting.
If you throw your point number before the 7, you will get paid even money on your pass line bet, and then you may roll again to establish another point number. Remember to rebet the pass line again first.
If you throw a 7 before your point number then the board is effectively then dead, and most chips at that point will be losers. So the house is very much cheering for a 7 after the come out roll, and the players are virtually always cheering for anything but a 7.
To recap in order to cement that understanding, at the beginning sevens and elevens are good, but once you establish a point sevens are bad, and elevens are no longer of any consequence.
Now it can easily take quite a few rolls for either your point number or a 7 to be rolled, so there are plenty of other bets you can make to keep yourself entertained. The most popular of these are probably Come bets. Come bets are effectively the same as subsequent come out rolls looking to establish further points on the board. Once you have established your first point from the pass line bet (described above), place a chip in the Come box. This is situated underneath the point numbers. On the next roll of the dice that bet will then be treated similar to a pass line bet. 7 or 11 will win (even money on the Come bet). 2,3 or 12 will lose the Come bet. And any other number will result in that chip being moved from the Come box to one of the point numbers. So at this point you will have a puck on your main point number, and a chip on your secondary point number (established via your Come bet).
So after a successful Come bet which establishes a new point, you are cheering for either one of those two point numbers to come up before a 7. If you roll the Come number you will be paid even money, your chip(s) will be taken off of that number, and you will keep on rolling looking to hit more numbers. You can repeat this process of Come bets on any roll you wish in order to establish more point numbers via the Come box.
If you don’t like the slightly random nature of establishing these point numbers via the Come box, you can bet on them directly via Place bets, however you do pay effectively a commission for this privilege. We’ll talk more about that in our article on odds. To make Place bets live, put a chip in the Come box and inform the stickman/dealer that it’s a place bet for X number. He/she will then move the chip into the correct place. If your playing online it’s easier, you just place your chip directly on the number (ie on one of the register numbers 4,5,SIX,8,NINE,10). This effectively bypasses the Come bet stage, making it quicker, but you don’t get as good odds as you do by using Come bets correctly.
At this point it’s important to also mention the odds. Not to be confused with more general craps odds, “the odds” or “taking the odds” is a great bet with no house edge that increases the bet on your point numbers. The maximum odds that you place depends on the casino or the table, but is commonly 3 times the bet on the 4 and 10, 4 times the bet on the 5 and 9, and 5 times the bet on the 6 and 4. So say you placed $5 on the Pass Line and established 6 as your Point number. You can now place $25 behind your Pass Line bet. So now your bet is $5 on number 6 (at evens) and $25 on number 6 (at 6 to 5). You can do exactly the same with your point numbers established via Come bets. Again you will be paid the natural odds on your Come bet Odds (and evens on the original bet). In summary, you should always take the odds, if you can afford to do so, because you are getting the true value. For this reason your Pass Line bets and Come bets should be smallish, because you should be factoring in adding the Odds bets afterwards.
And that concludes the introduction to craps. Read this article a couple of times if necessary so it sinks in a bit. Once you feel you understand it then your know the most important rules and game methodology of the game of craps, and you are ready to start playing. Take some time to read our other articles to expand on your understanding of the game, and to play it most effectively.