How To Play Craps: The Complete Beginner’s Guide

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If you’re new to craps – the exciting, fast-paced dice game, you’ve come to the right place. 

In this guide, we’ll walk you through all the basics of how to play craps and give you the tools you need to feel confident and comfortable at the table. 

Whether you’re looking to try your luck at a casino or want to learn a new game for fun with friends, craps is always a great choice. 

So let’s get started!

how to play craps in a casino

Craps Rules: The Craps Table Layout Explained

The first thing you’ll notice when approaching a craps table is its size and layout

Craps tables are usually quite large, with a raised platform for the dealers and plenty of room for players to place their bets. 

At one end of the table, you’ll see the craps “layout” – a large, colorful cloth with all the different betting areas marked on it.

full view of a craps table layout

At the top of the layout, you’ll see the “Pass Line” and “Don’t Pass” betting areas. 

These are the main betting areas in craps, and we’ll explain more about them later. 

To the right of these areas, you’ll see the “Come” and “Don’t Come” betting areas, as well as the “Place” and “Buy” betting areas. 

Along the sides of the layout, you’ll see the “Field,” “Big 6/8,” and “Hardway” betting areas, as well as a variety of “Proposition” bets.

Learn all about these wagers from the complete guide to craps bets. Or, if you’re ready, jump right into the action with our free craps simulator with no download required.

How Do You Play Craps Step-by-Step

Now that you’re familiar with the layout and the table staff let’s talk about how the game of craps is played. 

Craps is a dice game, so it’s all about rolling the dice and hoping for certain combinations to come up. Here’s how to do it, step-by step:

  1. The person rolling the dice is known as the “shooter,” and the shooter’s roll is called the “come-out roll.”
  2. On the come-out roll, the shooter’s goal is to roll a 7 or an 11, which is known as a “natural.” If the shooter rolls a natural, all the players who have placed bets on the Pass Line win. 
  3. If the shooter rolls a 2, 3, or 12, known as “craps,” all the players who have placed bets on the Pass Line lose.
  4. If the shooter rolls any other number, that number becomes the “point.” The shooter then continues rolling the dice until they either roll the point again (in which case they win) or roll a 7 (in which case they lose).
  5. If the shooter manages to roll the point again before rolling a 7, all the players who have placed bets on the Pass Line win. If the shooter rolls a 7 before rolling the point again, all the players who have placed bets on the Pass Line lose.

In addition to the Pass Line bets, there are also “Don’t Pass” bets, which are essentially the opposite of Pass Line bets. 

If you place a bet on the Don’t Pass line, you win if the shooter rolls a 2 or 3 on the come-out roll, and you lose if the shooter rolls a 7 or 11. If the shooter rolls a 12 on the come-out roll, the bet is a push (neither a win nor a loss).

Once the point has been established, the rules for Don’t Pass bets are the opposite of those for Pass Line bets. You lose if you have a Don’t Pass bet, and the shooter rolls the point again before rolling a 7.

You win if the shooter rolls a 7 before rolling the point again.

There are also a variety of other bets you can make in craps, which we’ll discuss in more detail below.

Table Staff

At most craps tables, you’ll find a team of dealers and other casino staff working together to keep the game moving smoothly. 

The “boxman” is in charge of the table and oversees the dealers. 

The “stickman” calls out the results of each dice roll and controls the game’s pace. 

The dealers are responsible for handling the chips and payouts and helping players with any questions or issues they might have.

Each dealer has a 3-inch puck to mark the point number when it’s established. The puck is white with “ON” on one side and black with “OFF” on the other.

Getting Started at the Craps Table: Position, Buying Chips, Starting Bets

Players occupy the spaces around the table and bet using color-coded chips placed in the chip rail. Play proceeds clockwise, with each player having a chance to throw the dice if they make a minimum pass line or don’t pass line bet.

Before you can start playing craps, you’ll need to buy some chips (also known as “credits”). You can do this at the craps table by exchanging cash or casino chips for chips of a different color representing your betting credits.

The value of each chip is typically determined by its color, with higher-value chips being a different color from lower-value chips.

Once you have your chips, you’ll be ready to place bets. You’ll do this by placing your chips on the appropriate betting area of the layout.

The dealers will help you if you need help determining where to place your bets.

Pro tip

If you’re new to craps, it’s best to start with a minimum pass line or don’t pass line bet to get a feel for the game.

Craps Table Etiquette

While knowing how to play craps can be a lot of fun, it’s important to remember that it’s also a social game. You should follow a few basic rules of etiquette to ensure that you’re a good sport and a welcome addition to the table.

First and foremost, be respectful of the other players and the dealers. Don’t be disruptive or argue with the dealers or other players, and avoid using offensive language.

In addition, try to be mindful of the pace of the game. 

If you’re new to craps, you might be tempted to ask a lot of questions or take your time making decisions, but it’s important to be considerate of the other players and the flow of the game. 

If you need help, don’t hesitate to ask the dealers, but try to do so between rolls if possible.

Basic Craps Rules of Play

Now that you have a basic understanding of how do you play craps, let’s delve a little deeper into the rules and some of the terminology you’ll need to know.

In craps, all the players at the table are betting against the shooter. All the other players win if the shooter loses, and vice versa.

There are two main types of bets in craps: “Pass Line” bets and “Don’t Pass” bets.

As we mentioned earlier, Pass Line bets win if the shooter rolls a natural (7 or 11) on the come-out roll and lose if the shooter rolls craps (2, 3, or 12). 

If the shooter rolls any other number, that number becomes the point, and the shooter continues rolling the dice until they either roll the point again (in which case they win) or roll a 7 (in which case they lose).

Don’t Pass bets are the opposite of Pass Line bets. 

If you place a Don’t Pass bet, you win if the shooter rolls craps on the come-out roll, and you lose if the shooter rolls a natural. If the shooter rolls a 12 on the come-out roll, the bet is a push (neither a win nor a loss). 

Once the point has been established, the rules for Don’t Pass bets are the opposite of those for Pass Line bets. 

You lose if you have a Don’t Pass bet, and the shooter rolls the point again before rolling a 7. You win if the shooter rolls a 7 before rolling the point again.

Types of Bets in Craps

Now that you know a little more how to play craps, let’s take a closer look at some of the main betting options available at the table.

Pass Line Bets

As we mentioned earlier, Pass Line bets are the most basic and popular bets in craps. 

To place a Pass Line bet, you put your chips on the “Pass Line” area of the layout. You win if the shooter rolls a natural (7 or 11) on the come-out roll. You lose if the shooter rolls craps (2, 3, or 12). 

If the shooter rolls any other number, that number becomes the point, and the shooter continues rolling the dice until they either roll the point again (in which case you win) or roll a 7 (in which case you lose).

Don’t Pass Bets

Don’t Pass bets are the opposite of Pass Line bets. 

If you place a Don’t Pass bet, you win if the shooter rolls craps on the come-out roll, and you lose if the shooter rolls a natural. If the shooter rolls a 12 on the come-out roll, the bet is a push (neither a win nor a loss). 

Once the point has been established, the rules for Don’t Pass bets are the opposite of those for Pass Line bets. 

You lose if you have a Don’t Pass bet, and the shooter rolls the point again before rolling a 7. You win if the shooter rolls a 7 before rolling the point again.

Come Bets 

Come bets are similar to Pass Line bets but can be placed at any time after the come-out roll. To place a Come bet, put your chips in the “Come” area of the layout. 

Once the bet is placed, the shooter will roll the dice again, and if they roll a natural (7 or 11), you win. You lose if they roll craps (2, 3, or 12). 

If they roll any other number, that number becomes the “come point,” and the shooter continues rolling the dice until they either roll the come point again (in which case you win) or roll a 7 (in which case you lose).

Don’t Come Bets 

Don’t Come bets are the opposite of Come bets. If you place a Don’t Come bet, you win if the shooter rolls craps on the next roll after you place your bet, and you lose if the shooter rolls a natural. 

If the shooter rolls a 12, the bet is a push. Once the come point has been established, the rules for Don’t Come bets are the opposite of the rules for Come bets. 

You lose if you have a Don’t Come bet, and the shooter rolls the come point again before rolling a 7. You win if the shooter rolls a 7 before rolling the come point again.

Taking the Odds

Once the point has been established, you can place an additional bet known as “taking the odds.” 

This bet pays out at true odds (meaning the payout is equal to the probability of winning) and has no house edge, making it one of the best bets in the casino. You place your chips on the layout behind your Pass Line or Come bet to take the odds. 

The odds bet can be any amount up to the amount of your original bet.

Laying the Odds 

If you have a Don’t Pass or Don’t Come bet, you can also place an additional bet known as “laying the odds.” This bet is the opposite of taking the odds and paying out at true odds (meaning the payout equals the probability of winning). 

To lay the odds, you place your chips on the layout in front of your Don’t Pass or Don’t Come bet. 

Like the odds bet, the lay odds bet can be any amount up to the amount of your original bet.

Place Bets to Win 

Place bets to win allow you to bet on a specific number (4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10) being rolled before a 7 is rolled. 

To place a bet to win, you put your chips in the appropriate area of the layout and tell the dealer which number you want to bet on. 

You win if the shooter rolls your chosen number before rolling a 7. You lose if the shooter rolls a 7 before your selected number.

Place Bets to Lose against 4, 5, 6, 8, 9 or 10

Place bets against 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10 are similar to place bets to win, but they pay out if a 7 is rolled before the chosen number. 

To place a bet against one of these numbers, you put your chips on the appropriate area of the layout and tell the dealer which number you want to bet against. You win if the shooter rolls a 7 before your chosen number. 

You lose if the shooter rolls your chosen number before rolling a 7.

Buy Bets 

Buy bets are similar to place bets but pay out at slightly better odds (which means the house edge is slightly lower). 

To make a buy bet, place your chips in the appropriate area of the layout and tell the dealer which number you want to bet on. 

The dealer will then “buy” the number for you, which means you’ll pay a 5% commission on your winnings. If the shooter rolls your chosen number before rolling a 7, you win, minus the 5% vig.

You lose if the shooter rolls a 7 before your chosen number.

Lay Bets 

Lay bets are the opposite of buy bets and pay out if a 7 is rolled before the chosen number. 

To make a lay bet, place your chips on the appropriate area of the layout and tell the dealer which number you want to bet against. 

The dealer will then “lay” the number for you, which means you’ll pay a 5% commission on your winnings. 

If the shooter rolls a 7 before your chosen number, you win, minus the 5% commission. You lose if the shooter rolls your selected number before rolling a 7.

Big 6 and Big 8

Big 6 and 8 bets pay out if a 6 or 8 is rolled before a 7. To make a Big 6 or 8 bet, place your chips in the appropriate area of the layout. 

You win if the shooter rolls a 6 or 8 before rolling a 7. You lose if the shooter rolls a 7 before rolling a 6 or 8.

Field Bets 

Field bets are one-roll bets that pay out if the shooter rolls a 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11, or 12.

To make a field bet, place your chips on the “Field” area of the layout. If the shooter rolls a winning number, you win. If the shooter rolls any other number, you lose.

Hardway Bets

Hardway bets are bets on a specific pair of numbers being rolled before a 7 or “easy way” (meaning a different combination of the same numbers) is rolled.

For example, a Hardway bet on 4 would pay out if the shooter rolls a 4 with two 2s before rolling a 7 or rolling a 4 with any other combination of dice (such as 1-3 or 3-1). 

To make a Hardway bet, place your chips in the appropriate area of the layout and tell the dealer which number you want to bet on. 

You win if the shooter rolls the hardway before rolling a 7 or the easy way. You lose if the shooter rolls a 7 or the easy way before rolling the hardway.

Proposition Bets 

Proposition bets, also known as “prop bets,” are a variety of one-roll bets with different payouts and odds. 

Some common prop bets include betting on specific numbers being rolled, betting on the total of the dice, and betting on particular combinations. 

Prop bets can be a lot of fun, but they also tend to have a higher house edge than other bets, so be careful not to overdo it.

Conclusion

We hope this guide has given you a good overview of how to play craps and introduced you to some of the different betting options available at the table. 

As with any game, it’s important to remember to play responsibly and within your limits. With some practice and luck, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a pro and master the art of craps strategy!

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