Playing Craps with Cards: A Golden State Innovation

Table of Contents

In the sunny state of California, the traditional game of craps has undergone a unique transformation. Due to specific legal restrictions on dice games, casinos in California have innovated by introducing card-based variants of craps.

Let’s explore the various methods of playing Craps with cards.

The Need for Innovation

In California, dice alone cannot determine the outcome in craps. As a result, a combination of dice and playing cards, or solely cards, are used to dictate the game’s results. The methods vary across casinos, but the essence of the game remains intact.

Agua Caliente & Fantasy Springs

At Agua Caliente and Fantasy Springs, twelve cards are used, ranging from an ace through six from two separate decks, each with different colored back sides. The cards are shuffled and spread face down across the table. The first card of each color from one end represents the roll. The odds remain identical to traditional dice craps.

Barona & Pechanga & Sycuan

Barona, Pechanga (as of 7/26/16), and Sycuan employ a method involving six cards, numbered one to six. These cards are randomly placed in six table positions.

Two dice determine which card(s) are flipped over, representing the roll for betting purposes. With each new shooter, the cards are rearranged, maintaining the same odds as conventional craps.


Harrah’s uses two separate six-card decks, one red and one green. Each deck consists of ranks A to 6. Aces count as one, while other ranks count according to their pip value.

Two dice, one red and one green, determine which cards are flipped over, representing the roll.

The odds are consistent with traditional craps.


Normandie mixes two partial decks, each consisting of all four suits ranked ace to six, resulting in a total of 48 cards. Two cards are drawn without replacement.

If they share the same suit, there’s no action. Otherwise, the two cards represent the roll. This method is mathematically equivalent to using dice.

Additionally, there’s a “No Call” bet, paying 3 to 1 for two cards of the same suit, with a house edge of 6.38%. Players also incur about a 1% fee on all bets.


Pala uses a unique combination of dice and cards.

The equipment includes a red die with three 1’s and three 4’s, a blue die with three 2’s and three 3’s, and a 36-card deck featuring all possible two-dice permutations.

Two cards are drawn and placed face down over red and blue table regions. The dice are rolled, and depending on the outcome, either the red or blue card is used as the roll.

The odds are consistent with traditional craps. Additionally, the “Super Field” bet pays 500 to 1 if both cards are the 1-1 and 6-6, in either order.


Pauma uses a 73-card deck, consisting of 12 cards each of ranks ace to six, and a joker. Two cards determine the roll. If the first card is a joker, there’s no action, and two new cards are drawn.

If the second card is a joker, it matches the first card. The odds remain the same as conventional craps.

There are also side bets, including the joker side bet and the four suit bets.

San Manuel & Viejas

San Manuel follows the same procedure as Viejas, but with a different name, simply “craps.”

Viejas uses a blackjack-sized table called “Card Craps” with a 264-card shoe, consisting of 44 cards each of ranks ace to six.

Two cards represent the roll, and due to non-replacement, the odds slightly differ from conventional craps.


California craps with cards showcases the state’s innovative spirit in the realm of casino gaming.

By blending the traditional with the novel, California casinos offer a unique and engaging experience for craps enthusiasts.

Whether you’re a seasoned player or a curious visitor, the card-based variant of craps in the Golden State promises a thrilling gaming adventure.

Want to Play Craps for Real Money? Check Out This Offer:

Jake Wilfred

Try Craps for Free

Before you start playing for real money, it’s a great idea to play the game in demo mode:

Want to take full advantage of the craps simulator? Check out our dedicated page and train your skills for free with no risk involved! 

Recent Posts

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *