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The Basics of Craps – A Beginner’s Guide

The Basics of Craps – A Beginner’s Guide

If you’re like me, the first time you looked at a craps table you went: crap, how am I supposed to understand this? The dice rolling is simple enough to understand, but there’s a bewildering number of bets available, and the jargon is nearly impenetrable. Snake eyes, box cars, hard seven, pass line, field bet, nothing is easy to understand! I nearly gave up and went back to the blackjack table, but I’m glad I didn’t, because craps is an amazing game with loads of exciting interactions, and it would be a shame to miss out on.

Come-Out Roll

So, let’s start with the basics, what’s the deal with the dice rolls? Well, a game round starts with someone rolling two dice and adding the results together to get a number between 2 and 12. On a live online casino the rolling will be done by a machine instead. This first roll is called the come-out roll. If the come-out roll is a 2, a 3 or a 12, the result is called craps and everyone who bet on the Pass line, the most basic bet, loses. If the come-out roll is a 7 or an 11 it’s called a natural and everyone who bet on the Pass line wins. If the roll is any other number, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10, then that number is called the Point, and the game round goes into something like a second stage. The Point will be marked by a black and white puck, and when it’s marking a Point, it will be flipped over to its white ON side and placed above the Point number. When there is no Point in play, the puck is flipped to its black OFF side.
The shooter, the person rolling the dice, or the machine if online, will now roll again. They’ll try to hit the same number they just hit, the Point, before they roll a 7. If they manage to hit the Point again before rolling a 7, everyone who made a Pass line bet wins, but if the shooter hits a 7 before hitting the Point they lose. Since 7 is the most common result if you throw two dice and add the numbers together, it’s not a walk in the park to win this bet. Then again, only six outcomes out of 36 are going to be 7s so it will usually take several rolls to determine the outcome of this part of a game round.

The Pass Line Bet

I’ve mentioned the pass line bet a few times now since it’s the most basic bet, and I’ve explained what happens when you bet on it. If the come-out roll is 7 or 11 you win, and if you hit the Point before you roll a 7 on subsequent rolls you also win. There is also a Don’t pass bet which is basically the opposite of the Pass line bet, except you only tie if the first roll is a 12. Then on subsequent dice rolls you win if the shooter rolls a 7 before they hit the Point.
That’s the very basics of craps. Most of the exciting action, however, is in the other bets you can make. We talked about the Pass and Don’t Pass bet above but there are many more options available. So many more. So, let’s have a look at some of the more common bets available to get a better feel for the game, shall we?

Common bets in Craps

  • The Odds – after the Point has been established you can bet on the Odds, which basically means you’re doubling down on your Pass bet, i.e. that the point will be hit before rolling a seven. Hitting a point of 4 or 10 with this bet pays 2 to 1, hitting a 5 or 9 pays 3 to 2 and hitting a 6 or 8 pays 6 to 5. It’s a very good bet with no house edge so the casinos limit the amount you can bet here to some multiple of your pass line bet. There is an Odds-like bet associated with the Don’t Pass bet as well, called Laying the Odds, and it doubles down on the Don’t Pass bet as expected. If the point is a 4 or 10 it pays 1 to 2, against a 5 or 9 it pays out 2 to 3 and a 6 or 8 pays out 5 to 6 and you win if a 7 is rolled before the point.
  • Come and Don’t Come – These are basically Pass and Don’t Pass bets, the only difference is that they are made at any time other than on a come-out roll. If a point roll is made after making this bet, the bet is moved to that number to signify that that is the point for the Come or Don’t Come bet. So, if you have a point from the first come out roll of, say 4 and on the roll following your Come bet a 6 is rolled, that will be the point for that Come bet, not 4. Don’t Come works in a similar way, so the roll will be the point for that bet and if a 7 is rolled before the point you win.
  • Place – the Place bet is where you bet that a Place number (4,5,6,8,9,10) will be rolled before a 7. If the number you bet on is rolled before a 7, you win. This bet is very similar to the Odds bet except no Pass/Don’t Pass bet is needed, but it pays less, hitting a 6 or 8 pays 7 to 6, hitting a 5 or 9 pays 7 to 5 and hitting a 4 or 10 pays 9 to 5. There is a corresponding Place to Lose bet where you bet that a 7 will be rolled before the number you bet on. Hitting a 7 before a 6 or 8 pays 4 to 5, before a 5 or 9 pays 5 to 8, and before a 4 or 10 pays 5 to 11.
  • Buy – the Buy bet is almost the same as the Odds bet, the difference is the casino takes a commission of 5% for you to place the bet, either when you place the bet or when you win, this varies depending on where you play. Since an Odds bet has no house edge, the commission is the house edge. There is a corresponding Laying the Odds bet here called the Lay bet, and it works like you’d expect, and it also has a commission on the bet. 
Since the Place and Buy bets are basically the same just with different payouts you could be asking yourself which one is the better bet? Well, if you make the calculations, you can tell the Buy bet is better when betting on 4 to 10 and Place is better on the rest of the numbers. For Place to Lose and the Lay bet, Lay is better on 4 and 10 and Place to Lose is better on the rest of the numbers.

Final note on the Basics of Craps

There are more bets you can make in craps, but we’ll take a break for now and continue in another article. Eventually we will talk about optimal strategies as well. For now, look up the best online casino in Canada on our front page and get some craps action going! With the craps bets we’ve gone over today you can get a lot of fun and engaging craps action going.

Until next time!

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