If you were to walk into a casino and noticed a crowd of people gathered around a large, oblong table, people who would squirm and even threaten violence at the mere mention of numbers, then there’s a good chance that you’re at the craps table.
Craps players tend to be especially suspicious, and believe that speaking out a certain number before the dice is rolled can definitively, and somewhat supernaturally, influence the outcome of the round. At its core, craps is about betting on odds, just like every other casino game. The game has a number of betting options, each with its own attendant rules. Let’s look at five of the most common bets and what they mean.
These are by no means the only bets. But they are some of the more important and common ones. In many ways, they also form the basis for a more comprehensive understanding of some of the finer niceties of the game. Most of the variations of play in craps come as a result of understanding these essential moves.
Let’s talk about the Pass line, point, and Field, Come and Don’t Pass line, in that order.
1. Pass line
The Pass line is probably the most important bet on the craps table. If you’re the shooter (meaning you’re the one throwing the dice), then you have to bet on the Pass line. If you win the Pass line bet, then you double your money. If you lose, then you’ve lost your wager. It’s that simple. It is important to remember that it’s not only the shooter who is able to bet on the Pass line. Any of the other players can join the shooter in this play. Where the shooter wins, they also win. But where the shooter loses they, predictably, lose too. If you want to get beady stares and be threatened with promises of death, then you should call out for a 7 or 11 into the ether within earshot of the other players. As mentioned already, craps players take it very seriously when you start calling out numbers – far more so than in most other casino games. It’s hard to say why, but part of the reason might be craps’ multi-cultural and long history, from the storming of castles during the medieval period to the Deep South of America.
Win: 7 or 11.
Lose: 2, 3, or 12.
2. From Pass line to point
The opening bet we just described above is called the come-out roll. If the shooter rolls anything besides a 7, 11 (a winning Pass line) or a 2, 3, 12 (a losing Pass line) then the game moves into what is called the point round. The point roll comprises those six numbers along the top of craps table. The goal now is for the shooter to reroll his come-out number again before the next seven. So, if the come-out was an 8 then the shooter will want to roll another 8 before he rolls a 7. This rule already carries with an implicit house edge, because out of all the dice and number combinations, a seven the most likely number to be rolled with two dice. This means there’s a stronger probability of the shooter rolling a seven on the point roll than there is of him repeating the point.
Win: repeat initial roll before rolling a 7.
Lose: roll a 7 before repeating initial roll.
The Field pays even money except for the 2 and the 12, which generally pays at 2:1 and 3:1 respectively. Field bets comprise the numbers 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11, and 12. The field has roughly a 5.5% house advantage built in. Part of the way the advantage is calculated is the fact that field bets are one-roll bets, so if you play the field and you lose then your chips are immediately removed from the table and given to the house. Some of the more purist craps players tend to steer clear of the field. We’re not that sticky when it comes to craps, but part of the reason they’re wary of this type of bet is likely because the Field pays most of its bets at even money, which isn’t a substantial profit for the player.
Win: 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11 and 12.
Lose: everything else.
The Come section of the craps table works in the same way as the Pass line bet with one crucial difference: they’re placed after the come out roll so. A come bet essentially allows you to place the equivalent of a Pass line bet at any stage of the game. Ordinarily, Pass-line-type bets van only be made during the come-out round. Not so with the Come. So essentially, the same rules apply here: a 7 and 11 will mean a win, while a 2, 3 or 12 will mean a loss. The reason for having a Come section? Simple: the casino wants you to be able to wager bets on every roll.
Win: 7 or 11.
Lose: 2, 3, or 12.
5. Don’t Pass line
A shooter has to either make a Pass line bet or a Don’t Pass bet. Any other player who is not the shooter can also make a Pass line bet. In this case, they are said to be for the shooter. But players can also make a bet against the shooter, meaning that all that player’s winning bets will derive from the shooter’s failure. So a come-out of 7 and 11 will mean a loss and a come-out of 2 and 3 will mean a win. The only real deviation from a purely opposition/mirrored play is the 12. A come-out of 12 means a draw on the Don’t Pass line. This is one of the many ways that the house ensures that it maintains an advantage over the player.