How to Play Casino Craps

Casino craps tables can be particularly exciting to watch, but understanding the rules and jumping in to join the game can also be somewhat intimidating for the uninitiated. Things move pretty fast. So fast in fact that there may be up to four "dealers" at a craps table to place bets, pass the dice and monitor table activity. Players take turns rolling the dice as the "shooter" and any number of other players may make bets on the outcome of the shooter's roll.

First, our simulator is designed to take bets and calculate the potential outcomes from several hours of casino craps play. It is not a playable craps game per se, but more of a "fast forward" tool for the simulating and testing of various betting strategies. It can also be useful in helping players plan a session of craps play or their overall approach to the game. You can read more about the betting strategies or try the craps simulator here.

Two Stages of Play

In every "round" of craps there are two stages of play. Different rules apply and different bets are available depending on the stage of play.

Stage 1: The Come-out Roll

The come-out roll is a single dice roll that starts the round. When approaching a craps table, a dealer marker will show whether the point is "On" or "Off". If it is "Off", then it is the beginning of a new round and time for the "come-out roll".

There are three possible outcomes to a come-out roll

Come-out Roll Result Bet Outcome
7 or 11 ("Natural") Round is Over "Win"
2, 3 or 12 ("Craps") Round is Over "Lose"
Any other number Point is established. Rolled number becomes the "Point" Rolled number becomes the "Point"

Stage 2: The Point Roll

One the point is established, the shooter will roll the dice until either a 7 is rolled or the point is rolled again. There may be many rolls before this happens.

Point Roll Result Bet Outcome
Point Round is Over "Win"
7 Round is Over "Lose"
Any other number Roll again Point is still "On"

Betting

Now that we know the mechanics of a round, how do we bet?

First, notice that we put the terms "win" and "lose" above in quotations: Most players will place bets in favor of the table. However, it is also possible to bet against the table - in which case the majority loss is your win. We'll explain below.

Come-Out Only Bets

On a come-out roll certain bets are placed that must remain on the table until the round is complete. Pass line bets are the most popular of these bets the best choice for a novice who wishes to observe and learn from watching the game in play.

Bet Come-out Roll Point Roll Odds
Pass or "Pass line" Win on 7 or 11, Lose on 2, 3 or 12 Win on the point, Lose on 7 1:1
Don't Pass Lose on 7 or 11, Win on 2 or 3. Push on 12. Win on 7, Lose on the point 1:1

Once a Point is Established...

Once a point is "On" there are a number of other bets that may be placed. The rules for some of these these are a little more complicated and many players choose to ignore them in favor of some of the simpler bets. Odds bets are the most common type of bet to place when a point is established.

Placing "Odds"

Once a point has been set, a player may "place odds" or "free odds" to back up their original pass or don't pass bet. This is a popular practice since true odds are paid on a these bets as opposed to a pass line bet which pays even money.

In order to place odds, a player places their chips behind their original line bet and just outside the passline. We go into a little more details about playing odds in craps including the laying (or "taking") of odds for don't pass bets and odds in come and don't come bets here.

Craps table showing the point as 4.

Point is On

Note the white "ON" marker on this craps table showing that the point is 4. When the point is off, the marker is flipped over and moved off the the number to show the point as "OFF"

Other Bets Where the Point is "On"

When the point is On Players may also bet on "Hard Ways" or "place" or "buy" a bet on an individual point number. They may also place Come or Don't Come bets. The table below details some of these bets.

Bet Win-Lose Conditions Odds*
Come Like a pass bet, it has its own internal come-out roll and point rolls. May place odds on the come-point. 1:1
Don't Come Like a don't pass bet, it has its own internal come-out roll and point rolls. May lay odds on the come-point. 1:1
Place 4 or 10 Win on the place, lose on 7. Not active during a come out roll. 9:5
Place 5 or 9 Win on the place, lose on 7. Not active during a come out roll. 7:5
Place 6 or 8 Win on the place, lose on 7. Not active during a come out roll. 7:6
Buy 4 or 10 Win on the buy, lose on 7. Not active during a come out roll. 2:1 (5% Commission)
Buy 5 or 9 Win on the buy, lose on 7. Not active during a come out roll. 3:2 (5% Commission)
Buy 6 or 8 Win on the buy, lose on 7. Not active during a come out roll. 6:5 (5% Commission)
Hard 6 Win on Hard 6. Lose on Easy 6 or 7. Not active during a come out roll. 9:1
Hard 10 Win on Hard 10. Lose on Easy 10 or 7. Not active during a come out roll. 7:1
Hard 8 Win on Hard 8. Lose on Easy 8 or 7. Not active during a come out roll. 9:1
Hard 4 Win on Hard 4. Lose on Easy 4 or 7. Not active during a come out roll. 7:1
*We're using typical odds found on the casino's of the Las Vegas strip. Other casino's may vary.

A few things worth noting on these bets.

  • A buy bet pays at true odds, but you must pay the house a commission of 4-5% to "buy" the bet.
  • A place bet does not pay true odds, but you need not pay a commission.
  • A hard way is exactly that: The hard way of rolling a particular number. For example a "hard 6" is 3+3 whereas an "easy 6" is 4+2.

Single Roll Bets

Some bets can be placed for a "single roll" at any stage of the game. These bets are resolved immediately after the next roll of the dice and are not effected by the round or stage of play.

Bet Win On Odds*
Field 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11, 12 1 to 1 for 3, 4, 9, 10, 11; 2 to 1 for 2; 3:1 for 12
Seven 7 4:1
Any Craps 2, 3 or 12 7:1
2 2 15:1
3 3 15:1
12 12 30:1
11 11 15:1
E & C (Eleven and Craps) 7, 11 7:1 on Craps, 15:1 on Eleven
*We're using typical odds found on the casino's of the Las Vegas strip. Other casino's may vary.

Confused Yet?

Most players will start with a pass line bet and place odds on their pass line bets within their budget. It is not necessary to place the maximum odds. The house edge is very small with this approach and it gives players some time to observe and learn the rules of the table.

For a bit of added excitement, you might try the occasional single roll bets or hard way. These bets have a higher casino advantage, but they also pay nicely when hit and can make the experience of playing craps much more exciting.

If you'd like to dig little deeper, take a look at our strategies page, our more in depth articles on placing odds in craps and planning your craps game, or start a simulation. The simulation demonstrates the effect of various craps bets and strategies over several sessions of casino play.