How to Play Craps

Craps rules determine how a typical round of dice shooting happens. Craps rules are easy to learn, though the game has a lot of slang and terminology which might cause issues for beginners. Craps also has a lot of different bets, so a tutorial is needed when learning to play craps.

Before we discuss the rules pertaining to a typical hand, I want to point out a few specific rules. These special rules should be remembered when playing craps. This is especially true for shooters.

Craps Rules for Shooting Dice

  • The player must use only one hand when throwing the dice.
  • Do not hold the dice under the table. Keep them in the line of sight of dealers and other players.
  • The dice must hit the wall on the other side of the table when throwing the dice.
  • If one or both dice are thrown off the table, the stickman (or another dealer) must inspect them before using them again.
  • Players can decline to be the shooter. If so, the dice go to the next bettor to the player's left.

Rolling the Dice

A single round of craps is divided into two parts: the come out roll and the point roll. A player known as the "shooter" rolls two dice to determine results. Each involves the placement of bets, though one is contingent on the other. If a player either rolls a "7" or craps out on the come out roll, then that round of betting ends. Since there is a sequence to the game, let's start with the basic roll in craps.

Placing Craps Bets

Bets can be placed in craps before the come out roll or after the point is set. Besides the basic wagers below, gamblers will find an abundance of possible wagers, including one-roll bets and variety of side bets. Learning how to make these bets are tantamount to learning the rules of craps.

Key wagers to learn are the Buy Bets, Lay Bets, Place Bets, Field Bets, and Hardway Bets. Many other betting options exist. One important thing to remember is many of these choices are sucker bets. In many cases, a gambler would be better off not knowing some of these betting options exist.

Come Out Roll and Pass Line Bet

The come-out roll starts a round of betting. Before the roll happens, gamblers make wagers on a variety of possible results. The basic bet is the Pass Line Bet. The Pass Line Bet is wagering on the shooter to win. The Don't Pass Bet is the opposite, betting on the shooter to lose.

If the shooter rolls a "7" on the come out roll, he or she wins. Every bettor at the table who made the come out bet also win. This instills a sense of camaraderie in the players who bet on the shooter. Note that the shooter keeps rolling the dice until they have a loss. Shooters who win several rolls in a row are considered lucky by the other players at the table.

Don't Pass Bet

If the shooter rolls a 2, 3, or 12 on the come out roll, then he or she loses. If this happens, then everyone who made the Don't Come Bet wins. It is considered rude for those who bet against the shooter to celebrate their wins. If you won this wager, do not flaunt it, because most of the other players at the table lost the round.

Setting the Point

Any other number that's rolled sets the "point". Things flip at this point, because it is no longer the point of the game for the shooter to roll a seven. Instead, the shooter wants to roll the point again before rolling a seven. You might not that there are more winning combinations that equal 7 than any other possible number with two 6-sided dice. This fact provides the casino with its house edge.

Come Bet

Once the point is set, the next roll is called the Come Bet. From the shooter's perspective, rolling the point again is the goal. If you rolled a six, then you must roll a six before another seven appears. Players can make the come bet at this time, but those who bet the Pass Line Bets on the come-out roll also win if the point is rolled again.

The Come Bet is the exact same as the Pass Line Bet, except it is made after the point is set.

Don't Come Bet

Once again, those who made the Don't Pass Bet see their bet continue. New players can make the Don't Come Bet, which is also betting against the shooter. Once the point is set, these two bets are resolved in the same way.

Craps Payoffs

Once a round of dice is complete, bets are resolved. Let the dealers handle your winnings. If another player picks up your winnings, let the dealer know about it first. Don't confront the player. Speak to the boxman if the dealer is not paying attention, because the boxman handles chips and is supposed to keep track of wagers. Speak to the stickman if no one else is available, but keep in mind that tracking bets isn't the stickman's job.

If you believe the dealers shortened you on your winnings, resolve the question with the boxman. The boxman and the dealers are in many ways like the referees in a game. Their job is to provide fairness, not make money for the house. A casino makes far more money with happy customers than cheating their players, so they'll try to resolve the dispute. If the dollar figure is large, you can ask for a video review to resolve the dispute. Most of the time, the casino is going to pay out on these disputes, because taking the time to review the video is going to cost them more money (in lost play) than simply paying out the claim.

General Craps Rules and Etiquette

That is how a typical round of craps is played. Before we end, I want to discuss a few other common sense rules you'll want to remember. A few other rules should be kept in mind. These guidelines fall as much into the realm of good etiquette as anything. Craps is a social game, so maintain good manners.

  • Keep chips in the rack along the perimeter of the table. Do not leave idle chips on the felt, or someone might think it's a bet.
  • Do not place a drink on the felt. Leave it on non-felt portions of the table, where drinks go. Even if holding a drink, do not hold it over the table and drip. The felt is expensive.
  • If smoking is allowed, do not dangle a cigarette over the table. You don't want to burn a hole in the table's surface.
  • Do not grab your chips until the dealer recognizes you won.
  • Under any circumstances, do you grab other players' chips. That can cause serious issues. Apologize if you do by mistake.

Anything which slows down the game is going to be frowned upon. Gamblers want to enjoy the game -- not wait on you all evening. Casinos want to keep the game moving, in order to maximize profits. Know the various bets, make your bets in a timely fashion, and keep the game moving.

The rules of craps are easy to remember. For the most part, craps rules are about being mindful of the needs of the casino and other players. Keep these in mind while playing and craps is going to be more entertaining for you and your fellow players.