Guide to craps

Guide to craps

Ah, there she is, the casino game with arguably the worst name. Honestly, what were they thinking? For a game whose history includes being called Hazard, how did we end up with such a, well, crappy name? Craps is, in fact, an abbreviation of the French word for toad, crapaud, referring to the way street players would hunch over the dice.

Street craps? Oh yes, this game goes back a very long way. Is it the modern-day equivalent of an ancient Roman game played using pig knuckle bones? Or is it the descendant of Al Dar, a dice game brought West by Arabs? More likely, it is the natural evolution of humanity’s penchant for picking up similar-sized objects and throwing them to see how they land… something that’s deep in our bones, so to speak. The game has been played on baize-covered tables, street corners, soldiers’ shields and in the dirt of our history, in one form or another, forever.

The casino game that’s widely enjoyed today came via New Orleans, courtesy of Bernard Xavier Philippe de Marigny de Mandeville and, with a few tweaks to the rules here and there, the game spread throughout the USA and, later outward. It was based on the Western European game of Hazard, and is currently the most popular version of the game worldwide.

A casino is a casino is a casino, right? How different can one casino be from another? All they do is exchange money for chips, offer games, and then exchange chips for money.

Well, no. No story goes, “Once upon a time, everything was simple, everything was the same, and everyone was happy. The end.”

Every casino – both brick and mortar and online – is unique. Yes, there are similarities, both legislative and game based, but there’s no way to summarise all casinos with just a few simple sentences.

Luckily for you, we have taken the time and effort to really get into the foundations of online gambling: what makes it tick, how it works, what players can expect, and so much more. Here, we offer you all the in-depth guides to online casinos and gambling you’ll need. And we take that promise seriously, which is why we are constantly working to add more guides that cover every aspect of the online casino experience.

In this series of guides, you will find information about jackpots, variance and volatility, online casinos, casino bonuses, withdrawals and deposits, and more.

Why should you use guides?

Casino guides like these can really help enhance your online casino experience. For example, jackpot guides don’t just tell you what a jackpot is; they explain the various types of jackpot, how they work, how to play to win, where to find games with different jackpots, and even who the game developers are.

Casino bonus guides are another super useful way to figure out which online casinos will work best for you. We don’t only look at the types of bonus offered, but explain how they work, the hidden pitfalls to look out for, and ways to make the most of your wagering requirements.

You’ll find enough information here to keep you busy longer than a great game of poker, so dig in, and come out the other side a little more knowledgeable. And if there’s anything you’d like to learn more about that you don’t find here on CasinoPlay, let us know. Happy reading!

It’s challenging to talk about the bets and payouts in craps because these are often set by the casino. If this is a game you want to try out, make sure you familiarise yourself with the casino’s rules and bets before joining.

Craps is a game played by throwing a pair of dice across a table and betting on the outcome of the throw. That, of course, is an extremely simplified explanation of the game. Essentially, players take it in turns to throw the dice during two phases of play, aiming to avoid ‘crapping out’ by rolling a 1, 2, 3 or 12, and hoping to land with a total of 7 or 11 during the first round.

At this stage, players bet on pass (7, 11) or don’t pass (1, 2, 3, 12) and if either of these occurs, it ends the round. If it is any other total, this signals the start of the next round and the number rolled is assigned as a point. Now players can bet whether the next roll will be a pass, don’t pass, or point total.

In essence, the rules governing craps are:

Wait your turn

Up to 20 people at a time are permitted to bet on a game of craps. You can see how many players there are by looking at the chips shelf next to the dealer, rather than trying to figure out who is playing, who is watching, and who is just bringing more drinks. There are 20 spaces, one per player, and you can only join if one or more of these are open.

Of course, if you are playing a live dealer game in an online casino, you will easily be able to see which tables have a slot free just by referring to the game itself. And, if you are playing a video craps game, it’s just you and the computer playing, so no need to wait there!

Shooter etiquette

The shooter, ie, the player currently throwing the dice, remains the shooter until they land a 7, or fail to land the point. Your turn will come around eventually.

Bet on both dice

Outcomes in craps are purely based on the total value of both dice together. There’s no betting on individual dice.

All players win or lose

As a player who is not currently the shooter, you can place bets on the outcome of the roll, just like the shooter can. Their throw can win or lose the round for you.

Place bets at the right time

Dealers will call for bets during each round of play, so pay attention and place your bets at the appropriate time.

Casino rules rule

Every casino has the right to call the bets in craps. They can say which bets are offered and what their respective payouts are.

Bank craps

This is the most widely played and best known version of the game, and is the default that most people think of when the name craps is mentioned. Other names for this version are Vegas craps and Casino craps. Unlike older versions of the game, where it was player versus player, this game is player versus casino.

Simplified craps

This is an extremely pared-down version of the game, in which players aim to win by rolling 2, 3, 4, 10, 11 or 12, and avoid the losing numbers of 5, 6, 7, 8 or 9.

Crapless craps

In this version, you don’t crap out. Instead, rolls of 2 and 3 in the come-out round are ignored, and rolls of 11 or 12 are immediate winners.

Card craps

There are several versions of craps that include, or even comprise, card play. For example, Diceless craps relies only on cards dealt rather than dice rolled. Some variations use complex combinations of cards dealt and dice rolled to score rounds.

Online craps

For the most part, online versions of craps tend to be based on bank/casino craps. Video craps games generally follow a fairly straightforward layout, with game-specific bets. Live dealer versions are usually quite straightforward, except that, of course, the dice roll is controlled by a random number generator (RNG), rather than your wrist’s strength and dexterity.

The best strategy to apply to a game of craps is to spend some time familiarising yourself with the game’s unique bets and house edges. While outcomes with a low house edge may pay out smaller amounts, they usually pay out most frequently, making this a betting strategy for slow consistent gains. High house edges mean more risk of loss, but they also mean higher wins, albeit risky ones.

If you are playing online, it helps to try out the game for free before playing for real money. This way, you can select a game that suits your personal playing style, betting preferences and pace. Many online casinos that offer live dealer games allow you to watch games without participating, so that you can get a feel for the table and bets.

As with any game, it is always wise to plan and stick to your budget, and also to allow yourself regular breaks by setting time limits on sessions. Keeping awake and refreshed can help you stay sharp and on top of the game.

Craps is not a game to just dive into and learn as you go, especially because there is so much variation in how casinos allow bets. We highly recommend reading our full guide to craps (coming soon), and also spending some time testing or watching games.

Low-risk bets, like the pass, come, and free odds bets will yield the most consistent wins, even though they will be the lowest. Considering that craps is a game where it may take quite some time for you to be the shooter, it’s all about patience, so a slow and steady strategy can’t hurt. However, if you’re in and out for a quick big win, go for those high-risk bets. Just don’t be too shocked when you realise this means you could also lose big.

Craps has a pretty complex vocabulary, although many of the terms will make sense to seasoned players of other casino table games. Terms include:

  • Ace: a die showing 1
  • Big red: 7
  • Box numbers: place bets 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10
  • Crap numbers: 2, 3, 12
  • Crapping out: rolling a crap number on the come-out roll, thereby losing the roll
  • Front: pass line
  • Hard number: the total on both dice showing the same number (eg, 3 + 3 = 6)
  • Hard way: betting on a hard 4, 6, 8 or 10
  • Inside numbers: bets placed on 5-6 and 8-9
  • Natural numbers: 7 or 11
  • Outside numbers: bets placed on 4-10 or 5-9
  • Puck: aka marker, a disc placed on the point number to indicate it to players
  • Working bets: bets in play for the next roll

But what about snake eyes?! we hear you clamour. That is a slang term for both dice landing on 1. It has no actual significance in the game, except that the score is deemed a crap number, no matter what you want to call it. Craps has a pretty large slang vocabulary that can vary from place to place. It won’t help you play the game any better, but it certainly will be fun exploring the world of crap slang (yeah, we know; we hear it too).

At the risk of sounding like a David Attenborough special, it’s practically our duty as humans to play craps. It’s the current permutation of a game that goes back to our most primal beginnings, when we learned to recognise and distinguish patterns in the world around us. Of course, we joke… craps, like any other game, must be played responsibly, and at the player’s own choice.

We love craps, and we hope it is a game you will come to love just as much, and that’s why we urge you to make sure you’re comfortable with the rules and ready to play before diving in.