Craps Rules and Strategy

Craps is a casino gambling game that features dice, and players are going to be betting against the casino on the outcome of each specific roll that happens, or over a series of rolls of two different dice potentially.

The basics of craps

The basics behind the game of craps are very straight forward, and you’ll find that the most common and typical type of bet that players make is the “pass line” bet.  This is a bet that any player who is involved can make during a game, and on the come out roll, players who bet on the pass line are going to win if there is either a 7 or an 11 rolled.  If a player rolls a 2, 3, or 12, which is “craps”, any bet on the pass line will automatically lose.  But, with that being said, on any other number whether it is 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10, players will roll again, and in order for you to win your bet, the player would have to roll that same number again.  This number that they roll is called the “point”, and they have to roll the point number again before they roll a 7.  If the shooter does throw a 7, then they are “sevened-out”, and the dice is passed along.

Players can also bet on the don’t pass wager on the come out roll if they’d like to, which means that they are betting against the dice.  The don’t pass bet actually has a lower house edge than pass line betting, but it features the same free odds bet once the point number is decided.  This bet is exactly the opposite as a standard pass line wager bet, and players will lose this bet when a natural is rolled, but they will win if a craps is rolled on the come-out.

There are four casino employees who are going to run a craps table, with the first being a boxman, who is going to oversee and watch all of the chips, and he also colors out players and supervises over the dealers.  There are going to be two dealers in the game of craps, and these two are going to stand on either side of the boxman.  They will be collecting and paying out bets throughout play, and the last employee is the stickman, who is the person that will stand across the table from the boxman and announce results of rolls and collect dice with the stick.  The stickman is also going to manage the bets made on the center of the table as well.

When the shooter is set the roll the dice, you’ll find that the dealer is more than likely going to make you roll with one hand, and make sure that the dice bounce off of the wall that goes all the way around the table.  This is done to make sure that players avoid any types of cheating which have happened in the past.  If either of the two dice leave the table at any point, the shooter will be asked to choose another die from the three, but if they prefer to use the same die then they can request this.

Types of craps bets

While we’ve covered the pass line bet, there are also quite a few additional bets that you can make in the game of craps as well.  In the situation above on a pass line bet, if there is a point made, then players will be allowed to take odds by placing bets from one to five times the size of the pass line bet behind the line.  This additional betting option that you have is going to offer odds of 2 to 1 if a 4 or 10 is the point, 3 to 2 if a 5 or 9 is the point, and 6 to 5 if a 6 or an 8 is the point.  The house will gain a small advantage on the starting pass line bet, but there is no house advantage on these odds bets that are offered.  Out of any bet that you can make at a casino, the odds bet is one of the very few that doesn’t feature a house advantage.

Below is a chart that will explain the 36 different possible ways that you could roll a 6-sided dice, and also breaks down the fact that on the come out roll there are going to be 8 possibly ways to win, and 4 ways to lose, meaning that there are 24 possible ways for there to be a point created.

1-1 = 1 way to make a 2

        1-2 2-1            = 2 ways to make a 3
      1-3 2-2 3-1          = 3 ways to make a 4, true odds pays 2-1
    1-4 2-3 3-2 4-1        = 4 ways to make a 5, true odds pays 3-2
  1-5 2-4 3-3 4-2 5-1      = 5 ways to make a 6, true odds pays 6-5
1-6 2-5 3-4 4-3 5-2 6-1    = 6 ways to make a 7
  2-6 3-5 4-4 5-3 6-2      = 5 ways to make an 8, true odds pays 6-5
    3-6 4-5 5-4 6-3        = 4 ways to make a 9, true odds pays 3-2
      4-6 5-5 6-4          = 3 ways to make a 10, true odds pays 2-1
        5-6 6-5            = 2 ways to make an 11
          6-6              = 1 way to make a 12

What you are going to get from this is that the odds of making the point right off the bat is simply the amount of different ways that you could end up making a 7, to the number of potential ways to create the point as well.  So if there are going to be five separate ways for you to make a 6 or an 8, the odds of hitting the point at those two numbers will be 6 to 5.

The two bets that the more experienced craps players are going to be making consistently will be the pass line and odds bets, since these are the bets that are going to feature the most favorable odds out there.

You can also make a come wager, which features rules that are almost exactly the same as the pass line bet, but the only difference is that  this bet can only be placed after the come-out roll has occurred.

There will also be a “don’t come” box that players can place bets on, meaning that they believe that the dice will not pass on the next sequence starting with the upcoming roll.  The shooter can even bet on this option thinking that they may potentially miss out, and you’ll find that the don’t pass and don’t come bets are really just the opposites of the pass and come bets.

If you do end up betting against the shooter, then you are going to have to bet the long side of the bet.  This means that if there is a $10 bet out there when the point is set on a four, then you could place an odds bet that was worth $20.  If the shooter does end up hitting a 7 before getting the point, then the bettor would then end up getting $10 for the don’t pass bet, as well as another $10 for the odds bet that they placed.

Other Craps Bets

Another type of craps bet is the one roll bet, which features you taking the odds that they are going to roll an 11.  This bet is going to pay out 15 to 1, with actual odds that are 11 to 1.  You can bet that a shooter is going to make a hardway number such as 4-4, before throwing a 7 or an 8, and this is going to pay 9-1, with actual odds that are 10-1.  You really have the option to bet on any type of combination of the dice on the upcoming roll, and this is a hop bet, so choosing a hard 8 on the hop bet is going to pay out 31 to 1 on your money.

If you choose to bet on craps, meaning that the shooter is going to throw a 2, 3, or 12 on the upcoming roll, then the odds of this payout are 7-1, with the real odds being set at 8 to 1.

Horn is another bet that means that you are betting on one unit each for 2, 3, 11, and 12 for the upcoming roll, and if you do a “Horn High” this would mean that you are placing an additional $1 bet on one of the four different options.

You can place a C&E bet as well, which is two separate bets, with one bet being on the next roll being craps, and the other being an 11.  If you hit one of the two bets then you are going to get paid out as listed above, but the other bet will automatically lose.

Another betting option in craps is the field bet, that allows players to bet on one of the numbers in the box, and they are betting that it will be rolled on the upcoming roll.  This is an even money bet, but you’ll find that choosing a 2 or 12 will normally pay 2-1 being the only exception.

Typically the bets that you see listed above are going to be pretty costly to players, and really don’t hit all that often.  There is a big house advantage on these bets, and realistically you’d probably want to lean towards betting on the pass line or don’t pass line with full odds the bulk of the time.

Players also have the option to be able to place or buy individual numbers if they want to, which include 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, and 10, and they will need to place their bet in the come area and tell the dealer that they will be doing this.  Place bets get paid out at reduced odds, and if you buy the number you will get the true odds, but there will be commission paid to the casino worth 5%.

Place Buy

 Number     Payoff         Payoff
 ------     ------         ------
 6 or 8      7-6             6-5
 5 or 9      7-5             3-2
 4 or 10     9-5             2-1

If you are a common craps player then you’ll quickly realize that many people consider the Big 6 and Big 8 to be “sucker bets” mainly because they are going to pay out even money, while a player can bet the same prop by placing the 6 or the 8, and you will get a payout of 7 to 6 on your money.

Examples of basic play

  • If you were to bet $10 on the pass line, and the come out roll is an 11, you would win $10 on your bet.  If you roll a nine, this would then become the point.  From here, if you decide to bet the come line at $10 before the roll, and you get a 6, this is now the point you need to hit in order to get that $10 come bet to win.  From here, if you roll a 9, then you have hit the original point bet and you are going to win your pass line bet of $10, and you decide to bet $10 on the pass line again.  Your new come-out roll is a 7, and you will win $10 for the pass line bet, and the come line bet would result in a loss.


You will find that there really is no real winning strategy towards beating the game of craps.  The expected value for most bets is slightly negative, but is better than many other casino games.  You’ll find that some blackjack players can potentially count cards to get a bit of an edge, but in craps, you won’t find any type of strategy such as that.

With that being said, players will get hot or get on a roll, and players who increase bets during these runs are definitely in spots to be able to up their winnings quickly.  Money can still be dropped just as fast as it can be won though, so it’s important to be sure to know when to lower the bet or up the bet and be careful about these decisions.

You are definitely going to want to take advantage of any free odds out there, which is a bet that features no house advantage.  You can put out max bets on the odds bets in relation to the line bet if you want to, and this will minimize the house edge, but it is not going to end up eliminating it no matter what the situation is.


There are quite a few different “systems” out there, but in reality none of them are going to actually be able to win.  There are some that feature different betting strategies such as doubling your bets whenever you lose and when you end up winning to start over at $1, but there are still many flaws in these, and they will not end up working in the long run of things.  Other systems that you will find out there are going to feature you betting on things that have not came in a specific number of rolls, but you have the same odds every time that the dice are rolled to get a number, no matter how long it has been since that number has come.

Dice Setting

You can also “set” the dice as well, which is a strategy that some players do their best in perfecting.  This means that players will throw the dice in a way that one or both will be likely to show specific numbers, and while this system has nothing to do with mathematics, casinos have taken different steps to make sure that this is not done.  The dice do have to hit the back wall, which changes the spin and how the dice land, meaning that it’s incredibly tough to make the dice land in a specific way after they hit that wall.

Dice Control

Some craps shooters hold records for long runs and state that they have proof that their dice influencing has worked.  Controlled shooting is quite a bit different than just setting the dice though, and it hncludes things such as limiting the “degrees of freedom” in the Rigid body dynamics of the actual dice themselves.  This concept states that it will take this random game of chance, and instead make it a sport, but precision shooting is not even close to being easy.  In order to be a consistently strong precision shooter it would require a ton of practice, and a whole lot of focus while playing at the tables as well.  In this situation though, if a player is able to do this, then it can actually give the player an advantage over the house.  For example, if there are typically seven 7’s rolled over 42 different rolls, and a player can influence the dice so that there are only six 7’s throughout the span ,then the advantage has shifted towards the player.

Additional Craps Information

It’s interesting to note all of the terms from the game of craps that have become so popular in our language, including things like “snake eyes”, “on a roll”, “crapshoot”, “no dice”, and many other things!  While the game of craps features some of the best odds for casino games, this is a key reason why many players at casinos are consistently heading to the craps table over many other of the popular casino games!

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