At land-based casinos, the craps area is usually the noisiest – large tables accommodating several players, dice in the air, chips being moved around. It’s quite a thrill! Online craps is played in much the same way and can be a great option for players who love the game but are not so keen on the chaos of the craps table.
In this guide, we will be talking you through the rules of craps, which apply in both land-based and online games. Because craps is primarily played at land-based casinos, we will also be including information specific to this medium.
Read on for a comprehensive guide to craps, the various areas of the craps table, bets that can be made, how scores are calculated and more. The perfect introduction for craps beginners.
Table of Contents:
- Craps table layout
- Table personnel in Live Craps
- Side sections
- The centre section
- The basic rules of craps
- Number of dice
- Craps bets
- Betting limits
- The shooter
- Frequently asked questions about Craps rules
At a land-based casino, the craps table looks a little bit like a small bathtub, with raised sides and a flat bottom. You will note the sides of the table are padded, which helps the dice bounce off them when thrown.
The table layout i.e. the markings on the green felt is the same on land-based tables and in online games. The table is well labelled, making it easy for players to choose which bet to make, even if they have never played at that specific table before.
In a casino venue, you are likely to see a full-sized craps table, which can comfortably accommodate up to 20 standing players plus three personnel. We will discuss the variations of table layout below.
There are between three and four members of staff that manage every craps game, each with their own responsibilities. Remember, each standard table has room for 20 players – that’s a lot of bets to keep an eye on!
- Boxman: Think of this person as the casino’s representative at the table. Usually smartly dressed, s/he is in charge of the casino’s chips (i.e. the players’ lost bets) and they usually have the final word in any disputes.
- Stickman: This person wields a long, flexible stick to move the dice about. Dealers must never touch the dice and with such a large table, they need the stick to reach the dice. The stickman announces each roll of the dice and whether it is a winning roll or not. Once the payouts have been completed, the stickman returns the dice to the shooter for the next round. They are also in charge of the central bit of the layout.
- Dealers: The number of dealers can vary depending on the size of the crowd but most games have two, one on each side of the layout. Their job is to change cash into playing chips and to pay out when players win. Think of these two as the ‘bank’ of the game.
The standard craps layout, designed for the larger casino tables, has two parts that are mirror images to one another. These include the L-shaped Pass line, a Don’t Pass bar or section, sections for Come/Don’t Come bets, Field bets and sometimes, Big 6 and Big 8 bets.
On smaller tables and in online craps games, the layout shrinks, with only one of the side sections needed for the smaller number of participants. In any game, bets in this main section are made by the players themselves, who place chips on the appropriate section to indicate the size and type of bet they want to make.
In between the two sections (on a standard table) or to the side of a small/online table, there is a rectangular section of the layout. This is where players can make what are called proposition bets i.e. bets that are decided on a single roll. Players must get the stickman’s attention to place bets here as they are not allowed to do so themselves.
The best way to explain the rules of craps is to lay out the series of actions taken and their results. First, a player is selected as the shooter. Each player at the table gets a turn to be the shooter eventually, with a new shooter taking the dice on each round. Two six-sided dices are in play.
- The shooter takes the dice and before they roll, must make a bet on the Pass line. This can be a Pass bet or a Don’t Pass bet. Other players also make their bets. We will discuss these bets further below.
- The shooter throws the dice, aiming to bounce them off the opposite wall of the table. This is called the Come-Out Roll.
The Come-Out roll is very important as it determines what happens next. A result of 2, 3 or 12 is called Craps and this means the shooter did not pass (i.e. win). So the bets on the Don’t Pass line are successful while the bets on the Pass line have lost. Craps numbers on the come-out roll mean the round is over and the next player has a turn at being the shooter.
If the result is a 7 or 11, these are considered a win for the shooter. The Pass bets win and the Don’t Pass bets lose.
If the come-out roll result is 4, 5, 6, 8, 9 or 10, this establishes the point number for the round. The dealer will place a button on the corresponding number at the top of the table to indicate what the point number is for the rest of the round. Bets are then taken on whether the point number will be rolled before a 7 or vice versa.
In order to start, the shooter must pick the dice. A number of these are kept in a container or bowl and each shooter will select two before they start. This is so that players do not have the opportunity to tamper with dice at any point. After each round, the dice are returned to the bowl again.
Craps is, in itself, quite a simple game but the names given to bets can sometimes be confusing for new players. Think of each betting round as the players betting on the shooter winning or the shooter losing. The shooter must make a bet each time they begin to play but the other players can choose when they bet and on what outcome for each roll.
Next, let’s discuss the various bets that can be made at the craps table and a quick explanation of what those complicated names mean.
- Pass bet: This is a bet on the shooter ‘passing’ through to the next round after the come-out roll or winning outright. The Pass bet is on the shooter landing any other number except Craps i.e. 2, 3 or 12.
- Don’t Pass bet: This is a bet on the shooter hitting a Craps result on the come-out roll. Essentially, this is a bet on the shooter hitting Craps and ending the round at this point.
Let’s assume that the shooter has not crapped out with a 2, 3 or 12, and has not won outright with a 7 or 11. Instead, they have landed 4, 5, 6, 8, 9 or 10, establishing the point number for the round. This opens up a number of other possible bets to players.
This bet is sort of like the Pass bet but it takes place after the come-out roll. Like the Pass bet, the Come bet is a wager on the shooter landing the point number before a 7 is rolled. The shooter and the Come bet lose if 2, 3 or 12 are rolled after the bet was made.
If the shooter rolls a result other than a 7, 11, Craps or the point number, that rolled result becomes the bettor’s own point number. If this is rolled before a 7 appear, the Come bet wins. If the 7 lands first, the Come bet loses. This bet pays out even money.
Don’t Come bet
The opposite of the Come bet and similar to the Don’t Pass bet, the Don’t Come bet wins if the shooter rolls either a 2 or a 3 after the come-out roll. In this case, a result of 12 results in a tie. If the shooter lands the point number, this bet is lost.
If the shooter lands any other number, this becomes the bettor’s point number and this bet wins if a 7 is rolled before this number appears again.
This is a side bet only available once the Pass/Don’t Pass and Come/Don’t Come bets have been made. It is not marked on the table but is indicated when the player places new chips behind their original bet.
When a Pass or Come bet has already been made, this is called ‘taking odds’. When a Don’t Pass or Don’t Come bet has been made, it is called ‘laying odds’.Essentially, this bet indicates that the player is taking or laying odds on whether a 7 or the point number will be rolled first. Let’s say you have placed a Pass bet, meaning you are betting on the point number appearing before the number 7.
If the point number appears first, the original Pass bet win but the odds bet wins, too. Players can adjust the size of the odds bets at any time and remove or add them at will. Generally, odds bets are limited to two or three times the original bet. If a player makes a £20 Don’t Come bet, they can lay odds up to £40 or £60, depending on the casino rules.
Odds bets pay differently depending on the point number. 4 and 10 payout at 2:1. It’s 3:2 on points 2 and 9, and 6:5 for 6 and 8.
These are called single roll bets because the outcome is determined by one roll and not, like the Come/Don’t Come bets, by the point number or the 7 landing first in a series of rolls. These bets are indicated in the central part of the table.
- Ace Deuce (three): Pays 15 to 1 if the shooter rolls a 3
- Big Red (Any 7): Pays 4 to 10 if the shooter rolls a 7
- Any Craps: Three-way bet, pays out 7 to 1 each on 2, 3, or 12
- Two Craps/Aces, Snake Eyes: Pays 30 to 1 if the shooter rolls a 2
- Boxcars or Midnight: Pays out 30 to 1 if the shooter rolls a 12
- Yo (Eleven): Pays out 15 to 1 if the shooter rolls an 11
- Craps and Eleven: If 2, 3 or 12 are rolled, the payout is 7:1, if 11 is rolled the payout is 15:1
- Horn bet: A bet on either 2, 3 11 or 12 landing on the next roll with wagers split between each number. 2 and 12 pay 30:1, 3 and 11 pay 15:1.
- Horn High bet: This is the same four-way bet as the Horn but it designates one number as the High number, placing a larger bet on that specific number.
- World or Whirl bet: This bet is not indicated on the table. It is a combination of the Any Seven/Big Red bet and the Horn bet, totalling 5 individual bets. The payout on the 7 is 4:1 and the remaining numbers have the same payout as in the Horn bet.
Craps betting limits are set by the casino or, in the case of software, by the game developer. The craps table limits are clearly marked on a small placard, usually placed near each dealer.
Most craps tables in Las Vegas, to take an example, have minimum limits of $5 and maximum bets limits of $1,000. Maximum payout limits are also enforced, with this number taking precedence over the bet limits.
For instance, let’s say a table has a $1,000 bet limit. The max payout on that table is $3,000. The Boxcars bet pays out at 30:1 so if the maximum payout is limited to $3,000, the maximum bet on boxcars is $100.
When playing online, the player is always the shooter as it is essentially a single-player game. When playing at a casino, however, multiple players may be participating in the same game so the role of shooter moves from one player to the next in between rounds.
The shooter is the only player obligated to make a bet before the first roll of the game. Other players may choose not to bet at that point and begin making bets at a later stage. Players who do make a bet on the Pass/Don’t Pass line also become eligible to take a turn as a shooter in a later round.
Many players can find craps a little intimidating to learn but once the jargon has been explained, it is, in fact, a fairly simple game. Craps is extremely popular in Las Vegas casinos, with fewer European land-based venues offering the game. It is also available online as a table game and, rarely, as a live dealer option.
No matter where you play, with these basic rules in mind, you will soon feel confident enough to be calling out bets with the best of them!
We have collected some of the most commonly asked questions about craps from readers. Take a look!
What are the basic rules of craps?
The basic premise of craps is betting on the outcome of a series of dice rolls. Players can bet on whether the shooter will win or lose a throw, the outcome of a specific throw or what order certain numbers appear in.
Why many do players think craps is an intimidating casino game?
The craps table is usually the loudest one in the room, with multiple participants, dice flying and casino staff announcing results loudly. It can be intimidating to a newbie but the game’s simple rules mean that it won’t take long for even the most inexperienced player to feel comfortable playing.
What is the best way to learn the rules?
The JohnSlots craps game guides are a great place to start! Once you’ve read all of those, the next best step is to practice what you have learnt by playing craps for free. A number of online resources offer craps simulation software.
Is the table layout always the same?
The craps table layout takes the standard shape i.e. a central area between two larger sections, which are mirror images of one another. Smaller tables and online software use just one large section plus the central area, simply because there is no need to accommodate large numbers of participants in the same place. Otherwise, the layout is identical.
How many dice are used in Craps?
The shooter throws two dice. At a land-based venue, casino staff will have a bowl containing multiple pairs of dice and the shooter randomly selects two before every round. This is to prevent anyone from tampering with the dice in between rounds.
Are the rules different between online casino and live casino or land-based casino?
All craps games are played with the same basic rules. There are some variants of craps out there but the standard version is by far the one you are most likely to find available.