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How to Play Craps

The Pass Line Bet

The most fundamental bet in craps is the pass line bet. This bet is a great place for new craps players to start, as it will help you understand the basic flow and structure of the game while also introducing you to what is arguably the best bet.

How to Play Craps TutorialA game of craps begins with a come out roll. One player is given the role of the shooter (this will pass around the table over the course of the game) and will roll two standard six-sided dice down the table, producing a result somewhere between two and twelve.

In terms of the pass line bet, a seven or an eleven on the come out roll is considered a win, and pays even money. On the other hand, a roll of two, three or twelve is an immediately loss for the pass line bet.

On any other result, the number rolled becomes “the point.” This point – which can be 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10 – is now the number that will win for the pass line bet. The shooter will continue rolling the dice until either the point is rolled a second time, or they roll a seven. If they roll the point, the pass line bets once again wins at even money odds, and the shooter can continue rolling the dice with a new come out roll. If a seven is rolled first, the pass line bets lose, and the shooter will pass the dice to a new player for the next come out roll.

Taking the Odds

The pass line bet is a pretty good bet in its own right: the house edge of just 1.41% is one of the lower advantages for the casino, especially considering that it’s an easy bet to make. But believe it or not, placing the pass line bet grants you access to an even better bet known as taking the odds.

The odds bet can only be made if you have placed a pass line bet and the shooter has rolled a point. Once that point is established, you’ll have the opportunity to “take the odds” by placing more money behind your initial pass line bet. The amount you’re allowed to make on the odds bet varies based on the casino you’re playing in, and is based on your pass line bet. Most casinos will allow you to place at least three times as much as your pass line bet on the odds, with some offering to let you bet as much as 100x there.

And you’ll want to bet as much as you can if you want to improve your results in craps. The odds bet actually has no house edge; instead, the odds are set to be exactly fair based on the probability of the shooter rolling a seven before rolling the point. The exact payout for the odds bet depends on the point, as follows:

  • Point of 4 or 10: 2-1
  • Point of 5 or 9: 3-2
  • Point of 6 or 8: 6-5

Remember, you can only make this bet if you’ve already made a pass line bet, and only after a point has been established.

Don’t Pass

While most beginners and social gamblers will choose to make the pass line bet, the “don’t pass” bet is an intriguing alternative. The don’t pass bet essentially works as the opposite of the pass line bet. This has led many to call those who make this bet “wrong way” players, as they’ll usually be winning when pass line players are losing and vice versa.

A don’t pass bet must also be made before a come out roll. This bet will lose if a seven or eleven is rolled, and will win even money if a two or three is rolled (a twelve is considered a push). If a point is established, the don’t pass bet will win if a seven is rolled before the point, while it will lose if the point is rolled first.

Obviously, the don’t pass bet has a disadvantage before a point is rolled, but gives the player a big advantage after one is rolled (since seven is the most likely number to come up on any roll). So how does it stack up overall compared to the pass line bet? In fact, the don’t pass roll has a slightly lower house edge of 1.36%.

Does that mean you should make the don’t pass bet? That depends. If you are playing at an online casino and you simply want the lowest house edge possible, then don’t pass is the way to go. However, in a social situation at a live casino, you might decide that you’ll have more fun betting the same way as the majority of the table and pick the pass line instead. The difference in the house edge between the two bets is so minimal that you won’t notice your “extra” losses even in the long run, so you might decide to join in with the rest of the table rather than playing perfectly optimally.

Laying the Odds

When you play the don’t pass bet, you’ll once again have a chance to make an odds bet – this time called “laying the odds,” since you’ll be playing the role of the favourite when rooting for a seven to come. Like taking the odds, these bets offer no edge for either side, and instead are based on the exact probabilities of a seven coming before the point. When you lay the odds, the bets pay out as follows:

  • Point of 4 or 10: 1-2
  • Point of 5 or 9: 2-3
  • Point of 6 or 8: 5-6

Other Popular Bets

While the above bets are the bread and butter of craps, there are a few other bets you should be aware of. These bets are very popular and commonly made at craps tables around the world, though they range from good bets to sucker bets that you should avoid. Some of the other bets you’ll see during craps include:

Come and Don’t Come: These bets are the same as Pass and Don’t Pass, but are made on any roll other than the come out roll.

Place Bets: These bets are like taking the odds, but can be made on any point number at any time. However, they also offer less favourable odds.

Field Bet: This bet is made on the next roll, and wins if the result is a 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11 or 12. Most winning numbers pay even money, while a two pays 2-1 and a 12 pays 3-1. The house edge is about 2.78%.

Hard Way Bets: These bets win if the appropriate number (4, 6, 8 or 10) is rolled using a pair before that number is rolled any other way or a seven is rolled. For instance, if you bet on a hard eight, you’ll want to see a 4-4 rolled before any other combination that adds up to eight, or any seven. These bets tend to offer slightly better odds in Australian casinos; while most casinos pay 9-1 on a hard eight, Australian casinos typically pay 9.5-1.

See also: How to Cheat at Craps