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Craps Compendium

Here it is: the ultimate reference for beginners to the game of craps, brought to you by the Brothers Graham!

The Specs
History
How to Play
From the Player's Session...


THE SPECS
Players: 1 or more (casino craps); 2 or more (street craps)
What you'll need:
  • 2 standard six-sided dice(2d6)
  • Betting table(casino craps), optional
  • chips


  • HISTORY
    Derived from the game of Hazard, craps evolved into a staple of casino gaming.

    HOW TO PLAY
    There are two types of craps: casino (or “bank”) craps, and street craps. Casino craps is played against the house, with the casino covering all bets, and is more likely to be played in, of course, a casino. Street craps is somewhat simpler and can be played at home, and all bets are wagered against other players. Both types will be described here.

    Introduction

    The Brothers Graham Craps Compendium is intended as a quick reference for beginning and intermediate craps players. Below you will find a list of common bets and payouts. Note that not all casinos have the same terminology and odds.

    At first glance, the game of craps can be a little intimidating. But in reality, the basis of the game is very simple, and it becomes more fun as the more advanced concepts are applied. When playing against the house, or the “bank” as it is sometimes called, players made bets on the outcome of two dice, to be covered by the casino. In that manner, craps is almost like a team sport, with all the players betting on the same roll, no matter which player is physically rolling the dice (this player is called the shooter).

    The first throw of a game is called the “come out round.” On the come out round, the shooter hopes to get a 7 or eleven, called a “natural,” to win. A throw of 2, 3, or 12 is called “crapping out,” and is a loser. Should any other number be rolled, this becomes the “point” number. Subsequent throws are aimed at rolling the point number. A roll of 7 after the come out roll is a loss. Take note at this point that the “wins” and “losses” detailed here are simply referring to whether that particular shooter keeps rolling or passes the dice along. Actual monies won depend on the bets made, as detailed below.

    Brief Etiquette

    When a new shooter is up, a casino employee called the stickman will give them a dish with five dice in it, of which the shooter will take two to throw. All bets should be placed before the shooter is given the dice. Pass Line bets, comes bets, and field bets, as well as the Big 6 and Big 8 bets, can all be placed directly on the table in the designated area for that bet. All other bets must be given to another casino employee called the dealer (there is usually one dealer for each side of the craps table) to be placed in their designated spots.

    Once the dice are thrown, the stickman with announce the official number rolled, then retrieve the dice. The dealers will then make appropriate payouts and collect any losses, then new bets will be taken before the shooter is returned the dice. In general, the same shooter will continue until they crap out, or until they no longer want to shoot. Each player is given the chance to be the shooter, though any player can pass if they wish.

    Betting

    Place BetsCome BetsField BetsDon't Pass BetsDon't Come BetsDon't Pass BetsBig 6 and Big 8Any SevenHardwaysProposition BetsAny CrapsPass Line Bets Click any part of the craps table below to jump to that section, or just keep scrolling down to browse all the possible bets.


    Image courtesy of the Professor of Craps

    Pass Line Bets

    This is the most basic, and possibly most reliable, bet on the craps table. Before the shooter throws for the “come out” round, pass line bets can be placed at a payout rate of 1:1, meaning if you bet $10, you would receive $10 for a winning throw. If the shooter throws a seven or eleven on the come out round, then the pass line bet is won. If they throw a two, three or twelve, the pass line bet is lost. If the shooter throws any other number, that number becomes the “point,” and if the point number is then rerolled before a seven, all pass line bets are won. Should the seven be rolled in the point round, then pass line bets lose.

    Free Odds Bets

    A free odds bet can be placed on the pass line (and similarly on the don’t pass line) after a point has been established. Free odds bets can be made at a maximum of twice the initial pass line bet, and chips should be placed directly behind those for the initial bet. Free odds bets are perhaps the best odds vs. house edge ratio on the table, as there is no house edge and payout is based on the true odds of the dice roll. For example: if a pass line bet is made for $10 and the point is established as four, then a free odds bet can be placed for up to $20. A subsequent roll of four (before seven, of course) will pay the true odds of a four being rolled, which is 2:1, making the payout on a $20 free odds bet $40 (plus the $10 won on the initial pass line bet!) The following chart details the odds of each point number.

    Point NumberOdds/Payout
    4 and 102:1
    5 and 93:2
    6 and 86:5


    Different casinos have different maximums on free odds. The example above was assuming 2X odds, but casinos can offer 5X, 10X, and even 100X odds. This means the most you can bet on free odds is your pass line bet times the amount of odds. So a $5 pass line bet on a table with 10X odds allows up to $50 to be bet on free odds. Another common arrangment is 3-4-5X odds, meaning the 4 and 10 have 3X odds, the 5 and 9 have 4X odds, and the 8 and 10 have 5X odds. The reasoning behind this is most likely logistical, as by doing this assuming players are always playing the maximum odds, the payout will always be 7 times the initial passline bet.

    Don't Pass Bets

    The don’t pass bet is the same as the pass line bet, but you are betting that the shooter will lose; i.e.: roll a 2, 3 in the come out round or roll a 7 before the point. A 12 in the come out roll is considered a “wash” or “bar” and the bettor neither wins nor loses money. The payout on a don’t pass bet is 1:1. Also like a pass line bet, a free odds bet can be made on a don’t pass bet (though it is considered laying odds rather than taking odds, but that’s mostly semantics) but it is paid out opposite of a pass line bet. For example, a $10 free odds bet won on a point of four would pay $20 for the pass line bettor, but would pay only $10 for the don’t pass bettor. For this reason, many casinos allow don’t pass bets to be double the table maximum, because the winnings will only then reach the max.

    Come Bets

    To understand the come bet, first make sure you are familiar with the Pass Line Bet. A come bet is essentially a pass line bet that can be made at any time after a point is established. So if a point is established as 5 and a come bet is placed that roll, if the next roll turns out to be a 7 or 11, it is a win, and a 2, 3, or 12 is a loser (yes, you will win on a seven even though the shooter loses). This throw is like the “come out” round for your come bet. If anything else is rolled -- say an 8 for example -- then that is now your point and your chips will be moved from the come area of the table to the eight. Should the eight be rolled before the seven, you would win. Take note, however, that even if the shooter makes their point, the original 5 in this example, your come bet remains active until your point or a 7 is rolled. The come bet can be confusing at first, but just think of it as your own private pass line bet that is not associated with any other pass line bets made. The payout is 1:1.

    Don't Come Bets

    The don’t come bet is exactly like the don’t pass bet, but placed like a come bet after a point is established.

    Place Bets

    The place bet is a “choose your own point” bet. It can be made at any time, and the bettor can place a wager on any of the point numbers. Just like a pass line bet, you want your point number to come up before a seven to win. The payout varies on place bets depending on the number placed. See the following chart for the specifics.

    Point NumberPayout
    4 and 109:5
    5 and 97:5
    6 and 87:6


    Field Bets

    The field is an appealing bet for people who like instant results. It is a single roll bet, meaning that the wager is only good for the next throw of the dice and wins and losses are assessed immediately thereafter. A field bet is a bet that the next throw will be one of the numbers displayed in the field area of the table (2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11, 12). The field bet loses if any other number (5, 6, 7, 8) is rolled. The field bet may be made at any time, and the payout is 1:1 on the 3, 4, 9, 10, and 11. Most casinos offer better payout for the 2 and 12, generally 2:1 and 3:1, respectively. While the action comes at you faster with a field bet, the house edge is still higher than that of a pass line bet, and is therefore a more risky wager.

    Big 6 and Big 8

    These bets have little real purpose. The payout is 1:1, and therefore are worse propositions than just making a place bet on the 6 or 8. Because they are equal odds bets, however, certain casino bonuses may apply, such as double or triple match coupons, though the pass line bet (also an equal odds bet) is arguably a better place to apply such things. In short, if you really like 6 and 8, bet them on the place.

    Hardways

    The hardways bets are wagers that a 4, 6, 8, or 10 will be rolled as a double (double 2, double 3, double 4, or double 5, respectively) before the 7 or the corresponding “soft” number is rolled. What this means is that if you bet on a hardways 6 (a double 3), and a 4 and 2 combination is rolled, then it is considered a soft 6 and the bet is lost. Hardways bets may remain active even after a winning point is rolled, as long as a 7 or soft number isn’t first thrown. Hardways 6 and 8 pay 9:1, and 4 and 10 pay 7:1.

    Any Seven

    The any seven bet is a single roll wager than the next throw will result in a seven, regardless of the dice combination that makes it. The payout is decent at 5:1, but the odds are heavily in the house’s favor.

    Any Craps

    The same as the any seven bet, the any craps bet is wagering that the next throw will result in a 2, 3, or 12. Payout is 8:1, though odds are poor. Some players will use this as a sort of insurance on the come out roll. For example, if you wager $5 on the pass line and $1 on Any Craps, a roll of seven would win $5, minus the $1 lost on Any Craps, for a net win of $4. Crapping out would win $8 on the Any Craps wager, minus the $5 lost on the pass line, resulting in a net win of $3. In either case, the winnings are less but there is no possible net loss in the come out round.

    Proposition Bets or Single Roll Bets

    Along with the any seven and any craps bets, there are four more single roll bets on the craps table. Though they are fairly self-explanatory, they are a wager that a double 2, double 12, 1 and 2, or 5 and 6 dice combination will be thrown next. Any other dice combination is a loser. Payout for the double 2 and double 12 is 30:1, and payout for the 1 and 2 and 5 and 6 is 15:1. Just like the any seven and any craps bets, despite the large payouts, the odds make these very poor bets.

    Horn Bets

    Some tables will have a horn bet area in the center of the single roll bets area. This is an equal bet, usually of one dollar each, placed on each of the four proposition bets. There is also such a thing as a “high horn” bet, where five dollars are wagered, one on each single roll with the extra dollar being placed on a combination of the bettor’s choosing.

    Other bets and naming systems exist, and vary with the locale of the game, but these are the basics. Odds and payouts also vary.

    Street Craps:
    Street craps is played at home or outside of an established casino where players must cover each other's bets. Generally, when multiplay players are envolved, the play to the left of the shooter has a blind, or obligation to cover the shooter's bet, or make the don't pass line bet. Obviously, many of the more complex bets are void in street craps, though many players will make side bets amongst themselves to that effect. TBG play street craps in their Player's Sessions, using poker chips to make wagers, as many state and local laws forbid private gambling.



    FROM THE PLAYER'S SESSION
    For more about the Brothers Graham Player's Sessions, click here.
    Kahlon's Review
    Jordan's Review
    Smokey casinos, complementary drinks, high-roller comps, and Vegas pit-bosses all come to mind the minute I toss those two casino-red dice onto the green felt. My brother and dicing partner, Jordan, and I played this and its antiquitous predecessor, Hazard, back-to-back in the Player’s Session. While this casino classic is undeniably one of the world’s best-known dice games, I found it to be a bit rigid after playing Hazard. Nevertheless, this game (obviously) has major playability, and while the street version can be played almost anywhere (and possibly illegally, which makes me smile), the casino rules and house-covers do add some dynamics to the wagering. In the end, I have to give craps a four-face, one less than its predecessor.


    The classic casino gambling game! Kahlon and mine’s Players Session for this one was the first time I’d actually played Craps but I’d previously played it’s predecessor, Hazard, which gave me a general understanding of what it’s all about (I think that was a run-on sentence). I personally didn’t notice a world of difference between Craps and Hazard other than it is a bit simpler and the rounds are a little quicker. It’d be a good game when your feeling lucky and want to put some money down. I like the fact that if you already have people playing you don’t even have to roll the dice in order to bet. Plus you can bet for the win or lose. It is a bit complicated to learn and retain and with the potential for betting it’s definitely for the older audiences. All around it’s not a bad game as far as betting games go.


    The Final Word
    While this is undeniably a casino classic, we found it a little less entertaining than Hazard, though it is essentially a simpler version. Betting is a bit harder, though payout is easier to calculate, but unless you’re playing against the house, the wagering rules narrow, making the game a bit more stiff. So in the end, if you’re looking to play some dice and make some money in the casinos, go for craps, but if you prefer something a bit more entertaining to play at home, we recommend Hazard.

    Final score:
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