CRAPS FOR BEGINNERS – Basic Play & Strategy

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As you walk into any casino and figure you’ll head to where all the noise is coming from, you’ll probably find yourself at a craps table.  If you thought you could never understand how to play the game, you’re wrong and I’m going to show you how easy it is to play the game.

Game Objectives

First, keep in mind that casino games can’t be too difficult to play, or people wouldn’t play.  The first thought for making a casino game is that it should be easy to play.

I think what scares people with craps is that at first glance, the craps table looks very confusing.  There are a lot of sections, with all kinds of images of dice combinations, words and numbers.

The goal of the game is to bet on the outcome of the roll of two dice.  The fun of the game is that there are several different bets you can make.  Understanding all the bets is the complicated part, but fortunately you can still have fun, and win, just playing a couple of the simple bets.

Game Setup

The craps table is specially designed and features a betting layout where players place their bets. The players stand all around the table, as many as can fit comfortably. It can also be uncomfortable if it’s crowded!

One player is designated as the shooter and rolls the dice.  Everybody at the table will have a chance to become the shooter if they want to, though you can choose not to roll.  Some casinos require the shooter to place a bet as well.

Anybody at the table can place a wager, even the shooter, by placing their chips on their chosen bet spot.

There are usually at least 4 casino employees controlling the game.  They are the Boxman, the Stickman, and the Base dealers.

The boxman is in charge of the chips at the table. He/she will exchange cash for chips, supervise the dealers and basically make sure the game runs smoothly.

The stickman is in charge of the dice, moving them around to pass to the shooter, with a stick(ergo the name) and announces the outcome of the dice roll.

The base dealers, usually 2, stand at the ends of the table to payout winners and collect losing bets. They can also help place bets for players who can’t reach the correct spot.

Play of the Game

A round of play starts with what is called the come out roll, made after all bets have been placed.  This is the first roll of the shooter.

If this roll is a 2, 3, or 12 it’s considered “crapping out” and the round is over. Players will win don’t pass bets and players will lose pass line bets.  If this first roll is 7 or 11, players will lose don’t pass bets and players will win pass line bets, and the round is over.

If any other number is rolled, it establishes a “point.” Once a point is established, the shooter continues to roll until the point number is rolled again or a 7 is rolled. 

As additional rolls are made, bets are being placed on the outcome of those rolls.

A round is complete if the point is rolled or a 7 is rolled.  The shooter remains the same if the point is hit, however, if 7 is rolled, the dice are passed to the next shooter.

Types of Bets

The list of available bets in craps is:

  • Pass line
  • Don’t Pass
  • Come
  • Don’t Come
  • Pass Line Odds
  • Don’t Pass Odds
  • Come Odds
  • Don’t Come Odds
  • Place Win
  • Place Lose
  • Buy
  • Lay
  • Big 6
  • Big 8
  • Hardways
  • Field
  • Any 7
  • Any 11
  • Any Craps
  • Ace Duece
  • Aces
  • Boxcars

With this long list of possible wagers, it is totally conceivable how play of the game can be considered confusing.  They really aren’t that hard to understand (click here for bet details) and you don’t even have to understand them all to enjoy the game.

Beginners Strategy

Best bets to make:

  • Pass line bets with free odds
  • Come bets with free odds
  • Place bets on 6 or 8
  • Go with the streak if you’re winning
  • Copy the bets the player with the most money is making
  • Don’t make the high odds bets
  • Don’t listen to the dealer’s appeals for high odds bets
  • Backup your Pass/Don’t Pass bets and Come/Don’t Come bets with the allowed Odds bets
  • Remember to pick up your winnings between rolls or they will be considered a bet.  Sometimes all the cheering makes people forget they won!

The first 3 bets have the lowest house edge, which is why they’re the safest bets.  They’re easy bets to make and you can actually make a decent profit if a shooter gets on a roll.  You don’t need to understand any other bet.


I hope I’ve given you enough information to not be afraid of trying craps.  The basics of the game are not difficult to grasp. Everything in a casino is a gamble, but it can also be fun. Craps can become quite the party if a player gets hot with the dice.  Play with money you can afford to lose and have fun!

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