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How to play - CRAPS

The basics of Craps
Craps is one of the most exciting casino games. It is common to hear yelling and shouting at a craps table. It is played on a purpose-built table and two dice are used. The dice are made after very strict standards and are routinely inspected for any damage. As a matter of course, the dice are replaced with new ones after about eight hours of use, and casinos have implemented rules in the way a player handles them.

The player must handle the dice with one hand only when throwing and the dice must hit the walls on the opposite end of the table. In the event that one or both dice are thrown off the table, they must be inspected (usually by the stickman) before putting them back into play.

The craps table can accommodate up to about 20 players, who each get a round of throws or at 'shooting' the dice. If you don't want to throw the dice, you can bet on the thrower. Several types of bets can be made on the table action. The casino crew consist of a stickman, boxman and two dealers.

The first roll of the dice in a betting round is called the Come Out roll - a new game in Craps begins with the Come Out roll. A Come Out roll can be made only when the previous shooter fails to make a winning roll, that is, fails to make the Point or seven out.

A new game then begins with a new shooter. If the current shooter does make his Point, the dice are returned to him and he then begins the new Come Out roll. This is a continuation of that shooter's roll, although technically, the Come Out roll identifies a new game about to begin.

When the shooter fails to make his or her Point, the dice are then offered to the next player for a new Come Out roll and the game continues in the same manner. The new shooter will be the person directly next to the left of the previous shooter - so the game moves in a clockwise fashion around the craps table.

The dice are rolled across the craps table layout. The layout is divided into three areas - two side areas separated by a center one. Each side area is the mirror reflection of the other and contains the following: Pass and Don't Pass line bets, Come and Don't Come bets, Odds bet, Place bets and Field bets. The center area is shared by both side areas and contains the Proposition bets.

Pass bets win when the come out roll is 7 or 11, while pass bets lose when the come out roll is 2, 3, or 12. Don't bets lose when the come out roll is 7 or 11, and don't bets win when the come out roll is 2 or 3. Don't bets tie when the come out roll is 12 (2 in some casinos; the 'Bar' roll on the layout indicates which roll is treated as a tie).

Winning Craps Strategy

As with other casino games, the goal in craps is to capitalize on the relatively short cycle of streaks that invariably occur. These are marked by prolonged passes of the dice. This means the shooter continues to roll, often times for many minutes, without sevening out. You can take advantage of these hot streaks by playing the Pass Line, backing that bet with Free Odds bets, and placing multiple Come bets, also with Free Odds. Professional gamblers disagree on the number of come bets to place.

The most aggressive players make Come bets on every roll until all the point numbers are covered. This gives them the opportunity to win many bets in a short period of time, provided the dice stay hot and the shooter continues to roll without hitting a 7. But that method is too risky. A sound strategy calls for placing a maximum of two Come bets, which, coupled with the original Pass Line bets, give the player three numbers always working for him. When one of the points is made and his bet is paid off, the player places another Come bet to keep three numbers working.

To recap: Bet the Pass Line and back up the bet with a Free Odds bet. Make two additional Come bets, also taking the Free Odds bets. Stop betting after three points have been established. If one of the Come bets is won, immediately place another Come bet. Similarly, if the original Pass Line bet is won, make another Pass Line bet. This system lets the player capitalize during a shooter's hot streak while minimizing his losses when the dice eventually turn cold.

Pass Line Bet
When it is your turn to throw the craps dice, you must determine whether to bet the pass line or the don't pass line. Most shooters, as well as most of the other craps players at the table, will bet the pass line, as it is the basic wager of craps. The pass line wager is an even money bet that wins if you either roll a total of 7 or 11 on the come-out roll, or if you throw a 4, 5, 6, 8, 9 or 10 on the come-out roll and repeat that number before you roll a 7. The pass line bet loses if the come-out roll is a 2, 3, or 12 (known as "craps") or when a 7 is rolled before the established point number is repeated.

If you successfully complete a pass, - that is, if you repeat an established point number before throwing a 7-, you get to roll the dice again. Only when you seven-out will the stickman push the dice to the next player in succession. Once you have established a point, if you roll a number other than your point or a 7, it is disregard as far as pass line bets are concerned, although these additional rolls do affect other bets that can be made at the craps table. As an example, suppose you have established a point of 8 on the come-out roll. If you next throw a 3, then a 5, a 9, and a 10, these numbers will be ignored for pass line bets. But if you then roll 7, you will lose your pass line wager, since the 7 came up before your point number. Out of 990 decisions at the craps table you can expect to lose 14 decisions more than you win.

That makes the house advantage at craps 1.41%. In other words, out of every $100 that you wager at the craps table, you can expect to lose $1.41. Of course this is in the long run.You can win because in the relatively short time you will be playing, there will be fluctuations in this house edge, so at times things will be going in your favor at the craps table. A pass line bet can be made at any time during a shooter's roll, even after he has established a point. However, a bet placed on the pass line after a point has been established is a very poor wager, since you have missed the opportunity to win on the come-out roll when the shooter throws a 7 or an 11. The only way you can now win is if the shooter repeats his point before he sevens-out.

Taking the Odds

When the shooter establishes a point on the come-out roll, any player who has made a pass line bet is allowed to "take the odds." A single odds bet is an additional wager, up to the amount of your original wager, that the point number will be repeated before a 7 is rolled. The odds bet is the best wager you can make in the game of craps, because the house has no built-in advantage. Some casinos permit players to make double odds, and even greater odds wagers. The odds bet not only has no house edge associated with it, but also has no official designated space on the craps table. Therefore, to take the odds, you must place the appropriate amount of chips behind your pass line bet in the open area of the craps layout.

The correct payoff for odds bets varies from point number to point number, depending on the odds of a 7 being rolled before a particular point is repeated. The payoff formula is the same whether you take single odds, double odds, or more. Correct odds payoffs are as follows: Points 4 and 10 pay 2-to-1 Points 5 and 9 pay 3-to-2 Points 6 and 8 pay 6-to-5 As an example, suppose you bet $1.00 on the pass line and establish a point of 4 in a casino that offers double odds. You now have the option of taking the adds for an additional $2.00. (You can also wager a lesser amount or choose not to take any odds at all.)

If you repeat the point number (4) before rolling a 7, you will get your original $3.00 back, plus an additional $5.00. Of that $5.00, $1.00 will be the even-money payback on your pass line wager, and $4.00 will be the 2-to-1 payoff for a point of 4 on your odds bet of $2.00. If you roll a 7 before repeating your point of 4, you will lose your initial $1.00 wager on the pass line, plus your $2.00 odds bet, for a total loss of $3.00. You are allowed to remove your odds wager from the craps table at any time, as a casino does not object to your taking down a bet that has no house edge. If you have difficulty at the craps table in determining the proper amount to bet in order to receive the correct odds payoff, feel free to ask one of the dealers for assistance. You don't want to lose out on any winnings that are rightfully yours.

Come Bets

A come bet is identical to a pass line bet, with one exception: A come bet may be made on every throw of the dice once the shooter has established a point. A come bet is made by placing the amount of chips you wish to wager in the designated come area of the craps layout. After you have placed a come bet, the very next roll of the dice becomes the come-out roll for that wager. Thus if the shooter rolls a 7, you will win even though pass line betters will lose. If an 11 is rolled, you will win while the line bets will not be affected.

Conversely, should one of the craps numbers come up you will lose, but the line bets will be unaffected. Should the shooter throw one of the box numbers on the first roll of the dice after you've made a wager on the come, this number becomes an established point for your come bet. To win this bet, your come point must be repeated before a 7 is rolled. Once a point has been established for your come bet, the dealer will move the chips you have wagered, to the corresponding numbered box on the craps layout to await a decision for that point. When you win a come bet, the dealer will pay you off by placing your original wager, along with your winnings, in the come section of the layout. If you do not immediately retrieve your chips, they will be in action on the next roll of the dice as a new come bet. To make an odds wager on a come point, hand the dealer the appropriate amount of chips and tell him that you wish to take the odds on that point.

Don't Pass Line Bets

As you've seen, a pass line bet is simply a wager that the shooter will win. But you also can bet that the shooter will fail to make a pass and thus lose. The don't pass line bet wins when he shooter throws a craps of 2 or 3, but not 12, on the come-out roll, or when he rolls a 7 before repeating his established point number. This wager loses when the come-out roll is a 7 or 11, or when the shooter repeats his point number before rolling a 7.

The don't pass line bet is the exact opposite of a pass line with on exception: Although a roll of 12 on the come out loses for pass line betters, it is not a winning number for don't pass bettors. It is a stand-off and nether wins nor loses. The reason for this is simple: If don't betters were permitted to win in this situation, they would have an advantage over the house. So by barring (disallowing) the number 12 on the come-out roll, the casinos retain a small edge. Some casinos bar the number 2, but the effect is exactly the same. Unlike a pass line wager, a don't pass bet can be removed after a point number has been established on the come-out roll.

This is because once a point is established you have an advantage over the house, thus the casino has no objections to your taking down the bet. Of course you should never do this. After going up against an 8 to 3 house edge on the come-out roll, you will have an overall average advantage of 18.8 after a point has been established.

House advantage 2 - 17%