Craps is one of the most popular and exciting casino games in the United States. It originated during the steamboat era on the Mississippi River in the 1800s. The game's popularity shows no signs of slowing down.
The main attraction craps has for players is the excitement. No other table game is as fast-paced, noisy, or adrenaline-filled. If you're the type of person who enjoys roller coasters and scary movies, craps is the casino game for you.
The game only seems complicated at first. Once you've done a little bit of studying, it will seem like simplicity itself. If you're playing at a land-based casino, consider attending one of the free classes. Most casinos offer these classes every day. This tutorial is a good introduction to the game.
The action at the craps table starts when a player makes what's called the "come-out roll". The basic two bets are the "pass" the "don't pass" bets. If the shooter rolls a 7 or an 11, you win if you made the pass bet. If the shooter rolls a 2, 3, or 12, you win if you made the don't pass bet, and you lose if you made the pass bet.
If the shooter rolls any other total, it sets a point. The shooter's goal is then to roll the point number again before rolling a 7. If the shooter succeeds, you win the pass bet. If the shooter fails, the don't pass bet wins and the pass bet loses.
A shooter gets to play until she fails to make a point. When that happens, the next player at the table gets to take over as the shooter. The dice pass around the table this way.
The other important bet to understand at the craps table is called the "odds bet". You can only place this bet after the shooter has set a pointif the shooter wins or loses on the first roll, you can't take the odds bet.
The odds bet is a second bet that you place on the table behind your original pass or don't pass bet. It has to be a multiple of your original bet, and casinos have limits to how large you can bet. The exciting thing about the odds bet is that it pays off at true odds, which means the house edge on this particular bet is 0.
This is the only bet you can make in a casino with a house edge of exactly 0.
The payoff for the odds bet depends on the point that's been set. If the point is 4 or 10, then the odds bet pays off at 2 to 1. If the point if 5 or 9, then the odds bet pays out at 3 to 2. And if the point is 6 or 8, the odds bet pays off at 6 to 5. In all those cases, those are the actual odds of winning the bet.
Of course, those are only three bets out of over one hundred different bets available at the craps table. Understand that the house edge on all of the other bets on the table is higher. So stick with the pass/don't pass bet with or without the odds bet.
Understanding the odds in real-money craps is easier than you think. You only have 11 possible totals when you roll two dice. The number of ways you can roll each of these totals determines the odds of getting that total.
For example, there is only one way to roll a 2, and there is only one way to roll a 12. You have to get a 1 on each die or a 6 on each die, respectively. That makes the odds of getting either of those totals 35 to 1.
From there, the odds improve. You have two ways of rolling a 3 and two ways of rolling an 11. (You can roll either a 1+2 or a 2+1, or you can roll either a 5+6 or a 6+5.) So the odds of getting either of these totals is 17 to 1.
All told, there are 36 possible combinations of dice that can make these 11 different totals. To calculate the odds of rolling a specific total, you simply divide 36 by the number of combinations which will make that total. For example, there are three ways to roll a total of 4. (1+3, 3+1, or 2+2). So the probability is 1 in 12 that you'll get a total of 4. Converting that to odds is easy. You state the number of ways something that can't happen. Then you state the number of ways it can happen. In this case, the odds are 11 to 1.
The house makes its money by paying out at odds that are less than your odds of winning. For example, if you bet that the next roll is going to be a 2, then the odds of that happening are 35 to 1. But the payoff is 30 to 1.
In a mathematically perfect session, you would win once in 36 bets, but you would only get paid 30 units. It's easy to see how the casino makes money when you think about it that way.
Tips for Real-Money Craps Play
The best craps tip anyone can offer you is to stick with the pass or don't pass bet, and take the free odds whenever you can. The house edge is a little over 1% for the initial pass or don't pass bet, but when you take odds, this gets lower.
For example, at many casinos, you can only place a bet equal to your original bet when you take the odds bet. For the pass line bet + free odds, the house edge goes down to 0.85%, making this one of the most attractive bets in the casino.
Most casinos will limit your action on the odds bet to five times your original pass/don't pass bet. In that case, the house edge is 0.33%. You might occasionally find a casino which allows you to bet 100X your initial bet. If you do, then the house edge is a miniscule 0.02%.
One other craps strategy that bears mentioning is dice control. The idea is that a skilled player can affect the odds of certain totals coming up. Since craps has such a low house edge, a small percentage change in the likelihood of certain totals coming up can affect your chances of winning.
I'm not convinced that dice control is possible. But legitimate gambling experts like Michael Shackleford have expressed at least a little interest in the possibility.
Real Money Craps Online
You can't control the dice when playing real money craps online. But it sure is a lot of fun anyway. I miss the sights and sounds of the other players. But new players who want to get a feel for how the various bets work should try playing for real money at an online casino.
Real money craps casinos offer signup bonuses to new cash players to encourage them to sign up. For example, Bovada Casino, which is one of my top choices, offers a deposit bonus of up to $3000 when you deposit $3000. Being able to play with a bankroll of $6000 when you've only put up $3000 is an attractive option for any craps player.
Some casinos, like Slots.lv, even offer bonus cash so that you can play for real money without even making a deposit. They're currently running a bonus special where you can get $22 to play withno deposit required.
Playing craps is one of the most exciting and entertaining games in the casino. If you stick with the basic bets, it's also easy to understand and offers some of the best odds in the gambling hall. Give it a try if you've never played. You might never sit at a roulette or a blackjack table again.