Craps for Beginners

Craps is one of those casino games that scare a lot of novice gamblers. One look at the table and most casino patrons move on to a game they think they know well enough to play competently. In reality, if you learn just two basic bets – the ‘pass line’ and the ‘odds’ bets - you can swagger up to the craps table and play with the big guns who’ve been doing it for years.

The Pass Line Bet

The ‘pass line’ bet is the most basic of all craps bets, and virtually every player at the table will play it to start a round. There is an area on the craps table, labeled ‘Pass Line,’ which extends from the end of the table to the side along which the players stand. To start a round, players place bets by placing chips within the pass line area.

After all pass line bets are placed, the dice thrower (called the shooter) tosses both dice all the way to the opposite end of the table, bouncing them off that end and back into the main part of the table. This is called the ‘come out’ roll., This is where it gets interesting, and where, as a beginner, you simply need to remember some basic rules.

First, if the ‘come out’ roll is a 7 or an 11 (the total of the dots showing on both dice), you win instantly and the round is over. If the ‘come out’ roll’s total is 2, 3, or 12, you lose instantly and the round ends. Pretty simple stuff, right?

If the ‘come out’ roll totals any other amount (4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10), that amount becomes what is called the ‘point’ and the round continues. The dealer places a white disk (called a ‘puck’ or ‘marker’) on the table on the spot that tells you at a glance what the ‘point’ number is.

The shooter then tosses the dice repeatedly until one of two outcomes is reached. Here again, winning and losing is very simple and easy to remember for the novice craps player. You win if the ‘point’ total is rolled before a combination that adds up to 7. So, if the ‘point’ is 9, then the shooter keeps rolling the dice until either a 9 or a 7 comes up. You win with a 9, and you lose with a 7. Simple!

The Odds Bet

Once you’ve gotten your feet wet and feel comfortable at the craps table betting on the pass line, try the ‘odds’ bet. This is very simple as well. After the ‘come out’ roll, if a ‘point’ is established, you may bet again before the next roll by placing additional chips below your others (outside the marked ‘Pass Line’ area). Essentially, you’re increasing your bet that the ‘point’ will be reached before the shooter gets a 7. How much you earn if you win the ‘odds’ bet is determined by the ‘point’ number.

Let’s say the ‘point’ is an 8. Since that total can be gotten via three different dice combinations (4 + 4, 6 + 2, or 5 + 3), the payout for a winning ‘odds’ bet is less than the payout for a ‘point’ of 10. Why? Because 10 can only be reached by two possible dice combinations (5 + 5 or 6 + 4). That means the odds of the shooter rolling a 10 are lower than the odds of rolling an 8. So, you win more on an ‘odds’ bet if the ‘point’ is 10.

That’s all you need to play winning craps! Eventually, you may want to delve into the more complicated aspects of the game, but to start, the ‘pass line’ and ‘odds’ bets are all you need. Next time you’re in the casino (or playing online), instead of passing by the craps table, give it a whirl!