Dice games have been played for centuries with rules and payouts varying dramatically across countries and regions. Today, the most popular game offered in casinos is the standard bank craps but along with it, players may come across a wide range of craps variations, as well as craps-based games that come with very different rules or do not even use dice.
Multiple versions of the classic game have been developed in recent years with the promise for better odds than the ones offered in standard bank craps. However, most of the rule changes have been adopted by casinos with a clear purpose to increase the house edge of the game. Before playing an exotic, non-standard version of craps – whether that is in land-based casinos or online, players should take a closer look at the rules of the game, as well as the payouts given for different winning bets.
Most Famous Craps Variations
Bank Craps vs Street Craps
Bank craps is the dice game that can be found nowadays in online and brick-and-mortar casinos. Its rules were standardized more than 60 years ago after gambling was legalized and popularized in Las Vegas. The rise of casinos and the development of the city as a gambling and entertainment hub over the course of several decades made casino games like craps fashionable. Gradually, casinos all over the world adopted the same rules and today, we can find the same craps tables wherever the game is legal.
However, an informal version of the game is still popular in many places around the world. Called Dice, Shooting Dice, or Street Craps, this game is much simpler than standard bank craps. The most obvious difference from the casino game is the absence of a dealer or banker who would otherwise handle the money and monitor the bets and payouts. Instead, bettors play against each other and since there is no dedicated craps table with a betting layout, players throw the dice on the ground or on the floor if they play indoors.
Another thing to point out is that there are dozens of regional rule variations. Most of the time, there are only two betting options similar to the Pass Line and the Don’t Pass bets we know from bank craps. In some informal dice games, the rules resemble the standard rules of casino craps – the shooter wins with 7 or 11, loses with 2, 3, and 12, and makes the point with the other numbers. In the second phase, he loses if he rolls a 7 and wins if the dice show the point.
Interestingly, a game called Street Craps was introduced by a Las Vegas casino in 2014. It looks almost like the popular dice game played in informal settings but here, we have a dealer who overlooks the betting process and pays out the winnings. Once again, there are only a couple of bets and the game is much simpler. The house edge of the Pass Line, however, stands quite high at 5.02%.
When discussing the street version of craps, we must also warn players that in most countries, unregulated gambling games are deemed illegal. If caught, players and bankers (if there are ones) would face fines and possibly, court sentences.
Die Rich Craps
One of the more recent variations of craps is called Die Rich Craps and it is a single-dice form of the game where the shooter wins even money if he throws a 6. If the dice falls on 1, the shooter loses, while all other numbers establish a point. Just like the classic game, there are two phases and after the point has been established, the shooter has three additional rolls to make the point number – if it happens in the first or the third roll, he receives a payout of 2:1. If the point is made in the second additional roll, the payout is even (1:1).
There are also six proposition bets for each of the possible numbers and if the player wins, they pay 4:1. Clearly, this is a much simpler version of the standard casino craps and would be easier to understand for beginners. However, after Die Rich Craps was introduced in 2006 by a casino in Las Vegas, it did not become particularly popular among players, which is why it is now almost impossible to find. The house edge for this game is around 3.70%.
Several casinos have also introduced craps variations where the pair of dice are replaced by cards. The main reason for the development of these peculiar games was to comply with gambling restrictions in certain US states. As a result, players were able to bet on the outcome of two cards being dealt on the table. Of course, two shoes with cards from Aces through 6s are used and they are dealt from a continuous shuffling machine to prevent card counting.
With the exception of cards, which are used as substitutes for the dice, the game is played in the exact same fashion. The two cards dealt on the table function as the first and second dice and their total value indicates the outcome of each “roll”. The bets are standard and the game consists of a come-out deal (rather than a come-out roll) and subsequent deals.
There are also craps variations, which use custom cards rather than standard decks of playing cards. In some of the games, you would find red and blue cards with a dice pictured on them. Once again, the rules follow the classic craps gameplay, except for the cards being used as dice. Some variations combine dice and cards to guarantee truly random outcomes for each “roll”.
Other Popular Craps Variations
There are, of course, many other versions of dice games and most of them are available only locally. Some, however, have gained relative popularity and can be played in various land-based casinos or even online. Players are generally interested in trying out new variations due to the perceived improvement of odds and house edge percentages.
In reality, craps games with more exotic rules come with complex rules, unconventional bets, and overall lower expected returns.
This is one of the most popular variations of standard casino craps and its appeal could be found in its name – the “crapless” phrase refers to the rule that the numbers 2, 3, and 12 are not losing numbers in the come-out roll. Instead, they are regular numbers that can become points and therefore, Pass Line bettors cannot lose the come-out roll. The game, which was invented by late Las Vegas casino owner, entrepreneur and gambler Bob Stupak, offers a house edge of around 5.382% on the Pass Line bet.
In comparison, players face a house edge of only 1.41% when playing the Pass Line in regular craps. The difference here comes from the rules of the game – there may be no craps numbers, but the number 11 is not a winner on the come-out roll as it is in the standard game. In other words, Pass Line bettors never lose the come-out roll, but they also have smaller chances for winning.
In the standard game of craps, there are 8 possible dice combinations, which result in an instant win on the come-out roll – there are 6 ways to throw a 7 and 2 ways to throw an 11. The probability for this event is then 8/36 or we can expect to win around 22.22% of the time. In Crapless Craps, however, the Pass Line can win only if a 7 is rolled – a probability of 6/36 or 16.66%.
Moreover, if the point is one of the numbers 2, 3, 11, and 12, Pass Line bettors are more likely to lose than to win in the following rolls. The probability of shooting 2 or 12 is 1/36 (2.77%) and the probability for 3 and 11 is 2/36 (5.55%). Meanwhile, the bet will lose if the dice show a 7, which is expected in 16.67% of the time. As we can see, what seems like quite an appealing prospect is actually bad for the player.
Simplified Craps is, basically, what its name suggests – a much simpler version of the classic game. The rules are simplified to such an extent that this game has practically nothing in common with standard craps, except for the fact that both use a pair of identical dice. In Simplified Craps, there are no come-out rolls, no points can be established, and every bet is settled in the next roll of the dice.
Actually, there are not many bets players can choose from. The shooter wins if he rolls 2, 3, 4, 10, 11, or 12, and he loses if throws 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9. Obviously, this game is much simpler than the regular version of craps so it is suitable for beginners. One interesting aspect of it is the payout, which varies depending on the number that was rolled:
- Dice show 2 – 3:1
- Dice show 3 or 4 – 1:1
- Dice show 10 or 11 – 2:1
- Dice show 12 – 5:1
Although the winning numbers are more than the losing numbers in this game, the losing, middle numbers are actually more likely to roll due to their higher probabilities. If we combine the odds for all losing and all winning numbers, we will have a total of 12 winning combinations versus 24 losing combinations. The odds here are 2:1, which means that players are twice as likely to lose than to win. The overall house edge here is approximately 2.80%.
High Point Craps
High Point Craps is quite an interesting version of the game. Once again, it is much simpler than casino craps and can be found at a limited number of casinos. There are no craps numbers in this variation – if the shooter rolls a 2 or 3, the roll is ignored and the shooter has to throw the dice once again. However, the 7 is not a winning number and instead, it is one of the point numbers. The shooter wins only if he tosses an 11 or 12 and the payouts for both numbers are at odds of 1:1.
So, what happens if a point is established? Here comes the interesting part of this game – once a point has been established, the shooter must throw a total that is higher than the point number in order to win. Any other total will be a loser. Once again, this version is not better than the standard game of craps. On the contrary – here, the odds against winning on the come-out roll are 11:1, while the payout is only 1:1. The overall house edge in High Point Craps is 2.35%.
New York Craps
New York Craps is an interesting version of bank craps that deviates quite a bit from the original. As its name suggests, it is most common for the East Coast of the US although many authors claim that it is also played in the UK, the Bahamas, and surprisingly, in the countries of the former republic of Yugoslavia. The version of the game comes with a different table layout, called a double-end-dealer table and the house edge is quite high at 5.00%.
There are plenty of differences in this variation of craps and the changed layout is, in fact, a consequence of the absence of Come and Don’t Come bets. Furthermore, there are no Place bets, although players can bet on box numbers (4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10). The bets in this strange version pay at true odds but a 5% commission (also called vig, from vigorish) is charged on all “right” bets.
Open Craps is a street, private version of craps, which is played without dealers or bankers. Certain bets, however, are made against the “book”, the person responsible for tracking the bets and taking the money for them. The book takes a small percentage of all “right” money gambled in the game and this is the vig (5%). Usually, such “private” games are simply forms of unregulated and quite often, illegal games of craps.
But let us at least mention its rules – there are not many bets available, with the betting layout consisting only of the Win Line, the Lose Line, and the box numbers (of course, these are 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, and 10). The shooter is required to place his bet in the center of the betting layout, called the Win Line. If he wins, he takes all the money placed by him and other players in that section. If he loses, however, all bettors take back their wagers and divide the shooter’s bet between them.
This variation of craps also comes with a wide variety of side bets that are usually made among the players so the book does not charge the regular vig. However, the game also features a very high house edge that divers dramatically, depending on the specific rules and payouts (which could be very different, as well).
Scarne Craps bears the name of its creator, the famous magician, gambler, and gambling author John Scarne. The idea behind this particular version of craps was to bring casinos more significant profits, especially when it comes to casinos out of Las Vegas. As a result, the game was popularized in South America and the Bahamas but it is no longer available.
What we know about Scarne’s version of the game – and more importantly, how its rules were interpreted by South American casinos, is that it did not offer the Come and Don’t Come bets. The house does not charge a commission on the “right” bets. Still, the game was known to have a higher house edge compared to standard casino craps.