How to Play Craps: Basic Rules

Offering close to a hundred different bets, craps may seem a very confusing game but it is, in fact, quite easy to play once you understand its rules and basic types of wagers. It is fast, played by up to 20 people at a time, and the outcome depends solely on chance. All this makes craps a unique casino game that does not require using any complex strategies or betting systems to guarantee your winnings.

Despite the fundamental simplicity of the game, where you just bet on the outcome of a pair of rolling dice, there are a few details players should take into consideration before going to the craps table. This includes the rules for handling the dice in brick-and-mortar casinos and the types of bets that can be made since the choice of wagers influence the return of the game the most.

Craps Fundamentals


The game of craps is played with two standard, six-sided dice, which are tossed by one of the players onto the table. The player throwing the dice is called a shooter, a position for which everyone on the table takes turns. The dice move around the table in a clockwise manner and players have the options to shoot or to reject, giving their right to the next player. This does not apply to online craps, however, where the roll of the dice is controlled by a piece of software called Random Number Generator.

2Possible combinations

Each side of the dice is numbered, so the shooter can roll anything from 2 to 12. There are a total of 36 possible combinations in the game and some numbers are more likely to be rolled than others since the combinations that form them are more. The house edge for each bet is, therefore, different and the overall winnings or losses in craps depend on chance and on the particular numbers players choose to bet.

The number 7, for example, is the easiest one to roll because there are more possibilities for throwing a 7 than any other number in the game. The combinations for 7 are six – 1-6, 6-1, 2-5, 5-2, 3-4, and 4-3. In comparison, the 2 and the 12 can be rolled only with 1-1 and 6-6. Of course, players can bet on 7, 2, 12 or any other particular number in the game. But the rules allow many more interesting wagers to be placed.

Craps Rules of Play

The game of craps is played in two main phases but before that, bets should be placed. Once all chips are on the table and the shooter chooses a pair of dice from 5 to 8 dice available in a special tray, he or she tosses them to the opposite end of the table. The roll will be allowed if the dice reach the opposite inside wall of the table.

When the dice come to a rest, the numbers showing on their top sides are added for the final outcome. If one of them shows a 3 and the other a 5, then the outcome of the roll is 8. The chips for the losing bets are collected by the dealers, while winners receive their winnings. There are, however, bets that remain on the table without being settled – these are often referred to as “riding” bets and they remain active for the following one or more rolls of the dice.

Come-Out Roll
Establishing the Point

Betting Options

Craps is the casino game with the most bets but there are only a few basic wagers that are necessary even for beginner-level players. These include the Pass Line and the Don’t Pass bets, as well as the Come/Don’t Come, and the Odds bets. They are easy to understand and players do not need any previous experience on the craps table in order to make them.

Pass Line and Don’t Pass
Come and Don’t Come Bets
Pass and Don’t Pass Odds

Right and Wrong Betting

1Bet With the Shooter or Against Him

When playing craps in a live, brick-and-mortar casino, most players bet that the dice will win or that the shooter will win. In the come-out roll, this means hitting a 7 or 11 and if the point was already established, this means shooting the point before 7 is rolled. All players who bet with the shooter are called “right bettors”, while those who bet that the shooter will lose are called “wrong bettors”.

2The Pass/Don’t Pass Bets

The above-mentioned Pass and Don’t Pass bets are a great example – after the point has been established, some players bet that the shooter will win by tossing the point before he rolls a 7. These players have placed the Pass Line wager and they are betting right. Those who win when the shooter loses with a 7 will be betting wrong. In other words, right bettors bet that the dice will “pass”, while wrong bettors bet that it “will not pass”.

The Pass/Don’t Pass bets are the exact opposite and players are free to make any of them. In general, there is nothing wrong to prefer wrong betting since the chances for winning are higher. The reason for this is that the wrong wagers have a slightly lower house edge than their right counterparts. It is hardly a surprise then that most online players prefer the “dark side”. The majority of craps guides and strategies also recommend betting against the shooter.

3The Social Element in Land-Based Casinos

So, why are wrong bettors not given a warm welcome in land-based casinos? The answer is very simple – because while wrong bettors win, the shooter and everyone who bets with him loses. Since all players are at some point in the game shooters, betting the right way seems logical, supportive and even sympathetic. Wrong bettors are, on the other hand, often considered quite insensitive.

It is up to players to decide whether they will choose the right or wrong side of betting. The social aspect of the game is eliminated when they play craps online, however, so this is probably the best way to play this game.

Table Rules

There are many more bets that can be made in this game but in this article, we have covered only the fundamental ones. They should be the perfect option for every novice who is just starting to play craps for real money. There are several other things players should take into consideration, however, especially when they are playing live craps in a brick-and-mortar casino.

Preventing Dice Control
Handling Chips and Cash
Call Bets