Craps online guide – Introduction, Strategy & Tips

Craps is generally considered a gambler’s game: deep, complex but definitely worth sticking with.

Casino craps can be a daunting prospect for newcomers. If played badly, you could be looking at a massive house edge, however, when played well, Craps is a great game with lots of potential for betting optimisation. RightCasino’s craps guide has been tailored to take you through the rules of craps from square one.

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About online craps

It’s always easy to locate the craps table at a bricks-and-mortar casino. While blackjack players play in near silence, and roulette players are allowed the odd whoop of joy if their number comes up, the craps table is surrounded by a group of players making more noise than school children at a Christmas party.

Craps is unique as a casino game as all the main action is performed by the players – namely the throwing of the dice. A craps table can look daunting to a newbie, but it is fundamentally a simple game. All you need really to do is to concentrate on the ‘pass line bet‘.

Each ‘round‘ begins by betting on the pass line, or the don’t pass line. If you bet on the don’t pass line you’ll be betting against the shooter, which will not be appreciated.

The shooter will then roll the dice. Everyone will get a turn at being the shooter as play passes clockwise around the table. If the shooter rolls 7 or 11 the bet pays even money. If the shooter rolls 2, 3 or 12, then you lose. If the shooter rolls any other number, then this number is now the ‘box point’. Your bet wins if the shooter manages to roll that number again before they roll a 7.

As with UK bingo, all the rolls in craps have special names:

  • 1 & 1 – Snake Eyes or Aces
  • 1 & 2 – Ace Deuce or Acey Deucey
  • 1 & 3 – Easy Four
  • 2 & 2 – Hard Four or Little Joe (from Kokomo) or Ballerina
  • 1 & 4, 2 & 3 – Fever Five or Little Phoebe
  • 1 & 5, 2 & 4 – Easy Six or Jimmie Hicks (from the sticks)
  • 3 & 3 – Hard Six or Jimmie Hicks
  • 1 & 6, 2 & 5, 3 & 4 – Natural or Seven Out
  • 1 & 6 (only) – ‘up pops the devil’ or Big Red
  • 2 & 6, 3 & 5 – Easy Eight
  • 4 & 4 – Hard Eight or Square Pair or Mom & Dad or Ozzie & Harriet
  • 3 & 6, 4 & 5 – Nina (from Pasadena or at the Marina) or Old Mike (after Michael Jordan)
  • 4 & 5 (only) – Jesse James
  • 4 & 6 – Easy Ten
  • 5 & 5 – Hard Ten or Puppy Paws or Big John or Moose Eleven
  • 5 & 6 – Yo (from ‘Yo-leven’ to prevent confusion with a seven)
  • 6 & 6 – Boxcars or Midnight

There are plenty of side bets and other bets you can make while playing craps, and these will be explored in the lessons.

Craps at online casinos

Not all online casinos offer craps, but the major casino software providers like Microgaming, NetEnt and Playtech all have versions of the game. As part of craps is the dice shooting and the excitement of your fellow players, playing online is a much less exciting proposition.

Online casino craps is simply a programmed version of the game, where the dice are thrown at random once you have made your bet.

Because of the ‘shooter’ element, craps is infrequently offered as a ‘ live casino ‘ game.

How to play

Craps is a dice game played on a specialised table, labelled with different bet types. Two dice are used. Online craps is played much the same way, except the physical table and dice are replaced with virtual equivalents. Also, there are no dealers and the outcome of dice rolls is determined by Random Number Generation (RNG).

In live games, play starts when one punter (the ‘shooter’) bets on the ‘pass line’ or the ‘don’t pass line’ – also known as ‘win/right’ bets or ‘don’t win/wrong’ bets (there will be more information about betting in lesson two).

The shooter selects two of five dice presented by the ‘stickman’ (dealer). He/she then throws the dice, using one hand, making sure to hit the wall at the opposite end of the table.

Games are played in rounds, which each contain two phases: ‘come out’ and ‘point.’ A come out roll totalling 2, 3 or 12 will cause all pass line bets to lose. These numbers are called ‘craps’ and hitting them is described as ‘crapping out.’ Conversely, a come out roll of 7 or 11 (also called ‘natural’) pays bets on the pass line.

The shooter will continue to make come on rolls until he/she hits a 4, 5, 6, 8, 9 or 10. This number then becomes the ‘point.’ The dealer places an ‘on’ button to the point number on the table, signifying the next phase has begun.

After this, the shooter rolls until they land a 7 (seven-out), which means pass line bets lose, or the point number, in which case pass line bets pay. Following a 7, the round ends and a new shooter takes over.

To recap …

Choosing the shooter and placing bets

The round begins after players have placed their bets and the shooter prepares to roll.

The come on phase

The first, ‘come on’ phase of play pays pass line bets on 7 or 11 and collects on 2, 3 or 12. All other numbers end the phase and initiate the ‘point phase’ with the ‘point’ being the last number rolled.

The point phase

The dealer places the point counter on the number that ended the ‘come on’ phase (4, 5, 6, 8, 9 or 10) and the shooter rolls. Rolling the point number pays pass line bets, while rolling a 7 collects for the house.

A new round

If the shooter rolls their point number, they continue being the shooter. If not, the dice are passed clockwise to the next player. Either way, a 7 or a point number triggers the beginning of a new round.

Playing Craps on mobile

Get online craps on your mobile device. The magic of modern technology has made it possible to bring high-fidelity live and virtual gaming to mobile and tablet devices. This means that you can now enjoy online craps from the palm of your hand!

What is mobile craps?

It is estimated that $10 billion is wagered through mobile platforms every year. As a highly popular casino game, a fair chunk of that money passes through online craps tables.

In essence, the game is exactly the same as you’d expect from a desktop or even a land-based casino. Bets are placed, the dice is thrown and you hold your breath, hoping for the best. The only real difference is the virtual interface is controlled using your touch screen.

Craps on your mobile device

Finding a casino where you can play craps via your smart-phone or tablet is a little bit of an online struggle. Most casino software providers are still catching up with the idea of online mobile casinos, and a significant percentage of them concentrate on the real casino-money makers, namely online online slots and to a lesser extent, blackjack and roulette.

Additionally, as craps is quintessentially seen as both an American game and a social game, it has failed to capture the imagination of the gambling public outside of the likes of Las Vegas and Atlantic City. The real fun with craps is when it comes to your turn as the shooter, and you are cheered on as you toss the dice down the table, trying to score the point before you score a seven.

Some software providers such as Microgaming and Playtech do carry versions of craps that can be played on a mobile device, although not all mobile-friendly online casinos that carry software from Microgaming and Playtech will offer mobile craps, purely down to the lack of players who desire such an option.

Perhaps as relations between the US and online gambling slowly thaw, more casinos will offer mobile craps as an option.

How to play craps on your smart-phone or tablet

Once you do manage to locate a mobile casino that’s happy to provide you with some craps-tastic excitement, playing online craps via your mobile is a relatively straightforward process.

First up, don’t expect to be surrounded by your fellow craps enthusiasts who will whoop and yell as you kiss the dice and then toss them across your tablet screen. Online craps is almost wholly a one-player affair.

Once you’ve sat down at a virtual craps table, you’ll be presented with a layout containing all the various side bets that are available, including the all-important ‘pass line’. If you’re not familiar with craps, make sure you understand what each possible side bet entails and what you stand to win if the dice roll in your favour. If you bet blindly you’ll just be throw chips away. The craps table is daunting to a newbie, so it will really pay you if you know what you’re doing.

Select your chips and carefully place them on the table via the interface on your smart-phone or tablet. When you’ve made your pass line bet (or don’t pass if you’re a little unsporting) click the ‘roll’ button and send the dice bouncing down the table. Play will then continue as if you are playing at a real-world craps table, and you winnings (or sadly, losses) will be announced once each round is over.

If you are looking for mobile ‘live dealer’ craps then you are going to come up disappointed. Very few casino software houses and online casinos offer live dealer craps, and hardly any offer live dealer craps that can be played via a smart-phone or tablet.


  • Craps – Playtech

  • Craps – Realtime Gaming

Craps strategy

>Minimise the house edge and maximise your chances at craps with our expert advice!

While the rules of craps can be intimidating to newcomers, betting optimisation is pretty straightforward. Following our betting advice and you’ll be looking at a house edge pretty close to zero percent – a rare scenario in casino games.

Playing the dark side

Mathematically, you should always bet against the grain. In short, stick with don’t pass and don’t come bets, while laying the maximum odds wherever possible.

A quick reminder …

  • Don’t pass means placing chips in the ‘don’t pass’ bar, betting on 2 and 3 during the first, come on phase of play and on a 7 coming before the point during the second phase.
  • Don’t come bets are exactly the same, but made at any time other than a come on roll.
  • Laying the odds means betting that a 7 will appear before the point number during the point phase AFTER placing a don’t pass bet in the come on phase.

Head back to lesson two if you need a refresher on craps betting.

Betting this way is described as ‘playing the dark side,’ because it is the exact opposite to the way most players gamble on casino craps. However, it also produces the best odds:

House edge per: Bet: 0.00021% | Resolution: 0.00021% | Roll: 0.00006%

Bets to avoid

Some of the betting options in craps carve out an absurdly large edge for the house. The following bets should never, EVER be attempted if you want to stay in the game:

  • Place 5 and 9
  • Place 4 and 10
  • Big 6 and 8
  • Hard ways
  • All put bets
  • All proposition bets

Craps bets and odds

Learn how betting decisions affect the house edge in craps. Determining odds in craps is more complicated than most casino games. In craps, there are lots of betting types which all have different associated odds and it sometimes takes many rolls to resolve wagers.

Defining craps

Casino mathematician, Michael ‘The Wizard of Odds’ Shackleford, therefore recommends defining the house edge in craps in three ways:

  • Per bet
  • Per bet resolution
  • Per roll

This page will list the different betting options available to players in casino craps, with these three definitions of the house edge, along with the pay-out odds.

The craps table

As with other table games, craps bets are made by placing chips in sectors which are labelled according to betting options.

Bet types

Pass

The simplest craps bet and one that novices should stick with. Chips are placed on the pass line during a come on roll and receive even money on rolls of 7 or 11. When it comes to the point round, pass bets pay even money on the point roll.

House edge per: Bet: 1.41% | Resolution: 1.41% | Roll: 0.42%
Pays: 1/1

The odds

Also known as ‘taking the odds’, this is a side bet made after a point roll is thrown and pays if the point appears before a 7. Chips are placed just behind the pass line, closest to the player. As the house has no discernible edge on odds bets, there are limits to how much can be wagered on them.

House edge per: Bet: 0.00% | Resolution: 0.00% | Roll: 0.00%
Pays: 3-4-5 x odds (3x pass bet after a point of 4 or 10, 4 x after 5 or 9 and 5x after 6 or 8).

Don’t pass

Almost the exact opposite of the pass line bet. Chips are placed on the ‘don’t pass bar’ during the come on phase. Pays even money on a 2 and 3 during the come on phase and during the point phase if a 7 comes before the point.

House edge per: Bet: 1.36% | Resolution: 1.40% | Roll: 0.40%
Pays: 1/1.

Laying the odds

Players bet against a point before 7 during the point phase after placing a don’t pass bet during the come on phase. Chips are laid just outside of the don’t pass bar to indicate laying the odds. As with odds bets, the 0% edge means the amount of cash you can hazard on this side bet is limited by the casino.

House edge per: Bet: 0.00% | Resolution: 0.00% | Roll: 0.00%
Pays: 3-4-5 x odds (3x pass bet after a point of 4 or 10, 4 x after 5 or 9 and 5x after 6 or 8).

Come, don’t come

Exactly the same as a pass/don’t pass bets, except they are made at any time other than a come on roll. Accordingly, you can take or lay the odds during the point phase. Chips are placed in the come/don’t come segments of the table.

House edge per: Bet: 1.41%/1.36% | Resolution: 1.41%/1.40% | Roll: 0.42%/0.40%
Pays: 1/1

Place

In craps, 4,5,6,8,9 and 10 are known as ‘place numbers’. Place bets pay if the number appears before 7. Chips are placed on numbered segments of the table.

6 & 8

House edge per: Bet: 0.46% | Resolution: 1.52% | Roll: 0.46%
Pays: 7/6

5 & 9

House edge per: Bet: 1.11% | Resolution: 4.00% | Roll: 1.11%
Pays: 7/5

4 & 10

House edge per: Bet: 1.67% | Resolution: 6.67% | Roll: 1.67%
Pays: 9/5

Place to lose

The literal opposite of place bets. Place to lose bets pay out on a 7 and lose on the number bet against. This betting type is only available in land-based Australian and British casinos, but can be found in many online casinos. Chips are placed in the empty space outside the numbered square on the table, closest to the player.

6 & 8

House edge per: Bet: 0.56% | Resolution: 1.82% | Roll: 0.56%
Pays: 4/5

5 & 9

House edge per: Bet: 0.69% | Resolution: 2.50% | Roll: 0.69%
Pays: 5/8

4 & 10

House edge per: Bet: 0.76% | Resolution: 3.03% | Roll: 0.76%
Pays: 5/11

Buy

Similar place bets, but with different odds. To make a buy bet you also have to pay a 5% commission (although in some casinos, the commission on the 4 and 10 is only charged on wins). Chips go in the same segment a place bet, with commission settled between the player and dealer. The odds listed below factor in the commission except where noted.

6 & 8

House edge per: Bet: 1.46% | Resolution: 4.87% | Roll: 1.47%
Pays: 4/5

5 & 9

House edge per: Bet: 1.32% | Resolution: 4.76% | Roll: 1.32%
Pays: 5/8

4 & 10 (commission paid always)

House edge per: Bet: 1.32% | Resolution: 4.76% | Roll: 1.32%
Pays: 5/11

4 & 10 (commission paid on wins only)

House edge per: Bet: 0.42% | Resolution: 1.67% | Roll: 0.42%
Pays: 5/11

Lay

Lay bets are the same as place to lose bets, but with different odds. As with a buy bet, you must pay a 5% commission on lay bets, although this might only be charged on wins for 4 and 10 bets, depending on the casino. Also as with a place to lose bet, chips go in the empty segment behind the numbered squares on the table. The odds listed below factor in the commission except where noted.

6 & 8

House edge per: Bet: 1.22% | Resolution: 4.00% | Roll: 1.22%
Pays: 4/5

5 & 9

House edge per: Bet: 0.90% | Resolution: 3.23% | Roll: 0.90%
Pays: 5/8

4 & 10 (commission paid always)

House edge per: Bet: 0.61% | Resolution: 2.44% | Roll: 0.61%
Pays: 5/11

4 & 10 (commission paid on wins only)

House edge per: Bet: 0.42% | Resolution: 1.67% | Roll: 0.42%
Pays: 5/11

Big 6 & 8

Big 6 and 8 are the same as place bets on 6 and 8, but pay even money. However, the odds are much longer. Chips are placed on the large 6 and 8 segments at the corner of the pass line.

House edge per: Bet: 2.78% | Resolution: 9.09% | Roll: 2.78%
Pays: 1/1

Hard ways

Rolling an even number with the same value on both dice is known as the ‘hard way’, versus the ‘easy way’ of rolling an even number with two different values. Thus, a hard eight would be 4-4 and an easy eight could be 5-3.

There are four hard way bets (on 4, 6, 8 and 10) which win by rolling the elected number the ‘hard way’, losing on any other outcome. Hard way bets are placed on a side table in segments illustrated with dice displaying ‘hard way’ rolls.

Hard 6 & 8

House edge per: Bet: 2.78% | Resolution: 9.09% | Roll: 2.78%
Pays: 9/1

Hard 4 & 10

House edge per: Bet: 2.78% | Resolution: 11.11% | Roll: 2.78%
Pays: 7/1

Put bets

A pass or come bet that skips the come on roll is known as a ‘put bet’. These pay-out identically to odds and lays: 3-4-5x. However, the house edge on put bets is MASSIVE, so we would advise against them.

6 & 8

House edge: 9.09%

5 & 9

House edge: 20.00%

4 & 10

House edge: 33.33%

All Pays: 3-4-5 x odds (3x pass bet after a point of 4 or 10, 4 x after 5 or 9 and 5x after 6 or 8).

Proposition bets

Proposition (‘prop’) bets are all resolved in one throw, meaning the house edge is fixed (and rather steep).

For prop bets, chips should be placed on the side table within segments illustrated with dice corresponding to your bet (usually this part of the table will be labelled ‘PROPOSITION BETS’).

You can make combinations of prop bets, including a ‘horn’ bet, which is divided equally between 2, 3, 11, and 12 (this can be doubled with a ‘horn high’ bet) and five ‘world’ bets divided across the same four numbers.

Prop bets really are a punt, have very unfavourable odds and cannot be optimised. Therefore, you would be wise to give them a miss.

Type of BetPay-outWays to winWays to loseProbability % to winHouse edge
2, 12 & all “hard” hop bets29 to 11352.78%16.67%
3, 11 & all “easy” hop bets14 to 12345.56%16.67%
Any craps (2, 3 or 12)7.5 to 143211.11%5.56%
Any seven4 to 163016.67%16.67%

 

Field bets

The final type of bet is is also fixed-odds, but presents far better prospects for the player. A field bet is a one-time wager that the next roll will be a 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11 or 12. All winning field bets pay even cash, except 2 (which pays 2/1) and 12 (which pay 3/1). Chips should be placed in the field segment of the table, behind the ‘don’t pass’ bar. The house edge for field bets is 2.78%.

The history of craps

Like all good things, craps originated in England. A game called ‘Hazard’ using two dice had been played in England since before the 14th century. In the game, a player would choose a number between 5 and 9 and then throw the dice. The basic object of the game was to throw the number nominated, however throwing anything from 4 to 10, or 11 or 12 (the latter two only under certain circumstances) meant the player had a ‘chance’ and would win if he threw the same number again.

The game eventually moved to France where it became known as ‘Crapaud’. Crapaud is French for toad, and referred to the ‘toad like’ posture adopted by players as he game was usually played in the street, with the dice being bounced off a suitably-positioned wall.

When it moved to America it was re-christened ‘Craps’ and a few rules were altered and added. This is the version that has been played in casinos ever since.

Craps in popular culture

  • Craps features in Ocean’s Thirteen, the second sequel to the casino heist movie Ocean’s Eleven, starring George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Matt Damon.
  • Matt Dillon starred as a Chicago craps players in the movie Big Town who takes his craps-playing talents to Las Vegas.
  • In a famous episode of the US TV sitcom Friends, Monica (Courtney Cox) and Chandler (Matthew Perry) played a games of craps to decide whether to get married or not.
  • As craps is a very unpredictable game, the phrase ‘crapshoot’ has arisen in US slang to describe something that is likely to have an unpredictable outcome.
  • In 2009, a shooter at The Borgata casino in Atlantic City named Patricia DeMauro won 154 rounds in a row, a run that lasted over four hours and beat the previous record, which had stood since 1989, by one hour and twelve minutes.
  • Some players claim that they can control the total of the dice by how they hold them, and then how they roll them. Players have been shown to be able to hold the dice in a certain way before being thrown so that certain totals are less common than others. However, it seems once the dice hit the back wall of a craps table – as many casinos insist – any throw is completely random.
  • Craps is a favourite of poker legend Phil Ivey, who is known to wager millions during sessions.
  • Despite being mainly an American game, the metal anthem Ace of Spades by UK hard rock group Motörhead makes mention of craps in one verse”Playing for the high one, dancing with the devil, Going with the flow, it’s all a game to me, Seven or eleven, snake eyes watching you, Double up or quit, double stake or split, The Ace of Spades