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Craps: how to play & tips


Next time you’re at the casino tables, listen out for the hollering and look out for the high-fives… follow those and you’ll more than likely find yourself at a craps table.

Craps is by far the most exciting game in the casino and the players are not afraid to let their emotions show. The game is fast-moving and at times very loud. It is for this reason that craps is probably the most intimidating game to new players. If you feel this way, fret not, you are not alone.

Craps is actually not as confusing as it looks. An understanding of the basics and how to make a passline bet will get you on your way.

Bank craps is played by one or more players against a casino. The casino covers all player bets at a table and sets the odds on its payout. Players take turns rolling two dice. The player rolling the dice is called the “shooter”. Other players at the table will make bets on the shooter’s dice rolls. The game is played in rounds, with the first roll of a new round called the “come-out roll”. The second round resolves with a point being rolled or a seven.

To begin, a player wishing to play as the shooter must bet at least the table minimum on either the passline or don’t pass line.  The right to roll the dice is rotated clockwise around the craps table. A player next in turn to become shooter may refuse the dice, but can continue to bet on the shooter’s rolls; the dice then pass to the next player willing to become the shooter. The shooter is then presented with multiple dice (typically five) by the stickman, and must choose two to roll with. The remaining dice are returned to the stickman’s bowl and are not used.

First, the shooter makes a “come-out roll” with the intention of establishing a point. If the shooter’s come-out roll is a 2, 3 or 12, it is called “craps” (the shooter is said to “crap out”) and the round ends with players losing their passline bets. A come-out roll of 7 or 11 is called a “natural,” resulting in a win for pass line bets. Either way, the come-out roll continues for the same shooter until a point is established. If the point numbers 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10 are rolled on the come-out, this number becomes the “point” and the come-out roll is now over. The dealers will move an “On” button to the point number which identifies the point number to all players at the table. The shooter will now continue rolling for either the point number or a seven. If the shooter is successful in rolling the point number, the result is a win for the pass line. If the shooter rolls a seven (called a “seven-out”), the pass line loses. A seven-out ends the round with the dice being passed clockwise to the next player who wishes to become the new shooter.

A player wishing to play craps without being the shooter should approach the craps table and first check to see if the dealer’s “On” button is on any of the point numbers. If the point number is “Off” then the table is in the come-out round. If the dealer’s button is on, the table is in the point round where some casinos may allow a pass/don’t pass bet to be placed, but the player should check with the dealer. All single or multi roll proposition bets may be placed in either of the two rounds. Between dice rolls by the shooter, there is a period for dealers to make pay outs and collect losing bets. When the dealers are finished, players are then allowed to place new bets. The stickman monitors the action at a table and decides when to give the shooter the dice, after which no more betting is allowed.

In a casino, players will make bets with chips on a specially made craps table with a table cloth made of felt that displays the various betting possibilities. In most casinos, craps tables are double sided. The layouts on both sides of the table are identical, with the center bets in the middle. This allows for more players to participate. Players can make a large number of bets for each turn, round, or roll and should become familiar with the craps layout.

A casino craps table is run by four casino employees: a boxmanwho guards the chips, supervises the dealers and handles coloring out players (exchanging small chip denominations for larger denominations in order to preserve the chips at a table); two base dealers who stand to either side of the boxman and collect and pay bets; and a stickman who stands directly across the table from the boxman, takes bets in the centre of the table, announces the results of each roll, collects the dice with an elongated wooden stick, and directs the base dealers to pay winners from bets in the center of the table. Each employee makes sure the other is paying out winners correctly. Occasionally, during off-peak times, only one base dealer will be attending the table, rendering only half the table open for bettors or one of the two base dealers will assume the role of the stickman.

The dealers will insist that the shooter roll with one hand and that the dice bounce off the far wall surrounding the table. These requirements are meant to keep the game fair (preventing switching the dice or making a “controlled shot”). If a die leaves the table, the shooter will usually be asked to select another die from the remaining three but can request using the same die if it passes the boxman’s inspection. This requirement is used to keep the game fair (and reduce the chance of loaded dice).


  • Make sure the shooter is not about to throw the dice and put your money down on the table in front of the dealer and ask for “nickels”.
  •  If the current shooter has a point established (look for the buck white-side-up on a number) wait for the series to end by the shooter either making their point or rolling a 7 .
  • Put your bet down on the Pass Line in front of you.
  • On the come-out roll: 7,11 wins; 2,3,12 loses; 4,5,6,8,9,10 are points.
  • If a point is established: point number before 7 wins; 7 before point number loses.
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