How to Play Craps

At its core, craps is a chance-based game, where players predict the outcome of rolled dice. However, the numerous betting options and rules can make it seem more complicated than it actually is.

This guide aims to introduce craps to the uninitiated, breaking down the intricacies and explaining the concepts surrounding the gameplay. By the end, you’ll understand why this game is a casino staple and perhaps be ready to try your own luck at the table. Our top-rated online craps casinos are waiting with the best bonuses for you to kick off your dice adventure.


Anne Ifeanyi

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Table of Contents

Basic Craps Rules

Whether you’re playing craps online or in a land-based casino, the rules of gameplay are the same. The objective is to place a bet on the outcome of two dice rolled on the craps table. And depending on the result, it may take one or more rolls for your bet to pay off (or not).

The basic rules of craps you should know before you begin are:

The Role of Shooter

The shooter is responsible for rolling the two six-sided dice. In a physical casino, the shooter’s role rotates clockwise around the craps table, ensuring everyone gets their chance to feel the weight of the dice and the thrill of setting them in motion. Online, you’re the only shooter, so it’s is all in your hands.

The Come-Out Roll

Each new round of craps starts with what’s called the “come-out roll.” This is the shooter’s first roll of the dice or the first one after the previous round ended.

Before the come-out roll, players can place bets on the two basic betting options – “Pass Line” or the “Don’t Pass Bar” There are three possible outcomes:

  • When a 7 or 11 (called a “Natural”) is rolled, Pass Line bets win; Don’t Pass bets lose
  • When a 2, 3, or 12 is rolled (collectively called “Craps”), Pass Line bets lose; Don’t Pass bets win
  • When a 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10 is rolled, that number becomes the “point,” and bets remain in play.

Establishing a Point

If the come-out roll results in a point number, the dealer will place a puck marked “ON” on that specific number, signifying that the point has been set. Before the point is established, the puck is placed “OFF” side up. The objective for the shooter now is to roll that point number again before rolling a 7. Once a point is set, players can make additional bets like “Come” and “Don’t Come” bets, which are essentially like Pass and Don’t Pass bets but for rolls after the come-out roll.

Craps Table Layout

Understanding the craps table is your first step to mastering the game. For newbies, the intricate layout can appear as a puzzling maze of numbers, words, and sections, but when you get the hang of it, you’ll discover it’s actually a playground of opportunities, offering a variety of betting options and multiple ways to win.

Craps is played on a well-designed table with specific areas for different types of bets. Typically, it’s a large table that displays mirrored sections on either side to accommodate multiple players. The grand layout encompasses primary betting sections such as the Pass Line, Don’t Pass Line, Come, Don’t Come, and others. The center of the table is reserved for the more intricate center bets, like one-roll bets and hardways – more on those later.

Players and Personnel around the Craps Table in a Casino

In land-based craps, understanding this game isn’t just about the layout but also the people around the table. Up to 20 players can usually join in on a single craps table, and the role of the shooter goes around in a clockwise rotation.

Traditionally, there are casino staff that are positioned around a physical craps table. These people are on hand to help the game proceed smoothly. They include:

  • The Dealer – Two dealers usually stand on either side of the table, collecting lost bets and paying winners. They can also assist players in placing bets.
  • The Stickman – Positioned across from the dealers, the stickman manages the dice, using a stick (hence the name) to return the dice to the shooter. They also announce the results of each roll and encourage bets on the center table.
  • The Boxman – The overseer of the game, the boxman sits at the center of the table between the dealers, ensuring that the game operates smoothly, supervises the dealers, and handles cash transactions.

When playing online, all actions are automated. Live casino craps on the other hand will feature a single dealer responsible for handling the game.

Betting Options in Craps

We’ve covered the rules of gameplay and the table layout; now it’s time to delve into the betting options in craps. The charm of this game lies in its mix of simplicity (rolling dice) with the complexity of its diverse betting options, a combination that makes it a thrilling game for both novice and experienced players.

Pass Line and Don’t Pass Bar

The craps table layout is intimidating precisely because there are so many different bets, but not all bets are necessary for beginners. You can start with the pass/don’t pass bets, which simply involve betting for or against a natural outcome (7 or 11) on the come-out roll. To place this bet, you can place your chips on the Pass Line and Don’t Pass Bar on the table or simply click on them via the game interface when playing online.

The pass bet wins if the comeout roll is a natural and loses if it craps out with a 2, 3, or 12. The opposite is the case for the don’t pass bet – it wins if the come-out roll is a 2 or 3 and loses out if a 7 or 11 is rolled. A 12 for the don’t pass bet is a push, meaning you neither win nor lose.

If the comeout roll results in a point number, you’ll need to win (or lose) the point for your pass (don’t pass) bet to succeed.

In a nutshell, you win the pass bet if:

  • The outcome is a natural.
  • The outcome is a point, and then the shooter rolls the point again before sevening out.

You win the don’t pass bet if:

  • The outcome is a 2 or 3.
  • The outcome is a point, and then the shooter rolls a 7 before the point number comes up again.
BetPayoutHouse Edge
Don’t Pass1-11.36%

Come and Don’t Come Bets

These bets function exactly like pass and don’t pass bets but are placed after the point is established. So they are only relevant to rolls that are not the come-out roll. The come bet wins if a natural is rolled and loses if craps are rolled. If the point is rolled out, it becomes the come bet point. You win the come bet point if the number is rolled out again before a 7.

Don’t come bets are the opposite. Where your come bet loses, a don’t come bet wins. Remember that if a 12 is rolled out for the don’t come bet, your bet is a Push.

BetPayoutHouse Edge
Don’t Come1-11.36%

Place Bets

This is another popular betting option at the craps table. After a point is set, players can bet on a specific number (4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10). If that number is rolled before a 7, the bet wins.

This sounds similar to a come bet. The difference is that a place bet allows you to directly “pick your point” separate from the main game’s point determined by the come-out roll. You can either bet “place win” or “place lose”

For place win bets:

  • If your chosen number comes before a 7 is rolled, you win.
  • If a 7 is rolled, you lose.
  • If any other point number is rolled, there is no decision on your bet.

For place lose bets:

  • If a 7 is rolled before your chosen number, you win.
  • If your chosen number comes before a 7 is rolled, you lose.
  • If any other point number is rolled, there is no decision on your bet.

A unique feature of Place bets is the ability to turn them “on” or “off.” If you believe that a 7 is likely to be rolled soon, you can ask the dealer to turn off your bet for a round or more. When the bet is off, it won’t lose if a 7 is rolled, but it also won’t win if its number is rolled. You can subsequently ask the dealer to turn your bet back on whenever you like.

The house edge and payouts for place bets vary depending on the point.

BetPayoutHouse Edge
Place 6 or 87-61.52%
Place 5 or 97-54%
Place 4 or 109-56.67%

Buy and Lay Bets

Buy and lay bets in craps are wagers that you can make on a specific point number either to appear or not appear before a 7 is rolled. They are somewhat similar to place bets but come with different payout structures that more closely reflect “true odds.” This is because you have to pay a 5% commission to the casino on these bets. Some casinos will take commission only if your bet wins.

BetPayoutHouse edge
Buy 6 or 8 with 5% commission6-54.67%
Buy 5 or 9 with 5% commission3-24.67%
Buy 4 or 10 with 5% commission2-14.67%
Buy 6 or 8, commission on winners only6-52.27%
Buy 5 or 9, commission on winners only3-22%
Buy 4 or 10, commission on winners only2-11.67%

Proposition Bets

So far, we have discussed craps bets which may be resolved on more than one roll of the dice. These are called multi-roll bets. Another group of craps bets called single roll bets exist. Proposition bets are single-roll bets because they are decided on a single dice roll.

Prop bets are often referred to as “center bets” because they are located in the center of the craps table and are known for their high payouts. However, these attractive payouts come at the cost of a significantly higher house edge compared to other craps bets.

Here’s a rundown of some common proposition bets:

  • Any Seven – Wins if the next roll is a 7.
  • Any Craps – Wins if the next roll is a 2, 3, or 12.
  • Craps 2 (Aces or Snake Eyes) – Wins if the next roll totals 2.
  • Craps 3 (Ace Deuce) – Wins if the next roll totals 3.
  • Craps 12 (Boxcars) – Wins if the next roll totals 12.
  • Craps 11 (Yo) – Wins if the next roll totals 11.
  • Horn Bet – A single bet that covers 2, 3, 11, and 12. You win if any of these numbers are rolled. The payout varies based on the number rolled. For instance, if a 3 or 11 is rolled, the payout is typically 15 to 1; if a 2 or 12 is rolled, the payout is typically 30 to 1.
  • Hardways: While technically multi-roll bets, hardways are often grouped with prop bets because of their location on the table. A hardway bet is a bet that the shooter will roll a hard 4 (2+2), hard 6 (3+3), hard 8 (4+4), or hard 10 (5+5) before rolling either a 7 or the “easy way” (any other combination) of that number. Payouts on these bets also vary based on the number. Hard 4 and hard 10 typically pay 7 to 1, while hard 6 and hard 8 pay 9 to 1.
Bet typePayoutHouse edge
Any 74-116.67%
Any craps7-111.11%

Other Craps Betting Options


The field bet is a single-roll bet and a pretty straightforward one. You win if the outcome of the next dice roll is a 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11, or 12. If the outcome instead is a 5, 6, 7, or 8, then you lose. The field bet pays 2-1 when a 2 or 12 is rolled. It pays 1-1 for all other outcomes.

Big 6 or Big 8

The Big 6 or Big 8 bets win if a 6 or an 8 comes up before a 7, respectively. These are one of the simpler bets that appeal to beginners. Both pay even money.

Odds Bets

Odds bets in craps are a unique type of wager, distinct in several important ways that make them especially favored by experienced players. They are secondary bets made in conjunction with a primary bet. After a point has been established, you can place an Odds bet by placing your chips directly behind your original bet on the Pass Line, Don’t Pass Line, Come, or Don’t Come areas. At most casinos, you can wager up to 5x of your original bet by taking the odds.

Odds bets stand out because they are paid at “true odds.” This means the payout reflects the actual probability of the outcome, resulting in a house edge of zero for this specific bet.

Start Winning in Craps

Craps is an alluring game that holds lots of excitement and winning opportunities. Winning in this game is all about making the right predictions, so there’s a heavy element of chance at play at the craps table. At the same time, you can better your chances by applying craps strategies and tips, the first of which is to stick to pass/come or don’t pass/don’t come bets. A good way to get in tune with this game is to try free craps online demos. Build a bit of confidence by playing different rounds at zero costs.

How to Play Craps FAQ

What is the best bet in craps?

The best bet in craps are technically odds bets because they have no house edge. However the best and most popular bets in the game are the pass and come bets.

Is craps available in live casino format?

Yes, live dealer craps are available to play, such as Evolution’s Live Craps game. Live craps features live dealers and an interface for placing bets.

Where can I play craps for free?

You can play craps for free at top NZ online casinos. Online craps is typically offered for real money as well as demo play.

What are the odds for craps outcomes?

The payout odds in craps vary depending on the bet. For instance, the pass bet offers even money, while prop bets for craps 2 or 12 pay 30-1.