Craps Explained - The Basics of Craps

Craps is one of the most popular casino games in history and one of the only ones in which players bet on another person.  To play craps, a bettor places a wager on the person rolling the dice. If that player wins, then the bettor wins as well.  More than one person can place a wager on the outcome of a single roll of the dice, allowing all the spectators to enjoy the fun.

At its heart, craps is a spectator's sport.  Since only one person can roll the dice at a time, it is best enjoyed when there are numerous people placing wagers.  This also leads to the highest return on bets.  For beginners, the craps table can look confusing. The basic table is mirrored on opposite ends; this is done to allow more players to join the game.

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The basic craps bet is placed on the Pass Line, which is a series bet.  This means that the shooter (the person rolling the dice) must roll the dice until they win or lose.  This can take several shoots (rolls).  The first roll in the series is called a come-out roll and has different rules than other rolls in the same series.  For example, on the come-out roll, 2, 3 or 12 is an automatic loss, ending the series and losing any wagered money.  However, a roll of 7 or 11 is an automatic win.  If other numbers are rolled, the shooter receives that many points (a roll of 8 equals 8 points) and the shooter continues to roll.

After the come-out roll and if the shooter establishes a point for themselves, the series continues.  The object here is for the shooter to roll the same point number before rolling a 7 on the dice.  This can lead to numerous rolls.  If a number other than the point is rolled, the dice are rolled again.  If a seven is rolled, the player "sevens out" and automatically loses the game.  However, if the point is rolled again (the initial roll that was not a 7, 11, 2, 3 or 12), then the player wins the game and the series ends.

The Buck

The dealer has a round disk called a buck, which is white with the word "on" on one side and black with the word "off" on the other.  Some casinos do not use words and simply rely on the black/white colors to tell players whether the buck is on or off.  The buck is turned white side up when the player has established a point.  If a point has not been established, the buck is turned black side up.  Most casinos will only allow Pass Line bets when the buck is off (black side up).  Some casinos will allow a Pass Line bet at any time the dice are in play, so knowing your casino's rules is important.


Never hand your money to the dealer.  Rather, lay it down on the table in view of the dealer.  The dealer will then take your money and return you a chip, which is placed in the box corresponding to the number on which you want to bet.  The minimum bet is usually $5 and the amount can go up from there, with many casinos having high-roller craps tables with astronomical betting amounts.