Craps is an intimidating game for the beginning gambler. Unlike the simpler machine games or even the easy betting at the Roulette wheel, the craps table seems to have thousands of different kinds of bets and bet combinations. Craps is a game of rounds, and if you don't play the game round by round you will lose your money before it gets warm in your pocket. Below you will find a description of each kind of craps bet and the expected odds for each.
The first roll in any round of craps is called the Come Out roll. Sometimes the outcome of a round will be determined on the Come Out roll, though it is more likely that there will be further rolls of the dice after the Come Out.
If a 2, 3, 7, 11, or 12 comes up on the Come Out roll, the round is immediately ended and payouts are made. If any other total of the dice is rolled (4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10), that total is known as the Point. A white marker, or "puck", is placed on an area of the table to designate what the Point is. If a Point is rolled, the dice will be rolled again and again until the same Point is rolled again or a 7 appears.
In craps a Place bet is very similar to the bet known as "laying odds". When "laying odds", a player is betting that a 7 will appear before the Point appears again. When betting a Place bet, a player may bet on a 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10. If the number you bet on is rolled before a 7 then you win according to the standard payoff schedule below. Place number bets are ON or WORKING during a come out roll. These bets can be removed by the player at any time.
When a Place Bet wins, a player is paid their winnings plus the original bet is returned.
A Buy bet is for all purposes the same bet as the Place Bet, only with a different payoff system. The Player may "buy" any of the Points (4, 5, 6, 8, 9, and 10) -- meaning that player is betting that the bought number will be rolled before a 7.
When making a buy bet, you must pay a 4% commission to the house and your bet will pay fair odds if it wins. Fair odds are 2:1 on the 4 and 10, 3:2 on the 5 and 9, and 6:5 on the 6 and 8. Think of it this way -- the buy bet pays 48:25 on the 4 and 10, 36:25 on the 5 and 9, and 144:125 on the 6 and 8. The pay out on all bets will be rounded down to the nearest quarter, standard procedure worldwide.
Just to further confuse things, the Lay bet is the opposite of the Buy Bet and the same as the Place Bet to lose but with a different payback schedule.
The lay bets may be placed on the 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10. The bet means that a 7 will be rolled before the number you choose to bet on. Because the 7 is the most likely number to be rolled you will wager more than you can win. The Player must pay a 4% commission on the possible winnings and the fair odds are paid on the bet itself. Fair odds are 1:2 on the 4 and 10, 2:3 on the 5 and 9, and 5:6 on the 4 and 8.
Perk up your ears - I'm going to break down the Pass Line. This is the most basic bet in craps, and almost every Player at the table bets on it at some point. Why? The Pass Line is an even money bet. You start by placing your bet on the Pass Line area on the table on a Come Out roll. If the Come Out roll is a 7 or 11 you win. This is known as a "natural". If the Come Out roll is a 2, 3, or 12 (craps) you lose. Should any other point be rolled on the Come Out roll, you have a different opportunity to win: if the Point is rolled again before a 7 appears, you win. If a 7 comes before the Point, you lose. This bet is simple enough to learn just watching a craps game, and is probably considered a "safe" bet by onlookers. Before you jump right into a craps game, you may want to practice online using fake money before playing for real money.
The Pass Line bet gets a little more comples. Once a Point has been thrown, a player may bet up to 2 times their Pass Line bet on the 'odds'. The odds are an additional wager that the Point will be rolled before a 7. Because the probability of the Point being rolled first is less than 50% you win more than you bet if it happens.
As with most bets in craps, there is an opposite to the Pass Line bet. The Don't Pass is even more simple than the Pass Line. If the Come Out roll is a 2 or 3 then you win, a 7 or 11 you lose. A 12 is a push. Otherwise the dice are rolled over and over until either the Point or a 7 is rolled. If the 7 comes before the Point you win.
The danger of betting Don't Pass is being seen by everyone else at the table as an agitator. Essentially, this bet is against the shooter and usually ends up allowing you to win while everyone else is losing. If you don't mind agitating the crowd a bit, the Don't Pass is a simple bet. Just don't complain when you start losing as the crowd around you racks up money.
The Come bet is like the Pass Line bet, but this bet may be made at any time. Hopwever, there is a slight nuance to the come bet that craps players should be aware of. If a Point is thrown and there are still active Come bets on the table, a special set of rules applies for the following Come out roll.
The Come out roll will still apply to active Come bets but it will not apply to their respective odds bets. Pay attention and sip your free cocktails rather than gorging yourself, otherwise little differences like this could cost you in the long run.
In the event that a Come bet is resolved on a Come out roll, the odds bet will be returned, while the original Come bet is lost.
Opposing the Come bet is the Don't Come bet. Again, opposites abound in craps. If the shooter rolls a 2 or 3, you win on a Don't Come bet. A 12 constitutes a tie. Your money is lost on a 7 or 11. Any other number is the "Come Point". Your bet pays off if a seven is rolled before the Come Point, and lost if the Come Point is rolled before a 7 is rolled. Read that paragraph again - remember that Don't Come is simply the opposite of the Come bet.
Besides the preceding "standard" craps bets, there are a few miscellaneous categories of bets that beginning players should familiarize themselves with.
Hard Way bets tend to play out the way they are named - hard to win but heavy in reward. There are four different hard way bets. For example a hard 4 bet is betting that a pair of twos will be rolled before a 7 or any other way to roll a total of 4. This is called "the hard way" because it is harder to roll two twos than a one and a three. Likewise you can bet on a hard 6, 8, or 10, each of which is a bet that the hard way of rolling the given number will occur before a 7 or any "easy" way.
Another strange twist to craps betting is the Proposition bet. Proposition bets either win or lose on the next throw after betting. Here are some specific descriptions of bets:
Field bet: This is a one time bet that the next roll will be a 2,3,4,9,10,11, or 12. The 3,4,9,10, and 11 pay even money, the 2 and 12 pays 2:1.
Most casinos expect about one hundred "decisions" per hour at any one craps table, so don't get overexcited and place too many varied bets your first time out at the craps table. Observe how other players are betting and how it works for them - make bets that you are comfortable making and learn the more obscure bet styles as you go.