How to Play Craps

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Played with a pair of six-sided dice, Craps is a casino table game that has been around for more than a thousand years. English soldiers entertained themselves by “throwing the bones” during the Crusades in a game called “Hazard.” The pastime took on new rules in France before being exported to the United States where the rules of modern-day Craps were formalised. Today, the Craps table is a popular attraction at any casino pit area, and cyber versions are available online as well.

Two six-sided dice are all the equipment that’s required for a game of craps, which makes it a very portable activity. The surfaces of each die are numbered with “spots” from one through six. These spots are added together after the dice are thrown and their total indicates who wins or loses on each roll.

In casinos, a single participant called a “shooter” can play against the house alone, although most Craps tables feature places for at least a dozen players and typically as many as 14 to 20. Grooves around the edges of the table serve as racks to hold the players’ chips. A “croupier” oversees the game, using a curved stick to manipulate the dice and chips.

The action starts when players make their bets within specially marked sections on the table surface. The bets correspond to what they believe the result of the next roll of the dice will be. The most common opening wager is to place chips on the “Pass” area of the table. This is a bet that the shooter will win his/her turn. Those who are betting against the shooter’s success put their bets on “Don’t Pass.”

The shooter’s initial roll is called “coming out.” If the dice land with a “natural” total of seven or eleven, the Pass Line best win, paying 1-to-1 odds. If the first roll is a two, three or twelve—so-called “craps”—the Pass Line bets lose and the Don’t Pass wagers receive a payout of “even money.”

Any combination rolled other than 2, 3, 7, 11, or 12 is known as “The Point.” After the point has been established, the shooter rolls again, attempting to “make” the point by rolling the same total again. The shooter may roll as many times as it takes to make the point, with betting intervals between each toss of the dice. However, if a seven is thrown before the point is made, the croupier will call “craps out, a loser” and the shooter’s turn comes to an end. Pass bets lose, Don’t Pass bets win, and the dice are passed to the next player clockwise, who becomes the new shooter.

Rolling 2, 3, 11, or 12 has no affect once the point has been established, and they never cause the shooter’s turn to end. Transfer of the dice to another play occurs only when the shooter loses by rolling a seven before throwing her/his point.

What makes Craps particularly lively is the ability to bet not only on the shooter’s ultimate result, win or lose, but also on the outcome for each roll of the dice. Players may wager on the “Come” or “Don’t Come” section of the table, where odds and play are the same as the Pass/Don’t Pass bets, with the very next roll of the dice treated as the start of a new series.

Players may also “take odds” on their Pass/Don’t Pass and Come/Don’t Come bets by backing the initial bet with an additional stake—as much as five, ten, twenty, or even 100 times the original wager, depending on the house limits. These “odds” payout different amounts according to the point made: 2-to-1 for a four or ten, 3-to-2 for a five or nine, and 6-to-5 for a six or eight, when made.

Other types of wagers can be made for even higher odds. For instance, a single unit wagered on “C-and-E” earns 3-to-1 for any craps and 7-to-1 for a “yo” (eleven) on the very next roll. Betting on a seven coming up pays 4-to-1 when it wins. Wagers on the group of numbers known as “The Field” (2~5 and 9~12) will pay 2-to-1 for a roll of two or twelve and even money otherwise. It is also possible to make bets straight up on individual numbers, which pays out at odds as high as 30-to-1.

Players need to note, however, that many of these bets are available only after the point has been established. Until then, a marker indicated no betting allowed (“off”) will be placed on the table surface. Once it is flipped over and turned “on,” all wagers other than Pass/Don’t Pass are accepted. That includes Big 6 and Big 8 (paying 1-to-1 if hit prior to a seven coming up), “hard way” bets (where dice show the same number of spots), and “place” bets on individual numbers.

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