Craps is the most complicated table game that’s commonly offered in online and land-based casinos. However, if you know the easy way to get started that we’ll show you here, then you can jump right in with confidence in just a few minutes. Learn all about playing online Craps in this tutorial and compare bonus offers from the best casinos with craps tables.
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Introduction to Craps
A lot of casino table games have social aspects to them, but craps is the master of all of them when it comes to the social experience. In land-based establishments, crowds of dozens of people will stand around the large craps tables to watch the action unfold, and you don’t get this many people standing around watching a game unfold without a ton of excitement driving things. It’s also the most popular casino game based around dice ever invented.
With that having been said, it’s also a game that intimidates a lot of players because of how complicated the rules seem and how many different things are laid out on the table in terms of betting options. We’re going to lay out how the game flows and give a beginner’s strategy to help start off new players so that you can avoid this issue. Once you’re ready, or if you’re already a seasoned player, then you can progress to the more advanced bets and explore just how deep online craps can go in terms of betting patterns and strategy.
The History of Craps
Craps was invented and further developed in the United States in the 1800s. While craps is known for being a bit complicated, it’s actually based on a simplified version of a European game called hazard that goes back to the 1600s. In turn, there are similar dice games that hazard was based on, and those predecessors were even mentioned as far back as Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, written in the late 1300s.
In short, craps comes from a very long line of dice games based on similar ideas, themes and gameplay that go back for over 700 years.
Hazard is thought to have first been brought to the United States in the early 1800s, and then it was developed into craps by Bernard de Marigny, a member of a very wealthy family. He tried to introduce his new game to the upper classes of society, but they didn’t take to it very well, so he brought it to lower-end gambling houses instead.
That’s where it found a ton of success and developed over time into the game that players are now so familiar with all over the world.
A Note on the Explosion of Craps’ Popularity
We want to point out that one of the reasons why craps exploded in popularity among lower-end and middle class gambling houses is that it’s really easy to fall into what are called trap bets. These are wagers that have unusually high house edges, typically well into the double-figures.
This led to the gambling houses of the 1800s heavily pushing the games because it was difficult for most players to figure out what the odds were overall, and that level of obfuscation meant higher levels of profit compared to other popular games like roulette and casino poker variations.
While there’s no reason to be intimidated by the game, we do want to point this out so that you’ll understand how important it is to know what you’re betting on at the online craps tables before you just start throwing chips around. We’ll walk you through an easy-to-follow strategy with a high payout rate down below to help you to avoid this issue, but we’ll also show you examples of these trap bets so that you don’t find yourself on the bad end of them.
Basic Rules and Gameplay of Craps
Online craps tables play slightly differently than their land-based counterparts because you can’t actually be physically standing around a table, taking turns rolling the dice. As a result, you’ll always be playing as if someone else is rolling the dice, from a third-person point of view at the tables. This actually changes very little in terms of how the games and your available bets play out, but it’s worth keeping in mind.
We are of the belief that the best way to learn this game is to start by learning about the most basic bet that most of the game is based around, the pass line wager, and then learning how it can affect other bets.
The Pass Line Bet
When you go to play craps in a land-based scenario, you’ll have the opportunity to be the person to roll the dice at some point. The person rolling the dice in a craps game is called the shooter, and the shooter always has to make a wager called the pass line bet. You do not have to be the shooter to make this bet, which is why online craps games aren’t that much different from the land-based ones.
When you make the pass line bet, you will place your chips on the strip of the board called the pass line, which is typically closest to the rail. Winning with the pass line bet gives you an even money payout, but actually deciding when that bet wins or loses is a little complicated and shows the overall gameplay procedure for how craps actually works. Here’s how it goes:
- The pass line bet is made before the first roll of the dice in a betting session, which is called the come-out roll. Once the pass line bet is resolved (no matter if it’s a winner or loser), a new come-out roll comes next to start the next betting session.
- Once the pass line bet is made, the come-out roll is made, and the pass line bet immediately wins if the total is a 7 or an 11. Likewise, the pass line bet immediately loses if the total is 2, 3 or 12.
- If the total is a 4, 5, 6, 8, 9 or 10, then that value becomes what’s called the “point,” which guides the remaining action.
- The dice are then rolled over and over until a total of either 7 or of the point number established above is the result.
- If that total is 7, then the player loses. If it’s the point, then the player wins.
What you’ll notice is that you can resolve the pass line bet in a single roll of the dice, or it can take several rolls if a point is established instead. This is a part of what makes the game somewhat complicated to try to learn just by watching the gameplay because whether or not you can make certain bets depends completely on whether it’s currently the come-out roll or if you currently have an active pass line bet on the table.
There is an add-on bet available if you have an active pass line bet and if a point has been established. This is called taking odds, and it’s one of the only available wagers in the entire casino that has no house advantage whatsoever. This bet pays out 100 percent with zero house edge.
Taking odds wins if the point hits before a seven, and it loses if the seven hits before the point. It’s essentially an add-on or side bet that puts additional money on the point-vs-seven portion of the pass line bet. It pays at the following odds with specific maximum bet sizes:
- With a point of 4 or 10, the player can bet up to 3x his pass line bet, and taking odds pays 2:1.
- With a point of 5 or 9, the player can bet up to 4x his pass line bet, and taking odds pays 3:2.
- With a point of 6 or 8, the player can bet up to 5x his pass line bet, and taking odds pays 6:5.
For a quick example, if you made a wager of €10 on the pass line bet, and the come-out roll was a 9, then you could take odds with a maximum bet of €40. Making a €40 bet taking odds would yield a payout of 3:2 with a win, which pays €60.
We want to note that some online casinos do not have these betting limitations built into their software. This is something that you can take massive advantage of, which we’ll detail in our strategy section.
Don’t Pass Line Bet and Laying Odds
There’s also a don’t pass line bet that works in a similar way, but the conditions for winning and losing are almost completely switched. The exception to this is that a come-out roll of 12 will give you a push. Outside of this exception, the don’t pass line bet is what you want to make if you want to win when the pass line bet loses, and vice versa.
If a point is established, then you can lay odds (the opposite of taking odds), which is betting that a seven will be rolled before the point. Laying odds has the same 100 percent payout rate with zero house advantage as taking odds, but the maximum bet size is different: You can always wager up to six times the value of your don’t pass line bet when laying odds.
The payouts for laying odds are as follows:
- Laying odds against a point of 4 or 10 pays at 1:2.
- Laying odds against a point of 5 or 9 pays at 2:3.
- Laying odds against a point of 6 or 8 pays at 5:6.
We realize there are a lot of odds to remember for these wagers, but there’s a trick to it. You can reverse the payout for taking odds for a given point value, and that will give you the payout for laying odds for the same point. For example, taking odds with a 4 pays 2:1, but laying odds with a 4 gives you 1:2.
With regards to the 6x maximum bet size on laying odds, we want players to know that many casino software developers have not enforced this rule in their games. As a result, there’s a way to really drill down the house edge, and we’ll detail that when discussing strategy down below.
To say that there are a lot of available wagers at an online craps table is a massive understatement. A small novella could be written about all of the available bets, their payouts and the house advantages of each. Instead of giving you an encyclopedia of craps bets to look through, we’re going to give you a few quick examples of trap bets from a group of available wagers called “proposition bets.”
Proposition bets are designed to be much easier to understand than the pass line bet because they’re always resolved on the next roll. They can be placed on any roll, not just the come-out roll, so they’re perfect for people who are a bit lazy and don’t actually want to learn more about the game itself, which it the perfect recipe for trap bets like these:
- Any Seven – Wins on a 7, loses on all other numbers, pays 4:1 (16.7% house edge)
- 2, 12 – Wins on a 2 or 12, loses on all other numbers, pays 29:1 (16.7% house edge)
- 3, 11 – Wins on a 3 or 11, loses on all other numbers, pays 14:1 (16.7% house edge)
- Any Craps – Wins on a 2, 3 or 12, loses on all other numbers, pays 7:1 (11.1% house edge)
As you can see from the house advantage on these wagers, they’re not bets that you’ll ever want to play with. There are plenty of other proposition bets available on the table, but taking them always puts you at a big disadvantage compared to the other options that you have that we’ll cover below in our section on strategy.
Online Craps Tactics and Strategy
A big part of strategy in playing at craps tables online is knowing that there are trap bets out there that you should be avoiding. While we have recommended the pass line bet, don’t pass line, taking odds and laying odds, there are some other options that aren’t bad at all. We’re going to look at a few of those wagers here while looking at why the pass line and don’t pass line options are so good from a house edge and payout rate standpoint.
House Advantage of the Pass Line and Don’t Pass Line Wagers
Point blank: If you make a pass line or don’t pass line bet in craps and let it ride out until it’s either a win or a loss, then you’ll have a 1.41 percent house advantage with the pass line bet and a 1.40 percent house edge with the don’t pass bet. These are essentially the same amounts, so it doesn’t really matter which you choose between the two.
However, if you combine these with taking odds or laying odds, and you always max out the available wager when taking or laying odds, then you can get the effective house edge down to something much smaller into what is generally the lowest of any game in the casino.
If we assume the standard maximums of 3x, 4x and 5x for taking odds and 6x for laying odds, then taking this approach will give you a house advantage of just 0.37 percent for the pass line bet and 0.28 percent for choosing the don’t pass.
Along these lines, the best mathematical strategy for craps is to always play the don’t pass line bet and to always max out your wagers.
Note: Many software companies that make the games for online casinos have put different limits on the amounts you can bet when taking odds or laying odds. They’re often much higher limits than the 3x-6x amounts that are the standard for the game. By betting more on these odds, you can drive the effective house advantage down even further.
Another Option: Place and Place to Lose
If you’d like a simple wager that can be made on any roll without having to wait on the come-out roll or bothering with the pass line/don’t pass line business, then you can actually make direct wagers on whether a number from four to ten will come up as a total instead. These bets can have some pretty low house edges that are competitive with the pass line/don’t pass line wagers.
Place bets and place to lose bets are two different wagers that have different payouts for the same types of winning and losing conditions as playing with the odds options. If you place one of those numbers (4, 5, 6, 8, 9 or 10), and your number comes up, then you win. If a seven comes up instead, then you lose. All other numbers are a push. You can let your bet sit until it’s resolved, or you can pull it back after the push.
Likewise, a place to lose will win if a seven is the total, but they lose if the number you chose to place your bet on is the total. Again, all other values will result in a push, but you can leave your bet in the same place until it resolves if you so choose.
Here’s a quick reference for the house advantage for the place and place to lose options per roll:
- Place 6 or 8 – Pays 7:6 (0.46% house edge)
- Place 5 or 9 – Pays 7:5 (1.11% house edge)
- Place 4 or 10 – Pays 9:5 (1.67% house edge)
- Place to lose 6 or 8 – Pays 4:5 (0.56% house edge)
- Place to lose 5 or 9 – Pays 5:8 (0.69% house edge)
- Place to lose 4 or 10 – Pays 5:11 (0.76% house edge)
In its essence, these are like playing the odds portion of a pass line bet without actually making the pass line bet and dealing with the come-out roll. As you can see, these wagers have some pretty competitive payout levels.
Live Dealer Craps
Being able to play at live dealer craps tables online helps to give players a lot of the social environment that’s often missed from playing the traditional tables. However, there are a few things that players should keep in mind.
First, craps is one of the least offered options from live dealer software development studios, so just because a site offers other live dealer tables for other games doesn’t mean that craps will be one of those options.
Second, because no one player can actually be standing at the table to roll the dice, the outcomes of the rolls are usually determined by some other randomizing agent like a mechanical dice thrower. Some players aren’t okay with wagering on the outcome of dice rolls made using these types of tools.
Finally, make sure to read up on the betting minimums for the table in general and the betting maximums for taking and laying odds, especially if you’re playing the pass line and don’t pass line bets. They can vary quite a bit in live craps games online just like they can for the regular online tables.
There’s a reason that craps is the most popular dice-based game that you can find in the online casino industry as a whole. The game has a depth of betting options that you rarely find anywhere else, and it’s the sort of thing that keeps people coming back to try new things. Unfortunately, many of those options can be traps, so using a solid strategy based on knowing what the house edge is for each of the bets you’re using is key.