A fast and furious game of dice, shooting craps is one of the most exciting forms of entertainment on the casino floor.
The first thing newcomers to Craps always think about is: "Where on earth did it get its strange name?" There are a few theories: the most plausible of these is that it came from the French name of "Crabes", which was actually obtained from the old English word of "Crabs" which meant the roll of lowest value. Another theory suggests that the word evolved from the French word "Crapeaud", meaning toad. Whatever the reason, this unusual casino game has a rich history going back several centuries.
Most gambling historians agree that Craps has its origins in the Middle Ages and was originally called Hazard, although there is some disagreement as to exactly where. The most accepted theory is that it was invented by Sir William of Tyre and his knights to pass time during the Crusades, and may have even received its name from a castle called Hazarth which they put under siege in the 12th century. Others say they learned about the game from the Arabs in the region. Going further back, there is evidence that the Roman legionnaires played a craps-type game with pigs' knuckles, which they would throw into their shields. It is said that the tern "to roll the bones" comes from these times.
Whatever the origin, the modern version of Craps developed by in 18th century France and was later taken across the Atlantic to the French colony of Louisiana by Bernard Xavier Philippe de Marigny de Mandeville, a gambler, politician and scion of wealthy landowners. Like many other casino games, the Americans changed the rules to shape it into the version we know today.
Craps proved popular among both the lower and upper classes in the New World and split into two major versions.
Street Craps became the informal version played by groups of people in alleyways or gambling dens, and experienced its real boom during World War II when soldiers played it on Army blankets. African-Americans developed their own version of street craps called Shooting Dice, which they played on the floor of a room or on a sidewalk.
Casino Craps developed around the same time, after John H. Winn ("Father of modern-day Craps") introduced changes in the early 20th century that made it possible for players to bet right or wrong. He improved the layout of the board and even introduced an area called "Don't Pass bets". His innovation in which players could bet with the shooter or against the shooter removed the necessity for crooked dice. Craps was one of the games introduced in Nevada following the legalization of gambling in the 1930s, which is why it has grown to become so popular today.
A third version, online craps, has risen in popularity in the Internet era, and introduced this popular casino game to gamblers from around the world. Craps is a very social game between crapshooter and bettors, and online craps is sure to develop along similar lines thanks to the convergence of online gambling and social gambling.
Being a very social game, Craps has a language of its own that has developed over the centuries. All the numbers have nicknames that can vary from casino to casino (common names include "Snake Eyes" for 1 and 1 and "Square Pair for 4 and 4). In addition, there are words for every type of bet, some of which are covered below:
Aces: A bet that the next roll will have the total value of 2 (i.e. 1 and 1).
Any Craps: A bet that the next roll will have the total value of 2, 3 or 12.
Any Seven: A bet that the next roll will total 7.
Back Line: Another word for the Don't Pass Line.
Boxcars: A bet on 12, named after the last cars on a train (just as six is the highest possible dice number).
Boxman: Casino supervisor who sits between the dealers and is responsible for the chips.
C & E: A bet that the next roll will be any craps (2, 3 or 12) or 11 (i.e. Craps and Eleven).
Come Out Roll: The first roll of the dice in a betting round. This roll determines the point for Pass bets and Don't Pass Line bets.
Don't Come Bet: A bet against the dice (i.e. a bet that the 7 will appear before the point is established again).
Don't Pass Bet: A bet that the shooter will throw craps or 7 instead of making the point.
Easy Way: A dice roll of 4, 6, 8 or 10 in which the two dice have different values from each other (i.e. they don't come out as 2/2, 3/3, 4/4 or 5/5).
Field Bet: A bet on 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11 or 12.
Front Line: Alternative name for the Pass Line.
Hardway: The opposite of Easy Way - a bet on a 4, 6, 8 or 10 being thrown as pairs (2/2, etc.) before Easy Way or a 7 come out.
Hi-Lo: A bet that the next roll will be a 2 or 12 - the lowest and highest values possible.
Natural: A throw of 7 or 11 on the Come Out Roll.
Odds Bet: Additional bet made on top of the Pass Line bet.
Off: A bet that is not active for the next roll.
On: A bet that is active for the next roll.
Place Bet: A bet that a specific number (such as 4 or 5) will be rolled before a 7 is rolled.
Point: Number established by the Come Out Roll.
Seven Out: Expression used when a shooter rolls a seven before making their point. This results in everyone losing the pass line bet.
Shooter: Crapshooter is the player rolling the dice onto the table.
Wrong Bettor: A player who bets that the dice will not pass.
Casino Craps is a dice game played around what is known as a craps table. At a land-based casino, the game is played around a specially made table with two dice, and it is common to hear participants yelling and shouting common craps terms and encouragement for the crapshooter. The online version of the game works similarly, but without the yelling and screaming of course!
The shooter (who is, in effect, one of the players) gets the game started by betting at least the table minimum on the Pass Line or Don't Pass Line. In a land-based casino, the is presented with five dice by the Stickman and chooses two to roll with. The dice must hit the walls on the other end of the table before falling on their eventual spot. At online and mobile casinos, these actions are played out on your desktop or smartphone.
Craps is played in rounds, with the shooter alternating clockwise around the table at the end of each round. Each round is divided into two halves: Come Out and Point. To start, the shooter makes one or more Come Out rolls. If the Come Out rolls "craps out" (2, 3 or 12), the round ends with all players losing their Pass Line bets. If it is a "natural" (7 or 11), all Pass Line Bets win. Once the shooter rolls a 4, 5, 6, 8, 9 or 10, that number becomes the "point" and the second half begins. If the shooter rolls the point number again, all Pass Line bets win. If he rolls a "seven-out", Pass Line bets lose and a new round begins.
A Craps table is divided into three main areas - two side areas which both contain Pass and Don't Pass line bets, Come and Don't Come bets, Odds bet, Place bets and Field bets (see terminology above for explanation of some of these terms). The center area is shared by both sides and contains all "proposition bets" - these are one-roll bets that give the House a big edge and the player long odds of winning, as well as multi-roll hardway bets on 4, 6, 8 or 10 being thrown as pairs.
In online and land-based casinos, players can only join the game when it is in the "On" stage. If it is an "Off" stage, this means the table is in the middle of a Come Out Round and is not accepting any new participants for the time-being.
Craps is one of the more complex games out there for novices, as there are hundreds of different kinds of bets that can take years to learn and acquire expertise. However, there is no need to worry - as with any casino game, there are a few fundamental strategy basics you can start with before you feel comfortable moving on to the more complicated betting options.
If you are starting out, it is important to know the most basic bet a player can make in a Craps game is the "Pass Line bet". This is a wager on the pass line on a Come Out Roll (the first stage in each round). Three things can happen on a Pass Line bet: you can win even money if it comes out 7 or 11 (a natural); you can lose if it craps out on 2, 3 or 12. You win even money if the Come Out hits "the point" (all other numbers) and then hits the point again before hitting seven. This might sound complicated, but it is the most basic step and will help you acquire a taste for the game before engaging in more complex strategy.
Many beginners make an initial Pass Line bet followed by a series of Come Line bets, via the following steps: Make a Pass Line bet, and wait for the shooter to roll; Follow your Pass Line bet with single or double Odds, make a Come Line bet and wait for shooter to roll; Follow Come Line bet with single or double Odds and make another Come Line Bet, then wait for shooter to roll. And so on and so forth.
Pass Line bets give the House a 1.41% edge, while other bets deliver higher rewards but with a higher house edge. Once you have a feel for the game, you should be ready to move on to intermediate and advanced strategy with bets such as: The Odds, Don't Pass, and more.
- The golden rule of online casino gaming - play free-play versions before engaging in the real-money version - is especially applicable to Craps. This is an extremely fun and social game, but it is also complex - playing for free can work wonders for your confidence and expertise.
- Remember: this game is all about the house edge. The key is to take your time and gain an understanding of this edge in relation to each bet.
- The bet with best expected return is a 6 or 8.
- The bets with the worst expected return are the proposition bets at the center of the table. Players are often tempted by the big payouts, but these give the House the biggest possible advantage.
- Ignore other players: while craps is a social game that can be enjoyed with other gamblers or other online gamblers, the bets other players make have no effect on your own. Stick to your strategy and don't be sucked in by what others are doing.
- Most online casinos offer Online Craps, but only some of them offer specific bonuses and promos tailor-made for craps players. Shop around and see where you get the best value for playing with real-money.