"Introduction to Craps"
by Johnny Craps
I love a good craps game. Most people will walk right past the table, because
they are intimated by the people throwing chips and yelling for certain numbers
to be rolled. Well, I
am here to tell you that with very little knowledge you can have fun
playing craps the first time you step up to the table! In my
opinion, the game is as fun and challenging as any other
casino style game or slot machine. Don't get me wrong,
it can be tricky, but I will lay out a beginning strategy that is very
simple. As you start playing with these easy instructions you will soon
be able to understand what the game is all about. Watching the game for
a while, is one of the best ways to learn what it is all about.
Print out the rules as stated below and take them with you. They will be of great help as you graduate from a novice to a very knowledgeable player..
HINT: Never be scared to ask the dealers what is going on or what to do. They are there to help you. Dealers make a good portion of their living on tips, referred to as 'tokes' in gambling houses. When you win (or even lose), it's always considered the sporty thing to do to toss a chip or two to the dealers. They can be your best friends at the table, handling your bets and sharing their knowledge.
THE NIGHT BEGINS: So, you take a trip to Las Vegas, or Atlantic City, or anywhere with a casino and there you are with a bankroll you've saved up for a couple of months. You figure you'd like to double it. Your husband (or wife) says "let's play the nickel slots," but you keep peering over to the crap table, where all the noise and excitement is coming from. You want to find out what all the action is about and maybe take a shot at rolling the dice yourself!
WHO ARE ALL THOSE PEOPLE?
The table has 4 employees at all times. A) The person sitting in the middle of the table who wears a suit (and usually pinkie rings), with several thousand dollars in chips stacked in front of him, is the Box Man. He is very aware of everything going on and is the manager of the table. All decisions are made by him and are final. Don't be put off if he doesn't seem to be paying attention. He sees everything! B) The two people flanking him are the Dealers, they keep track of your bets, pay out your winnings and take in your losses. They are the proper people for any questions you may have. C) The person barking out the commands and handling the dice with a long stick is the Stickman. It's his job to distribute the dice to the "shooter" and acts as one more check to make sure everyone is paid fairly. I keep referring to casino employees as "he." More and more women are being utilized in those positions, so don't be surprised when you see them. They are just as well versed in the game as the men, sometimes more so.
PICKING A TABLE: HEY MAKE ROOM FOR ME!
Depending on the time of day, the minimum bet, and how "lucky" the table has been recently you may have to squeeze your way into the table. You want to find a spot at the table that gives you ample room to operate. It's all right to ask someone to move back if they are not playing. It's also all right to ask another player to move over a little so you can get in to play.
MINIMUM BET: Make sure you get a reasonable minimum bet. This is the lowest bet you have to put on the table to play. This number will be labeled clearly on the wall under the dealers, at each end of the table. I would start at a $1 table, if they have one. It's easier to learn the game with the lowest minimum you can find. Once you start making money you can always raise your minimum bet if your desire. Even to this day I always go to the table with money I feel I'm able to lose without affecting my lifestyle. Don't get me wrong, I don't plan on losing but I'm prepared to lose. If you play under those conditions, your chances of winning are increased.
ATMOSPHERE: You'll want to find a table where there are a lot of people and they are spreading chips all over the table. That indicates a 'hot' table, meaning the dice are making points and numbers. In other words, the players are winning and winning big. The more people at the table means more action, and the more action means more fun. Check out this URL for some funny superstitions about the crap game.
Mathematics teaches you one drunk player has just as much a chance of winning as a peppy newlywed couple. People instinctively gravitate towards the happy and appealing, who really do seem to do better at any game of chance..
JOHNNY, WHAT IS CRAPS?
Craps in the most basic terms is a dice game. One by one players roll 2 dice. Most players around the table bet with the roller (PASS LINE), that he will roll one of several "points" (numbers) and then roll the same point again before "crapping out" (rolling a 7). Although, if you wish, you can bet against the dice winning by betting the (DON'T PASS LINE). That way, you are betting the same way the house is, although you don't get to participate in all the action they do. Also, people will give you dirty looks.
WHEN DO I GET TO THROW THE DICE?
The set of dice goes around the table in clockwise motion. You must have the minimum bet on the table, either on the Pass line or the Don't Pass line, in order to roll the dice. If you bet on the pass line, you keep rolling the dice until you make your point, or throw a seven, in which case you lose. Don't be nervous, there isn't much you can do to mess up. Just grab the dice and throw them across the table.
RULES: Some rules not to be scolded about.
A) You can't blow on, spit on, or polish the dice.
B) You must throw them in a timely manner across the table. They must hit the wall at the end of the table, for it to be a valid roll. Sometimes they don't say anything if you are a little short, but they will if you continue to do so.
C) If you throw the dice off the table, the roll doesn't count. Sometimes the adrenaline gets pumping and you throw the dice over the wall. You simply have to roll them again. Back to superstitions: your new friends will start yelling, "same dice, same dice," especially if you have been on a good roll. I'm kind of shy even if I've made a bunch of people hundreds of dollars on a good string of rolls, so I never ask the dealer for the same dice, but hey if you don't mind, go for it!
ENOUGH WITH THESE RULES, HOW DO I PLAY?
Like I said, we are going to start simple -- making a Passline bet only. I have seen plenty of beginners playing, so again don't be nervous. Just follow these instructions and have fun.
GETTING THOSE COOL COLORED CHIPS: The first thing you need to do is throw US currency on the table and ask for chips. Simply lay the money in front of you on the table and the dealer will take your money and replace it with chips. Do not hold it and wait for the dealer to take it from you. All transactions must hit the table. You don't have to point to it either. The dealer sees everything. Every casino has a unique logo on the chips, but the primary color is always the same: White = $1, Red = $5, Green = $25, Black = $100. Gold = $500.00.
You can ask for small chips. I usually throw $100 to start and ask for some small denominations. You can always ask for additional chips at any time. Just throw that cash on the table and you are playing with the casino's money.
Note: When you are done playing take your chips to the cashier. The dealers do not give you back cash for chips.
WHEN DO I START?
You have to wait until a roll is over. This will always be when a #7 is rolled, after a point was established. You may hear people cursing and waving arms in the air in disappointment. That's when you should stake you place at the table and ask for chips. It will be a new rollers' turn too.
OK, OK, WHAT DO I DO?
Decide how much you want to start with. Let's go with a minimum of $5. Take a red chip and place it in front of you on the PASS LINE. This means you are betting with the roller and against the casino (THE HOUSE). You are rooting for a 7, 11 (even money return = $5), or a point to be established (4,5,6,8,9,10) and against a 2,3 or 12 (you lose your $5).
The person rolling the dice throws them across the table. 4 things can happen.
1. The roll is void if a high roll goes off the table.
2. The roll adds up to a CRAP (BAD): 2, 3, or 12. Your money is taken away. Lay another red chip ($5) on the table. The same person will roll the dice again.
3. The roll adds up to a 7 or an 11. You get back your bet plus "even money" (the same amount you bet.) In this example, you win an additional $5 chip. If you had $1 you would get $1 back ($2 total on the table belongs to you).
You may pick up your money at this time or you can leave it on the table. At first, pick up your winnings and leave the original bet on the table. This gives you more money to play with later. If you start to win, then you should "Press" your bet. Leave your winnings on the table, along with the original bet.
4. The new roll makes a "number" and the point is set with the dice adding up to 4,5,6,8,9, or a 10. Your money is in play. You don't lose it, but you can't take your bet off the table at this point. You now want the point to be rolled again. If the point is rolled again (the dice adding up to the same number it first hit 4 and then 4 again), everyone with a passline bet makes even money. If a 7 is rolled, everyone with a passline bet loses their total bet. If the dice add up to any other number, the roller simply rolls the dice again, until one of the 2 actions takes place.
Of course, a number 7 or 11 on the come-out roll is the best. It's like free money. All you have to do is to decide to put it in your rack/pocket or to leave it on the table. When a point is established is when your bet starts to work.
THE NEXT STEP: If #4 happens; You can just leave your PASS LINE bet on the table, and make no furthers bets, or you can "take odds." In order to optimize your winning potential you should always take odds. If you don't, the dealers may recommend you do.
WHAT IS TAKING ODDS? (The real money!)
Taking odds is increasing your bet in a way that increases your payout if you win. It's the only bet in the casino where the HOUSE doesn't have any advantage. When you take odds, you are betting money in addition to your original bet (flat bet), once a point has been set. The odds bet wins if your flat bet wins, and loses if your flat bet loses. While your Pass-line bet pays even money if you win, an odds bet pays out the exact odds, or probability of rolling the point. Since the odds pay off better than the initial bet, you should always maximize your odds bet. Most places let you take 2x odds (make an odds bet 2x the amount of your Passline bet) and some casinos allow you to take 10x or even 100x odds (Usually some of the smaller casinos - off the strip).
HOW MUCH DO I PUT DOWN AND HOW MUCH CAN I WIN?
You lay your odds directly behind you PASSLINE bet. The odds on the points 4 and 10 pay two-to-one, on the points 5 and 9 pay three-to-two, and on the points 6 and 8 pay six-to-five. So, if you have a $5 PASS LINE bet and 4 is the point you should lay $10 additional (2x) as odds. If you hit the 4 you win even money for the $5 (original bet back plus $5) and two-for-one for the $10 ($20) Total winnings = $25 + original $15= $40. Not bad. Remember, you win only if your point is hit before a 7 is rolled.
Still don't understand Odds? Click here.
Thanks for the free lesson. You sure are a great guy.
So, there you have craps. I hope this free primer was helpful to you. If so, I'd appreciate you sending me a pair of dice from any casino you may be playing in. My hobby is collecting Casino Dice and if you do, I'll post your name and the Casino from where you picked them up. You can always find them in the Gift Shop.
Here are some helpful links if you want to learn more.