Craps is a gambling game played with dice that’s found in many American casinos. Craps evolved from the dice game of Hazard played in Europe during the 17th and 18th centuries. The game of craps is a simplified version of hazard which became popular in colonial Louisiana, and eventually spread to other parts of the United States. Casino craps as we know it today reached the height of its popularity in post war Las Vegas. Craps is somewhat intimidating to a layperson, which adds to its mystique and credibility with gamblers.
There are a few aspects of casino craps that make it popular, including its physical, social, and temporal aspects. A craps table is a large tub where handfuls of players share the same betting layout. Typically, two dealers, a “stick man”, and a “box man” run the game. Players make bets on the layout while a “shooter” throws the dice which will determine the outcome. Contrary to games like roulette and blackjack, the players themselves throw the dice. This aspect of the game gives players a sense of ownership in the result. As many players are crowded around the same game, it makes for a boisterous atmosphere. The multitude of bets available allows each player to make choices about the volatility of outcome that suits their personal preference.
To play craps, find some space at a table, and wait for the end of a roll. Place your cash on the layout (don’t hand your cash to the dealer) when there’s a break in the action. The dealer will take your cash and give you chips to bet with. Place your chips in the rack in front of you (don’t put anything else in your rack, there is space for your drink and purse on a rail below).
You can make any bet on the table, but the most common bet is the “pass line”. This is a bet in favour of the “shooter”. The game begins when the shooter throws the dice, called a “come out roll”. If the result is a 7 or 11, the pass line wins even money, if the result is 2, 3, or 12, the pass line “craps out”. If any other number is rolled, this number becomes the “point” number. The shooter continues rolling until either the “point” number is rolled again or a 7 is rolled, which ends the game.
There are cheap ways to play craps and expensive ways. Playing the pass line or don’t pass (which is the opposite of pass) carries a house edge of 0.40% per roll. This means, a $10 bet will theoretically cost you 4 cents. If there are 100 rolls per hour, the theoretical cost for you to bet the pass line for an hour will be $4. Your actual result each hour will be determined by the rolls of the dice. For more details on the house edge of craps, consult the Wizard of Odds.
There any many different bets on a craps table, but the best way for a beginner to play is simply betting the pass line, and maybe adding some odds. Craps is a fast paced game, so its easy to lose or win quickly if more bets are made. My suggestion for beginners is to take it slow and bet the minimum on the pass line.