When we talk about the game of craps, we are undoubtedly talking about one of the most popular casino games in history. Let’s face it, almost every Hollywood movie that is inspired by gambling, especially when it comes to Las Vegas, features at least one scene where the main protagonist will test his fate at the exciting craps table where the dice can literally make or break you. Due to the legendary status and millions of players devoted to this all-time casino classic, we decided to comprise a casino guide with some of the most important rules for craps in order to point out some of the worst mistakes you can make when playing this game.
In reality, the reason why the game of craps is so popular is due to several key features such as the unparalleled exhilaration of anticipating the outcome, the rather favourable 2% house edge (if you know what you are doing), as well as the fact that craps are undeniably part of the big 5 in casino gaming, along with baccarat, poker, blackjack and roulette.
What Is Craps
Before you learn the rules and what bets you must avoid when playing craps, you first need to know what are the basics of the game, as well as its origin. The original edition that the modern-day game of craps is based on first emerged around the 14th century in Europe, more than 500 years ago. Created as an English variation of another popular dice game, Hazard, the necessity to simplify the already complicated rules of Hazard is what contributed to the creation of a much simpler solution, craps.
Despite being quite popular in Europe, especially in the UK, however, it wasn’t until the beginning of the 1800s that the game literally exploded in the city of New Orleans, and quickly became one of the most popular casino games in the North American continent. Brought from London to the US by the French playboy and nobleman Bernard Xavier Philippe de Marigny de Mandeville, the first casinos in the United States to officially offer the game of craps were the riverboat casinos sailing in the Mississippi River, with the game being most popular among sailors and farmers at the beginning.
Rules of Craps
Being that craps is a game that requires shooting dice, the goal is to match the right numbers, while at the same time avoiding others. Simple, right? Considering that the most challenging part of craps is learning to read the table and comprehend the betting patterns, knowing the basic rules of craps will definitely assist you in determining your next bet. And when we speak about the essence, i.e. basics of this game, it all comes down to remembering the following rules:
- Shooting 2,3 or 12 on the first roll is a loss
- Shooting 7 or 11 on the first roll is a win
- Rolling 4,5,6,8,9 or 10 means you get a re-roll – the winning number becomes a “point”
- Each next point number means another re-roll – this goes until you hit a 7 or retire
We will begin our list with one of the worst bets you can make when playing craps, and that is the Field Bet. Just as the name suggests, the reason why this bet is called the field bet is that it requires shooting the dice at a field of designated numbers – 2,3,4,9,10,11 and 12. This means that if you roll the dice and land on any of these numbers, you win. However, if the dices roll 5,6,7 or 8, it means that you lose. Sure, on the surface this looks like a pretty good idea, being that judging by the numbers, the odds should be stacked in your favour. However, if we take a look at the exact probabilities of the dice rolling each number when playing craps, then we get a completely different picture.
- 2: 2.78%
- 3: 5.56%
- 4: 8.33%
- 5: 11.11%
- 6: 13.89%
- 7: 16.67%
- 8: 13.89%
- 9: 11.11%
- 10: 8.33%
- 11: 5.56%
- 12: 2.78%
If we take into account the information from above and calculate the chances of rolling any of the numbers mentioned above, the chances of that happening are 44.4%. Now, considering that the house edge for this bet is 2.78%, the more you play the field bet, the bigger the advantage of the casino, which in certain instances may reach up to 5%. Consequently, the payout of the field bet is set at even money for all numbers except, 2 to 1 on a roll-out of 2 and 3 to 1 on a roll-out of 12.
Bet on 3 or 11
Now, with the probability chances displayed above, you might consider going for the strategy of betting on 3 (5.56%) or 11(5.56%). While this may seem like a good idea at the beginning, in essence, the chances of landing those exact numbers are very small. Despite coming with a payout of 15 to 1, the only thing you will contribute towards if you place this bet will be increasing the house edge of the casino to a whopping 11.11%.
Bet on 2 or 12
If you think that betting on 3 or 11 is a bad idea, then playing on 2 or 12 is even worse. Also known as “boxcar” or “snake eyes”, this bet comes with a 2.78% win probability and pays out 30 to 1 in case of a win. The 13.89% house edge for this bet shouldn’t come as a surprise, being that the higher the payout, the smaller your chances of getting it. In other, words, you should avoid making the snake eyes bet at craps at any cost, period.
Bet on 4 or 10
This combination wouldn’t end up in the casino guide of the biggest mistakes and worst bets when playing craps if it wasn’t detrimental to your craps career, especially in the long run. Playing on 4 or 10 is one of the worst things you do, being that these two numbers are known to act the least like points, and both come with an 8.33% probability. Moreover, when you bet on 4 or 10, you are playing against a house edge set at 6.7%, which automatically turns this type of bet into one of the most difficult bets in the overall casino table games betting department. And this becomes significantly worse if you decide to bet on 4 or 10 individually, which is without a doubt one of the worst bets you can make when playing craps.
Bet on 5 or 9
While this bet is definitely more likely to turn successful, especially when compared to 4 or 10, it is still considered a generally bad idea. The reason for this is the 11.11% win probability of the numbers, which instills false hope that you can win more, while in the long run, you will definitely lose. Finally, the 5 or 9 bet comes with a 7 to 5 payout, with a 4% house edge, nearly twice as much as betting on 6 or 8. Simply put, avoid betting on 5 or 9.
Bet on 7
Now, bear with us on this one. Yes, we know that one of the fastest ways to win big when playing craps is to hit a 7, and yes, in every Hollywood movie the hero usually bets on a 7 and wins big, but in reality, things are a bit more complicated. For one, if we take a look at the 14% odds of you rolling a 7, things immediately start to get a different perspective.
In this instance, even online casinos will offer you a payout that is around five times your bet. This means that your real chances of winning are one in seven games, and when we are talking about these numbers and playing in the long run, then you will definitely end up losing. We will leave you with the fact that when playing this risky bet, the house edge of the casino spikes to a very unfriendly 16.7%, by far more than any other previous contender.