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How To Play Craps: A Beginner’s Guide to Winning Strategies and Rules

Craps is more than just a game of chance; it’s a symphony of strategy, luck, and excitement that draws players back to the table time and again. Whether you’re standing at the bustling craps table in a Las Vegas casino or playing from the comfort of your home online, the adrenaline rush of the dice roll is unmatched. This guide aims to demystify the game, breaking down the basics, strategies, and etiquette to transform you from a novice to a skilled player.

Understanding the Basics

Before diving into strategies and tips, it’s crucial to grasp the fundamental rules and structure of craps. At its core, craps is a game played with two dice, where players bet on the outcomes of the rolls. The person rolling the dice is known as the “shooter,” and the game unfolds in two main phases: the “Come Out” roll and the “Point” phase.

The Come Out Roll

The game kicks off with the Come Out roll. If the shooter rolls a 7 or 11, those betting on the “Pass Line” win. Conversely, if a 2, 3, or 12 is rolled, it’s called “craps,” and Pass Line bets lose. Any other number (4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10) establishes the “point,” transitioning the game to the next phase.

The Point Phase

Once the point is set, the objective shifts. The shooter aims to roll the point number again before hitting a 7. Rolling the point number results in a win for Pass Line bets, while a 7 ends the round with a loss for these bets.

Betting Strategies

Craps offers a plethora of betting options, each with its own odds and house edge. Understanding these can significantly improve your chances of winning.

Pass Line and Don’t Pass Line Bets

The most straightforward bets are the Pass Line and Don’t Pass Line. Betting on the Pass Line is wagering that the shooter will win by rolling a 7 or 11 during the Come Out roll or hitting the point before a 7 in the Point phase. The Don’t Pass Line is the opposite, betting against the shooter.

Come and Don’t Come Bets

Similar to the Pass and Don’t Pass bets but made after the point is established. A Come bet wins if a 7 or 11 is rolled after the bet is placed and loses on a 2, 3, or 12. If any other number is rolled, that number becomes the point for that specific bet, independent of the main point.

Odds Bets

One of the best bets in craps due to its zero house edge. An Odds bet is an additional bet placed behind your Pass, Don’t Pass, Come, or Don’t Come bet after the point is established. It pays at true odds, meaning there’s no built-in advantage for the house.

Advanced Betting Strategies

While craps is largely a game of chance, certain strategies can minimize losses and improve winning chances.

The Martingale System

A popular but risky strategy where you double your bet after every loss, so the first win recovers all previous losses plus a profit equal to the original bet. This system requires a significant bankroll and the ability to make large bets to be effective.

The 5-Count Strategy

A method to reduce the house edge by selectively betting on shooters who are likely to have a hot streak. You start counting when a new shooter gets the dice and start betting on them only after they’ve made five successful rolls.

Craps Etiquette

Craps is known for its communal atmosphere, making understanding table etiquette just as crucial as knowing the rules.

  • Handling the Dice: Always use one hand to throw the dice, and ensure they hit the far wall of the table.
  • Betting Timeliness: Place your bets in a timely manner, ideally before the shooter has the dice.
  • Celebrations: While excitement is part of the game, be mindful of others at the table, especially if you’re betting against the shooter.


Learning how to play craps can seem daunting at first, with its fast-paced action and myriad betting options. However, by understanding the basic rules, familiarizing yourself with the common bets, and practicing proper table etiquette, you’ll soon find yourself fully engrossed in the excitement and strategy of this classic casino game. Whether you’re rolling the dice or placing bets, craps offers a unique blend of camaraderie and competition, making it a must-try for any gaming enthusiast.

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