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How Craps Works, Its Strategies and Probabilities

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With little more equipment required than a pair of dice, it would be easy to assume that Craps is just a simple casino dice game. Equally seen played on Santa Monica’s streets and the famous casinos of Las Vegas, the fundamentals of the gameplay are relatively straightforward. However, there are a multitude of different strategies and betting options that add both complexity and excitement. To fully understand how to play Craps, a player must first know the basic premise of the game, before learning the different betting types involved. Combining this with an understanding of the mathematical probabilities involved, players can then develop more advanced strategies that give them a higher chance of success on the table. Let’s start with the basics!

Basic Rules

In essence, the game revolves around players at a Craps table placing bets on the outcomes of the roll of a pair of six-sided dice. The game starts with what is known as the ‘come-out roll’ in which the player with the dice in hand – known as the shooter – rolls the dice. If they roll either 7 or 11, it’s an instant win. If they roll 2, 3, or 12 it’s an instant loss. If the outcome is any other number, then a ‘point’ is established. The shooter must then roll the same number again before a 7 is rolled. If the point is made, the shooter wins and shoots again in another come-out roll. If a 7 is rolled before the point, the shooter loses, and the dice is handed to the next shooter. And so the game continues. Within this gameplay, bets are placed on various outcomes. 

Types of Bets 

Pass Line

The most common bet in Craps, the Pass Line bet is when a player bets on 7 or 11 being rolled in the come-out, or the point being rolled before the second 7. If 2, 3, or 12 is rolled in the come-out, then the player loses the bet. If 4, 5, 6, 8, 9 or 10 is rolled, and 7 is rolled before the point, the player once again loses. Pass Line bets are even money – meaning if you put one dollar down and you win, you win one dollar.  

Don’t Pass Line 

The opposite of the Pass Line bet, here a player is betting on 2 or 3 being rolled in the come-out roll and 7 being rolled before the point, following 4, 5, 6, 8, 9 or 10 being rolled in the come-out. If a 12 is rolled, this is known as a push – in which case no one wins. 

Come / Don’t Come 

A Come bet is like a Pass Line bet – however, this bet is placed after the come-out roll during the point phase of the round. This bet adds an extra dynamic to the game which can be placed independently of the Pass Line. Similarly, players can also place Don’t Come bets which equally mirror the Don’t Pass Line bets. 

These four main betting types will give a player the ability to play Craps when next in the casino – however, there are several other bets that can be placed such as Odds, Place, Field and Proposition bets. Learn more about these bet types to increase the complexity of your game. 

Betting Strategies 

Once accustomed to the vast array of different ways of betting, players can then utilize specific strategies to maximizing their winnings. The best strategy according to an expert is to use the Pass Line and Come bets with Odds. Here, ignore the Place, Proposition and Field zones on the Craps board, and focus solely on the Pass Line and Come zones while using Odds to reduce the house advantage. By betting on the Pass Line during the come-out roll and placing full odds, the house advantage is reduced significantly. Essentially, this strategy doesn’t improve your chance of winning, it just increases your winnings in the event of 7, 11 or the resultant point being rolled. 

Approaching the game from a different direction, the so called 6-8 strategy utilizes Place bets while disregarding the Pass Line. Place bets allow the player to bet on the probability of rolling a specific number. A Place bet wins when that number is rolled, whilst it loses when 7 is rolled. Using the 6-8 strategy, a player will place bets on either 6 or 8 to be rolled. While Place bets on 4, 5, 9 and 10 all come with a big house advantage, 6 and 8 are only marginally more in favor than standard Come bets. This strategy adds an extra complexity to gameplay and does offer the potential for greater success, though its complexity means that less experienced players may struggle, making the method more suited to experienced players. 

Players can also utilize the Field bet in a third strategy. A Field bet is a wager on the shooter rolling 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11 or 12. If the shooter rolls any of these numbers, the player wins. Furthermore, if 2 or 12 is rolled, the player wins and doubles their money. This is a high-risk strategy with a less than 50% chance of a payout – whilst some players may see this strategy as foolish, it can often lead to the player winning big. 

Outcome Probabilities

It is important to consider the mathematical probability when rolling a pair of six-sided dice. Each die has six sides, which allows for 36 possible combinations when the two are rolled together. Based on the various number combinations, the probability that each number from 2 to 12 is rolled is different. 7 has the highest probability of being rolled at 16.67%. From there, as the numbers get larger or smaller, the probability of being rolled diminishes. This is why basic bets such as the Pass Line possess the greatest probability of winning with a low house edge of around 1.41%. Other bets (such as Place bets and Proposition bets) have significantly higher house edges – meaning the outcome is less probable, but the reward for winning is higher. Understanding this concept is essential for making educated bets, helping you to work out which bets carry higher risks and identify the house edges.

Ultimately, it’s pretty clear to see that there’s a lot involved in this seemingly simple dice game. Once you understand the basic premise of Craps, there are multiple ways you can choose to play your game. Above all, it’s important to build a solid strategy and base it off the mathematics that dictate the game mechanics. From there, it’s up to you which risks you are willing to take!

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