How many have you seen a game of craps where a group of players is whooping it up and yelling for certain numbers and wished that you could be a part of it, only you were scared off by the apparent complexity of the game? Although the craps table can be intimidating at first, it is a far simpler game than most people realize. With just a few pointers, you can understand the basics of the game and how to bet. Here, the myriad of activity at the craps table will be explained; betting is covered in other articles.

Craps is a dice game played in a continuous series of rounds. Each round starts with a new “shooter” – one of the betting patrons who rolls the dice. The shooter is handed two dice by a casino employee known as the stickman and then throws the dice across the table, preferably bouncing them against the opposite wall. The first roll of the round is known as the “come-out” roll. During the come-out roll, only several different bets are usually made, the most common of which is the ass line (in fact, the shooter must either bet this or its opposite, the don’t pass line).

Bets on the pass line pay 1 to 1 if the shooter rolls either a 7 or 11, but the wagers are lost if the come-out roll is either a 2, 3, or 12. The don’t pass line rewards players for the reverse, i.e. winning on 2 or 3 and losing on 7 or 11, and it is often considered poor taste to make this bet, as it is in opposition to the majority of players at the table despite carrying a slightly lower house edge.

If the roll is any number besides the ones listed above, that number becomes known as the ‘point.’ Once the point is established, bets on the pass line will pay 1 to 1 only if the point is rolled again; if a 7 is rolled, bets on the pass line are collected by the base dealers, and the role of shooter moves clockwise to the next player. In either situation, the round ends and another round begins with a come-out roll.

Another common bet is known as the come line, which can only be wagered on after the point has been established. The come line operates the same way as the pass line, paying the player 1 to 1 if a 7 or 11 is rolled and losing on a 2, 3, or 12. There is also a don’t come line, which functions like the don’t pass line.

Beginners are recommended to stick to the four bets mentioned here; most people at the table will also be betting them, so you will be able to share in the excitement without being overwhelmed by making too many wagers. Additionally, they provide the player with good odds (even though not as good as poker does to a good player like Kathy Liebert), so you shouldn’t find yourself broke after only a few rounds.


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