Craps is generally considered a gambler’s game: deep, complex but definitely worth sticking with.
Casino craps can be a daunting prospect for newcomers. If played badly, you could be looking at a massive house edge, but played well, Craps is a great game with lots of potential for betting optimisation. CasinoReviewsLand’s craps guide has been tailored to take you through the rules of craps from square one.
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It’s always easy to locate the craps table at a bricks-and-mortar casino. While blackjack players play in near silence, and roulette players are allowed the odd whoop of joy if their number comes up, the craps table is surrounded by a group of players making more noise than school children at a Christmas party.
Craps is unique as a casino game as all the main action is performed by the players – namely the throwing of the dice. A craps table can look daunting to a newbie, but it is fundamentally a simple game. All you need really to do is to concentrate on the ‘pass line bet’.
Each ’round’ begins by betting on the pass line, or the don’t pass line. If you bet on the don’t pass line you’ll be betting against the shooter, which will not be appreciated.
The shooter will then roll the dice. Everyone will get a turn at being the shooter as play passes clockwise around the table. If the shooter rolls 7 or 11 the bet pays even money. If the shooter rolls 2, 3 or 12, then you lose. If the shooter rolls any other number, then this number is now the ‘box point’. Your bet wins if the shooter manages to roll that number again before they roll a 7.
As with UK bingo, all the rolls in craps have special names:
- 1 & 1 – Snake Eyes or Aces
- 1 & 2 – Ace Deuce or Acey Deucey
- 1 & 3 – Easy Four
- 2 & 2 – Hard Four or Little Joe (from Kokomo) or Ballerina
- 1 & 4, 2 & 3 – Fever Five or Little Phoebe
- 1 & 5, 2 & 4 – Easy Six or Jimmie Hicks (from the sticks)
- 3 & 3 – Hard Six or Jimmie Hicks
- 1 & 6, 2 & 5, 3 & 4 – Natural or Seven Out
- 1 & 6 (only) – ‘up pops the devil’ or Big Red
- 2 & 6, 3 & 5 – Easy Eight
- 4 & 4 – Hard Eight or Square Pair or Mom & Dad or Ozzie & Harriet
- 3 & 6, 4 & 5 – Nina (from Pasadena or at the Marina) or Old Mike (after Michael Jordan)
- 4 & 5 (only) – Jesse James
- 4 & 6 – Easy Ten
- 5 & 5 – Hard Ten or Puppy Paws or Big John or Moose Eleven
- 5 & 6 – Yo (from ‘Yo-leven’ to prevent confusion with a seven)
- 6 & 6 – Boxcars or Midnight
There are plenty of side bets and other bets you can make while playing craps, and these will be explored in the lessons.
The history of craps
Like all good things, craps originated in England. A game called ‘Hazard’ using two dice had been played in England since before the 14th century. In the game, a player would choose a number between 5 and 9 and then throw the dice. The basic object of the game was to throw the number nominated, however throwing anything from 4 to 10, or 11 or 12 (the latter two only under certain circumstances) meant the player had a ‘chance’ and would win if he threw the same number again.
The game eventually moved to France where it became known as ‘Crapaud’. Crapaud is French for toad, and referred to the ‘toad like’ posture adopted by players as he game was usually played in the street, with the dice being bounced off a suitably-positioned wall.
When it moved to America it was re-christened ‘Craps’ and a few rules were altered and added. This is the version that has been played in casinos ever since.
Craps in popular culture
- Craps features in Ocean’s Thirteen, the second sequel to the casino heist movie Ocean’s Eleven, starring George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Matt Damon.
- Matt Dillon starred as a Chicago craps players in the movie Big Town who takes his craps-playing talents to Las Vegas.
- In a famous episode of the US TV sitcom Friends, Monica (Courtney Cox) and Chandler (Matthew Perry) played a games of craps to decide whether to get married or not.
- As craps is a very unpredictable game, the phrase ‘crapshoot’ has arisen in US slang to describe something that is likely to have an unpredictable outcome.
- Despite being mainly an American game, the metal anthem Ace of Spades by UK hard rock group Motörhead makes mention of craps in one verse:
“Playing for the high one, dancing with the devil,
Going with the flow, it’s all a game to me,
Seven or eleven, snake eyes watching you,
Double up or quit, double stake or split,
The Ace of Spades”
- In 2009, a shooter at The Borgata casino in Atlantic City named Patricia DeMauro won 154 rounds in a row, a run that lasted over four hours and beat the previous record, which had stood since 1989, by one hour and twelve minutes.
- Some players claim that they can control the total of the dice by how they hold them, and then how they roll them. Players have been shown to be able to hold the dice in a certain way before being thrown so that certain totals are less common than others. However, it seems once the dice hit the back wall of a craps table – as many casinos insist – any throw is completely random.
- Craps is a favourite of poker legend Phil Ivey, who is known to wager millions during sessions.
Craps at online casinos
Not all online casinos offer craps, but the major casino software providers like Microgaming, NetEnt and Playtech all have versions of the game. As part of craps is the dice shooting and the excitement of your fellow players, playing online is a much less exciting proposition.
Online casino craps is simply a programmed version of the game, where the dice are thrown at random once you have made your bet.
Because of the ‘shooter’ element, craps is infrequently offered as a ‘ live casino ‘ game.