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You can easily recognize a craps table in a casino. It’s usually the table packed with people cheering and shouting as one lucky player is on a hot roll. You don’t get a better game to socialize and party on the casino floor. If you want adrenaline and good fun, try the craps table. Either as a player or as a spectator, you will be cheering all the way down.

Craps is also the most popular dice table game in North America. There are many other dice games that are played across the world, but craps is the one that is firmly footed in destinations like Las Vegas. Although a game of pure luck, craps gives way for using a betting strategy where you can plan your bets based on the situation and avoid big losses.

The best thing about craps is that you don’t have to play it in order to participate as in throwing the dice. Depending on how lucky he is, there can be one shooter for an entire betting session who will throw the dice, while you place bets against the casino.

Origins of Craps

Craps started out as a street game where players would bet against each other. It was the perfect game for street hustlers that would make their living off of naïve people. That’s why you will sometimes hear about two kinds of craps games: casino craps, and street craps. It’s essentially the same game, only that in casino craps you bet against the house, while in street craps you bet against the players.

The earliest evidence of a game similar to craps was found in Ancient Rome. Actually, this is where the idiom ‘To Roll the Bones’ originated from because Roman soldiers used to play craps-like games with dice made from pigs knuckles marked with symbols. So, they literally rolled bones and used their shields as tables to roll them.

Other evidence for craps predecessors can be found during the middle Ages when people on the Arabian Peninsula played a game called Azzahr (Hazard). It was a very similar game to craps. However, it was not until the 18 century when the definitive rules were founded, which are still in use today. It was during that time that people believe the game got its name. As Montmort was defining the rules, he named the lowest value of a roll as ‘crabs’, which is believed to evolved into ‘craps’.

Other versions say that the name originated and evolved from the French word for toad, which is ‘crapeaud’. Theories go as far as saying that in an attempt to reclaim the game as their own, the French named the game ‘crabes’, which would be French for ‘crabs’.

Arriving in America

The game arrived to America in Louisiana first through French soldiers playing the dice game in 1755, which they called crabes. Hundred years later the name gradually changed to craps, and it is still used till today. Even soldiers during the WWII played the game by adapting it to the life on the street across war-torn European streets. They would use a blanket to imitate a gaming surface and would surround it with blanket rolls which helped in stopping the dice.

How to Play Craps

There is only one player role in craps, and that is the ‘shooter’ role. Each bettor takes turn being the shooter, but in order to be eligible to be a shooter, you have to be actively betting on the table. After each rolling of the dice, the outcomes are determined. All the other bettors place bets against the house and try to predict what the shooter will roll. You are the shooter until your round has finished or until you get a 7.

Bets are placed before the shooter rolls the dice. You simply place your chips somewhere on the table layout where the bet you desire is outlined. When the dice have been rolled by the shooter, the stickman (which is the same as a croupier, only he holds a stick to collect the dice) determines which bets have won, and which bets have been lost. Then he makes a payout accordingly thus the betting session is restarted and everything is repeated.

Rules & Bet Types

A drawback for rookie craps players are all the different bet types. They are not complicated, but are inherently confusing for first-timers. But, you needn’t bother with other bets except with two. The most common bet is the Line Wager, which is composed of two different bets called the Don’t Pass and Pass Line. The first roll is called Come out Dice roll, and the shooter wins it if he rolls 7 or 11. If anything else comes out, he has to throw the dice again and the value is called Point.

Then the shooter needs to repeat the point before he rolls a 7. If he does roll a 7 first, the shooter loses. If he rolls the point before 7, he wins. This is called the Pass Line bet. The exact opposite of this is the Don’t Pass bet.

In truth, these two bets are the only bets you need to make until you gain a deeper sense of the game. Both the Pass Line and Don’t Pass bets pay 1 to 1, with the Pass Line bet having a slightly better house edge. It’s only 1.36%, while the edge for the Don’t Pass are 1.41%.

Craps Strategies

Craps playing does not involve any technique with which you can approach this game and show skill in your dice throwing. No, every outcome is just pure luck. But despite that, players can minimize their losses if they follow some common betting tips and thus increase their odds of winning.

First of all, beginners should avoid other bets apart from Pass Line and Don’t Pass bets. The house edge for these bets is perfect for beginners. In fact, stick only to Pass Line bets because of the slightly better house edge. Other bets that more experienced players should avoid are the preposition bets. They have the highest house edge which is why the stickman might tempt you to place them.

And, the best thing to do after the point has been established with the Come out Dice roll is to take the odds bet. By betting smart you can maintain an average loss that can open the way to bigger wins because many casinos offer double, triple and quadruple the odds. Some casinos will even offer 5x the odds. This means that with one big hit you can cover your maintained average loss and cash out more.


Try to do some research on taking the odds bet while keeping the Pass Line or Come bet low. It’s probably the most effective betting strategy you can do with a game of craps where luck is the only factor in the outcomes.

There are lots of experienced craps players that have proven such strategies to be the best and would gladly transfer their knowledge to you. The online gambling community is a generous and friendly one, so try to take advantage of that when you want to master craps.

At first sight craps may seem like a hard game, but in reality it only takes a couple of shooter rolls to get you to fall in love with this game. Try it and you will not get enough of it.