Basic Strategy


Okay, go ahead and admit it! You’ve always wanted to be part of that raucus and rowdy crowd gathered round the craps table, haven’t you. Trouble was, everything looked so fast and complicated.. The speed of the bets, all the yelling, and the strange language just made it too intimidating, so you’ve never played. Perhaps you’ve heard a “DOLLAR YO!” or “LAY THE TEN”. Why couldn’t these people speak English?

Well, now you can learn everything you always wanted to know about craps, a little at a time. You’ll learn the most important things first, and the finer points later. This time we’ll take a quick look at exactly how the game is played.

As you probably know, a game of craps is played with a pair of identical dice. The opposing faces of each die always adds up to seven. For example, the one is always opposite the six, the two opposite the five, and the three opposite the four. And that’s it – there are only three combinations on each die. Pretty simple so far, huh.

Now, you have six numbers on each die (1-6) so a pair of dice will give you 36 different combinations. The game of craps is based on how often these different combinations appear when someone rolls the dice. The following chart is a diagram of all 36 different dice combinations –

Number               Combinations    Ways

to make

2              1+1         1

3              2+1, 1+2               2

4              3+1, 1+3, 2+2     3

5              4+1, 1+4, 3+2, 2+3           4

6              5+1, 1+5, 4+2, 2+4, 3+3  5

7              6+1, 1+6, 5+2, 2+5, 4+3, 3+4        6

8              6+2, 2+6, 3+5, 5+3, 4+4  5

9              6+3, 3+6, 5+4, 4+5           4

10           6+4, 4+6, 5+5     3

11           6+5, 5+6               2

12           6+6         1

Total:     36

As you can see, in 36 possible combinations, the seven will appear the most – six times. The six and eight will appear five times each, and the five or nine will appear four times each.

The game of craps is based on the most popular number, seven, and how the other numbers compare to it. For example if a seven rolls six times (in 36) and the six rolls five times, the odds of the six rolling before the seven are 5:6. In practical terms, this means that if you bet $5 on the 6, and it rolls before the seven does, you win $6 for your $5 bet. The actual payoffs of your bets are based on these odds, but you don’t have to memorize them – just ask one of the friendly dealers and they will tell you what the payoff is for each bet.

Okay, now let’s look at the basic rules. This time we’ll take a quick look at the pass line wager – the most popular (and one of the most profitable) bets on the craps table!

When someone (called a “shooter”) tosses the dice, he can roll three things – a “natural” (a 7 or 11), a “point” or a “craps”.

If he (or she) rolls a seven (or 11) before the point is established, all of the pass line bettors win. If he rolls a “craps” (2, 3 or 12) all the pass line bettors lose. If he rolls a “point” number (4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10) he must repeat that number again before the seven rolls in order to win.

Okay so far? Good! Now let’s look at a sample roll!

The stickman pushes three or four pairs of dice to the shooter, who picks up any two and tosses them to the far wall. Say his first number is a seven. Everyone who has a bet on the pass line wins their bet! His second number is an eleven, so everyone wins again! His third number is a two (“craps”), so the pass line bettors lose this time, but he keeps on shooting.

The shooter’s fourth number is a six, which becomes the “point.” If he repeats the number six before the seven rolls, the pass line bettors win, and he shoots again. However, if the seven rolls before the six is repeated, the pass line bettors lose and someone else becomes the shooter.

Now you know enough to bet on the pass line! When you play, you might watch some other people place their bets first, and then give it a try yourself!

And, as always, good luck at the tables!

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