Players take turns rolling two dice, betting on the same roll regardless of who is rolling. The player rolling the dice is called the "shooter". The first roll of a new round is called the "come-out roll." All bets are based on the total of both dice together, or on the specific combination of the roll.
Craps features a plethora of bets, but the most fundamental is the "pass line" wager, which nearly all players make. On a come-out roll, the pass line bettors win when either a 7 or 11 is rolled. A 2, 3, or 12 loses, and is called "craps". When any other number (4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10) is rolled, it is called the point. Once a point has been set, the pass-line bettor wins if the point is rolled again, and loses if a 7 is rolled first ("seven-out"). A shooter will continue to roll (even if he/she rolls craps) until a seven-out, at which point the dice pass to the next shooter for a new come-out roll.
The opposite of a pass line bet is the "don't pass" bet, which wins on a come-out roll of 2 or 3, loses on 7 or 11, ties on 12, and goes to the point round when any other number is rolled. In the point round the don't pass bet wins if a 7 is rolled and loses if the point is rolled. People who bet on the don't pass are called wrong bettors, while those who bet on the pass are called right bettors, only because most craps players make the pass line bet instead of the don't pass bet.
A casino craps table is run by four casino employees: a boxman who guards the chips, supervises the dealers and handles coloring out players; two base dealers who stand to either side of the boxman and collect and pay bets; and a stickman who stands directly across the table from the boxman and announces the results of each roll and then collects the dice with an elongated wooden stick. He is also in charge of managing the bets made on the center of the table (hardways, yo, horn, etc).
A new shooter, who must bet the table minimum on either the pass line or the don't pass line to play, is presented five dice by the stickman and picks two. The dealers will usually insist that the shooter roll with one hand and that the dice bounce off the wall surrounding the table. These requirements are meant to prevent cheating attempts by players switching the dice or making a "controlled shot." If a die leaves the table, the shooter will usually be asked to select another die from the remaining three but can request using the same die if it passes the boxman's inspection. This requirement is used in an effort to reduce cheating the game by players substituting loaded dice for the regulation dice.
The fundamental bet in craps is the pass line bet, in which one bets that the dice will pass (that is, roll the point number before rolling a 7). A pass line bet is also won if the come-out roll is a 7 or 11. The following discussion assumes that the shooter, as is usually the case, is betting on the pass line.
If a 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10 is thrown on the come-out roll (i.e., if a point is set), most casinos allow pass line bettors to take odds by placing from one to five times (and at some casinos, up to 100 times) the pass line bet behind the line. This additional bet wins if the point is rolled again before a 7 is rolled (the point is made) and pays at the true odds, 2-to-1 if 4 or 10 is the point, 3-to-2 if 5 or 9 is the point, and 6-to-5 if 6 or 8 is the point. Odds bets in craps are one of the few bets offered at a casino that are completely free of any house advantage.
There are a total of 36 possible combinations; thus on the come-out roll there are 8 ways to win, 4 ways to lose and 24 ways to make a point. The odds of making the point are the ratio of the number of ways to make a 7 to the number of ways to make the point. For example, there are five ways to make a 6 or 8, so the odds of making a point of 6 or 8 are 6-5. Therefore an odds bet of $5 on 6 or 8 pays out $6. In general, due to proximity with even odds, the pass line and odds bets are two of the best wagers one can make in casino gambling.
The rules for the come wagers are the same as for the pass line except that they can only be made after the come-out roll. Effectively, they represent starting a new game using the same stream of numbers being generated by the existing (pass line) game. Because of the come bet, if the shooter makes their point, a player can find themselves in the situation where they have a come bet with odds on it, and yet be rooting for the shooter to roll a 7 on their next come-out roll. Because of this, it is usual that odds bets on come wagers are presumed to be not working. That means that if the shooter rolls a 7 on the come-out roll, any players with active come bets lose their initial wager but will have their odds money returned to them, unless they tell the dealer that they want their odds working. Conversely, if the shooter rolls a number that matches an active come bet, the original bet is paid off at even money and the odds money is returned to the player (unless they told the dealer that they wanted their odds working, in which case they are paid at the true odds).
There is also a don't come box in which one can place bets that the dice will not pass on the next sequence starting with the immediate roll as a virtual come-out roll; even the shooter may bet that he or she will miss out. Don't pass and don't come bets are basically the opposite of pass and come bets; the player is betting that a 7 will be rolled before the point. On the come-out roll a 7 or an 11 is a loss, whereas a 2, 3, or 12 is a win. Casino craps layouts bar either 2 or 12 on the don't pass and don't come bets. This means that if 2 is barred and the shooter rolls a 2 on the come-out roll, the wager is a stand off and the player's money is returned. On the craps felt the rules regarding whether the 2 or 12 tie on a don't come bet are usually displayed as DON'T COME BAR with a picture of the dice displaying the number two or twelve. This can be confusing to novice players, but is merely indicating the spot to place a don't come bet (DON'T COME) and the rules on which number ties (BAR two/twelve).
When betting against the shooter, the bettor must put up the long side of the bet. Thus a don't pass bettor who bets $10 when the point is a 4 could place an odds bet of $20 behind the line. If the shooter rolls a 7 before achieving their point, the bettor would receive $10 for the don't pass bet plus $10 for their odds bet. Even though the house advantage on the don't pass and don't come bets are almost identical to the pass line and come bets, for most players the disadvantage of putting up the long side of the bet makes the don't pass line less desirable.
Proposition bets are generally located in the center of a craps table, and often pay off at high odds but with a significantly higher house advantage. These are one roll bets that the shooter will make an 11, or "yo"; 3, or "ace-deuce"; 2, or "snake eyes"; and 12, "box cars" or "midnight". A "hi-lo" is a combination bet on 2 or 12; the stickman places this bet on the line dividing the 2 and 12 bets.
The Horn is a bet that involves betting on 1 unit each for 2, 3, 11 and 12 at the same time for the next roll. The bet is actually four separate bets, and pays off depending on which number is actually rolled, minus three units for the other three losing bets. Most players do a "Horn High" bet which involves betting an additional $1 on one of the 4 choices, with the most frequent being a $5 "horn high yo" bet (which means $2 on the 11, $1 each on 2, 3 & 12).
Hardway bets are bets that a shooter will make a hardway number such as 4-4 (before throwing a 7 or an 8 the easy way such as 6-2 or 5-3). The hard 4 (2-2) and hard 10 (5-5) pay off at 8-1 odds, and the hard 6 (3-3) and hard 8 (4-4) pay off at 10-1 odds.
A hop bet is a bet on any combination of the dice on the next roll. For example, hard 8 on the hop pays 30-1 if two fours appear on the dice on the next roll only. "Easy" combinations may also be bet, such as a 3-5 or 2-6, paying off at 15-1 odds. On most craps tables, hop bets do not have a designated space on the layout; instead, they are kept in front of the boxman, often with a "hop" marker placed on top of the chips.
Craps is a bet that the shooter will roll 2, 3 or 12 on the next roll. C & E is actually two bets. A player is betting one unit on craps and another unit on 11. One of the two bets will always lose, and the other will pay off as above.
Any Seven is a bet that the shooter will roll a seven on the next roll. This bet is also nicknamed "Big Red," since the "7" on its betting space on the layout is usually large and red.
A whirl or world bet is a five-unit bet that is a combination of a horn and any-seven bet. The bet is effectively a push if a 7 rolls, since the 4-1 payoff on the any-seven bet is offset by the other four losing bets.
The field bet is a wager that one of the numbers 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11, or 12 will appear on the next roll of the dice. This bet pays 2-1 on the 2 or 12 and even money on the others. This bet is located in a box between the don't pass line and the come box. Unlike the other proposition bets which are handled by the dealers or stickman, the field bet is placed directly by the player.
The Big 6 and Big 8 wagers are considered by craps players as sucker bets because they pay even money while a player can bet on the same proposition (a 6 will be rolled before a 7) by placing the 6 or the 8, which pays 7-6. Veteran craps players avoid these bets, and some casinos (particularly those in Atlantic City) do not even offer them. These are located in the corners behind the pass line, and bets are placed directly by players.
Players can place or buy individual numbers (4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10) by placing their wager in the come area and telling the dealer, "place the 6" or "buy the 8". Both are bets that the number will be rolled before a 7. Place bets are paid at odds slightly worse than true odds for the 6 or 8, but significantly worse for the 4, 5, 9 or 10.
Buying the number results in a payoff at the true odds, but requires a 5% commission to be paid to the casino. Traditionally, the buy bet commission is paid no matter what, but in recent years a number of casinos have changed their policy to charge the commission only when the buy bet wins. The commission is paid at the rate of a $1 chip for every $20 wagered, but casinos usually charge only $1 for a $25 green-chip bet, or $2 for $50 (two green chips), reducing the house advantage a bit more. Where commission is charged only on wins, the commission is sometimes deducted from the winning payoff — a winning $25 buy bet on the 10 would pay $49, for instance.
A lay bet is the opposite of a buy bet, where a player bets on a 7 to roll before the number that is "laid." Bets are made in increments of $24 when laying the 6 or 8, $30 when laying the 5 or 9, and $40 when laying the 4 or 10; a $1 commission is charged upfront for each of these increments. Again, the tradition is to charge this commission win or lose, but casinos may opt to charge it only when the bet wins; this is less of an advantage for the player, since the bet wins more often than it loses. Most lay bets are on the 4 or 10.
Besides the rules of the actual game, certain unwritten rules of etiquette exist while playing craps and are expected to be followed. Many consider these guidelines as important as the actual rules themselves. New players should familiarize themselves with them before approaching a craps table.