craps strategy

Craps Strategy Guide

Craps is one of the most popular - and loudest - games played at the casino. It has some of the best odds in all casino games. It also has some terrible odds if you don't know what you're looking for.

Our guide will help you see what to go for, and what to avoid. We have expert advice that's been tested in casinos. Avoid mistakes and play your best game now!

How is Online Craps Different From in the Casino?

Your experience with online craps will be less complicated for you than craps in a casino, and the great thing is that you can transfer your skills from online casinos to a brick and mortar casino if you like. Online craps is faster than casino craps as you're not waiting for the stickman and dealer to mess with your chips, and especially because you don't have to wait for superstitious shooters to work through all their rituals. There will also be no mistakes or confusion around the protocol, whose chips are whose, and when you can bet. 

The Rules of Craps

We'll begin with your first roll of the dice, which is called the Come Out. If you roll a 7 or 11, you automatically win your bet. This is called a natural win, and you can roll again.

If you roll a 2, 3, or 12, that's called craps. You'll lose your bet money, but you can still continue rolling.  

If you roll any other number (4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10), that number then becomes your "point." If you roll your point again, you've made a "pass." That means you win; you can collect your bet and roll again.

You lose if you roll a 7. That means that you don't just lose your bet, but the dice also goes to the next player. 

Betting Behind the Pass Line on the Come Out

There are few pieces of advice that gamblers agree on, but one of them is that your safest bet is betting behind the Pass line on the Come Out roll, or, what amounts to the same odds, on the Come line of the Point roll. Here you have even odds with the casino. How's that?

There is an even number of ways to win or lose with the first roll. Winners are 7 and 11, losers are 2, 3, and 12. So why is that even? There are six combinations that make a 7, and 2 that make 11, meaning there are eight combinations that give you a natural win.

There's one way to score a 2, 2 for a 3, and 1 for a 12. So that's 4 combinations that make craps. If the game stopped there, there'd be no reason not to put tons of money behind the Come bet every time.

"But," you're wisely calculating, "8 is more than 4. So aren't I twice as likely to win? Shouldn't I be throwing all my money behind the line?" Well, if that were the end of the game, and if you could retract your Come Out bet, then definitely. But, understandably, casinos won't let you do that. So how do things get even between players and the casino?

The Come Bet

Craps has two opportunities for players to be on equal footing with the house. The first we've just seen: the behind the Pass line bet on the Come out. The second is the come bet. The terminology may be a little confusing here, but the first roll the shooter makes is the Come out, and you can bet the odds behind the Pass or Don't Pass lines. If the shooter rolls any number besides a 7 or 11 (which would be a win) or 2, 3, or 12 (craps), that number becomes their point number. 

But you can place money down on this second roll according to the same rules as the first roll; that is, it's the shooter's point roll, but for you, it's the Come Out. In a casino, you'd place your chips in the Come box, and in an online game, you'll do the equivalent. These are the same odds from the perspective of the bettor in that this also pays off at true odds with no house advantage. When you bet on the point bet, the odds are the same. The shooter will lose if they roll 7, but there is no penalty for rolling 2, 3, or 12.

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No House Advantage in Craps?

Thus, you have two scenarios in which there is no house advantage in craps. For casino games, this is as good as it gets. As you might imagine, this 50-50 deal doesn't last long in craps, otherwise, casinos couldn't stay open. The remainder of the bets offered on the table each has some house advantage, from slight to severe. The house is making a gamble of its own: that you'll be a bit greedy (or, what amounts to the same, "feel lucky") at least sometimes, and that you'll wager on one of those high risk, high payoff bets. 

Lucky 7? 

So you see that role of the number 7 passes after the Come Out. In the Come Out, you want to see it, because it means an automatic win for you (as does the 11). Odds are even for you and the house there, so that stands to be a good win. 

But once the point is set, you really don't want to see that 7. Rolling a 7 then is the end of the road for you.

Proposition Bets

There are a number of bets you can make on specific combinations that can be rolled. Obviously, these are higher stake rolls as it is difficult enough to correctly guess the number, much less the combination that will add up to that sum. Here are some of the combinations and their common payouts (though this may depend on the game you're playing:

  • 2 (Snake Eyes): pays 30 to 1.
  • 3 (Ace Deuce): 15 to 1.
  • 7 (Big Red): pays 4 to 1.
  • Eleven (Yo): pays 15 to 1. 
  • 12 (Boxcars, 2 6s): pays 30 to 1.
  • Any Craps: 2, 3 or 12, pays 7 to 1.

You'll notice that some bets pay more than others, and this is simply due to their likelihood of being rolled. You can roll 7 (Big Red) 6 different ways, so that's why it's payout is lowest. On the other hand, 2 and 12 can only be rolled one way - by doubling the 1 or 6 - which is why their payout is so high. 

There is a big jump in likelihood, payout, and strategy when we get to the propositions bets. In terms of likelihood, your odds can be as poor as 1 in 36, though you'll find that the payout doesn't quite match those odds. Still, payouts can be much, much more rewarding if you're willing to go out on a limb. No doubt, if you're lucky, you've got a big payout coming your way.

Finally, in terms of strategy, well, all the strategy you've been working on gets tossed aside a bit when we go to the proposition bets. We were playing good odds with the behind the lines bets and building up a gradual strategy. But with the proposition bets, we let go of the little strategy that's available in craps in order to go for it. Obviously this is your decision, and it's where the casino is looking to recuperate from the even bets offered on the behind the lines bets. 

The 6 or 8 Box

There are few absolutes in craps, but this is one we'll tell you: Do not ever bet on the 6/8 Box. Payouts are lower than making the same bet on the point, so put your money there. 

The 3 Point Molly Strategy

One very popular approach to playing craps is called the 3 Point Molly. While nothing is foolproof in games of luck, this gives you some of the strongest statistical likelihood of winning. It is a strategy of repeated, gradual wins to slowly build a big bank. It takes no large chances and offers a little opportunity of enormous payouts like folks who bet the proposition bets are hoping to score.

With the 3 Point Molly Strategy, you simply want to have 3 bets going behind the line at once. That is generally one behind the Pass line and two lined up on points. We definitely recommend having at least one of those be statistically most probable (i.e., 6 or 8). If you're feeling like pressing your luck a bit but not ready for a proposition bet, put some money down on a 4 or 10 here. You'll still see a good payout without being tied to being paid only on one combination. 

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As you see, craps doesn't have to be a crapshoot. It has two of the safest bets in all casino games, and you can mount a slow campaign to walk home a winner. If you want to try your odds and chance a big win, craps also has some high payouts if luck is on your side. Practice your strategy, go out on a limb if you feel like it, and bet like there is a tomorrow.