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Craps: Snake Eyes, Just the mention of craps conjures images of gangsters in double-breasted suits huddled around the table shouting "snake eyes again!" There are few casino games that stir up the emotions as the classic game of craps.
For such a colorful game, it is unsurprising that Craps has an equally colorful history: as one legend explains, Sir William of Tyre invented the game in order to provide his knights with entertainment during the Crusades. Another story says that Roman soldiers played the earliest version with pigs’ knuckles and shields (hence the term “roll the bones”).
Modern Craps was brought to Louisiana by a wealthy French landowner named Bernard Xavier Philippe de Marigny de Mandeville. Like many other casino games, it flourished in the New World, keeping some of the rules and vocabulary from the Old World and introducing some of its own to satisfy local tastes.
Street Craps took off during World War II, when it was played by soldiers on Army blankets (perhaps the stories about Crusaders and Roman soldiers are true after all!).
Casino Craps developed during the same era, thanks to a man named John H. Winn. He introduced a number of changes, including: “Right” or “Wrong” betting, “Don’t Pass bets” and the everlasting rule in which players could bet with or against the shooter.
Craps grew in popularity in Nevada casinos and experienced another boom with the introduction of online gambling in the 1990s and 2000s. As craps is a very social game, the online version has experienced less success than its poker, blackjack and video poker counterparts, but this is sure to change as developers come up with new ways to merge online gambling with social gaming and networking.
As one would expect of such a colourful game, Craps has quite a rich vocabulary of its own. All the numbers have nicknames – many of which are global and others of which are confined to specific casinos. Below are some of the most important terms you should learn:
Aces: Wager on the next roll equalling total value of 2.
Any Craps: Wager on next roll equalling total value of 2, 3 or 12.
Any Seven: Wager on next roll equalling total of 7.
Boxcars: Wager on next roll equalling 12.
C & E: Wager on next roll having total value of craps (2, 3 or 12) or 11.
Come Out Roll: First roll in any betting round, which fixes the point for Pass bets and Don’t Pass Line bets.
Don’t Come Bet: Wager on 7 appearing before the point is established again.
Don’t Pass Bet: Wager on shooter rolling craps or 7 instead of making the point.
Easy Way: Roll roll of 4, 6, 8 or 10 in which the two dice have different values from each other (as in, they don’t come out in pairs of 2/2, 3/3, etc.).
Field Bet: Wager on 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11 or 12.
Hardway: Wager on 4, 6, 8 or 10 being thrown as pairs (2/2, etc.) before appearance of 7 or Easy Way.
Hi-Lo: Wager on next roll being 12 or 2 (highest and lowest possible values).
Natural: Come Out Roll of 7 or 11.
Odds Bet: Wager made in addition to Pass Line bet.
Off: Wager that is not active for the next roll.
On: Wager that is active for the next roll.
Place Bet: wager that a specific number (e.g. 6 or 9) will be rolled before a 7 is rolled.
Pass Line Bet: Wager on pass line on a Come Out Roll.
Point: Number determined by the Come Out Roll.
The shooter begins the game by placing at least a minimum bet on the Pass Line or Don’t Pass Line. They roll two dice, which must hit the walls at the other end of the table before settling on an eventual position (in an Online Craps game or Mobile Craps game, these actions are simulated on your screen). The shooter is one of the players, with the title alternating clockwise around the table following each round.
Every round is divided into two parts: Come Out and Point. A round begins with Come Out roll. If the Come Out roll “craps out” (2, 3 or 12), it ends with all players losing their Pass Line Bets. If it is a “natural’ (7 or 11), all players win Pass Line Bets. If it is anything else (4, 5, 6, 8, 9 or 10) that number become the “point” and the round moves into its second phase. If the shooter rolls the point again, all Pass Line bets win. If he rolls “seven-out”, Pass Line bets lose and a new round begins.
Craps tables are divided into three main areas: the centre area contains all proposition bets (one-roll bets with a big House advantage and hardway bets); the two side areas contain Pass bets, Don’t Pass bets, Come and Don’t Come bets, Odds bets, Place bets and Field bets.
Craps is a complicated game, which means there are an endless number of advanced and intermediate strategy that the Craps enthusiast can learn. If you’re just starting out, it is worth learning a few basic strategies that will help you feel comfortable betting small amounts.
The most basic bet one can make in Craps is the Pass Line bet during the first half of each round. Three scenarios can eventuate here: you can win even money on a natural (7 or 11), lose on a crap out (2, 3, 12) or win even money if it hits the point (all other numbers) and hits the point again before hitting 7.
A popular basic strategy for beginners is to follow a Pass Line bet with a series of Come Line bets, according to the following formula: 1. Pass Line bet; 2. Shooter rolls; 3. Make bet with single or double odds; 4. Make a Come Line bet. 5. Shooter rolls. 6. Repeat steps 3-4. 7. Shooter rolls.
Craps is all about the House edge. Pass Line bets give the House a 1.41% advantage. Other bets give the House a greater edge but hold the attraction of higher payouts for players.
- Craps is a difficult game to understand if you’re just starting out, so why not try a free-play version offered by any of the leading online casinos? Play to your heart’s content without spending a cent. When you think you understand the game sufficiently, move on to real-money gaming.
- If you’re just starting out, stick to the low-risk bets – Pass Line bet and Come Line bet. Once you feel comfortable, you might consider going for higher-risk proposition bets in the centre of the table.
- Craps is a social game, whether you’re playing online or at a casino. But take note: while you should always make sure to have fun and make new friends, you are playing for yourself. The bets other players make have no impact on your bets. It is you against the House.