The craps table is about 14 feet long with a felt surface. It has deep sides, about a foot high, covered in a diamond pyramid rubber bumper. This surface is what the dice are thrown at and the texture gives the dice a random roll. The top rail has chip holders for each player.
Screenshot of craps table provided by bovada casino site.
The layout will always be similar to the picture above. Notice the ends are almost mirror images, and both have the most common bets. The center bets are shared by players from both ends of the table.
You usually find four casino personnel operating the craps table. There are some new electronic tables operated by a single person but these are not common yet. The four persons are two dealers, a stick man and a box man. Each has a job to do. The standing dealers each have an end to manage. They take your money, give it to the box man. He counts it and tells the dealer how many chips to give the player. They make sure players bets are made and positioned properly on the layout.
Each player has a specific spot for his/her bet, particularly in the place bets boxes. After the roll, winning bets are paid off by the dealers and losing bets are removed. Before the next roll, all new bets must be made quickly by the player and again placed appropriately by the dealer. The player must communicate well with the dealers. They learn how you bet and may automatically place your bet where you want unless you change your way or automatically pay you off.
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The stickman is in the center, across from the dealers and boxman. The stickman uses his stick to move dice around the table from end to end. The stickman also controls the bets in the center section. Once all bets have been made he uses the stick to push the dice in front of the player to roll. The stickman is the voice of the table, calling out the roll, talking up bets with high odds, and placing players money in the boxes.
The boxman is the head man at the table. Any decision made is by him. If a die flies off the table, the boxman inspects it and decides to put it back into play. He takes the players money and tells the dealer to give chips to players. When the dice are rolled, he looks one way and the stickman looks the other to prevent possible cheating. The boxman sits always, and is responsible for the casino’s money. All cash is dropped in the drop box. If a dealer needs chips for payouts, he gives them chips. If the chips build up in front of the dealer, he takes some of them.
Other personnel away from the table are the floorman and the pit boss. They are supervisors of multiple tables.
As mentioned each end is identical. The starting point for most players is the pass line. This box extends from the center by the stick man around the outer part of the layout, to near the dealer. It is reachable by every player. The next line in, but much less played, is the don’t pass bar. It is cut in half at the corner by the Big 6 and Big 8 boxes. The next box is the field bets. 2,3,4,9,10,11 and 12. Inside the field bets is the come line. Near the dealer are located the place bets, 4,5,6,8,9,10. Between the place bets and the dealer is a box where the buck. Once a point is established by the come out roll, the buck is placed with the “on” side up in the corresponding box to let the players know the point.
The dice are cubes with dots on them, one through six. Two dies are rolled and the total of the two is the number thrown. There are 6 X 6 or 36 possible combinations ranging from 2 to 12. Each number has a number of ways to roll which determines the odds of rolling that number. There are 6 combinations which can be rolled to total a 7. Therefore, the odds of rolling 7 are 6/36 or 1/6. The odds of rolling either a 6 or 8 are 5/36 but the odds of rolling a 6 or an 8 before a 7 is 5:6 (5/36 to 6/36 = 5:6).
These numbers establish the payoffs and odds payoffs.
Knowing the odds of a roll occurring before a seven is rolled is important and will come with playing craps. The dealers are very good on advising you the proper bet until you get it down.
Playing Craps – How Its Played
When you walk up to a craps table, the game may be in the middle of a roll, but for our purposes lets assume the dice have just changed hands and bets are being placed for a new shooter. Place your cash on the table and ask for chips. Chips will be given and you will place your first bet on the pass line in front of you. The dealer will watch and know those are your chips.
Rule: On the come out roll, if a seven or eleven is rolled the bet, and all pass line bets are winners and are paid even money. If a 2,3, or 12 are rolled, these numbers are craps and are losers. If any of the other numbers, the 4,5,6,8,9, or 10 are rolled, no one wins or loses (on the pass line bet). Each dealer places the buck, white, or on, side up behind the place bet numbers. This is called the “point.” Now, the shooter must roll the point number again before rolling a seven for the pass line to pay off. If a seven is rolled before the point, all pass line bets are losers. This is called seven out. If the point is rolled, all pass line bets are paid off, along with other related bets.
This is the simplest bet in craps, but one of the most common and with a house edge of only 1.41%, it is one of the best bets in the casino. If you take odds, discussed later, this can be reduced to 0.8%, or 0.6% or less if greater odds are taken, making it the bet in the casino with the lowest casino advantage.
But what if you don’t like the point number. For example, if the point is four, a seven is twice as likely to be rolled as another four. There are only three ways to roll a four, and six ways to roll a seven. You can wait and hope a four is rolled, and lose 2 out of 3 times, or you can place bets on numbers that are more likely to be rolled. The most often of the point numbers to be rolled are the 6 and 8. If you want, you may place a bet on one or both of these numbers. You can place bets on 4,5,6,8,9, or 10. The 6 and 8 have the lowest casino advantage, the 5 and 9 have the next lowest, and the 4 and 10 have the highest of the place bets.
There are 5 ways to win and 6 ways to lose, so the true odds are 5 to 6, and the correct payoff would be 6 for 5,. But the casino doesn’t pay the true odds, because it has to make a profit for letting you place this bet. So the casino pays 7 for 6. That puts the casino advantage at 1.52%. Still not bad by casino standards. So, you give the dealer $12 and he/she puts $6 on six and $6 on eight. If, on the next roll, a four, six or eight are rolled, you are a winner. When a seven rolls, all three wages are lost.
This gives an overview of how craps is played. I separate craps into good bets and bad bets in the following pages.