To a new player, craps looks like a very intimidating game. Just look at the layout; it resembles an ancient Egyptian hieroglyph that tells some elaborate sacrificial story. However, nothing could be further from the truth. Craps is a simple game, made even simpler because most of the bets are worthless to the smart player, although ploppies – the unschooled, unthinking masses of craps players – will fall all over themselves to wager on them and regularly watch their chips go to the casino.

If you have never played craps before, the next issues of Southern Gaming and Destinations are for you. I’ll explain how the game is played – in short, the who, what, when, where, why and how of it all. Even if you are a seasoned pro, a refresher course could be just what you are looking for.

Graph 1.1

Number       Ways          to Make Combinations
2                    one              1:1
3                    two              2:1, 1:2
4                    three           3:1, 1:3, 2:2
5                    four             4:1, 1:4, 3:2, 2:3
6                    five              5:1, 1:5, 4:2, 2:4, 3:3
7                    six               6:1, 1:6, 5:2, 2:5, 4:3, 3:4
8                    five              6:2, 2:6, 5:3, 3:5, 4:4
9                    four             6:3, 3:6, 5:4, 4:5
10                  three           6:4, 4:6, 5:5
11                  two              6:5, 5:6
12                  one              6:6


The Dice
A die has six sides, so there are 36 possible combinations of two dice in the game of craps: six sides times six sides = 36 combinations. Each side (or face) of a die will have various numbered pips: 1-pip, 2-pips, 3-pips, 4-pips, 5-pips and 6-pips. Given two dice, the lowest number that can be rolled is a two (1-pip + 1-pip); the highest number is 12 (6-pips + 6-pips). There is only one way to make a 2 and only one way to make a 12. Graph 1.1 shows you the possible combinations that can be made with two dice.

As you can see the 7 is the number that comes up the most and is the key number in the game of craps. If you look at a set of casino dice you will also find that the front side and its opposite back side add up to 7. So opposite the 1-pip is the 6-pip; opposite the 2-pip is the 5-pip; opposite the 3-pip is the 4-pip.
Casino dice can come in various sizes, colors and opacity. The usual sizes are 5/8 inch and 3/4 inch. Some dice are clear; some are frosted.


The Personnel
Craps tables generally have four people working the game, three dealers and a box person. One dealer, called the stickman, stands on the side of the table with the players. He is called the stickman because he has a long stick that he uses to move the dice. He gives the dice to the shooter; takes the dice to the middle of the table between rolls; and announces the payoffs of the winning bets in the middle of the table for the dealers to pay.

The other two dealers stand on the opposite side of the table from the stickman, one to his left and one to his right. Each of these dealers is responsible for paying off winning bets and taking the losing bets from the players on their side of the table. Between the two dealers is the box person who supervises the game to make sure no bets are mishandled and that buy-ins and payouts are done correctly.

In the pit, behind the box person will be a floor person, in charge of supervising various craps tables in his pit, rating the players, and giving (usually) non-gourmet comps. In serious disputes, the floor person will be brought in to give his or her judgment. In charge of all the craps tables and perhaps other games as well is the pit boss.


The Table
There are different types of craps tables, each with minor differences in their layouts and sometimes in the payoffs of their bets. I am going to give you a generic table. Both the left and right sides of the table are the same in terms of which bets are offered. Going around the outside of the layout is the Pass Line (a good bet); above that is the Don’t Pass (a good bet) with the word bar and the dice showing a 12. The bar means that the 12 is a tie if it appears for Don’t bettors. On some of the older tables you will note a BIG 6/8 bet in the corners. This is a sucker bet.

Above the Don’t Pass line is a bet called the Field (a bad bet). The Field combines the numbers 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11 and 12. Above the Field is the Come area. The Come bet is a good bet. At the top of the layout are the “Point” numbers, also called the “box numbers” – 4, 5, 6, 8, 9 and 10. These point/box numbers can be good or bad depending on how they are being used. In the upper corners of the layout are the Don’t Come boxes. The Don’t Come is also a good bet.

Okay, now take a look at the center of the table. These are the worst bets at the game of craps, known as “Crazy Crapper” bets, so named by the legendary Captain. They are more commonly called “Proposition Bets.” They stink. Here are the names of these bets: the Hardways (2:2, 3:3, 4:4, 5:5), the 2 (Snake Eyes), the 12 (Boxcars), the 11 (Yo), the 3, and Any Craps. There are also combination bets called the Whirl or the World, the Horn, also a multitude of Hop bets and the dastardly Any Seven. Some tables will have other proposition bets such as the money gobbling Fire Bet. As stated, these bets all stink – they should be called suicide bets for your average craps player.

If craps bets are compared to movie genres then the Crazy Crapper bets would be slasher films, cutting your bankroll into bloody chum so take this into consideration in you next playing session.


By: Frank Scoblete

Author Bio: Frank Scoblete is America’s #1 best-selling gaming author. He is holding his “Frank Scoblete’s World Casino Championships” in Las Vegas on August 14, 15 and 16. This event consists of tournaments, classes, parties and an awards banquet! Call 1-800-944-0406 for a free brochure. Frank also has his own Sports Service with his partner Dominator and best-selling author Bill Burton: “Dominator’s Golden Touch Sports Service.” Call 1-866-738-3423 for more information.