In folktales, when people gamble with the Devil for their souls, do you know what game they always play? Craps look in the casinos: It’s the wildest, loudest, most exciting game on the floor. Where there’s a hot game going, the players shout, throw money and chips all over the table, exult when they win, swear when they lose. Because a casino does not control the dice, Lady Luck is really the pit boss at the craps table, perhaps more so than in any other game.
Always wanted to play but were afraid to do it? No problem; let’s look at the table. It’s a long rectangle with rounded ends and a little wall around part of the edge for the dice to bounce off. At the center of the table, on one side, is the Stick-man. He holds the hooked stick used to rake up the dice and deliver them to the player whose turn it is to roll. Directly across from him, also at the table’s middle, stands Boxman, who is the monitor of the entire table? In front of him you’ll see the bank of chips needed for that table. To his left is one Dealer; to his right is the second Dealer. Each Dealer changes your cash into chips, pays off winning bets and takes in the losing bets for that half of the table.
Printed on the table is a sort of grid. A band runs around the outside of the table’s edge which says “Pass Line.” Just inside of that is the “Don’t Pass” bar, which runs almost all the way around too except it’s interrupted at the corners. In the center of the table across from the Boxman is an area blocked into boxes saying things like “Any Craps,” and “Seven.” This is the Proposition Bets area. Players and watchers gather on 3 sides of the table, mostly squeezing in at both ends — since that’s where the dice land.
Watch a table for a while to see how it goes, first. A beginner really should go to tables with the lowest minimum allowed bet ($1 or $5), and these limits will be written on the table’s wall, under each Dealer. A player will roll the dice, several times, until he gets a 7 or has completed a game and doesn’t want to roll again. Then the dice are passed to a new player. You’ll notice that each time a new player (shooter) gets the dice, he must put a bet down on the Pass Line, or they Don’t Pass Line, before he rolls. The first roll of the dice is called the Come out Roll. The shooter stands at one end of the table and the Dealer offers him 5 or 6 dice; he picks 2 and throws them down toward the other end, where they must bounce off the wall. (If they fly off the table, or don’t reach the wall, he throws again. Takes a little practice; I had to try it on a pool table first.) Anyone and everyone around the table may place a bet too, before he rolls, and many of these will be Pass Line Bets. When you bet on the pass line, you are said to be betting with the shooter, and you’re hoping that he will do one of these things:
a) Roll a 7, or 11. This is called a “Natural,” and anyone with money on the Pass Line in this instance has won his bet already, paying even money. Players should leave their original bet there, just picking up the winnings if they wish, because the shooter will roll again and they have additional chances to win.
b) Roll any of these numbers: 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10. When one of these comes up it is called the shooter’s Point. He will keep rolling and he must roll this point number again before he rolls a 7, to win his (and your) Pass Line bet.
c) You do not want him to roll a 2, 3, or 12. This is Craps, or crapping out, and losing. But he still rolls again.
Any player, including the shooter, can bet on the Don’t Pass line. If they do, they are betting for Craps to come up on the Come out roll, or for the shooter to establish a Point and then roll a 7 before rolling the point number again. They are not really betting against the shooter, but this is how it’s described; Don’t Pass bets are just bets against certain combinations of the dice and for others. We call those online casino betting on the pass line Right Bettors and those on the don’t pass line, Wrong Bettors. People like you to bet with the shooter, you’ll notice!
Okay, so now one roll has been made. If the first was a natural or craps, this second roll is actually another Come out roll. If the shooter establishes a point, the Dealer places a Puck whose upside says “ON” on that point number’s square on the table. Everyone will be putting more bets down before the second roll. Some of these will be Odds Bets, also called free-odds, or Front-line odds.
If you originally made a bet on the Pass Line and a point was set, it’s a very good idea to back it up now with an odds bet. This means you are making an additional bet on the number, and if the shooter makes his point, your odds as well as your pass line bet wins. The pass line win pays you dollar for dollar, but odds pay according to the true odds, the actual probability of that number occurring. Where single odds are permitted, you can bet up to the amount of your original pass line bet. Some casinos allow you to bet double your pass line bet, and some allow more. The house has no advantage on odds bets, so you should maximize them. In craps you should play to win, not play just not to lose, and these are some of the best bets you will find in the casino. Suppose the point was a 4; the true odds of 4 recurring before a 7 is 2 to 1. If you bet $5 on the pass line, and then put down double odds on the point, or another $10, and the shooter makes his point, you’d have turned your $15 into $40. You make an odds bet by putting the additional chips on the table behind your pass line bet.