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Smarter Bet Guide to Craps
by Basil Nestor
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Some craps bets are good, some are not-so-good, and some are for suckers. The Smarter Bet Guide to Craps separates the best from the rest, and makes craps easy to learn. Everything is here in a clear-cut format: Table layout, dice-shooting techniques, a detailed analysis of every craps bet, and mathematically proven strategies that help lower the casino's advantage. A good basic guide to the game for players who are just starting out.
Roxy Palance Craps
Book Picture
Roxy Palace has slick craps action at their site with a nice looking table and 3 times odds on the pass and come bets. The minimum bet is $1 and the max is $300. The table is nicely designed and the betting action is intuitive. Be sure to check out the blue dice!
Play Now at Roxy Palace!An In-Depth Casino Tropez Review by ReadyBetGo!!

Playing the Basic Craps Game

There are dozens of interesting craps bets that we’ll cover in later sections and in the next article, but right now let’s talk about the practical aspects of playing the game.

CrapsBasil NestorBasil Nestor is the author of the new Playboy Complete Guide to Casino Gambling. This wonderful book teaches players how to avoid sucker bets and win more when playing gambling games.  He is also the author of The Smarter Bet Guide series for video poker, slots, craps, and many other books about gambling.  Basil's website is  is played on a table like the one pictured below. It’s big, typically about five feet wide and ten feet long. The sides are high to prevent dice from coming off the layout. The top edge has a rail with grooves to hold your chips, and below that is a ledge for drinks. It’s everything necessary to shoot craps like a member of the Rat Pack.

Notice that the layout has boxes that correspond to the various points, and a long strip called the pass line that runs nearly the length of the table. Above that is an area labeled “don’t pass.”

Craps Table

The dealer who stands at the center of the table holding the long curved stick is the stickperson (or “stickman” for the old timers). She retrieves dice after a throw, returns them to the shooter, and is responsible for all other issues concerning the cubes.

Across from the stickperson is the boxperson. He keeps an eye on the bank of casino chips, supervises the game, and settles disputes. On either side of the boxperson are dealers who pay bets, take wagers, position bets for players, and generally run the game.

Buying In

Buying into craps is a little different from some other games because the table may be busy and you may have to get the dealer’s attention. Put your money on the layout (when the dice aren’t rolling) and say “change” in a clear voice. As in blackjack and all other table games, don’t hand anything to the dealer. Security procedures require that money and chips be displayed on the table before being converted. The bills will be counted, and a dealer will give you chips in whatever denomination you request.


For obvious reasons, pass and don’t-pass wagers are made only when a shooter is coming out (there’s an oddball exception to this rule, but for now let’s stick to the typical wagers). You’ll know when a shooter is coming out by finding the puck. It’s a large disk that’s black on one side and white on the other. “ON” or “POINT” is printed on the white side; “OFF” or “COME-OUT” is printed on the black side.

The puck will be in or near the section of the layout marked don’t come with the OFF side up when the shooter is coming out. It will be moved to a corresponding number box and turned to the ON side after a point has been established. When the puck is OFF, just lay your wager on the pass line or the don’t-pass bar.

Puck Positions

OFF or COME-OUT = Shooter is coming out

ON or POINT = Shooter is trying to roll a point

A dealer will double your chips or take them away depending on the results of the rolls. Be sure to remove your winnings from the layout promptly. Too many high-fives and cheers may cause you to miss the next roll, and the rule is “if it lays, it plays.” Your money could be gone before the celebration has concluded.

“Don’t-pass bar” is a misnomer. On most layouts it’s labeled “don’t pass bar 12,” meaning “this is the don’t pass section and we bar the 12.” But people have a way of mangling meanings. Some players drop the number and simply call the don’t-pass section a “bar.”

Throwing the Dice

Shooting isn’t mandatory, but it’s a lot of fun.

When the stickperson offers you dice, simply choose two from the selection or decline. If you decline, the person next to you will be offered the dice. If you decide to throw, you’ll hear the stickperson say, “Shooter coming out!”

Throw the dice hard enough to hit the wall at the other end of the table. This is very important. A throw in which the dice don’t take a bounce at the end may be considered a no roll. This will make you very unpopular with the crew and the other players, especially if the invalid numbers would have paid someone big money.

Always throw dice hard enough to hit the end of the table, but don’t throw them so wildly that they come off the table. The game will be delayed until the dice are found and checked for tampering. Some superstitious shooters request “same dice” if the cubes escape because they believe changing dice will cause a seven-out.

Time-consuming rituals before throwing are equally unloved. It’s okay to rattle the dice for a few moments or whisper a mantra, but elaborate performances are not appreciated. Keep your throwing hand in sight at all times when holding the cubes. Don’t hold or touch them with both hands. Don’t smack the cubes on the surface of the table. Don’t grind or rub the cubes together. Why all the rules? You’d be amazed at the sneaky things people do to cheat. The craps crew has seen it all, so they’re extra cautious when dice are handled in an irregular way. It’s best to simply take the cubes, set them in necessary (we’ll talk later about setting dice), and throw them.

You’re allowed to shoot indefinitely, as long as you continue to pass with a natural on the come-out, roll craps, pass with a point, or roll numbers other than seven after a come-out. If you seven-out, it’s over. You lose and the dice are offered to the person standing next to you.

Everyone gets a chance to shoot, but players betting the don’t pass often decline the dice. If they do take the dice, the stickperson will announce that the player is shooting from the don’t. Other players may refuse to bet until the dice have passed. There is no practical or mathematical reason for any of this. It’s just custom and superstition, but remember that craps is a social game. If you’re playing alone, or it’s just you and friends, then it really doesn’t matter. On the other hand, shooting from the don’t is a judgment call when the table is crammed with strangers. Are you feeling like a maverick? Then go ahead, shoot from the don’t.

Julius Caesar’s conquest of Rome began with a reference to dice and a dangerous gamble. According to the historian Suetonius, Caesar paused at the Rubicon, the river separating Gaul from Italy. Crossing with his army would be a declaration of war. In a bold move that would change the history of the world, Caesar chose to follow “the omens of the gods.” He shouted, “Iacta alea est” (“The die is cast"), and marched his army across the river.
The preceding material is excerpted from Basil Nestor's forthcoming book, Playboy Guide to Casino Gambling.
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