The Basics of Craps Betting

Craps Table Layout, Two Red Dice
The thing about craps betting is that there are so many bets available, and if you’ve never played before, the game can be confusing.

In fact, it’s confusing enough that a single blog post probably doesn’t have the space to cover everything you should really understand about betting at the craps table.

Still, it’s not as complicated as you first might think. After all, it’s a casino game, and casino games that are too complicated scare off players. And no one at the casino wants that.

Before jumping into the basics of craps, feel free to take some time to grasp common craps terms to understand some of the language used in this article. With that being said, let’s get started.

The Pass Line Bet

If craps were physics, the pass line bet would be the nucleus at the center of the atom. It’s the most basic bet on the list of bets, and it’s a wager on the most basic outcome in the game.

Playing craps begins when a shooter makes a roll called a “come-out roll.” He rolls two dice, and he gets one of the following results:

  • A success
  • A failure
  • A point

If the shooter rolls a total of 7 or a total of 11 on the come-out roll, he’s succeeded. A bet on the pass line wins even money immediately. If the shooter rolls a total of 2, 3, or 12, he’s failed. A bet on the pass line loses immediately.

If the shooter rolls any other number (4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10), he’s set a point. The pass line bet stays in action, and the shooter rolls again. At this point, the shooter keeps rolling until he either rolls the point total again or rolls a 7.

If he rolls the point total again, he succeeds, and the pass line bet pays even money. If he rolls a 7, he fails, and the pass line bet loses.

If he rolls any other number, the pass line bet stays on the table until it’s resolved.

If you’re playing in a game of street craps, practically all the action is based on this one bet. They don’t have a fancy table in street craps.

Once you understand the pass line bet and the shooter’s goals, you can start to expand your thinking about the other bets on the craps table.

The Odds Bet

The odds bet is one of the only bets on the craps table that isn’t labeled. It’s a bet you can only place after the shooter has made a point. It’s placed on the table directly behind your pass line bet.

The odds bet is interesting because it’s the only bet in the casino that doesn’t have a mathematical edge for the house. It pays out at the same odds as you have of winning it.

Instead of paying even money, the odds bet has a payout based on how hard it is to roll the point again before rolling a 7.

If the point is 4 or 10, the odds bet pays off at 2 to 1 odds. If the point is 5 or 9, the odds bet pays off at 3 to 2 odds. If the point is 6 or 8, the odds bet pays off at 6 to 5 odds.

Since the odds bet puts more money into action on the same outcome and has no casino house edge, you can think of it as a way of reducing the total house edge on the total amount of action you have in place.

The casino thinks of it that way, too. That’s one of the reasons why they have limits to how much you can wager when you make the odds bet.

Crowd at Casino Playing Casino Craps

In some casinos, you can bet 100X the pass line bet you just made on the odds. For example, if you bet $5 on the pass line and the shooter made a point, you could put $500 on the odds bet.

Most casinos don’t have limits that high, though. 10X is more common, but you’ll also find casinos that limit you to 1, 2, or 3 times your pass line bet.

One common betting limit in place today is 3x4x5x, which means the amounts you can wager on the odds bet is 3X if the point is 4 or 10, 4X if the point is 5 or 9, and 5X if the point is 6 or 10.

This is done to make the payouts easier for the staff to handle. Assuming you’re always making the maximum odds bet (and you should be), the payout for the odds bet and the pass line bet combined is the same.

For example, if you bet $10 on the pass line and the point was 4, then you bet $30 on the free odds bet, you’d win $10 on the pass line bet and $60 on the free odds bet, for $70 in total winnings. That’s 7 times your original bet.

If you bet $10 on pass and the point was 5, you could bet $40 on the free odds bet. The payoff would be $60 on the odds bet and $10 on the pass bet, giving you the same total winnings of $70.

That was the whole point to creating those limits – to make the payouts easier to manage.

The Wrong Bettor

Someone who bets on the pass line is called a “right bettor.” But that’s not your only option.

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You can bet against the shooter, too. The basic bet for that is called the “don’t pass” bet. It has a slightly lower house edge than the pass line bet, but it’s only a difference of 0.05%.

If you bet on “don’t pass”, you’ll win even money if the shooter rolls a 2 or a 3 on the come-out roll. A 12 is treated as a push. You’ll lose immediately if the shooter rolls a 7 or an 11.

If a point is set, you win if the shooter rolls a 7 before the point. The don’t pass bet, like the pass bet, always pays even money. And like the pass line bet, you have an odds bet available to you.

Laying the Odds

If you bet on don’t pass and the shooter makes a point, you can lay the odds. In this case, you have the same betting limits as the pass line bettor does when he takes the odds bet.

But your payoffs are the opposite. Instead of getting 6 to 5 odds, you get 5 to 6 odds when you win. Instead of getting 2 to 1 odds, you get 1 to 2 odds.

People Playing Craps at the Casino

This means if you lay $10 on the odds, and the point is a 4, you only win $5. This is so counter-intuitive to most gamblers that they just stick with right betting and the odds bet there.

Something about winning less than the amount you staked is a huge turnoff to gamblers, even when they understand that the bet has no house edge. Go figure.

Come Betting

That’s most of the big stuff, but you can’t cover the basics of craps betting without getting into come and don’t come bets.

These are basically the same bets at the pass and don’t pass bet. But they give you the opportunity to place a bet on the next roll as if it were a new come-out roll, even when the shooter is trying to make a point.

The come bet pays off with the same odds as the pass line—even money. You can take the odds bet with a come bet, too, and it pays off with the same odds as if you’d placed a pass line bet.

The don’t come bet works just like the don’t pass bet, but with the same difference. It treats this new roll as if it were a new come-out roll.

Conclusion

That about covers the basics of craps betting. Of course, most of this will make a lot more sense once you play craps in a live casino.

You can, though, play free craps at an online casino and get a better understanding than you would just reading a blog post.