The Truth About How Craps Works (And What It Means for You)

This is my third post in the “how casino games actually work” series. (The previous 2 posts were about blackjack and slot machines.)

There are fewer myths and misconceptions about Craps than blackjack or slots, but this could be because the game has a smaller audience than the other two. Blackjack is the most played table game at the casino, while slot machines are the most preferred.

Craps is, however, more enjoyable than either, at least according to my opinion. However, it has its pros and cons. One thing is that the house edge for most craps bets can be very low in comparison to other games.

This is only true if you stick to the easiest bets. The house edge for more complex bets at craps tables is higher.

Another thing is that craps doesn’t require skill. Place your bets and wait for the best. Although dice control is promoted as an option to gain an edge, I am skeptical about its effectiveness.

Many people avoid craps because they are afraid of the game. Slots are easy to use. You just need to put money in and then spin the reels. As a child, everyone learns how to play blackjack.

Many people don’t know what craps is. It’s so high-energy that people fear what other players will think of them if there are mistakes or if they don’t know the rules.

You’ll be fine if you take the time to read this article and play some practice games at an internet casino.

Here’s how craps actually works:

Craps Rules are Easier Than You Think

You probably know craps if you’ve never lived under a rock. You may also be aware that totals of 7 or 11 are very important.

These were the only facts that I knew about the game, before I learned how it worked.

It is easiest to see craps as a series of rounds. Each round has a new shooter. Each round starts with a new shooter.

Shooters can win easily by getting 7 or 11 on their come-out rolls. Each of the dice is numbered 1-6, and the total results are added together to determine the outcome. It is easiest for the shooter not to lose if they get 2, 3, or 12, on the come out roll.

If the shooter rolls another number, he has “a point”. He can continue rolling the dice.

The shooter can continue rolling until he reaches 7 or until he reaches 7. A roll of 7 is considered a loss. The shooter wins if the roll matches the point.

Bettors can place money on the shooter winning or losing. The shooter also has this option. You can place a “pass line” bet that the shooter will win. If you wish to bet that the shooter will lose, it’s called a “don’t pass” bet.

Once a point has been established, you may increase the size of the bet by placing an “odds wager.” This is the only bet that does not have an edge for the house.

All other craps bets pay at odds lower than the actual odds of winning. This is how the house gains its edge and how the casino makes money.

In the next section, I will explain more about the odds.

Probability, Odds and Where the House Gets its Edge

If you spend some time studying casino games, you will discover that almost all of them have an edge. There are very rare exceptions to this rule, such as when the casino is dealing with a card dealer. This edge can be expressed mathematically in the form of a percentage of each wager that the casino expects to lose over the long term, which is often many thousands of times.

The house usually has an edge because they pay off bets at lower odds that the odds of winning. Blackjack is a game where the dealer acts last.

Odds are a way to express probability. It compares the likelihood of something happening with the possibility of it happening. If odds are 2 to 1, it means that you can win once in 3 chances, but lose twice in 3 occasions.

It is easy to calculate probability with dice, but it can be difficult for some people. It’s unnecessary to go into detail about the calculations. Smarter men than me have compiled the odds of winning every possible craps bet and compared them with the payout odds to calculate the house edge.

Let’s take a look at one of these sucker bets to see how it works.

We have already discussed the pass and don’t pass bets as well as what happens once a point has been set. An additional bet is another option for a player. These are known as “proposition bets” and can be found at the center of the table.

For example, you can bet on the next roll being a 2, or 12.

What is the chance that you will get a total number of 2? It’s the same odds as getting a total 12 by the way.

When you roll a pair 2 dice, there are 36 possible outcomes. You can only choose one of these possible outcomes. To get a total of 2, you must roll 1 on each of your 2 dice. The odds of winning this bet are 35:1. There are 35 ways to lose and one way to win.

  • You’d make even if the bet was paid at 35 to 1. This would be considered a fair bet, or a bet that has no house edge. This bet pays out at 30 to 1.
  • If 36 dice rolls were taken and all of them were as you expected, you would win once and lose 35 more times. You’d lose $3500 if you bet $100 per roll. However, you would win $3000 if you bet $100 per roll. This is a loss of $500.

That’s 36 rolls. This gives you the house edge. This is why I selected $100 as my bet size. This is an average loss of $13.89/bet or 13.89%.

The house edge for roulette is 5.26 percent, which is considered high. If you use a perfect basic strategy, the house edge for blackjack is less than 1%. The house edge for the basic pass line in craps is 1.411%. (The odds of winning are 251-244, but the bet pays at even money.

Proposition bets at the craps table can be considered “sucker betting”. The payouts don’t even come close to being proportional to the chances of winning. Placing such a wager is foolish, as there are tables where the odds of winning are 10 times higher for the player.

Some players believe they have psychic abilities and that their intuitions can help them determine which bets are good and which ones are not. That’s folly, too. You can’t predict the future and craps is random.

You can maximize your fun at the craps table as well as the chance of winning by sticking with either the pass line or don’t pass bet. The odds bet is also available, so you will place as many bets as possible. The casino caps the amount you can bet on this bet.

The Truth About the Odds Bet

Only after a point is set, the odds bet comes into play. This bet is not listed on the table. To place an odds wager, you must place your chips behind your original bet.

The odds bet pays at its true odds. These are the odds that you will win the point based on your odds of rolling the total as follows:

  • The odds of winning are 2:1 if the point is 4, or 10. The odds bet pays 2 to 1.
  • The odds of winning are 3:2 if the point is 5, 9 or 9. The odds bet pays a 3 to 2 payout.
  • The odds of winning are 6-5 if the point is 6, 8 or 6. The odds bet pays 6 to 5.

If the shooter loses, then the odds bet is lost. These numbers are reversed in that case.

The amount that you can place on your odds bet is limited by how much your original pass line was or didn’t pass. Because the payouts are always the same, 3X4X5XX is the most popular set of limits.

A 4 or 10 can be placed at 3X, 4X or 9 on a 5 or 9, and 5X on 6 or 8. You can also bet at other casinos 5X, 10X or 15X on a 4 or 10, or 5X on a 6 and 8.

The cumulative effect of placing odds bets is to lower your overall advantage for the money that you have in play. The house edge is negligible if you find a casino that offers 100X odds.

The Truth About Craps Betting Systems

System bettors love Craps. These bettors adjust the size of their wagers based upon previous rolls.

Craps betting systems don’t work. (Betting systems generally don’t work because casino games almost always use independent trials. Previous results don’t affect subsequent results.)

This is the basic idea behind all betting systems.

  • You should reduce the stakes if someone is having a winning streak.
  • You should increase the stakes if someone is losing.

It is also common to think in the opposite direction. This means that you can increase the size of your wagers when someone wins, and decrease the size when someone loses. This theoretically allows you to profit from the winning streak before it ends.

The Gambler’s Fallacy is the problem with these betting systems. This belief is based on the belief that past results will “even out” due to what happened before. It’s used to bring the numbers back in line with what they should be.

This is a misinterpretation of the nature and operation of probability and long-term results. Yes, they will be right if you give them thousands or tens of millions of spins.

However, this doesn’t affect the probability of the next roll.

Each throw of the dice has the same probability formula. No matter what happens on the previous spin, the dice still have six sides.

While you can have some fun with some betting systems, it will not overcome the house advantage in the long-term. You’ll eventually lose your entire money if you continue to play craps.

Most of us only care about the short-term. We don’t need to think about the long-term. When we are lucky, we often return home with some extra money.

The Truth About Dice Control and/or Dice Set

It is not clear if a skilled craps player has any influence on how the dice land. There have not been any scientific studies that show someone can change how dice land enough to alter the odds.

Although I am skeptical, I have heard from gambling experts online that it is possible to be a little more credible. My problem is that dice setting techniques can be difficult to master. Practice is key and you should simulate real casino conditions.

It’s a lot to put into an advantage technique that may not work. It might be possible to master it, but you may find yourself frustrated after countless hours of practice.

Because I am aware of the extent that casinos go to stop card counting, I’m skeptical as well. If they felt threatened by the dice control experts in craps games, I would suspect that they would have put in countermeasures. They have the same countermeasures they have always had, as far as I can tell.

It is much easier to learn how to count blackjack cards–which is both simpler and more difficult than it sounds.

If you have evidence that someone has an advantage over the casino by using dice setting techniques, please contact me via the contact information on this site or the comments section below.

Last warning:

It’s best to not spend too much money on learning how to do it. Although advantage play can be very valuable, the effectiveness of this strategy is still a mystery. For less than $20, you can get good books about counting blackjack cards.


You now know the real workings of craps. This is a much simpler game than most people think, and has a huge house edge.

You can have great fun at the casino if you stick to the basics–pass/don’t pass and the odds wager.

Be careful when you believe in dice control or betting systems. I would hate for you lose your money in pursuit of an unattainable dream of riches.