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How to Play Craps

Well, here we go! If you have to dive in somewhere, this is the place to start for learning how to play craps. I’m the Guru, and I’ll help you keep your head above water! Most people are pretty intimidated when they first meet up with our friend the craps table. The complexity of the table layout and all the different types of bets can be enough to send the curious running back to the slot machines. I’m here to teach you the basics, and help you to see that a craps table can be one of the liveliest and most interesting games at a casino.

First off, you’ve probably always wondered where the name craps came from, and how people originally learned how to play craps. The game of craps arrived here after a very long journey which started with the Arabs in the Middle Ages, as a dice game called "Azzahr" – the word they used for the dice. When it migrated to the Europeans in the 1300-1400’s, the name was changed to “Hazard”, befitting the risky nature of any gambling game. As the game progressed through the ages, the English used the term “crabs” to refer to the lowest roll. The French then picked up the game from the English, and gave it the name “Crabes”. As the French began to colonize North America, they brought the game with them. In the 1800’s lots of folks in the New World were learning how to play craps. The name gradually changed to “Creps” in the Louisiana area of the U.S.A., and pretty soon was being called by the name we know it by today: Craps.

For now, let’s ignore the different areas of the table, and concentrate on the dice. Craps is a dice game, and if you want to know how to play craps, you’ve got to let loose and throw those dice! I also have a page that talks about the history of the craps dice, and some of the interesting aspects of dice. You might think there isn’t anything interesting about dice, but wait ‘til you read about them.

One of the first rules about how to play craps is about throwing the dice. Craps has a lot of superstitions associated with it, and some of them have become just like real rules. Once you’ve got the dice in your hand, shake them. Your hand should be closed when you do this, and they have to rattle around in there (and don’t blow on them! This is really just to not spread germs around, so be polite). When you toss those babies onto the table, they have to bounce off the back wall (or board). If only one hits the wall, the roll will count, but the other players might sneer. If neither of the dice hit the back wall, or they bounce right off the table, the roll doesn’t count, and you’ll have to give it another go. If they hit anything after hitting the wall, this is just fine. People sometimes have their hands hanging over the edge of the table, or the dice may hit some chips, but it’s all good. Lastly, one may end up resting on an edge. It might roll right up to a chip and stop, leaning against it. In this case, everyone has to agree what number is really showing as up. That wasn’t so bad was it? By now you’re well on your way to learning how to play craps. Keep reading, there’s still more to learn here, and the Guru will show you the way.

Now, when someone is about to roll (including you!), the idea is to bet on the outcome of the toss. The first time anyone rolls, it is called the come out roll, and whoever is throwing the dice wants to throw (or hit) a 7 or an 11 (called a Natural), since that means a win right away. Another superstition here; never, ever shout out “Seven!” as the dice are rolled (they say that the dice might hear you). Now that you’re learning how to play craps, you’ll want to know what the name refers to. If a 2, 3 or 12 is rolled, that is called “craps”. The shooter “crapped out”.

Well, there’s your first look at how to play craps. I will let you in on the betting, the strategy, the table layout and other tidbits such as odds, systems, and variations such as Street Craps on other pages of this site. So stick around, because when you’re learning about how to play craps from “The Guru”, you’re really learning how to play craps at a professional level.


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