Craps - The Table Game

Craps, as played in any modern gaming hall – usually with precision-ground, and transparent dice – is ranked among the most popular of casino games, perhaps because of the large betting field and its many options – mostly in “one-roll” bets. These include “any-seven” or “any craps” (2, 3 or 12). An analysis of the probabilities among the 36 possible rolls, readily explains the rules of the game. A single roll of “2” or “12”, can each occur only once, out of 36 possibilities, yielding odds for each roll, of 1 in 36. The payout for either bet is 30:1. Numbers, “3” and “11” can each occur only two times out of the 36 combinations – giving odds of 1 in 18. There are three ways each, to roll “4” or “10”, while “5” and “9” offer four each. Then too, “6” and “8”, can each be thrown five ways. The seven is the most probable of the lot, with six possible ways it can appear.

Standard Craps Table

Standard Craps Table

Aside from the “place” bets, the game itself, is a bit complicated. On the first roll of any game, 7 or 11 are automatic winners, at even money, while a first roll of 2, 3 or 12 (called “craps”) indicate an instant loser. The remaining combinations, on any first roll, i.e.“4, 5, 6, 8, 9 or 10” are referred to as “the point”, which is then flagged by the “Stick- man”. The game then continues with the player still rolling the dice until he hits a winner by rolling the same number again – or until he rolls a seven, and as a result, loses. On- lookers can participate with (or against) the player, placing their bets, for the shooter to win, on the “PASS” line – or for him to lose, by betting on “DON’T PASS”. At times, a player might throw the dice repeatedly, after “setting a point”, without winning or losing. In such cases, a side-line player might impatiently choose to start a new game for the shooter “to win”, with money bet on the “Come” – or to lose, betting the “Don’t Come”. The shooter’s next roll, will still be an effort to win or lose, but it will also be the “first roll” for the side-line player’s new game. Then, for example, if the active shooter rolls a seven, he’d lose – but as the first roll of the side-line player’s game, that side-line player would win. This sequence of play is the same, whether in a casino (as Table Craps) or in a private setting (as Street Craps) – though in the latter case, there are no “Place” bets.

dice roll

Reports are that in 1807, an attempt was made to introduce the European dice game “Hazard” to the American public, from England, by a renowned gambler from a wealthy Louisiana family, named Bernard Xavier Philippe de Marigny de Mandeville. This well- known entrepreneur of the day, refined and simplified the play into the game of “craps” that we know it today. Purportedly this revision was made in order to better appeal to the American taste in gaming. In this refined form, the new game took on a coveted place as a popular street game among the common folk of the day, and for many decades thereafter.

But the popularity of craps, as a street game, reached its peak in a single five-year period, when it was most thoroughly popularized among the American GIs of World War II. From that humble evolution the game was quickly “professionalized” throughout the countless illicit gambling dens, all over the United States, and in time it found a warm welcome within the legalized gambling halls of Nevada, and eventually among casinos of the rest of the United States, as professional gaming legally spread throughout the country.