The diversity of bet types available in craps makes it fairly complicated to play. As a result, most online casinos only offer one or two digital variants of craps, which are typically found in the specialty games section. However, craps is one of only two casino games that offer bets with no house edge, which definitely makes it worth checking out.
The good news is that you don’t need a thorough understanding of all bet types to reduce the house edge to a minimum – in fact, the most efficient strategy takes only a few minutes to learn. Below we cover how to find the best casinos to play online craps for real money, an explanation of craps rules and bets, and an optimal strategy to beat craps.
How to select an online craps casino
Because craps is a niche game with very little variation between versions, picking a casino site based on the availability of certain versions isn’t reasonable. Consequently, if you’re a craps-only gambler, we recommend going for sites with the best bonuses instead. If you’re picky about game production values, choose three or four sites that offer the best bonuses and then compare their craps offerings in free-play mode before making a decision.
Before comparing casino bonuses, always check whether the casinos offering them are trustworthy. A seemingly great bonus won’t be of any use if it’s offered by a casino that refuses to process withdrawal requests under the slightest pretext.
The easiest way to check whether an online casino is trustworthy is to verify its paperwork. Operators licensed in your jurisdiction are guaranteed to play fair because otherwise they risk becoming targets for local regulators. If you live in Delaware, New Jersey, or Nevada, always check for a license issued by the local state gaming commission.
If you’re in Europe and your country has a fenced iGaming market, stick to state-endorsed casinos. In countries with lax online gambling regulations, such as the UK or France, stick to international casinos operating under licenses issued by the Isle of Man, Malta, or Gibraltar.
Be careful about unlicensed offshore sites. We recommend avoiding them altogether unless their reputation is stellar and there are no reasonable alternatives – good examples include Bovada and Slots.lv, which we highly recommended to US-based gamblers.
Finding the best bonuses and clearing them through craps
You may have heard that craps is a great game for clearing bonuses, but unfortunately, this is no longer the case in most online casinos. Before we discuss the details, let’s start with the basics.
A typical casino bonus is awarded as a percentage of your first deposit. In most cases, you’ll get a 100% match on your payment, but some operators offer a 50% or 150% bonus instead. Most bonuses are capped at between a few hundred and a few thousand dollars, but in jurisdictions with heavy taxation on gambling businesses you will receive less.
Bovada is a great example of an online casino with a great welcome offer. It provides a generous 100% bonus capped at $1,000. This means that if you deposit $500, you’ll get $500 for free, but if you deposit $1,500, you’ll only get $1,000. It’s also worth noting that Bovada’s bonus can be claimed three times on your first three deposits, bumping the amount of total bonus cash to $3,000.
While this may sound like an amazing deal, every bonus carries a wagering requirement, also known as the playthrough. In most cases the player is required to play through the combined bonus and deposit between 15 and 25 times. For example, if you receive a $100 bonus with a 20x playthrough on a $100 deposit, you’ll have to wager at least 20 *(100+100) = $4,000 to request a withdrawal.
The reason why craps isn’t as great for clearing bonuses as it used to be is that modern casinos have introduced contribution tables to prevent customers from clearing bonuses through games that offer safe bets. This means that while high house edge games, such as slots or keno, tend to contribute 100%, craps usually contributes 20% or less. Some venues go as far as to prevent craps from contributing towards clearing bonuses altogether.
Most casinos consider betting on both Pass and Don’t pass as bonus abuse, so make sure to check your provider’s terms of service. Casinos are known to be diligent about enforcing these rules, which is why craps players should follow them closely to avoid forfeiting their bonus.
How to play craps
Craps can be played both as a street game or against a casino by one or more players. In a formal setting, the outcome is decided by rolls of two dice, which are thrown on a felt with all bet types mapped out. The most common, game-defining bets, such as Pass and Don’t pass or Come and Don’t come, are available in all variants of the game. There are also niche bets, such as Double Trip Seven or Sharp Shooter bets, which are available only in certain land-based casinos.
A game of craps is played in rounds, and each round starts with one of the players betting on Pass or Don’t pass and rolling the dice. This player is known as the shooter, and the initial roll is known as a “come-out”. A come-out roll totalling 2, 3, or 12 is known as “craps” and means that everyone who bet the Pass loses instantly. People betting the Don’t pass line win on a roll of 2 and 3, but tie and push on a roll of 12. The shooter can keep rolling after crapping out, but the dice have to be passed on a roll of seven once the point is established (more on that below).
A come-out roll of 7 or 11 is known as a “natural”. If the shooter rolls a natural, everyone who bet the Pass wins and everyone who bet Don’t pass loses. The remaining numbers, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, and 10, are known as point numbers – rolling one of them establishes the “point”. When this happens, the dealer moves a button on the felt to the point number. This signifies the start of the second phase of the round.
In the second phase, the point number must be rolled again before a seven for the Pass line to win and a new round to start. If the shooter rolls a seven, the Pass line loses, the Don’t pass line wins, and the dice are passed clockwise for a new round.
Keep in mind that in the second phase Pass and Don’t pass bets remain unaffected if the shooter rolls 2, 3, 11, or 12. This also applies to other multi-roll bets, such as Come and Don’t come. The only numbers that affect the outcome of the round are the established point and 7. Single roll bets are always decided by the outcome of the next roll.
Is land-based craps different from online craps?
Yes. Craps is a social game and there is certain etiquette to playing it in a land-based casino. Most players bet the Pass line, and betting the Don’t pass line is often considered contrarian or outright rude. Because Don’t pass bets give you better odds, this can have a negative impact on your enjoyment of the game.
Furthermore, since online casinos aren’t big on craps, certain bets are only available in brick-and-mortar venues – and some of them are added for a limited time only. For example, the Sharp Shooter bet, which we briefly mentioned earlier, was available in Hooters casino in Las Vegas between 2009 and 2014 and is very unlikely to be offered again in the future.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing because such bets rarely provide better odds and in most cases serve as high-risk opportunities for gamblers seeking excitement.
Finally, remember that video craps games offered by online casinos are significantly faster-paced than land-based craps – you don’t need to wait on the dealer or players, the rolls happen faster, and moving your computer mouse takes less time than re-positioning casino chips. Craps is an EV-negative game, so this higher pace will result in a big hit to your bankroll if you’re not careful.
Craps bets you should know well
Understanding the Pass and Don’t pass bets is crucial for any aspiring craps player because they dictate the pace of the game. Both bet types were discussed in detail earlier in this section, but it should be noted that the house edge on the Pass bet is 1.41%, while the house edge on the Don’t pass bet is 1.36%.
The Odds bet is also important because it’s one of two wagers that can be placed in most online casinos which has no house edge. Unfortunately, odds bets only become available following a Pass bet or a Don’t pass bet, which means that you’re still at an overall disadvantage even if you take every opportunity to place it. An odds bet placed after a Pass bet wins if the point is rolled before a 7.
Conversely, an odds bet placed after a Don’t pass bet wins only if a 7 is rolled before the point.
Come and Don’t come bets are somewhat relevant if you’re playing in a land-based setting because they allow you to place a Pass/Don’t pass bet after the come-out roll has been made. You can bet the odds on both of those wagers.
Pass/Don’t pass bets pay 1:1. The same holds true for Come/Don’t come bets. Pass/Come pay 2:1 on 4 and 10, 3:2 on 5 and 9, and 6:5 on 6 and 8. Conversely, Don’t pass/Don’t come pay 1:2 against 4 and 10, 2:3 against 5 and 9, and 5:6 against 6 and 8.
Craps bets you can safely ignore
The remaining craps bets aren’t as important as Pass/Don’t pass and Come/Don’t come bets because they aren’t utilized in optimal play. However, you should familiarize yourself with the most popular ones to understand why they should be avoided.
Place bets: these are very similar to odds bets but can be placed before the Pass or Come bets. Place bets should be avoided because of the associated 1.52%-6.67% house edge.
Field bets: single-roll proposition bets that win if one of the following numbers appears on the roll: 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11, or 12. Most wins pay even money, except for 2 (pays 2:1) and 12 (pays either 2:1 or 3:1). The house edge is 2.27% if the 12 pays 3:1 and 5.56% if it pays 2:1.
There are many other common craps bets out there, but the house edge on all of them is 2.44% or higher. For some bets, such as Any 7 or Hi-Lo, the house edge is higher than 10%, which makes them little more than newbie traps.
Non-standard craps variants aren’t popular in online casinos because they are notorious for giving the house a bigger edge. Consequently, you’re far more likely to find them in a land-based casino, where excited gamblers are more likely to care less about profitability.
Crapless craps: a simplified version of the original game that prevents you from losing the Pass bet on the come-out roll. However, you lose your chance to win instantly if you roll 11. This means that any number that isn’t a 7 can become the point. This modification of the standard rules increases the house edge on the Pass bet to 5.382%.
New York craps: used to be popular on the US East coast, but it actually originated in Europe. Aside from the altered table layout, the biggest difference between New York craps and traditional craps is that the latter variant doesn’t offer Come and Don’t come bets. The lowest house edge in New York craps is 5%.
Craps games with non-standard payouts on the most important bets or that follow unorthodox rules should be avoided in favor of traditional craps. The modifications to the standard rules don’t enrich the playing experience, and the higher house edge makes going bankrupt in the short term far more likely.
Try craps for free
Most casinos allow you to test their games for free. If you’re looking for a good place to play craps, check whether the site offers standard odds on the most important bets. You can also take this opportunity to check whether the visuals and sound effects match your taste.
‘If you’re completely new to craps, we recommend playing the game in play-money mode for a few minutes while following our optimal craps strategy, which is explained in the “How to beat craps?” section. This will help you familiarize yourself with the rules and game interface.
Glossary of craps terms
- Betting systems: methods of placing bets that are supposed to give players an advantage over the casino. Betting systems don’t really have any impact on the odds – they can’t alter your long-term results.
- Come bet: a bet that works just like a Pass bet, which is placed after the point is established.
- Come-out roll: the first roll of the game; used to establish the point.
- Craps, Crap Out: when someone rolls 2, 3, or 12 on the come-out roll.
- Crapless craps: a simplified variant of craps with a bigger house edge.
- Don’t come: a bet that works like a Don’t pass bet, which is placed after the point is established.
- Don’t pass: betting that the come-out roll will be 12, 3, or 2. Loses when the shooter rolls 7 or 11.
- Expected value: the average value of a long series of bets. Expected value is often abbreviated as EV. Bets that are advantageous for the player are called EV-positive. Conversely, bets that benefit the house are called EV-negative. All bets in craps are EV-negative, except the odds bets, which are EV-neutral.
- Field bet: a bet that wins if one of the following numbers appears on the next roll: 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11, or 12.
- Gambler’s fallacy: the false belief that the outcome of a random event or a series of random events can influence an unrelated random event.
- The grind: the effect that the house edge has on a gambler’s bankroll over the long term.
- House edge: the ratio of the expected player losses to the initial bet.
- Natural: when somebody rolls 7 or 11 on the come-out roll.
- New York craps: a variant of craps that doesn’t offer Come and Don’t come bets. Comes with a bigger house edge than the standard game.
- Odds bet: an additional bet placed following a Pass or Don’t pass bet. Can also be placed after a Come or Don’t come bet.
- Pass bet: a bet that the come-out roll will be 7 or 11. Loses when the shooter craps out.
- Place bet: very similar to an odds bet, but must be placed before the Pass and Come bets.
- Safe bet: a wager that is supposed to help the player clear his bonus with minimum risk. When it comes to craps, this usually refers to betting on Pass and Don’t pass simultaneously. Placing safe bets is often against casino bonus terms and conditions.
- Shooter – the player rolling the dice.
How to beat craps
While craps offers opportunities to place some fair bets, the game is still EV-negative. This means that you’re guaranteed to lose your entire bankroll if you play long enough. Furthermore, you’re more likely to lose money over the short term than to come out ahead. However, your odds of turning a profit over 100 rolls are fairly good as long as you stick to the optimal craps strategy.
Optimal craps strategy
The optimal strategy in traditional craps is simple: always bet the Don’t pass line and lay maximum odds. If you’re playing a live game and you don’t want to play against the table, you can also bet the Pass line and take maximum odds – the short-term difference in house edge will be negligible.
Whether you’re laying or taking the odds, the amount you can bet is limited to a multiple of your Pass/Don’t pass bet. This multiple usually ranges from two to five. Some casinos offer a system called “3-4-5x odds” on Pass bets. This means that you’re allowed to wager up to 3x your Pass bet after a point of 4 or 10, 4x after a 5 or 9, and 5x after a 6 or 8.
The more money you can wager while laying or taking the odds, the higher the return-to-player you can expect. The combined house edge on a Pass bet with full 3x odds is 0.374%. For 100x bets, it’s 0.021%, but you’re highly unlikely to find online casinos offering such a large multiplier. For comparison, the combined house edge for a Don’t pass bet with full 3x odds is 0.351%.
All in all, craps is a game with excellent odds that can be played optimally without learning complicated rules or memorizing decision charts. This differentiates it from other low-house edge casino games, such as blackjack and video poker.
Play speed and the grind
The house edge in craps seems negligible, but don’t make the mistake of neglecting its impact on your long-term profitability. As mentioned above, if you play long enough, the probability of your bankroll being reduced to nothing is 100%. This won’t happen as fast as in games with a higher house edge, such as slots, keno, or even roulette, but the more you play, the lower your odds of coming out ahead.
The phenomenon of slowly losing your bankroll throughout long gambling sessions is known as the grind. As briefly touched on above, the grind is widely considered the bane of internet gamblers. This is because online versions of traditional table games allow you to place significantly more bets per hour than their land-based counterparts. This makes it very easy to lose track of the total number of rounds played. The best way to prevent this from becoming a problem is to set a stop-limit, such as 100 rounds, and to stick to it regardless of the bottom line.
For example, if you play 100 rounds while betting $1 on the Pass line and take the 2x odds every time, your chances of turning a profit will be about 47.61%, with an 18.92% chance of winning $26 or more and a 0.04% chance of winning over $100.
Adjust the size of your bets
Craps might be a high-RTP game, but it’s still EV-negative. As in any other EV-negative game, your goal is to exploit the variance. Consequently, don’t be afraid to place large bets. In fact, if your only goal was to win and you were playing on a site with no betting limits, you would bet your entire bankroll on a single round in a way that’d allow you to take full advantage of the odds on your Don’t pass bet.
This means that if you have $100 and the casino allows you to lay 3x odds, you should bet $25 and lay $75. Fortunately, this scenario isn’t hypothetical, because most online casinos have high betting limits for craps. For example, the maximum bet for the RTG version of craps, which can be found at Bovada, is $1,000.
Craps betting systems
Bonus abuse used to be the only way to beat online casinos at their own game, but the days of betting both Pass and Don’t pass are unfortunately long gone. As it stands, beating the casinos at craps or any other game with a house edge is impossible. You might be able to alter your short-term experience by using a betting system, but eventually, the house edge will catch up to you. In the long term, you will always succumb to the grind because no betting strategy can alter the fundamental structure of the game and the odds it offers.
The gambler’s fallacy
A good example of betting systems that don’t work are those based around tracking “hot” recurring numbers or the behavior of the dice. These systems are based on the gambler’s fallacy, which is the false belief that an entirely random event can have any impact on the outcome of an unrelated random event.
In online craps, each roll of the dice is processed independently by the casino’s random numbers generator software (RNG). In the case of reputable casinos, this software is required by law not to follow any patterns and is regularly tested for flaws. If a legitimate casino tries to influence the outcome of the games, it risks losing its license and going out of business. Needless to say, no operator will risk that when the house edge has already turned his casino into an unbeatable long-term winner.
The Martingale system is interesting because it does alter the flow of the game. This strategy requires you to double your bet progressively after each defeat. The goal of each bet size increase is to nullify the previous defeat while allowing you to maximize your benefits from a potential future win.
The reason why this method doesn’t work long-term is that online casinos have betting limits for craps. Even if that wasn’t the case, the size of your bankroll would act as such a limit. This means that any gambler using the Martingale technique will eventually go broke regardless of the number of small wins he manages to score.
The same holds true for any system that relies on bet scaling. As per the law of large numbers, the average result will always tend towards the expected RTP. In craps, this value is lower than 100%, which means that every gambler is guaranteed to lose their bankroll if they play long enough.
Tips for playing online craps
The information provided in this article can be distilled to a few actionable tips:
Don’t bet more than you can afford to lose
Avoid unrealistic expectations. Almost all games offered by online casinos are EV-negative, and this includes craps. This means that you can’t play them professionally. If you try to make a living out of playing craps, you’ll go bankrupt. When you make a deposit, always remember that you aren’t making an investment – you’re spending money on entertainment.
Don’t fall for “winning” betting systems
As explained in the previous section, there is no way to actually “beat” craps. The house always has an edge, so if you follow a betting system that requires you to place more bets than necessary, you’ll hurt your chances of turning a profit.
If you enjoy winning, follow the optimal strategy
If your goal is to maximize your bankroll playtime, always follow optimal strategy. Bet the Don’t pass line, lay maximum odds, and reduce the total number of rounds played to a minimum. This is particularly true when attempting to clear a bonus through craps because you’ll be required to grind through a lot of money in the process.
Don’t be shy about leaving the game if you win
Many casino customers continue playing even after they’ve scored a big win. If you manage to multiply your bankroll and your goal is to maximize profits, move on to a different game. Remember that if you keep playing indefinitely, your risk of ruin is 100%.
Online craps FAQ
Q: Can you really win money playing craps online?
A: Yes, if you actively avoid the grind and follow optimal strategy, you have a decent chance to come out ahead in the short term. As mentioned above, you won’t be able to turn playing craps into a full-time job, but you might be able to exploit the variance and multiple your bankroll before the grind catches up with you.
However, this is only possible if you quit playing as soon as you’re reasonably ahead.
Q: Should I bother with any unorthodox craps variants?
A: No – in fact, you should avoid them whenever possible because they usually favor the house. The rules of standard craps aren’t so complicated as to warrant picking a simplified variant at the cost of a much poorer return-to-player.
If you can’t find a traditional craps game with standard odds in your jurisdiction, pick a casino with the closest match.
Q: How can I be sure that the dice rolls are random?
A: The outcome of each roll is determined by the random numbers generator (RNG) used by the casino. The RNGs used by reputable online casinos are regularly audited to ensure that the outcome of each roll is random and fair.
If you’re uncertain about your casino’s trustworthiness, check whether it has the paperwork necessary to offer real money games in your area of residence. To learn more about this topic, scroll up to the “How to select an online craps casino” section.
Q: How do I deposit money with an online craps casino?
A: Legitimate casinos provide their customers with multiple banking methods. E-wallet and credit card payments are supported by most operators, and in many cases, you’ll also have several local payment processing services to choose from.
US-based gambling enthusiasts are advised to avoid Visa and MasterCard payments because the transaction refusal rate ranges from 25% to 45%, depending on jurisdiction and service provider. This problem pertains even to casinos operating under official licenses issued by Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware.
Q: If I win at craps, how will the online casino pay me?
A: All reputable online casinos offer several withdrawal methods, but keep in mind that the availability of specific methods depends on your casino operator and area of residence. If your casino prohibits placing safe bets while clearing bonuses and you play a lot of craps, your account may be audited before your withdrawal request gets cleared.
Typically, you won’t be allowed to withdraw via an e-wallet service if you haven’t used it to make a deposit. Additionally, many casinos have monthly or weekly withdrawal limits, which can force high-rollers to withdraw their winnings in multiple chunks. This issue can be circumvented by requesting a check by courier, which usually carries the highest limits.
Q: What happens if I get disconnected in the middle of an active game?
Resolving a round of craps usually takes more than one dice roll, which means that getting disconnected in the middle of an active game can spell trouble. If your roll successfully concluded a round, your account balance should reflect the outcome of the game. If, however, the round wasn’t resolved in time, you might lose your wager. If you’re on an unstable internet connection and are worried about connection losses, contact your casino support team and inquire about their disconnect policy for craps.
Q: Are there any casino welcome bonuses available exclusively to craps players?
No. In fact, some casinos don’t even allow their customers to clear standard welcome bonuses through craps. Craps isn’t particularly profitable to online casino operators due to the low house edge and a history of bonus abuse associated with this game. Craps players are at an overall disadvantage when it comes to bonuses.
To learn more about clearing bonuses through craps, refer to the relevant part of the “How to select an online craps casino” section.
Q: What about cryptocurrencies? Can I use Bitcoin to fund by casino account?
There are very few high-profile casinos that support Bitcoin payments. Players from Canada and the United States can play on Bovada, while Europeans must stick to Bodog. There are some casinos that only work with Bitcoin, however, be very careful about trusting them – the irreversible nature of Bitcoin transactions can spell trouble with unregulated operators.
History of craps
Craps most likely originated from an Old English dice game called Hazard, which became popular among Europeans during the Crusades. It was brought to the United States by either the first settlers or by the Cajuns arriving in Louisiana from Nova Scotia in the second half of the 18th century. This version of the game spread across America via Mississippi riverboats, but it didn’t feature the now-standard Don’t pass bets, thus allowing casinos to cheat their customers by using loaded dice.
This problem was solved by John H. Winn, a Pennsylvania dice maker, who’s 1907 introduction of Don’t pass wagers transformed the craps table layout into what we know today. This rendered all kinds of unfair dice useless, boosting the popularity of the game. In the 1930s, craps became one of the most popular games in Las Vegas, and its street version was a favorite among American soldiers during World War II.
Given the rich history and popularity of craps, it comes as no surprise that the first online casinos to launch in the 1990s featured the classic variant of the game. In an ironic twist, the fair version of this timeless classic became a favorite tool of bonus hunters, who abused safe bets and online promotions to turn the tables on internet casino operators. Quite predictably, the casinos fought back by introducing harsh wagering requirements for table games, which remain an industry standard to this day.