How to Play Craps in Vegas: The Complete Newbie Guide

Beginner
100% 15 min

Many gamblers want to learn how to play craps in Vegas. In this guide, Bill Collins, pro dice influencer, will bring valuable insights for your first journey. 

Playing Vegas craps can be mind-blowing. You have so many different casinos and a wide range of bets available on the table layout to choose from. The entertainment is guaranteed! 

Here are the key takeaways you will get by reading Bill's actionable guide:

Without further ado, let’s get started.

5 Things to Avoid on Your First Las Vegas Craps Visit

After several visits to Vegas, I have discovered 5 common mistakes that most visitors are likely to make. 

The best part? 

If you avoid making them from the beginning, you will end up having more money in your balance at the end of your trip.

Mistake 1: You Start Playing Just as Soon as You Arrive in Vegas

You’ll be anxious to get right into the action at the Vegas craps tables, but after a flight in from another part of the country, or world, you probably are going to need to unwind from your trip and relax and rest up a bit.

So, spend the rest of your first day in Vegas just being a tourist and a sightseer, while avoiding the craps table. You want to be feeling your best when you risk your money playing craps.

Mistake 2: You Don’t Manage Your Money Correctly 

If you lose all your money on your first day or two in Vegas, and you are going to be there for several days, that kind of puts a damper on you being able to shoot craps for the rest of your stay. 

Be sure to stay away from maxing out your credit cards to get more money to gamble with by using ATMs, too.

Bill's Tip

My advice would be to divide your entire craps bankroll for the trip into equal amounts for each day you’ll be shooting craps and put each of those stacks of money in separate envelopes with the day of the week written on each envelope. 

Each day, open only that one envelope for today and shoot craps with only that amount at risk. If you happen to get lucky and win that day, put your winnings in an envelope marked “going home with me” and forget it exists until your final day in Vegas. Repeat that each day you win.

If you happen to lose all of that day’s money in the envelope, you are to quit until tomorrow; when you can open another envelope for that day and try again.

If at the end of any day, you didn’t go broke but didn’t win anything either, put the remainder of your money for that day into your envelope marked “going home with me”.

If you do this each day of your trip, you might end up losing all my designated craps gambling money, or you might find that at the end of the trip, the money you put into the “going home with me” envelope has built up nicely. 

Pro tip

If you have winnings going into your last day in town, you can decide whether or not to take half of the money in your “going home with me” envelope and add it to that last day’s craps gambling stake. The other half goes home with you, no matter what. 

That way, if you’ve gotten ahead on any day, you won’t have to go home totally broke. 

I didn’t think up the above advice, I believe that it was created by a very well-known craps player named Steve “Heavy” Haltom, and I’d like to credit him for making it public knowledge.

Mistake 3: Over-betting Your Day’s Craps Bankroll 

If you happen to have $1,000 per day to shoot craps with while in Vegas and you want to play 4 sessions that day, that gives you four $250 session buy-ins. 

The best way to have a shot at winning is to be able to stay at the table through at least 10 different shooters that you’ve bet on. 

That gives you a decent shot at still being at the table with money long enough to catch a shooter on a hot roll. If you lose that session’s money by over-betting your buy-in on the first two or three shooters, you won’t have any money left or probably even still be at the table if a later shooter has his hot roll. You will have missed out. 

So, saying that you have a $250 buy-in for your session, getting it to last through betting on 10 different shooters means that you can’t afford to bet more than about $25 total on each one unless you find yourself ahead after the early shooters you bet on. 

Example

An about-that-size bet that has a decent chance of winning would be $18 place bets on 6 and 8, with the results being reduced to $12 place bets on 6 and 8 after the first hit on either. 

That would win you $14 so that your risk from that point on would only be $22. If you are lucky enough to get three hits on the 6 and/or 8, it might be good to take your bets down, so that you end up showing a profit from having bet and won on that shooter. (Getting greedy gets most craps players in deep trouble.)

You’ll probably soon learn that it takes a lot of money to have a decent shot at winning more than just peanuts playing craps in Vegas.

Mistake 4: Your Shooting Ends Way Too Soon to Make Any Money

It’s not a lot of fun when a shooter has a hot roll that seems to last forever and you haven’t been betting on him and winning. The way to avoid that is to start betting on any shooter who has tossed five Place bet wins, tossing 4 through 10’s. 

You also might want to keep track of what numbers that shooter is tossing and bet on those numbers.

Most shooters won’t reach this five Place bet wins mark, tossing a losing 7 on earlier rolls; however, all monsterly long rolls all have to pass this point to reach those high number of tosses that come on those long turns shooting. 

So, five place numbers tossed is a good starting point on when to start betting on a shooter. You will avoid losing to all those short turns and be right there collecting on every monster roll after it gets started.

Mistake 5: Catching the so-called “Vegas Fever” 

That’s where all the excitement that surrounds you continuously in Vegas gets you so hyped up that you burn your candle at both ends, playing around the clock without getting any sleep. 

On about the third day, you crash to where you might find yourself falling asleep during the grand finale of a stage show, while pyrotechnics are exploding on stage. 

Some players go to Vegas for the weekend and get their first sleep on their return flight home, too. 

I even wrote and published a book that is available on Amazon.com titled “Vegas Fever” which covers a lot of my craps shooting adventures in Sin City, including my wife’s bout with Vegas Fever.

Where to Play Craps in Vegas?

play craps in vegas

I suggest that you avoid playing craps on The Strip and go to Downtown Vegas, on the Fremont Street Experience, instead; for the simple reason that the casinos there are all so close to each other. 

It only takes about a minute’s walking to switch casinos on Fremont Street. 

Whereas, on The Strip, casinos are probably a quarter mile to a half mile apart from each other. They are farther apart than they appear to be and that can lead to a lot of walking.
The Fremont, The California, and Golden Nugget casinos all have good craps tables to play on in Downtown Vegas. 

The area is usually loaded with lots of craps shooters from Hawaii, too, who seem to be almost able to roll really long rolls at will. 

The atmosphere seems lower key and slower moving in Downtown Vegas than on The Strip. You’ll probably be more likely to run across lower minimum bet tables by playing away from The Strip, too.

The Craps Table Crew 

craps dealer vegas

Craps tables are usually manned by four casino staffers:

  • a stickman
  • a box man
  • a dealer for each end of the table. 

The stickman

He oversees and properly places all players’ bets made on all the prop bets in the center area of the Vegas craps table.

He also retrieves the dice with his stick after each toss and returns them, after all new bets are made, to the shooter for their next toss. 

The box man

He handles players buying in for cash and coloring up, by converting the cash into chips on the buy-ins and converting the players chips to larger denomination chips on the player’s color up.

He also tracks and logs the comps that each player receives for playing at their individual bet levels.

The dealers

Each one of them manage an end of the table, putting player’s bets on the numbers being bet for the players and paying them off each time any of these bets win.

They also remove the chips on losing bets that are on the table when the 7 rolls to end the shooter’s turn. They also move the on-off puck to the point number after a point is established, so everyone knows what point number has to repeat to win pass line bets.

Playing Craps for the First Time: What You Should Know

When you first walk up to the table you will need to buy-in with cash and a player’s card for that casino, if you have one. 

When the point puck says “Off” in white letters on a black background, you take your cash and player’s card and toss it on the table in front of the dealer. 

Your money and player’s card will be passed to the box man, who will count it and tell the dealer how much to give you in chips for you to bet with. When the chips are passed to you, place them in the chip rack in front of you.

Each player gets the chance to be the one shooting the dice, if they so desire, as the dice go clockwise around the table. The shooter must have a minimum bet on the pass line in front of him to be able to shoot the dice. Non-shooters are not required to make pass line bets.

Please note

Many casinos also require that you have made some kind of a bet on the previous shooter to qualify to shoot so that a person can’t take up table space just to bet only on his shooting. 

Once the required bet on the previous shooter has been out for one roll of the dice after the point has been established, you may ask for it to be removed. 

You are not required to leave that qualifying bet in action for more than one roll. You are never required to shoot the dice. You may always choose to pass the dice and let the next player be the shooter. 

After all the players have made their bets, five dice are scooted on the tabletop until they are in front of the person who is going to shoot. They select two of those dice and the stickman retrieves the remaining three dice and puts them in a dice bowl at the side of the table.

The shooter then must toss the dice to the opposite end of the table, so that both dice hit the back wall at that end of the table. If a 2, 3, or 12 rolls on that first roll and you have a pass line bet, you lose your pass line bet. 

The shooter would have to replace his pass line bet again before shooting. If the shooter tosses a 7 or 11 on their first rolls, you win your pass line bet amount, if bet. 

If the shooter tosses a 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10 on their roll, before having rolled any of them previously, that number becomes the point they have to repeat before rolling a losing 7 for you to win your pass line bet. The dealers will use the on-off puck at each end of the table to mark that point number.

In addition to betting on the pass line, or don’t pass line, players can make other bets, too. They can add chips to pass or don’t pass bets, with those being called odds that pay off at true odds when won. Odds bets carry no casino advantage. 

Remember

There are also a ton of what’s called Prop Bets available to be bet in the center portion of the craps table. As a new player, I’d advise you to totally avoid making any prop bets, because they all carry very high casino advantages and usually have undesirable payoffs over the long haul of betting them.

Craps Table Etiquette

If you don’t want to shout that you are a newbie at the table, here are 4 commonly done infractions you can avoid that will mark you as being unknowledgeable.

1. Don’t try to buy in with cash while the white point puck is located on one of the point numbers.

The white puck located on numbers 4 through 10 that says “ON” in black letters, notifies you a point has been established and the shooter’s turn is underway. 

Buying in is considered extremely bad taste and will usually make the other players mad at you because it interrupts the shooter’s turn and may end a hot roll that he is having at that particular moment, which is making everyone at the table money.

2. Keep your hands up out of the table area

Always do that after the dice have been returned to the shooter and the stick man has called “dice out” or “no more bets”.

Otherwise, you will anger every other player if you are trying to make a late bet after the dice are given to the shooter, and the dice hit your hand, and the roll results in a losing 7, which usually seems to happen under such circumstances.

3. Learn how to ask for your bet to be made most simply, avoiding what is called “string betting”

This happens when a player asks for his bets to be made one number and amount at a time. “$44 inside” works much better than “$10 place 5, $12 place 6, $12 place 8, and $12 place 9”.

That is string betting, and it slows down the game, interrupting any shooting rhythm that the shooter may have going, which helps him toss winning numbers.

If a shooter is tossing the dice towards your end of the table, and you see that his dice are landing mighty close to your chips on the pass line, move your chips sideways to give the shooter a clearer area there to aim for on his tosses. 

4. Your chips are probably right where he always tries to land the dice.

Give him some room in that area, as doing so will probably result in everyone at the table that is betting with the shooter making money on his tosses. If his dice hit your chips and a 7 appears, everyone betting with the shooting will lose and blame you for him tossing a losing 7.

How to Win at Craps in Vegas as a Complete Newbie

play and win at craps in vegas

I’d recommend for new players not to bet the pass line if they are not the shooter and concentrate on bets that they have total control over, place bets. 

You can increase, decrease, call off, take down or move place bets from one number to another any time during the roll. 

They are not contract bets that must stay up until won or lost. That’s a powerful weapon for the new player that allows them to adjust their play to what is happening in the here and now at the craps table during play.

The most frequently tossed place bet numbers are 6 and 8, as random shooters are expected to toss one of each of those 6 times in every 36 tosses, on average. They would make good bets for the beginner in Vegas for the first time. Just watch what the shooter is tossing. 

If he makes several tosses without producing a winner, take those bets down and wait to bet them again on the next shooter. There’s no need to leave them in play if they aren’t being tossed by that shooter, as you want to do your best not to lose them when they aren’t currently being tossed by that shooter.

Final Thoughts

There you have it - the complete beginner guide to how to play craps in Vegas.

We hope that you will enjoy your next trip to Sin City and the information provided by Bill Collins will come in handy. Of course, if you want to hone your skills, make sure you check the Chipy Craps Academy to learn everything you need about the game before starting out.

Remember to keep your bankroll safe and follow etiquette. 

Have fun!
 

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Bill Collins
Bill Collins Professional Craps Player
Back in 2003, Bill Collins started winning big from craps using dice influencing. Right now, he writes craps guides professionally, sharing his story and advice with beginners that want to win more.
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